Sharon maneuvers for starting position
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Sharon maneuvers for starting position

February 9, 2001



It's time for serious political confusion and disinformation now. As the armies prepare themselves for the clashes likely to come in one form or another, the politicians maneuver for new starting positions. Of course in many cases, especially that of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, the armies and the politicians are one in the same.

Part of preparation for conflict and war these days is positioning oneself in public opinion. And that is precisely where Sharon has gone, full-speed ahead. Top-level propaganda teams have already been dispatched to Washington and European capitals. They will court the media in public; discuss things with key allies and political leaders in private.

As for Arafat and Regime...ill-prepared and not up to the task as usual.

The Palestinian people are saddled with this corrupt, inept, and incompetent regime. They are now paying the price for so many years of mistakes and, at best, mediocrity. Unless the Palestinian people can somehow remove Arafat and Regime and replace it with some of the far more capable and far more principled Palestinians -- Dr. Haider Abdul Shafi at the top of the list -- they cannot expect things to get better for them. Indeed, far more tragic times might be ahead for the Palestinian people facing the thugs of Sharon and the right-wingers in the U.S. -- even the possibility of another mass expulsion or the forceable conversion of the Hashemite Regime into the Palestinian State.

More on this from MER in the weeks ahead. As we've said before...stay tuned.

By Laurie Copans

JERUSALEM (AP - 9 February): Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon on Friday offered his predecessor, Ehud Barak, the job of defense minister in a joint government, even though the two disagree sharply on how to make peace with the Palestinians.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Sharon, meanwhile, spoke by phone - their first direct contact since Sharon's election victory Tuesday. Palestinian officials confirmed the call, but would not reveal what was said.

Israeli radio stations said Arafat told Sharon he was interested in resuming peace talks with Israel, and congratulated him on the recent birth of twin grandsons. Sharon responded that peace was important to him and not an election gimmick. Sharon also said he wants to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians, but that first there must be an end to violence, the radios said.

In their meeting Friday, Sharon offered Barak the position of defense minister, according to a Sharon aide. Barak's aides were not available for comment on how he responded to the offer, but Israeli radio stations said Barak told Sharon he would stay out of politics for a while.

As Sharon and Arafat spoke, an intense gun battle erupted between Israeli troops and Palestinians near the West Bank town of Ramallah. Twenty-seven Palestinians and a Belgian news photographer were injured, Palestinian medics said. Of the injured, eight were hit by live fire, including the photographer who was shot in the leg.

During the gun battle, which raged for most of the afternoon, Israeli soldiers aimed machine gun fire at empty high-rise apartment buildings used by Palestinian gunmen as cover. Smoke billowed from one of the buildings as shots hit the wall.

In the Gaza Strip, the Islamic militant group Hamas threatened to carry out more suicide attacks against Israel; on Thursday, unidentified assailants had exploded a car bomb in Jerusalem, injuring an Israeli woman. In the Gaza march, some 2,500 Hamas supporters chanted "Destroy the center of Tel Aviv," and burned effigies of Sharon and President Bush.

One Hamas banner held up by the crowd read "Generals like Sharon only understand the language of resistance and holy war."

Overnight, Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen battled for about three hours near the Jewish settlement of Psagot, adjacent to the Palestinian town of El Bireh. Several buildings in a residential neighborhood of El Bireh were damaged by Israeli fire, including the offices of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German aid group, and the Red Crescent, a Palestinian first aid organization. No one was injured.

Sharon said in an interview published Friday that he would seek an open-ended non-belligerency pact with the Palestinians, not a peace agreement, and that he would not follow Barak's path.

Barak's far-reaching offers to the Palestinians "made it difficult for all future Israeli governments," Sharon told the Yediot Ahronot daily.

Still, Sharon said, he felt sorry for his predecessor. "So many dreams, and everything crumbled between his fingers," Sharon said of Barak whom he trounced in Tuesday's election, winning by a margin of almost 25 percentage points.

On Thursday, Barak baffled his Labor Party when he said he wanted to lead the coalition talks with Sharon. On election night, Barak had announced he was stepping down as party leader and was withdrawing from politics for a while.

Labor's elder statesman, Shimon Peres, supported the idea of a so-called national unity government, saying the nation is going through a "great crisis," reference to months of Israeli-Palestinian clashes that have killed 385 people, most of them Palestinians

The Labor Party is deeply divided over whether to accept Sharon's offer. Labor Party doves, including Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, said Labor must not join forces with the hard-line Likud party which opposes concessions to the Palestinians.

Barak's offers included setting up a Palestinian state in the almost all of the West Bank and Gaza, sharing Jerusalem and dismantling many Jewish settlements.

The Palestinians did not accept Barak's proposals, but negotiator Ahmed Qureia said talks must restart from the point where they ended just before Israel's Tuesday election.

Sharon said all along that Barak's ideas would not obligate him, and Barak agreed.

Barak's Labor party was the first Sharon invited for coalition talks, which began Thursday evening. Likud officials told Labor representatives that they would be offered such top portfolios as the defense or foreign ministries, Israeli media reported.

But the Labor negotiators said they wanted details on Sharon's plans for peace talks with the Palestinians before they agreed to discuss the distribution of ministries. The two teams will meet again Sunday.

If Sharon is unable to come to quick agreement with Labor, he is expected to turn to right-wing and Orthodox Jewish parties and form a coalition with a narrow majority.

By Mazal Mualem

[Ha'aretz - 2/9/01]: Likud secretary general, Uri Shani, invited the leaders of Arab parties in the Knesset yesterday to begin negotiations in an effort to include them in a broad coalition government.

Shani approached MK Talab A Sana (United Arab List), and MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta'al), and invited them to meet in order to conduct negotiations over their participation in a coalition government.

The senior Likud official added that he also intended to invite MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash) and MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) to join the talks.

It is expected that meetings with the Arab MKs will be held early next week.

The Likud issued a statement which said that the purpose of the meetings was to create a dialogue with the Arab parties in the Knesset and to inform their representatives of developments in the efforts to form a coalition government and seek their opinions on the matter.

In addition, there are those around Sharon who are considering offering Arab parties the option of joining the coalition if initial meetings produce an appropriate climate for the move.

In response to the invitation, MK A Sana said that this is an important development and saw Sharon's willingness to encourage a dialogue with the Arab representatives as a welcome change of approach.

"The call from Uri Shani surprised me. At first I though that he had made a mistake," A Sana said. He added that the meeting with the Likud did not, of course, bind them to an agreement to join the coalition, but "Barak did not even give us the chance to say No."

Barakeh said that "as a public relations idea, this is not bad, but I am not part of it. This may [simply] be an effort to embarrass the Labor party and Meretz.

February 2001


(February 27, 2001)
Was it the Likud Party, or the Labor Party, that authorized more illegal settlements in the occupied territories since the Gulf War and the Madrid Peace Conference?

(February 26, 2001)
For those who still needed proof of the cravenness and duplicity of Israel's Labor Party, the party that spawned "Peace Now" and "Oslo" among other gross deceptions, it came today.

Defectors say Iraq tested Nuclear Bomb
(February 25, 2001)
When Iraq was more overtly building nuclear weapons, the Israelis struck in 1981 destroying the Osirak reactor near Baghdad that could have provided the crucial processed uranium fuel.

"Go back, we don't want you"
(February 24, 2001)
General Colin Powell, now combining even more closely than usual the Pentagon with the State Department, was afraid to go to Gaza; and rightly so.

The Hebron MASSACRE - 7 long years ago
(February 24, 2001)
Abraham's dysfunctional family has had unbelieveable historical ramifications for which the focal point today is Hebron, site of Abraham's burial place, a religious site to both Jews and Muslim alike who are today quite literally at each other's throats.

Council on foreign relations help legitimize Sharon
(February 23, 2001)
The Council on Foreign Relations, New York-power elite-based but in recent years integrating more with the Washington government and corporate elite, has been for quite some time, to put it bluntly, a rather tricky and chicanery Israeli-oriented Zionist center when it comes to matters relevant to Israel.

Iraq - The great Cover-Up
(February 23, 2001)
As terrible as what the Israelis, with their superpower American ally (and European connivance), are doing to the Palestinians, what has been and is being done to the Iraqis and the Chechnyans is also truly appauling.

Arab expulsion admitted by Sharon Ally
(February 22, 2001)
One day maybe Israel -- like South Africa and Chile before it -- will have some kind of "truth finding" commission to try to purge itself of the past.

Protests in Jordan
(February 22, 2001)
If it weren't for the Hashemite Regime in today's Jordan, yesterday's Transjordan, and before that the East Bank of Palestine, the Israelis would never have been able to vanquish the Palestinian people in days past and would never be able to do to the remaining Palestinians what is happening today.

Powell and Sharon - Street protests?
(February 21, 2001)
Clearly, the US is rushing to court unpopularity across the world, contrary to expectations that the Bush national security establishment would conduct itself with a degree of sophistication.

"This is only the beginning"
(February 21, 2001)
The crippling is not just physical. Psychologically, culturally, economically, and even morally, the Palestinian people are being twisted and tortured beyond all recognition of their former selves.

Gaza Ghetto, Gaza Concentration Camp, Gaza Prison
(February 19, 2001)
For four months, the Gaza Strip has been effectively isolated from the world. Over 1 million Palestinians are caged in an area of not more than 365km2.

Locked in an Orwellian eternal war
(February 19, 2001)
President Bush Jr didn't seem so confident the other day as he told the world of the newly increased bombing of Iraq. But he made it clear that "until the world is told otherwise" the Americans are convinced they run the world and it is up to them to decide whom to bomb, whom to favor, whom to take out, whom to reward.

Arafat collapsing
(February 16, 2001)
The Arafat Regime is collapsing. Here are some of the details, twisted somewhat of course because the reports are from Israel's best newspaper, Ha'aretz, in view of the fact that Palestinian and Arab news sources are unable and unwilling to provide such insights.

The realization, "perhaps the dream"
(February 16, 2001)
Out of the cycle of violence the gradual, hesitant understanding - perhaps the dream - will grow, that the only way is through a struggle to create a land of Israel/Palestine that is undivided in both physical and human terms, pluralistic and open; a land in which civilized relations, human touch, intimate coexistence and a link to a common homeland would be stronger than militant tribalism and the separation into national ghettoes.

"Collective suicide" or Zionism united?
(February 15, 2001)
If there is a national unity government, it will be evident that the differences between Labour as the main branch of the left and the Likud as the main branch of the right are not that big.

Death and assissination
(February 14, 2001)
It didn't take long for the Israelis, now Sharon-led, to start creating the escalating provocations that will then bring about still more Palestinian rage which will then give the Israelis the excuse they seek to pulverize the Palestinians still harder, possibly destroying the regime they earlier created, and possibly leading to another Palestinian "nakbah" (disaster).

Israelis strike, Palestinians without strategy
(February 13, 2001)
The Israelis have had a long-term strategy for a very long time; and they have pursued it regardless of what party was in power and who happened to be Prime Minister of the moment.

Dozens of Palestinians wounded
(February 12, 2001)
Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians in the West Bank Monday as Israel's rightwing Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon sought to forge a unity government.

"Holy war" is forever
(February 12, 2001)
Fifty four years ago when an international commission of that day was hearing from Jews and Arabs about what the new U.N. should do about Palestine there was testimony from very credible and very establishment Jewish Zionist sources opposing creation of a "separatist Jewish State" precisely because it would bring about an unending conflict with the Palestinian Arab population.

War preparations continue
(February 11, 2001)
The Arafat Regime, the "Authority", is near collapse -- not just financially, but credibility wise as well. The Israeli government is near "unity" -- with General Sharon in charge.

The PA is about to collapse
(February 10, 2001)
How ironic history can be. After generations of struggle and such suffering the regime that rules the Palestinians is now in the hands of Ariel Sharon representing Israel, the U.S. Congress representing the financial levers of the American Empire, and the European governments which in this situation operate on the pretense that they are better than either of the above.

Rocking Israel to its Biblical core
(February 9, 2001)
Well if King David was a nebbish (modern translation might be "nerd"), one has to wonder how history will record Ariel Sharon, the man with such a past whom the Jews of Israel have just overwhelming elected their leader.

Sharon maneuvers for starting position
(February 9, 2001)
It's time for serious political confusion and disinformation now. As the armies prepare themselves for the clashes likely to come in one form or another, the politicians maneuver for new starting positions.

Clinton pardoned Mossad spy for Israelis
(February 9, 2001)
The Israelis adore Bill Clinton, as all the pollsters know. Deep down even the common everyday Israelis know he was their man in the White House.

The many crimes of Ariel Sharon
(February 8, 2001)
Some incorrigible optimists have suggested that only a right-wing extremist of the notoriety of Likud leader Ariel Sharon will have the credentials to broker any sort of lasting settlement with the Palestinians.

Sharon wastes no time - Arafat bows
(February 7, 2001)
We will give him the benefit of the doubt. If he comes with good ideas that will bring us closer to the peace process, why not? The world has seen many such situations before.

Holy war for Jerusalem
(February 7, 2001)
We're on the way now to a new and expanded struggle, maybe even a religious war, Jerusalem the focalpoint.

The cold logic of Sharon
(February 7, 2001)
Many Israelis just stayed home. Others cast a blank vote. But a considerable minority thrust Ariel Sharon into the greatest electoral landslide in that country's history -- obviously as well an overwhelming majority of those who did vote.

Sharon wins and Peres wants in
(February 6, 2001)
He may be a brutish thug, he may fit the definition of war criminal, he may be a Jewish racist -- but now he is also the Prime Minister-elect of Israel, overwhelmingly swept into power in a way few imagined possible just a year ago.

All sides now committed to escalation
(February 6, 2001)
Now the real craziness begins. The Palestinians are committed to heating things up to demonstrate their resolve and their capabilities. The Israelis are committed to "stopping the violence" which means clamping the boot down on the Palestinians even more harshly.

The legacy of Ariel Sharon
(February 5, 2001)
This is a place of filth and blood which will forever be associated with Ariel Sharon. In Israel today, he may well be elected prime minister.

BBC casts doubt of Pan AM convictions
(February 5, 2001)
In advance of whatever the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is going to produce as "evidence" of innocence today, the BBC has published the following story quoting the very Scottish law professor who arranged the trial in The Netherlands casting great doubt about the veracity of the verdict reached:

What's left of Israel's left
(February 5, 2001)
What's left of Israel's left is in a fractured and demoralized state of affairs. Not only is Ariel Sharon about to become Israel's Prime Minister, but in all likelihood he is to be swept into power tomorrow in a landslide unprecedented in Israel's history.

The Pan Am 103 Verdict
(February 3, 2001)
The papers are filled with pictures of happy relatives of the victims of the 1988 bombing of PanAm 103. A Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, was just found guilty of the bombing by a Scottish court in the Hague, his co-defendant, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, being acquitted... What's wrong is that the evidence against Megrahi is thin to the point of transparency.

Rivers of blood
(February 2, 2001)
The bloodiness and racism of Sharon's past is fact. And these two articles help bring that past forward to the present.

Waiting for Sharon
(February 2, 2001)
They believe a Sharon victory will be a boon for their cause. 'He will expose the true face of Israel,' says an activist in Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement in Nablus, 'and force the world, including the US, to address its real responsibilities to the peace process...

Israeli Arabs boycott Barak, await Sharon
(February 1, 2001)
As the extreme right-wing revolution in Israel nears, as Ariel Sharon and friends prepare to take over political power, the "Israeli Arab vote" will not be enough to save Ehud Barak, and in fact it will not even be mobilized on his behalf this time, though Yasser Arafat and his friends have surely tried.

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