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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Did Israel deliberately hide Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s organization’s responsibility for the murder of a Jew until the completion of last week’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit?

That’s the question opposition politicians and some security officials here are asking regarding the terrorist shooting of a Jewish resident of the West Bank just days before Abbas departed for Annapolis.

Two weeks ago, Israeli Ido Zoldan was gunned down by Palestinians in the northern West Bank. Immediately after the killing, leaders of Abbas’s military wing, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, called this column to take credit for the attack.

This week, the Israel Defense Forces released for publication an announcement that Israeli security agents caught the culprits of the Zoldan murder two weeks ago, in the hours after the killing and days before Annapolis. The culprits were a cell of Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, whose members double as paid police officers for Abbas’s Fatah organization.

The news that Abbas’s forces carried out the murder did not receive much media play in Israel. The three major newspapers published back-page articles reporting that arrests were made, but two of the three newspapers did not mention that Abbas’s group was responsible.

Asked why the IDF withheld publication of the arrests of the Fatah security officers for the Zoldon murder until after Annapolis, a spokeswoman for the army deferred the question to a superior, who did not return calls before publication.

Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the IDF was not involved in the decision to hold back the information.

“In this case, the IDF spokesmen didn’t even get information about the arrest until yesterday,” said an IDF source. “The arrests were made by the Shin Bet security services. If you want to know why they waited to give us the information, just ask the prime minister’s office.”

The IDF source said the decision to withhold the information was probably political. An announcement that Abbas’s police officers carried out the attack could have generated domestic opposition to Annapolis.

Olmert Faulted in Arab Construction

During 10 years as mayor of Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed city workers not to take action against hundreds of illegal Arab building projects throughout eastern sections of Jerusalem, allegedly telling municipal workers that the area one day would be handed to the Palestinians, according to former workers speaking to WorldNetDaily.

The workers charge that Olmert even instructed city officials to delete files documenting illegal Arab construction of housing units in eastern Jerusalem that currently house an estimated 100,000 Arabs.

Olmert was Jerusalem mayor from 1993 to 2003. As mayor he made repeated public statements calling Jerusalem the “eternal and undivided capital” of Israel.

“He did nothing about rampant illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem while the government cracked down on illegal Jewish construction in the West Bank,” said a municipal employee who worked under Olmert.

Aryeh King, chairman of the Jerusalem Forum, which promotes Jewish construction in Jerusalem, led an investigation that says it found Olmert’s City Hall deleted files documenting hundreds of illegal Arab building projects throughout eastern sections of the city.

The illegal buildings in Jerusalem were reportedly constructed without permits and are still standing. According to law, they must be demolished.

The Jerusalem municipality released a statement in response to the allegations claiming the threat of Arab violence kept it from bulldozing the illegal Arab homes.

PA Negotiator: Olmert Already Ceded Temple Mount

Olmert’s statements this week that Israel’s sovereignty over the Temple Mount is not up for negotiation are “false,” according to a chief Palestinian negotiator who told this column that the Israeli leader had already agreed to forfeit Judaism’s holiest site to a coalition of Arab countries.

In a briefing to reporters Olmert said negotiations started at last week’s Annapolis summit had no bearing on the situation on the Temple Mount.

“What Olmert said [regarding the Mount] is absolutely false. I think he’s not yet ready to tell the Israeli public and is waiting for the right time and he fears his coalition with religious extremists will fall apart if he announces it now,” said a senior Palestinian negotiator.

According to the negotiator, Olmert agreed to evacuate the Mount but not to turn it over to the Palestinians alone. The negotiator said both sides agreed the Temple Mount would be given to joint Egypt, Jordan and Palestinian Authority control.

The Palestinian negotiator pointed out that Israeli prime ministers have previously denied withdrawal plans, only to carry them out later.
 
Weak Partner Better Than No Partner?

Just days after committing to negotiations aimed at evacuating strategic territory to Abbas, Olmert this week admitted that the Palestinian leader is weak and may never gain the power necessary to implement law and order.

“We now have a partner [in Abbas.] He is a weak partner, who is not capable, and, as Tony Blair says, has yet to formulate the tools and may not manage to do so,” Olmert told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. The comments did not receive wide attention.

But Olmert, during the same interview, went on to state that he would nevertheless negotiate with Abbas.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief  for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the recently published book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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