Even as the Israeli cabinet decided Wednesday to approve construction of a security barrier in the heart of the West Bank, it opted to delay voting to connect the barrier to the main security fence for fear of jeopardizing American aid.
The 18-4 vote was widely expected because the compromise allows the government breathing room to work out American objections and yet sends a message to the settlers that they are not being abandoned. The fence is to be east of the large Jewish settlements of Ariel and Kedumim, but will not be continuous in early stages.
by Joshua Mitnick and Stewart Ain |
Israel Correspondent and Staff Writer
Tel Aviv: An expected Israeli prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group that sits along Lebanon's southern border with Israel, is raising eyebrows in the Middle East because the swap reportedly includes Israel's release of some Palestinian terrorists.
Gary Rosenblatt |
Editor and Publisher
A year ago, I wrote in this space on the eve of Rosh HaShanah that “5762 was one of the worst years for the Jewish people since the Holocaust era.” What, then, can I say about the year just ending — a year that saw hundreds more Israelis killed by Palestinian violence; that saw anti-Semitism increase, particularly in Europe; that brought a war on Iraq that ousted its despotic leader but left Americans wondering if had become entangled in a new Vietnam; and that ends with the Mideast road map leading, it seems, to another dead end of hopelessness?
The leader of a major West Bank settlement bloc threatened to lead a move to oust the Sharon government if it bows to American pressure not to place Ariel and other large Jewish settlements within the security barrier now under construction.
Shaul Goldstein, mayor of the Regional Council of Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements just south of Jerusalem with a strong historical and emotional tie to Israelis, said that if the Sharon government runs the barrier along the Green Line, Israel's pre-1967 border, "it will become a political fence, not a security fence."
Israelis were filled with anger, frustration and pessimism this week following two suicide bombings five hours apart Tuesday, one in the heart of Jerusalem and the other near Tel Aviv, that killed at least 15 and wounded dozens. And few were optimistic that the new Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, would do any more to stop the violence than his predecessor, who quit in despair last weekend.
“Clearly, there is a sense of futility among many,” said Uzi Arad, director of the Institute of Policy and Strategy and former director of intelligence for the Mossad.
Charles Liebman, winner of the 2003 Israel Prize in political science and one of the world's leading analysts of Israeli and American Jewish communities, died last week of a heart attack in Israel. He was 69.
Mr. Liebman, a longtime professor at Bar-Ilan University's Department of Political Science, earned Israel's version of the Nobel Prize for his pioneering research on religion and society, and on Israel and world Jewry.