Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

September 16, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Political Leader: "Al-Qaeda Has Already Arrived in Gaza" (Il Corriere della Sera-Italian, 13Sep05)
    Yes, it is true, he says. "A pair of men from al-Qaeda has infiltrated into Gaza. And other contacts happen by telephone with the centers of the organization in a foreign country."
    Mahmoud az-Zahar, the most prominent political leader of Hamas, admits openly that al- Qaeda is putting down roots in Gaza.
    Where exactly? "Among the Popular [Resistance] Committees, which collect the militants of various organizations."


Israel HighWay
- September 15, 2005

Issue of the Week:
    Return to the Classroom

UN's Lebanon Murder Investigation Could Lead to Assad's Brother - Claude Salhani (UPI/Washington Times)
    A source close to Syria's President Bashar Assad confided that the UN dossier on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri prepared by Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, quite possibly might include the names of high-ranking Syrian officials including the president's brother Maher.
    Upon completion of his investigation, sources close to the Syrian regime fear Mehlis may include on the suspects list Brig. Gen. Rustum Ghazaleh, former chief of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon who recently retired, and Maher Assad.
    "Ghazaleh may be handed over as quick as a fax," a source said. "But there is no way the president will hand over his brother to an international tribunal....The president would rather face sanctions than turn on his brother."


Gaza Sewage Could Cripple Israeli Desalination Facility - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    If the Palestinians go ahead with building a sewage pipe from the Gaza Strip to the sea, this could cripple the new desalination plant near Ashkelon, due to be inaugurated at the end of the month.
    A Water Commission report warns that "if the Ashkelon desalination plant is crippled due to the sewage flowing from the Gaza Strip into the sea, the outcome would be intolerable for Israel's water sector."
    "Any attempt to lay a pipeline to drain sewage into the sea must be physically stopped."
    See also From Wastewater to War - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)


Fatah Gunmen Replace PA Security Forces at Former Settlements (AP/Ynet News)
    Dozens of gunmen from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - a terrorist group linked to Abbas' ruling Fatah movement - have set up checkpoints in Gaza's evacuated Jewish settlements for a second day Thursday, doing the job of Palestinian security officials who have been unable to rein in the chaos since Israel's withdrawal.
    See also Bordering on a State of Chaos - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The 7,500 PA policemen who have been training for months to prevent looting and chaos in the former settlements failed to stop the torching of synagogues and the looting of greenhouses.


Israel Seen as Fourth-Closest U.S. Ally (Harris Poll)
    In a survey of U.S. adults asked how they feel about a list of countries, Great Britain continues to lead the list of countries perceived to be America's closest allies (74% agree), followed by Canada (48%), Australia (44%), and Israel (41%).


Israel Air Force in Exercise in Turkey - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's air force has dispatched ten of its best warplanes to Turkey where they will dogfight with other nations in the international Anatolian Eagle joint air maneuvers.
    Five F-15-Is and five F-16-Is as well as IAF ground crew are in Turkey for the two-week exercise, military sources said.


Saudi Women Can Run in Business Chamber Vote (Los Angeles Times)
    Saudi authorities are allowing businesswomen to stand as candidates in a November election of 18 board members of the Trade and Industry Chamber in the Red Sea city of Jidda, Chairman Ghassan Suleiman said.
    It marks the first vote of its kind for women in the conservative Muslim monarchy, Suleiman said.


Fischer Presents Optimistic View of Israel's Economy - Fiona Symon (Financial Times-UK)
    The story of Israel's economy is a "surprisingly successful" one, given the political upheavals of recent years, according to Stanley Fischer, who took up the post of governor of the Bank of Israel four months ago.
    Israel's economy is expected to increase by a respectable 4.5 to 5% in 2005, said Fischer, who was addressing a conference in London on Tuesday aimed at promoting investment in Israel.
    Israel has the third biggest number of companies listed on Nasdaq, after Canada and the U.S. - a testament to the technological strength of its entrepreneurs.


Macao, Israel to Open Bilateral Air Services (People's Daily-China)
    China's Macao Special Administrative Region and Israel signed an air service agreement on Thursday, vowing to open the bilateral air services in the near future.


Ohio, Israel Forming Farm Ties - James Hannah (AP/Dayton Daily News)
    Ohio farmers and researchers have begun working with their counterparts in Israel on projects ranging from beef-cattle genetics to disease-suppressing compost in hopes that the relationship will open new markets for both places.
    Sam Hoenig, president of the Cleveland-based Negev Foundation spearheading the initiative, explained:
    "There is great interest in the Holy Land on the part of our farmers. They see Israel as a gateway to the Middle East and other countries for their products."
    The Ohio-Israel initiative, launched in 2003 and fueled by about $350,000 in government and private funds, began with sharing agricultural research and continued with a trade mission to Israel by a group of Ohio farmers in February 2004.

    See also Myanmar, Israel Strengthen Staff Training Cooperation in Agriculture (People's Daily-China)
    Myanmar [formerly Burma] will send 150 government employees to Israel this month to undertake a year-long agriculture diploma course, the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation said last week.
    The present batch of Myanmar trainees, sent to southern Israel's Arava International Center for Agricultural Training, will bring the total to more than 280 in the diploma course since 2003.
    The diploma programs on agriculture include subjects such as advanced farming techniques, economics, marketing, post-harvest technology, animal husbandry, and computer use.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon Tells UN It's Time for Palestinian Peace Steps - Joel Brinkley
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel spoke Thursday to the UN General Assembly and challenged the Palestinians to demonstrate their commitment to peace now that Israel has completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations: Prime Minister Sharon Addresses the UN General Assembly (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Egypt, PA Fail to Close Gaza Border - Maggie Michael
    Palestinians blasted holes in an Israeli-built wall and overwhelmed Egyptian troops on the Gaza border to flow by the hundreds into Egypt on Thursday, foiling attempts to impose control after days of unhindered crossings. Crossing became almost as open as it was in the past days. (AP/ABC News)
        See also Gaza Militants Breach Egypt Border Wall - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Palestinian police stood by as about 50 gunmen from Hamas and the Palestinian Resistance Committees rammed a dump truck into the cement border wall between Gaza and Egypt on Thursday, knocking down several large slabs. Israel "cannot accept a continued situation where the border will be entirely porous. What is happening in Gaza in recent days is complete anarchy," Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Army Radio. (Reuters)
  • Settlement Looters Set Back Gaza Development Hopes - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Palestinian destruction of greenhouses in vacated Jewish settlements in Gaza has dented hopes of a quick economic windfall from Israel's withdrawal, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday. They had expected the settlement greenhouses left behind would provide thousands of jobs to boost a meager job market in Gaza. But looters converged on the area after Israel's army pulled out on Monday, stripping greenhouses of critical supplies from rubber hoses to water pumps and rendering many of them temporarily unusable. "These greenhouses were supposed to be used to feed the children of thousands of families," would-be farmer Abdullah Ali, 32, said of the damage in the former Ganei Tal settlement.
        Basil Jaber, chairman of the Palestine Economic Development Company, said looters had damaged about a third of the state-of-the-art hothouses left behind by Israel and donated to the Palestinians by Jewish-American philanthropists. Some Palestinians continued to pillage greenhouses on Wednesday in more isolated settlements, witnesses said. (Reuters)
  • Secretary Rice: Is Syrian Government Smart Enough to Change Behavior?
    In an interview with the New York Post on Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "The pressure is rising on Syria. But it's not just U.S. pressure...what the Syrians have is a problem with the entire international community, the French, the Saudis, the Egyptians and others about what their role may or may not have been in the Hariri assassination."
        "Secondly, they have a problem with the Palestinian people because they sit there supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad at a time when Mahmoud Abbas is trying to get the terrorist groups under control and trying to make reasonable relations with Israel. Third and in many ways, quite a great importance to us, they have a problem with the Iraqi people where they're letting their border be used to essentially kill innocent Iraqis. We've got to bring more pressure on the Syrians because the fact that, you know, they say, well, they can't control their border. Well, when they wanted to cut off the Lebanese, they did. They did it in a day."
        "The other thing is that these jihadists are not crawling across the border the way they do in Afghanistan or Pakistan....These people are coming in through Damascus airport for goodness sakes. So we're not talking about something that they shouldn't be able to stop. I think the combination of all of these pressures on the Syrian government puts us in a good position to press for change to Syrian behavior. But we'll see whether or not the Syrian government is smart enough to take that course." (State Department)
  • Iran to Give Nuclear Technology to Muslims - Sam F. Ghattas
    Iran is willing to provide nuclear technology to other Muslim states, Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday at the UN, Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. "Iran is ready to transfer nuclear know-how to the Islamic countries due to their need," he said. The U.S. State Department expressed concern about Ahmedinejad's reported proposal on transferring nuclear technology, saying it makes it more vital that other countries work in concert to stop the Iranian threat. (AP/Newsday)
        See also U.S. Agenda on Iran Lacking Key Support - Dafna Linzer and Colum Lynch
    Despite an intense lobbying effort at the most senior levels, the Bush administration failed to persuade three key countries Thursday to back the U.S. in pressuring Iran to give up sensitive aspects of its nuclear energy program, diplomats and officials said. Russia, China, and India either publicly or privately turned down U.S. requests to help report Iran's case next week to the UN Security Council, which has the authority to impose economic sanctions. (Washington Post)
        See also Campaign to Curb Iran's Nuclear Plans on Verge of Collapse - Francis Harris and Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK)
  • Zarqawi's Dark Forces Riding High on a Tide of Blood - Richard Beeston
    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's tactics in Iraq include the mass murder of Shia civilians, beheading Western hostages, and assassinating government officials. He is responsible for making large areas of central Iraq ungovernable. His insurgent campaign has successfully challenged the might of the U.S. military. Al-Zarqawi's group is the richest, best organized, best armed, and most powerful insurgent force in Iraq, with thousands of volunteers, including some from around the Middle East and beyond, prepared to fight and die for their cause. His slick propaganda department can record a suicide attack, release it within an hour on the Internet, and relay it into the homes of Muslim sympathizers around the world.
        Experts fear that al-Zarqawi intends to spread his campaign across the Middle East, into Europe, and even into America. Jean-Charles Brisard, the author of Zarqawi: The New Face of al-Qaeda, said that last month's failed rocket attacks by al-Zarqawi's fighters against U.S. warships docked at the Jordanian port of Aqaba should serve as a warning. "I believe that his fight will not stop in Iraq. There is intelligence that his people were traveling in Europe a few weeks ago." (Times-UK)
        See also More Iraqis Lured to al-Qaeda Group - Greg Miller and Tyler Marshall
    Al-Qaeda's top operative in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, is drawing growing numbers of Iraqi nationals to his organization, U.S. officials and Iraqi government leaders say. Iraqis now accounted for "more than half his organization," a U.S. official said. The Iraqis under Zarqawi's wing could provide him with better intelligence, and give legitimacy to a group viewed by many Iraqis as unwanted outsiders. In addition, Iraqi recruits are being exposed to the workings of a highly efficient extremist group.
        Mowaffak Rubaie, Iraq's national security advisor and a former Shiite activist, said "there's no doubt" that once-nationalistic elements of the insurgency were drifting toward Zarqawi and his extremist Salafi sect, also known as Wahhabism, which seeks to establish a puritanical society modeled on early Islamic times. Officials described a steady flow of Saudis, Yemenis, and other Arab nationals into the country, but said foreign fighters accounted for less than 10% of the insurgents in Iraq. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • "Vast Amount of Arms" Enter Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    "We know that in the past two days vast amounts of ammunition, weapons and wanted men entered Gaza. We fear that some of the weapons will make their way to the West Bank," a senior Israeli security official said. "We have no way of knowing who has entered Gaza in recent days; even someone like Osama Bin Laden could have shaved off his beard and entered," the official said. Because of this situation, when Israel reopens the Erez border crossing into Israel from Gaza, Palestinians would have to undergo stringent security checks. Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Assem Ibrahim said law and order on the border would be restored. "You can be sure that people do not need to smuggle weapons into Gaza, there are enough there already," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also 10,000 Gazans Still in Egypt - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Sources in Gaza estimated that at least 10,000 Palestinians had crossed into Egypt in the past three days and had not yet returned home. PA security officials confirmed on Thursday that large amounts of weapons and drugs were being smuggled into Gaza since Israel completed its withdrawal. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mofaz Wants Security Zone Inside Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    Concerned over the growing chaos in the Gaza Strip and the incapability of the PA to enforce law and order, Defense Minister Mofaz has called for a security belt to be erected on the Palestinian side of the northern Gaza security fence to distance Israeli communities from the chaos in Gaza. "The aim is to set up a no-man's land which Palestinians will be barred from entering," a Defense Ministry official said. Mofaz instructed ministry officials to coordinate with the PA on the matter. (Jerusalem Post)
        Mofaz said Thursday that in light of the smuggling from Sinai to the Gaza Strip, Israel will reject the PA's request to permit its security forces to increase its own supplies of weapons and ammunition. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Palestinians Infiltrate Israel from Gaza Strip
    Two Palestinians infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip Friday near Netiv Ha'asara in the Negev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The Palestinians

  • TV Report that Helped Fuel Deadly Palestinian Intifada Appears to be False - David Gelernter
    A 55-second video report, produced in 2000 by a French TV station and distributed free of charge around the world, has caused untold injury and grief to Israeli civilians. This month, the French author Nidra Poller analyzes the evidence in Commentary magazine and shows that the video is a fraud - "an almost perfect media crime," the retired French journalist Luc Rosenzweig calls it. There is a wider story here; we are vulnerable to video lies.
        The reported death of a Palestinian child, Mohammed Dura, in Gaza did as much as anything else to ignite the current uprising. In the video segment produced on Sept. 30, 2000, and distributed immediately, state-owned France 2 television accused the Israeli army of deliberately shooting and killing the 12-year-old. This version of the story was retold around the world - and it has figured in countless wall posters, an al-Qaeda recruiting video, an epic poem. But, according to Poller, the video is a fraud. The rest of the segment - which wasn't aired but which Poller saw - shows the child propping himself on an elbow, shading his eyes with his hands. A boy named Mohammed Dura did die in a Gaza hospital that day. His face doesn't match the face in the video. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Myth, Fact, and the al-Dura Affair - Nidra Poller (Commentary)
        See also Who Killed Muhammad Al-Dura? Blood Libel - Model 2000 - Amnon Lord (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 15July02)
  • Russian Expert: Israel's Pullout Gives Palestine Chance to Become Nation State
    Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank has provided the Palestinian Authority with an opportunity to rebuild itself as a nation state, Russian analyst Alexander Konovalov, president of the Institute of Strategic Analysis, said Monday. However, "If the Gaza Strip becomes a source of new terrorist attacks on Israeli soil, Israel will retaliate." He warned that if provoked, Israel could send troops back into the abandoned Gaza territories in a matter of hours. (RIA Novosti-Russia)
  • Hold Palestinians Accountable - Editorial
    Is the idea of sparing a former place of worship of another religion so foreign that it cannot even be asked for, let alone expected? The real source of Muslim rage is the reigning intolerant interpretation of Islam. This has been reflected in a "what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine" approach that we see dominates Palestinian thinking. It goes without saying that no Jew, building, or grave must remain in Gaza, as much as it does that Israel must treat its own million-strong Arab minority with utmost respect.
        Yet if there is ever going to be peace between Arabs and Israelis, not to mention an end to the wider jihad against America, such attitudes must be broken. Far from criticizing Israel from having the temerity to hope that Palestinians might spare a synagogue, the U.S. should be vocally rejecting the rampant intolerance in the Muslim world for non-Muslim power, freedom, and rights. Now is not the time for evenhandedness, but for holding the Palestinians accountable for their actions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Now, It's the Palestinians' Turn - Ari Shavit
    The Palestinians continue to declare that the struggle will continue until every bit of Palestinian land has been liberated. And even worse: by torching the synagogues and storming the Philadelphi route, they are signaling that they do not intend to behave as a responsible state. From their perspective, what was is what will be: diplomacy and terror, negotiations and violence, a pragmatic authority and a Hamas authority.
        This time, the Palestinians will not be able to blame anyone else. Following the disengagement, it is the Palestinians who bear principal responsibility for their own fate, their own future, and their own actions. (Ha'aretz)

    Other Issues

  • An American Fatwa Against Terrorism Falls Short - Judea Pearl
    In the wake of the bombings in London, America's Muslim community recognized the necessity for a formal religious response to growing extremism. The result was a "fatwa," or Muslim legal pronouncement, issued by the Fiqh Council of North America and endorsed by 140 Muslim groups, leaders, and institutions. Unfortunately, while the words contained in the fatwa are encouraging, a close reading of the American fatwa shows that it falls short of a comprehensive denunciation of terror.
        The American fatwa condemns only the physical perpetrators of terrorist acts and their collaborators, not the preachers and ideologues who legitimize or encourage those acts. Are not those religious figures who encourage suicide bombers at least as guilty as those who strap themselves with explosives? The American fatwa appears to be the work of a weak-willed leadership that hesitates to directly confront the ideological basis of al-Qaeda. (New Republic)
  • Al-Qaeda and the House of Saud - John R. Bradley
    Riyadh's fight against terrorism since May 2003 has provided a facade for behind-the-scenes moves to strengthen the role of the Wahhabi religious establishment, with whom the al-Saud rules in effective partnership. Saudi leaders, in their eagerness to prove their Islamist credentials in the face of charges of being U.S. puppets, have empowered a number of clerics who are not overtly critical of the terrorists - indeed, on occasion, quite the reverse.
        The Saudi chief justice, Saleh bin Muhammad al-Luhaidan, who also holds the rank of government minister, has been accused of instructing Saudis on how to fight U.S. and Iraqi troops in Iraq in the name of Allah. An October 2004 recording distributed by a Washington-based Saudi dissident group has Luhaidan speaking at a mosque in Riyadh, advising a group of Saudis who wanted to join terrorist organizations in Iraq to be careful when entering the country because U.S. planes and satellites may be monitoring the borders. He says those Saudis who do enter Iraq will not be punished by the Saudi security forces and insists that money raised for the jihad must go directly to those who will launch attacks.
        The flow of Saudi jihadis to Iraq benefits the al-Saud regime in the short term, at least in the sense that, if they are blowing themselves up in Baghdad, they will not be doing so in Riyadh. Yet, there is potential for long-term blowback, just as there was when the "Afghan Arabs" returned from Afghanistan in the 1990s. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Why Did Pakistan Make Overtures to Israel? - Harun ur Rashid
    On Sep. 1, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Israel met publicly (in Turkey) for the first time. It is a certainly a strategic move by Pakistan, the second largest Muslim majority country and the only Muslim country with nuclear power. Israel may act as a conduit to influence the U.S. in Pakistan's favor. Israel has diplomatic relations with Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Mauritania. Their diplomatic relations with Israel do not harm relations with other Muslim nations, rather those countries have achieved a strategic edge over other Muslim countries in international relations. The author is a former Bangladesh ambassador to the UN. (Daily Star-Bangladesh)
        See also Musharraf: We're Breaking Taboos with Israel
    Pakistani President Musharraf on Thursday said the Jewish state's right to exist was now almost unquestioned: "Almost everyone has recognized that Israel is there now to stay." (Reuters/Express India)

    Weekend Features

  • A Brutal Grin, Full of Malice - Emanuel Cohn
    In 1995, together with some of my colleagues, I was charged with the mission of delivering weapons to the Palestinian Authority. Lots of weapons were handed out to the Palestinians so that they could provide quiet and order in the territories. Inside a huge container were hundreds of guns, all Kalashnikovs, sent from Egypt. My duty was to count these guns, lubricate them, and hand them over to the Palestinian officer waiting next to me. "What doesn't one do for peace," I say to myself.
        After several hours, I deliver the last rifle to the Palestinian officer. Then something happens that I will never be able to erase from my memory. The man looks at the gun, then lifts his head and looks straight at my face. All of a sudden, he starts to grin. It is a brutal grin, full of malice. It almost feels as if sympathy for our naivete, for our foolishness, also resonated in that grin. In my head it echoes that the Palestinian officer is thinking: "You know very well that this gun, one day, will be pointed against you and your people!"  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arabs Using Internet Against Authorities - Megan K. Stack
    In Egypt, opposition movements have used the Internet against President Hosni Mubarak, posting street maps to guide people to anti-government demonstrations. Bahraini bloggers are battling the Information Ministry to keep their freewheeling debates alive, and to keep themselves out of prison. In Libya, Tunisia and Syria, too, online politicking has landed people in prison. Arab governments appear determined to censor cyber-critics and silence unwelcome online voices. They've jailed bloggers, blocked websites, and asked Internet cafe owners to spy on their customers. But it's not working. The Internet has turned into a virtual debate hall crammed with lengthy screeds, cutting language, and calls for rebellion. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israeli Self-Defense System Takes Off in Britain - Paul Kelbie
    Krav Maga, a highly effective form of unarmed combat pioneered by the Israeli Defense Forces and adopted by security professionals, has become the fastest-growing self-defense system in the world. Adapted to civilian needs, the system, which is based on natural human survival instincts, is now practiced by more than 200,000 people globally and has been adopted by Hollywood celebrities as both a means of defense and fitness. "The beauty of Krav Maga is that it does not require any previous skill or years of practice to be effective," said a qualified instructor in Scotland. Krav Maga uses hands, forearms, elbows, knees, legs, and heads to strike vulnerable parts of a body including ears, eyes, throat, and groins to achieve the aim of its philosophy of "protect and survive." (Independent-UK)
  • Arab and Muslim Anti-Semitism in Sweden - Mikael Tossavainen
    Anti-Semitism is perceived as a minor problem in Sweden, restricted to marginal neo-Nazi and other extreme-right groups. Anti-Jewish ferment among parts of the country's Arab and Muslim population is largely denied and ignored. Nevertheless, the phenomenon exists and manifests itself among some Arab and Muslim pupils in suburban schools, on Muslim websites in Swedish, and in attacks on Jews and their institutions. The exclusion of many Arabs and Muslims from Swedish society fosters the spread of anti-Semitism in the segregated suburbs of the major cities. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Observations:

    Address to the UN General Assembly: The Right of Israel to Exist as a Jewish State with Defensible Borders and an Undivided Jerusalem - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Prime Minister's Office)

    • I arrived here from Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, and the undivided and eternal capital of the State of Israel. I stand before you at the gate of nations as a Jew and as a citizen of the democratic, free, and sovereign State of Israel, a proud representative of an ancient people, whose numbers are few but whose contribution to civilization and to the values of ethics, justice, and faith surrounds the world and encompasses history. I was born in the Land of Israel, the son of pioneers - people who tilled the land and sought no fights - who did not come to Israel to dispossess its residents.
    • I reach out today to our Palestinian neighbors in a call for reconciliation and compromise to end the bloody conflict, and embark on the path which leads to peace and understanding between our peoples.
    • The Land of Israel is precious to me, precious to us, the Jewish people, more than anything. Every inch of land, every hill and valley, every stream and rock, is saturated with Jewish history, replete with memories. The continuity of Jewish presence in the Land of Israel never ceased. Even those of us who were exiled from our land, against their will, to the ends of the earth - their souls, for all generations, remained connected to their homeland. The Land of Israel is the open Bible, the written testimony, the identity and right of the Jewish people. Under its skies, the prophets of Israel expressed their claims for social justice.
    • The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel does not mean disregarding the rights of others in the land. The Palestinians will always be our neighbors. We respect them, and have no aspirations to rule over them. They are also entitled to freedom and to a national, sovereign existence in a state of their own. This week, the last Israeli soldier left the Gaza Strip, and military law there was ended. The State of Israel proved that it is ready to make painful concessions in order to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.
    • Now it is the Palestinians' turn to prove their desire for peace. The end of Israeli control over and responsibility for the Gaza Strip allows the Palestinians, if they so wish, to develop their economy and build a peace-seeking society, which is developed, free, law-abiding, transparent, and which adheres to democratic principles. The most important test the Palestinian leadership will face is in fulfilling their commitment to put an end to terror and its infrastructures, eliminate the anarchic regime of armed gangs, and cease the incitement and indoctrination of hatred towards Israel and the Jews.
    • I am among those who believe that it is possible to reach a fair compromise and coexistence in good neighborly relations between Jews and Arabs. However, I must emphasize one fact: there will be no compromise on the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, with defensible borders, in full security and without threats and terror.


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