DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 1, 2009
After Labor and Kadima leader Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni refused to join his wall-to-wall national government, Israel's designated prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has launched negotiations for a centrist government coalition supported by a parliamentary majority of 65 members of the right-of-center and religious parties.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 25, 2009
While Labor is solidly behind Ehud Barak's decision to go into opposition, Tzipi Livni could not afford to shut the door because her Kadima party is on the point of revolt. They are eager to take up the top jobs on offer rather than joining her "fighting opposition."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 22, 2009
A special cabinet session Wednesday, Feb. 18, unanimously endorsed prime minister Ehud Olmert's demand that Gilead Shalit's freedom be a pre-condition for any truce arrangements for Gaza and its crossings. Until Olmert took the reins out of his hands, defense minister Barak had been leading the Israeli side of the Cairo talks without making the release of the Israeli soldier a priority. Olmert has cut him out of the picture.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 22, 2009
As he began consultations for the formation of Israel's post-election cabinet Wednesday, Feb. 18, President Shimon Peres made an extraordinary statement. Addressing the Presidents Conference, he admitted for the first time that Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005 was a mistake "which will not be repeated." His decision regarding the composition of the future government would therefore be dictated by its policies, he said.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 21, 2009
One of the hi-tech gadgets the Israeli Defense Forces exhibited at its Southern Command headquarters Tuesday, Feb. 17, was EyeBall, the size of a tennis ball. Tossed into a closed area it relays a 360-degree picture of its interior in 15 seconds. Made by ODF Optronics, Tel Aviv, this was one of the gadgets Israeli troops used in last month's Gaza operation to detect the booby traps with which Hamas wired homes, schools and bunkers.
Also used was an array of robots armed with cameras.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 19, 2009
US president Barack Obama has bought Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu's program for attacking the Palestinian issue by first building a strong West Bank economy, debkafile's Washington sources report. For its execution, Washington is in favor of Netanyahu forming a unity government in partnership with Kadima's Tzipi Livni and Labor's Ehud Barak. Outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert has invited Netanyahu to join his next consultation with Livni and Barak on handling the Hamas truce talks in Cairo.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 17, 2009
debkafile's political sources report that in preliminary talks Wednesday, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu offered Kadima's Tzipi Livni the pick of 10 top portfolios for joining a government led by him. He has refused to consider rotating the premiership between them. Rather than leaning on right-wing support, Netanyahu hopes to coax both Livni and Labor leader Ehud Barak to join his administration.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 15, 2009
Both claim the lead for forming the next government. Tzipi Livni's Kadima came out on top of Israel's general election Tuesday, Feb. 10, with 28 Knesset seats (out of 120)- only one place ahead of the 27 polled by Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud. He heads the right-of-center camp of 64 against the 56 of the center and left. Livni cannot form a government without Likud and defense minister Ehud Barak's Labor (13), unless her scant win is solidified by the still uncounted military votes. Neither can hope for a stable majority.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 10, 2009
The aspiring prime minister, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, broke new ground when she voiced her views on the Middle East dispute this week. She challenged US and European diplomacy's conventional wisdom of gearing peace to a two-state solution. Palestinian leader Ahmed Quraia followed her which disclosures of what he claimed to be Israel's last peace offer - and rejecting it out of hand.
Tzipi Livni used an apparent paradox to bury the two-state solution. In a speech she gave to high school pupils Thursday, Dec. 11, she said: "The place for Israeli Arabs to exercise their national aspirations is a future Palestinian state - not Israel, which is the Jewish national home." Livni's next comment: "No single Palestinian refugee will be admitted to Israel" was a roundabout message in the same vein to the Israeli Arab minority (a steady one-fifth of the population).
She clarified this later by saying that while Israeli Arabs would not be forced to leave or lose their civil rights, "those who wished to realize their national aspirations should look elsewhere," namely to a Palestinian state when it rises.
But what Palestine was she talking about?
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 8, 2009
Binyamin Netanyahu's apparent choice of the unpopular Ehud Barak to stay on as defense minister is one of his campaign blunders. It tells the voter that he is not offering hope for change.
Read debkafile's prognosis in its Special Analysis below.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 5, 2009
"To all the warmongers among you I say I am not minister of war but minister of defense."
This emotional statement was delivered by Ehud Barak Monday, Nov. 24, to his many critics at a briefing session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee. He went on to lambast Iran for its energetic pursuit of its nuclear program while deceiving the world. Israel does not rule out any option against a nuclear-armed Iran, he said, "but the less said about this better."
debkafile's military sources suggest that Barak take his own advice. While never short of words and promises, his performance in deeds is seriously wanting.
There are three fundamental problems with the defense minister's position and they explain why he is sinking fast in all the opinion polls:
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 24, 2009
The Israeli voter will want to know the name of the defense, finance and foreign ministers in Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu's shadow cabinet well before general election date of Feb. 10, 2009. He - and she - are desperate for a fresh, credible team capable of addressing its deep concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran, a missile-battered southwest and an impending economic recession. Netanyahu will have to take this into account. He will have to roll up his sleeves as soon as soon as the list of candidates is chosen by the 99,000 registered Likud voters on Dec. 8 and set about building an alternative transition team.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 20, 2009
Tests confirmed that the 5,500 meters deep Tamar-1 reservoir, off the Mediterranean coast of Haifa, contains at least 88 billion cu.m of gas, three times the amount discovered off the coast of Ashkelon. Davidson said the strata were of a promising thickness and quality in three separate places.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 5, 2009
The most up-to-date intelligence predictions of US nuclear experts is that by the end of 2009, Iran will have stocked enough weapons-grade fuel to build three nuclear bombs.
So what happened to the pledges made by the world powers over the years to keep nuclear weapons out of the Islamic Republic's hands, including declarations by US and Israeli leaders that their military options remained "on the table?"
Those pledges came from Israeli leaders on both sides of the aisle - prime minister Ehud Olmert, foreign minister Tzipi Livni (who has replaced him as Kadima chairman), defense minister Ehud Barak and opposition Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.
debkafile's political analysts comment: Their pledges have turned out to be as credible as the subsequence assurances of Olmert and his finance minister Ronnie Bar-On that the global economic crisis had skipped Israel and the public's savings and investments were safe.
This week, Israelis woke up to find one-third of their pension funds wiped out - and a nuclear-armed Iran on their horizon.
It will be left to the Israeli voter to decide how far he and she are ready to be gulled again when they go to the polls in February.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 2, 2009
debkafile's military sources assess the next stage of Israel's Gaza campaign as being a ground incursion of the Gaza Strip, to follow up the air bombardment of Hamas compounds Saturday, Dec. 27. Hamas estimates that in four minutes, dozens of Israeli bombers and helicopters flattened 30 "high profile" sites. At least 350 Palestinians were killed, 90 percent of them Hamas operatives.
Hamas is not not ready to show a white flag and will make a supreme effort to retaliate from Gaza, Lebanon and West Bank. Israel will therefore proceed to Stage Two of its Gaza operation.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 28, 2008
Israeli bombers hit Hamas' film center in southern Gaza Saturday night, Dec. 27, after massive air raids destroyed Hamas compounds across the enclave leaving 225 killed, 330 injured and thousands of shock victims. The operation followed a week in which Hamas fired 200 missiles at Israeli civilian targets.
The Israeli military spokesman said the Gaza operation is "just beginning."
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 27, 2008
The fifty or so missiles and rockets Hamas sent crashing into Israel Wednesday, Dec. 24, along with dozens of mortar rounds, represent no more than a quarter of its capabilities, debkafile's military sources report. They calculate that the fundamentalist Palestinian group can shoot 200 missiles a day with devastating consequences.
The Israeli cabinet took into account that Hamas would counter effective Israeli air strikes by fielding its long-range missiles against Ashdod and Beersheba.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 26, 2008
For the first time in 9 years of Palestinian warfare, anti-air gun fire was directed from the ground against Israeli aircraft, debkafile's military sources report. The guns opened up Sunday night, Dec. 21, against Apache helicopters still over Nahal Oz, before they crossed into Gaza air space after more than 20 missiles were fired that day.
Notwithstanding the severe escalation, a senior military source told debkafile that a substantive military raid is not on the IDF's immediate agenda.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 24, 2008
After several hours of debate, the senior ministers decided to let the defense authorities determine the timing and form of Israel's response to the heaviest Palestinian blitz it has ever sustained and to coordinate this response with Egypt.
Hamas owned up to the massive blitz of 70 missile and mortar rounds. Their radius extended north to Ashkelon and east to Netivot, leaving a trail of 57 shock victims -half children - and wrecked homes, vehicles, shops and roads. The Israeli military has made no effort to halt the attacks.
Israel closed the Gaza crossings until they stop, but Egypt broke the blockade by inviting any country wishing to help the Gaza population to direct aid through its territory.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 24, 2008
Israel has not reciprocated. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said Monday, Dec. 22, his organization and allied Palestinian armed factions in the Gaza Strip were observing a 24-hour halt in their missile attacks against Israel at Egypt's request to allow essential supplies to enter the enclave.