Israel Briefs 10-25-11

The latest news out of Israel.

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(Click photo to download. Caption: Ehud Barak. PD-US.)Barak: We Need a New Policy to Handle Abductions

Israel needs to revise its policy concerning abducted soldiers and citizens, according to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. In an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom, Barak said the country needs “a serious change in that matter.”

“A country that values life cannot afford to continue to apply slippery slope policies based on past deals,” Barak said last Saturday. “The debate on this matter needs an enlightened approach, and we need to balance our desire to free our captives with more comprehensive national interests in order to prevent similar cases. We need to adopt different rules, more in line with the policies of other Western countries, like the U.S., Britain, and Australia.”

Barak said the deal that freed Gilad Shalit will not affect Israel’s deterrence, but acknowledged the heavy price of the exchange. “We cannot ignore the fact that a single abduction resulted in the release of 1,000 terrorists,” he said.

Israel Hayom’s full interview with Barak can be found at

—Israel Hayom/JointMedia News Service

Despite Financial Hardship, Most Israelis Are Happy, Survey Finds

After summer’s protests over the high cost of living, a poll by the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry has found that most Israelis are in fact happy with their lives.

According to the poll, which was published Monday, the ultra-Orthodox community is more content than its secular counterpart, Jews are happier than Arabs, and long-time residents of Israel are more pleased than new immigrants. The most disenfranchised immigrants are from the former Soviet Union.

The poll shows families with children to be the happiest, with 92 percent expressing contentment, while 86 percent of families without children said they were happy. Even 78 percent of single-parent families said they were happy. Israel’s elderly were also relatively happy, with 80 percent expressing happiness.

—Israel Hayom/JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: A view of Tel Aviv from Jaffa. PD-Israel.)Hezbollah: Tel Aviv Will Be Hit First in the Next War

Tel Aviv will be the first target of any future war with Israel, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently told a group of Hezbollah leaders, according to Lebanese media.

“If Israel attempts another attack in Lebanon, it won’t be the northern communities in Israel that will be hit first, but Tel Aviv and its surroundings,” the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar quoted Nasrallah as saying.

According to the report, Nasrallah claimed that if Israel declares war on Lebanon and Hezbollah, his organization would deploy and activate a myriad of “surprises” currently at their disposal, some which “could change the balance of the Middle East.” Nasrallah also said that Hezbollah supposedly has concrete evidence that Israel is planning a preemptive strike on the terrorist organization, and as a result they are gearing up for retaliation.

—Israel Hayom/JointMedia News Service


Lieberman Slams Abbas as ‘Obstacle to Peace,’ Calls for Resignation

The obstacle to peace is not settlements, it is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday in a sharp comment on the Palestinian leader whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on to resume negotiations.

Talking to reporters in Jerusalem, the Israel Beiteinu chairman said Abbas was “the obstacle to peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors,” and that, “It would be better for everyone if he left.” Abbas has frequently threatened to resign his position if progress is not made on peace talks with Israel.

On Monday, Lieberman called on Abbas to resign and make way for a new Palestinian leader. “If he returns the keys, this will not be a threat, but a blessing,” the foreign minister said. He did not name a possible successor for Abbas, and refused to say whether he was referring to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He said the successor should come from among “Palestinians who studied in the West, who are educated, and who can take the place of Abbas.”

—Israel Hayom/JointMedia News Service


A Leafy Ambassador from the Holy Land to the Vatican

A 400-year-old olive tree, grown in the hills of northern Israel near Nazareth, was replanted last Saturday in the pope’s garden at the Vatican. The tree was a present from Israel following Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu’s promise during his last visit to Italy to present the Vatican with a tree from the holy land.

Nazareth is where the bible says that Joseph and Mary made their home. The couple traveled to Bethlehem just before their son’s birth to register for the census in Joseph’s home. After being presented at the temple, the family returned home to Nazareth. It is the city where Jesus would grow up, and is an enormously important site in the eyes of the Catholic Church and the Vatican.

“I hope that this olive tree, a symbol of peace since the days of Noah, will bring a blessing of peace to Israel and to the entire world,” said Jewish National Fund Chairman Effi Stenzler.

—Israel Hayom/JointMedia News Service


Former Defense Minister: Shalit Deal Was Close Two Weeks After Abduction

Gilad Shalit was almost set free two weeks after being abducted in 2006, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz said.

Appearing on Channel 2’s “Meet the Press” program, Peretz, who was defense minister at the time of Shalit’s abduction, said last Saturday, “Less than two weeks after the abduction, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak notified then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the deal was closed and that he would apparently receive word on that Friday at 4 p.m. that Shalit had been released.”

Peretz continued, “On that night, we put into motion a plan that involved a special team headed by a National Security Council official and an additional team that worked with us, and remained in continuous contact with those involved with the deal. Two Egyptian generals were permanently stationed in Gaza to work on the deal, and Olmert told me that Mubarak had apparently clinched the deal. In fact, even the date and time of Shalit’s release were agreed upon: Friday, two weeks after the abduction, at 4 p.m.”

However, Peretz said something went wrong. “We were waiting for Mubarak’s word, after which we were ready to retrieve Shalit. We had an agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to release Palestinian prisoners, but something happened between the Egyptians and Hamas.”

—Israel Hayom/JointMedia News Service


Released Prisoner Vows Another Suicide Mission

Wafa al-Bis, one of the Palestinian terrorists freed in the first phase of the Gilad Shalit deal, said last week that she “would be a suicide bomber three times over if I could,” The Telegraph reported.

“As long as there is going to be occupation over all of Palestine, martyrs will be there to resist and to fight, and I will be among the first of the strugglers,” she told the newspaper.

In 2005, Bis, then 21, was caught on the way to an Israeli hospital with 22 pounds of explosives sewn into her underwear.

“I wanted to be the first female martyr from Gaza to kill Israeli soldiers and I wanted to kill as many as I could,” she said, according to The Telegraph.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on October 25, 2011 and filed under Israel.