Browsing Posts published in November, 2010

Israel’s Security Cabinet decided today, Wednesday November 19th, to accept, in principle, the proposal of the UN and the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon) Commander, to completely withdraw IDF personnel from the northern section of the town of Ghajar.

Ghajar, whose community consists mostly of Syrian Alawites with dual Israeli-Syrian citizenships, is a town which happens to fall right on the border between Israel and Lebanon, the so-called “Blue-Line.” The Blue-Line is a border demarcation established to determine Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 425. Ghajar is united, and does not have a physical barrier or fence marking the Blue Line i.e. where Lebanon ends and Israel begins.

As northern Ghajar is the last area that the IDF has personnel stationed, Israel’s decision to remove troops from that section of the town will be an important step towards supporting a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

According to UN Resolution 1701, passed after the 2006 war against Hezbollah forces operating on the Lebanese border, Lebanon is required to, among other things, respect the Blue Line and prevent the passage of weapons into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists.

The Security Cabinet authorized the Foreign Ministry to complete the details of the temporary arrangement in coordination with the UN and UNIFIL Commander General Alberto Asarta as soon as possible.  Both the security of Israel’s citizens and the normal life of the residents of Ghajar, which remains undivided, will continue to be maintained while the new arrangements are being put in place. The final agreement will be brought to the Security Cabinet for approval before it is implemented.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley “welcomes the announcement today by Israel’s Security Cabinet that it accepts in principle the proposal offered by the UNIFIL Force Commander, providing for the complete withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Lebanese territory in and around the village of Ghajar.”

He went on to say in a prepared statement that “the United States encourages Israel and the UN to complete the technical details necessary to implement this proposal rapidly and thereby protect the rights of the affected civilians and further the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006), which aims for a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.”

“I would like to wish all of Israel’s Druze and Muslim citizens a Happy Eid al-Adha, a blessed Eid,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu

“We are celebrating this important holiday at a time when we are trying to resume the negotiations for peace with our Palestinian neighbors and to advance peace agreements with the other Arab countries.

We are committed to the historic effort to bring about a genuine peace, coexistence, security and prosperity for all.  Your support in this effort is very important and I greatly appreciate it.”

Happy holiday!  Kul am v’antum b’khair!”

Eid al-Adha, literally meaning “Feast of the Sacrifice,” is an important religious holiday celebrated around the world to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (religious scholars continue to dispute whether the son offered by Abraham was Issac or Ishmael). According to the Qu’ran, God intervened, placing a ram instead. So, on this day in Israel, Druze and Muslims ceremonially sacrifice a type of cattle approved by Sharia law (usually sheep) and distribute the meat.

Israel’s Druze minority number over 100,000 and Israel’s Muslim population is 1.2 million, or about 20 percent of Israeli citizenry.

From The Huffington Post:

The Middle East is about to change. No, the dysfunctional political systems are not about to become more free or fair or democratic. National economies are not going to improve and create jobs and perspectives for its people. Women will not see more equality and opportunities. Education will not prepare the youth better for the future. It is about to change because of a dynamic race over primacy in the region. And it is not the usual suspects such as Egypt or Saudi Arabia, who are competing for the leadership role. The region is witnessing an unusual contest. In a curious twist, those rivals are neither Arab nor traditional Sunni Muslim. It is non-Arab Turkey and Shiite Iran who threw their hats in the ring and despite all displays and declarations of friendship they compete to dominate the region.

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The following is a joint statement of the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel and the Office of the Secretary of State of the United States following their November 11th meeting:

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Clinton had a good discussion today, with a friendly and productive exchange of views on both sides. Secretary Clinton reiterated the United States’ unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and to peace in the region.

‪‪The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” Those requirements will be fully taken into account in any future peace agreement.

‪‪‪The discussions between the Prime Minister and the Secretary focused on creating the conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations aimed at producing a two-state solution. Their teams will work closely together in the coming days toward that end.

Free Gilad Now!  Free Gilad Now!  Free Gilad Now!  The words resonated among the buildings of downtown Atlanta on Thursday, November 11th as hundreds congregated in Centennial Olympic Park to call for the freedom of kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Hundreds of men, women and children armed with flags and colorful banners listened to impassioned speeches, watched heart wrenching videos and stood together in song and chant all for Gilad Shalit, Israel’s unforgotten son.

Rabbi Lee Buckman of Greenfield Hebrew Academy and Rabbi Adam Starr of Congregation Young Israel of Toco Hills collaborated with the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast United States to organize the event.  Over fifty organizations sponsored it.

“Today we say to the Shalits that we will never abdicate our duty to bring Gilad home.  We will shout loud enough so that our promise will resound in the ears of every young Israeli child who one day will be called to defend the Homeland of the Jewish people.  We will shout loud enough so that every 18-year old Israeli soldier is assured that one life means everything,” said Rabbi Buckman. continue reading…

The story of the Jewish people is that of great destruction followed by miraculous redemption.

That same resilient spirit is exemplified by your collective efforts to help this great city rebuild itself after Hurricane Katrina.

Just as you have rallied time after time to help Israel weather the storms it has faced, you rallied to help New Orleans to get back on its feet.

You should be proud of what you have been doing for the Jewish people and the Jewish state, and for others. I am doubly proud to be with you here today. Thank you. continue reading…

Today marks 15 years since an assassin’s bullet killed my friend, Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister. Since his death, not a week has gone by that I have not missed him. I loved him and his wife, Leah, very much. On the occasion of the anniversary of his death, his yahrzeit, the world would do well to remember the lessons of his life: his vision for freedom, tolerance, cooperation, security and peace is as vital now as it was 15 years ago, when he happily spoke and sang for peace at a huge rally in Tel Aviv just before he was killed.

Rabin was utterly without pretense. When David Ben-Gurion sent him as a young man to represent Israel during armistice talks in 1949, he had never before worn a neck tie, so a friend tied it, and showed him how to loosen it so he could preserve the knot for future use. True to form, two weeks before his assassination, he arrived in Washington at a black-tie event without the black tie. We borrowed one for him, and I still smile whenever I think about straightening it for him, just as Hillary does when she remembers how he complained when she made him go out on the Truman Balcony to smoke.

The story of Yitzhak Rabin and the story of Israel are intertwined. He took up arms to defend Israel’s freedom, and laid down his life to secure Israel’s future. When he came to the White House in 1993 to sign the Declaration of Principles with the Palestinians, he was a military hero, uniquely prepared to lead his people into a new era. Before shaking the hand of Yasir Arafat, a man he had long considered his mortal foe, he spoke directly to the Palestinian people:

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Israel is holding its first International Conference on Homeland Security from October 31st until November 3rd, 2010.

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon addressed the delegates on the first morning of the conference where he spoke about the need for global cooperation in the fight against violence and crime and the necessity to make technological advancements available for ensuring civilian security.

At the conference, Israel’s significant contributions to international counterterrorism activities, homeland security and protection, as well as the vast body of knowledge that Israel has amassed in this field, will be presented. Israel is eager to share its experience and know-how with its partners around the world in order to increase global cooperation in battling crime and violence and achieving a better life.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes with satisfaction that among the 700 delegates expected to participate in the conference can be found ministers of the interior and homeland security of various states as well as a long list of other distinguished guests. The Ministry is confident that the conference will lead to accelerated cooperation among the participants and will contribute to the security of civilians and public institutions in the participating countries.

The conference was organized by the Export Institute, in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, the Ministry for Public Security, Israeli Airports Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Ministry welcomes the hundreds of delegates who have come to Israel from abroad, including ministers, inspectors general and other senior officials.

To read a summary of DFM Ayalon’s address at the conference, click here.