Even as Wednesday's summit meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, kicked off the first steps down the road map to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace, the government of Israel is continuing to erect an elaborate security barrier to separate Israel from Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, called the multimillion-dollar barrier a costly "insurance policy."
The terrorist rampage this week that killed 12 Israelis in five suicide bombings within 48 hours is being seen by Israeli leaders as orchestrated by Palestinian President Yasir Arafat to undermine the leadership of his new prime minister. Israeli leaders were said to have few military options left to stop the terror attacks, which also scuttled nascent peace efforts.
When Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives in Israel this weekend to discuss the "road map" for peace, he will find Palestinian President Yasir Arafat still firmly in control of the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refusing to even discuss the plan until the Palestinians give up their right-of-return to Israel.
"The big issue is that Arafat is still in control and there has been no regime change," said Gerald Steinberg, a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University.
The Tel Aviv beachfront bombing that killed three Israelis and injured 50 early Wednesday (just five hours after the Palestinian parliament confirmed Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister and approved his cabinet) reinforced the view of many Israeli analysts that little has changed despite earlier optimism.
"It's incredibly funny how people are capable of self-deception, how they can distort realities to suit political hopes and promises," said Uzi Arad, former director of intelligence in the Mossad, Israel's spy service.
An Israeli lawyer who twice failed to convince Israel, the United States and Italy to demand the arrest and extradition of Abu Abbas fears the Palestinian terrorist leader will again escape justice.
But Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said she will appeal for a third time to the High Court of Justice in Israel to have Abbas extradited there.
Darshan-Leitner, whose Israel Law Center in Jerusalem is dedicated to protecting Jewish rights and interests, called Israel, the U.S. and Italy "hypocrites."
This week's clash between Palestinian President Yasir Arafat and Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas is being seen as Arafat's last-ditch effort to hold onto power, but observers say that in the end it may delay peace efforts and set back Palestinian aspirations for statehood.
"From my reading and the good contacts I have with the Palestinians, they understand how crucial and fragile the situation is," said Yoram Meital, chairman of the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Bar-Ilan, in Ramat Gan, will soon house the $34 million Digital Judaica Bookshelf Project, which will make available the works of traditional Jewish culture and the modern Hebrew library.
Bar-Ilan, in Ramat Gan, will soon house the $34 million Dig
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Jerusalem — The symbolic significance of Israeli President Shimon Peres receiving a Lifetime Achievement award this past week from Bar-Ilan University was not lost on the hundreds of attendees at the elegant ceremony.
Sderot, Israel — There’s far more to Sderot than the almost daily Kassam rocket attacks and the victimized, stressed-out residents we read about in the headlines.
There is all of that, for sure, but there are also stories to be told of people here who are as in love with this mostly poor town of about 20,000, about a mile from the Gaza border, as they are frustrated with and deeply pained by a government that has allowed them to be targeted by Palestinian militants’ rockets for more than seven years.
In a move that could scuttle renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts now that the war in Iraq is over, the Palestinians have included in their new constitution their right to return to homes they fled in 1948. But the Israeli government insisted this week that the "road map" toward the creation of a Palestinian state be amended to preclude the right of return.
The popular birthright israel program that has brought 40,000 college-age students to Israel in the last three years narrowly averted a funding crisis this week. The Israeli cabinet restored much of the $14 million the Finance Ministry had proposed eliminating as part of the government's emergency budget plan. Had all the money been cut, it may have forced the end of the project.
"It's encouraging to see that the Israeli leadership recognizes the importance of its role in the birthright israel program for world Jewry," said Marlene Post, chairman of the organization.