A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending March 5, 2009
Olmert to be indicted in case of Talansky cash envelopes
01 March: Preparing to end his term as prime minister, Ehud Olmert was informed Sunday, March 1 that state attorney Menahem Mazuz had decided to indict him on fraud, breach of public trust and receiving illicit funds in the Talansky case. The charge of bribery was dropped. Moshe Talansky, a Long Island businessman, testified last May that he gave Olmert payments of $670,000, largely stuffed in envelopes, from 1992 when he ran for mayor of Jerusalem to 2005 when he was minister of trade.
The prime minister's trial is subject to a special hearing, thereby launching the legal battles ahead of him. Another major inquiry pending against him relates to suspicions that he fraudulently doubled-billed sponsors for air tickets. Olmert stepped down as prime minister last year amid these corruption scandals, prompting the February 2009 general election. He is serving as caretaker until the Likud leader designated prime minister is able to form a coalition, possibly within days.
US actress Annette Bening hopes Tehran visit kick-starts US-Iran dialogue
01 March. In a brief statement Sunday, March 1, US film actress Annette Bening, in Tehran with a Hollywood delegation, said: “I hope we can be a bridge to open a dialogue between out two countries.”
This statement confirmed debkafile's report that president Barack Obama had launched his bid for talks with Iran with a piece of “Hollywood diplomacy,” mirroring Richard Nixon's ping-pong diplomacy which opened the door to China 38 years ago.
The American visitors were greeted with a demand from president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's art adviser that Hollywood apologize for 30 years of “insults and slanders” about Iranians in their films. He cited the 2007 war epic “300” for its portrayal of their ancestors as “bloodthirsty” in the Greco-Persian wars and “The Wrestler” for the tearing of the Iranian flag in by the 2009 Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke.
“We will believe in Obama's policy of change when we see change in Hollywood too.” said the Iranian official.
International aid to Gaza will end up with Hamas and… in Tehran
02 March: After the 80 delegations, led by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, leave Sharm e-Sheikh Monday, March 2, the $4.5 billion they pledged to aid Gaza's reconstruction may be channeled through the Palestinian Authority, but it will eventually end up strengthening Hamas and paying Iran for arming the Palestinian Islamist terrorists. No more than 15 c in the dollar will reach the Gaza populace.
This is the money trail followed by debkafile.
The truism that Hamas controls everything that moves in Gaza was amply borne out by the Quartet's envoy Tony Blair. He postponed entering Gaza for months over threats to his life. He finally went in – albeit not too far in – Sunday, March 1 under the protection of an armed Hamas escort.
While there, he may well have heard the whistle of the five missiles Hamas and its ilk fired into Israel that day, one destroying an Ashkelon school.
Ironically, Israel is one of the donors.
The free world and its donors are not contesting their division of labor with Iran – they put up the cash, part of which is diverted to this terror sponsor par excellence for missiles. The delegations meeting in Sharm e-Sheikh prefer to go home feeling virtuous, having shown their support for the most fashionable international aid cause in the world.
Hamas and its sponsors can then drop their public pose as victims and have a good laugh over the Western world's gullibility.
Gaza Hamas leader keynote speaker at Iran anti-Israel conference
03 March: debkafile's counter-terror sources that Gaza's Hamas strongman Mahmoud A-Zahar was given an Israeli safe passage to travel from Gaza to Cairo in mid-February.
He made straight for Damascus and Tuesday, March 3, was flown to Tehran to deliver the keynote speech at a conference called by the Islamic Republic as a counterweight to the international donors' conference sponsored by the US and Egypt this week.
The draft resolution prepared for endorsement Wednesday calls for Israeli leaders to be prosecuted for “war crimes” in the Gaza Strip.
debkafile notes that Barak let A-Zahar leave Gaza against a promise by Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman that the Hamas leader would be willing to sign onto a long-term truce in the Gaza Strip, a process that would bring forward the release of the captive Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit.
Barak still believes this will happen notwithstanding evidence to the contrary – including daily missile fire from the Gaza Strip.
Five Pakistani police killed, 7 Sri Lanka cricketers injured in suspected Lashkar a-Taibe ambush
03 March. debkafile's counter-terror sources report: The attack by 14 gunmen on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore was better planned and organized than the terrorist attack on the Indian town of Mumbai last November albeit by the same hand. In Mumbai nine of the 10 assailants were killed; in Lahore, they all got away unhurt.
The outrage which cancelled an important Test match between two of the finest cricket teams in the world was also a setback to the policy advanced by the new US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke for patching up the Pakistan-Indian quarrel in order to bring New Delhi into the Afghanistan peacemaking process.
Like their Mumbai fellows, the gunmen carried big backpacks but in addition to automatic rifles and explosives they also packed grenades, rockets, RPGs and a large shoulder-borne missile.
debkafile's counter-terror sources disclose that most of the Lashkar e-Taibe's commanders and members pulled out of Pakistan in early 2008 and relocated at al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan. But they enjoy enough popularity in the Pakistan street to operate in almost any part of the country and then go safely to ground.
The Sri Lankan convoy's route to Lahore stadium was changed at the last minute but the terrorists nonetheless received a tip-off in time for their ambush.
Clinton sends two US officials to Damascus, says two-state solution “inescapable”
03 March. Visiting US secretary of state Hillary Clinton detached two officials from her delegation in Jerusalem for a visit to Damascus “to explore some bilateral issues.
They are the State Department's top Middle East official, Jeffrey Feltman, and Dan Shapiro from the White House national security council.
In her meetings with Israel leaders, she pledged “everything we can to ensure Israel's security now and into the future” and repeated her warnings that rocket attacks from Gaza “must cease.”
She also said she shared “Israel's concern about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and continued financing of terrorist organizations.”
There is no time to waste, said Clinton, before engaging the Palestinians and achieving a stable ceasefire in Gaza which is only possible if the rocket fire stops. “The inevitability of a two-state solution is inescapable,” she said.
But she also assured that differences of opinion on that vital issue with any Israeli government would not harm the friendly relations.
Israel's designated prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has shied away from a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. He stressed to Clinton that Iran is blocking the Palestinian and all other Middle East issues. Therefore dealing with Tehran and its determination to attain a nuclear bomb is the overriding priority.
A “malicious” source in Iran accessed data on helicopter in Obama's fleet
03 March. Employees at the data monitoring firm Tiversa discovered last week that the blueprints and other sensitive data of a helicopter in President Barack Obama's fleet had been gained online. The US Navy is investigating how a “malicious” source in Iran accessed the information.
Iran's leaders: Israel cancerous tumor, Obama pursues same wrong path as Bush
04 March. Leading a concentrated outpouring of venomous hate, Iran's supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared Wednesday, March 4, that President Barack Obama is pursuing the same “wrong path” as his predecessor George W. Bush in supporting Israel – “a cancerous tumor” – and he saw no change.
At a conference in Tehran on the Palestinians, he said: “Another big mistake is to say that the only way to save the Palestinian nation is by negotiations.” Negotiations with whom?” he asked. “America and Britain committed the biggest sin in creating and support this cancerous tumor…
“The way to save [the Palestinians] is by standing firm and resisting [euphemism for terror].”
President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad told the conference: “The story of the Holocaust, a nation without a homeland and a homeland without a nation… are the biggest lies of our era.”
4 March Briefs:
- The Arab League is “greatly disturbed” by the internal criminal court's warrant to arrest the Sudanese president Omar Sharif.
- Clinton after talks with Palestinian leaders: “Obama administration is vigorously engaged in forging lasting peace in Middle East.
- French delegation will walk out of Geneva racism conference if anti-Israel- or anti-Semitic statements or proposals made.
Labor edges towards joining Netanyahu government
05 March. debkafile's political sources report that the Histadrut Trade Unions leader, Ofer Eini, who has emerged as supreme national fixer in the ongoing crises over business closures and layoffs, threw his support behind the outgoing defense minister Ehud Barak's bid to join Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud-led government. Eini's backing, voiced in a radio interview Thursday, March 5, is helping Barak buck the revolt of stalwarts who insist on taking the part into opposition. It also edges Netanyahu closer to his goal of a broad national government.
Netanyahu is playing on widespread reports of his impending offer of the foreign affairs ministry to Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Israel Beitenu foreign affairs, in order to bring Labor and Kadima to the table. If they step in, he would likely drop Israel Beitenu.
March 5 Briefs
- Four Qassam missiles from Gaza explode harmlessly at Sdot Hanegev and Shear Hanegev Thursday.
- Two Palestinians killed, 2 injured, while firing anti-tank missiles at an Israeli armored force near Kissufim. An Israeli air strike took them out.
- US will not deal with Hamas in Palestinian unity administration before Israel recognition.
- UK mulls direct contacts with Hizballah's “political wing.”
- Sen. Kerry reports Damascus would go back to indirect talks with Israel.
Israel must agree to Saudi peace plan, restoration of Golan.
Rampaging Palestinian tractor driver shot in central Jerusalem
05 March. The Palestinian tractor driver hoisted a police van, injuring two police officers, in heavy traffic near the Jerusalem Malha shopping mall. As the tractor driver tried to toss the police van with his shovel onto a bus packed with schoolgirls, a passing taxi driver pulled a gun and shot him dead, cutting the rampage short before it claimed more victims on the gridlocked highway.
This was the third time a Palestinian terrorist used a tractor to attack highway traffic in downtown Jerusalem.