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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Current behind-the-scenes Israeli-Palestinian talks include negotiations aimed at dividing Jerusalem, according to a senior Palestinian negotiator involved in the negotiations.

“Since [last November's U.S.-sponsored] Annapolis [summit], our regular meetings have been dealing with all the core issues, yes, of course including Jerusalem,” said the Palestinian negotiator, who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

The official said he was talking off the record for fear of contradicting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has repeatedly insisted that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are not dealing with the status of Jerusalem.

Israel’s Shas party, an important coalition partner in Olmert’s government, has stated it would bolt the prime minister’s coalition if it becomes clear the Israeli government is negotiating the ceding of any part of Jerusalem. Shas’s departure could collapse Olmert’s government.

“The negotiations are going slow but they continue and are substantive,” said the Palestinian negotiator. “We are not yet at the point where we are taking out maps and talking about this street or that street but Jerusalem is being dealt with now almost entirely in general terms, with an agreement that some Arab neighborhoods will become Palestinian.”

Continued the negotiator: “For Israeli political reasons, there seems to be a move to wait until the end of negotiations to discuss specifics of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, we are watching closely any attempts to create facts on the ground such as illegal Israeli construction.”

(Israeli construction in Jerusalem is not illegal if approved by the government.)

Syria Developing Missile Arsenal

Syria, aided by Russia and Iran, has in recent months been furiously acquiring rockets and missiles that include projectiles capable of hitting the entire state of Israel, according to Jordanian and Israeli security officials speaking to WorldNetDaily.

A Jordanian security official said one of the main reasons Damascus did not retaliate after Israel carried out its Sept. 6 air strike inside Syria, allegedly targeting a nascent nuclear facility, was because Syria’s rocket infrastructure was not yet complete.

The Jordanian official said Syria is aiming to possess enough projectiles to fire over 100 rockets into Israel per hour for a sustained period of time. According to Israeli and Jordanian officials, Syria recently quietly struck a deal with Russia that allows Moscow to station submarines and war boats off Syrian ports.

In exchange, Russia is supplying Syria with weaponry at lower costs, with some of the missiles and rockets being financed by Iran.

Google Gets it Wrong

An Israeli town has filed a criminal complaint against Internet giant Google after surprised municipal officials discovered that Google Earth, the popular, user-driven satellite map, falsely labels their city as stolen Palestinian land.

“[The label] is simply complete nonsense,” said Yossi Ben-Artzi, a history professor at Israel’s Haifa University. “Kiryat Yam was built on sand dunes, and there wasn’t any Palestinian village in the area. The lands were bought in 1939 by the Gav Yam construction company.”

The professor was responding to a criminal complaint filed by the northern Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam, which a Google Earth user mapped as stolen by Jews when Israel was founded in 1948.

The claim is strange since Kiryat Yam was founded in the 1930′s and not in 1948, when the Google user claims Jews expelled Arabs from the site. Still, a Google spokesman said the posting on the map doesn’t violate Google policy and that the Palestinian label would not be removed.

This is not the first time Google Earth drew controversy alleging pro-Palestinian bias.

This column reported last year that while Jerusalem serves as Israel’s capital, and the Temple Mount is located within Israeli sovereignty, Google Earth divides the city and places the Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – within Palestinian territory.

Interactive Google Earth maps still mark eastern sections of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as “occupied territory,” set to become part of a future Palestinian state.

Protest Calls For Olmert’s Resignation

Residents of the battered Israeli town of Sderot protested throughout the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv this week, calling for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign due to the Israeli government’s failure to prevent constant rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip destroying life in nearby Jewish communities.

Senior Israel Defense Forces officials petitioned Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to approve a large-scale ground assault in Gaza, stating that only a massive ground operation and the temporary re-occupation of parts of the Strip would halt the rocket fire.

Instead, according to defense officials, Olmert only approved stepped-up air strikes against terrorist leaders involved in the rocket fire and the surgical targeting of rocket crews and explosive facilities. Defense officials indicated, however, that a ground assault could be approved within weeks.

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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