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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Large numbers of Israeli forces maintained some of their positions in Hebron ahead of the planned eviction of 11 families living in a Jewish-owned marketplace, but senior military officials said the evacuation is being delayed due to a shortage of forces. There was a massive general military deployment in the West Bank this week amid security concerns surrounding Wednesday’s Palestinian elections.

The officials said the army and police will continue to maintain a larger than usual number of forces on the ground in and near Hebron. They said several thousand reserves will be called up to secure Hebron and the surrounding areas during the evictions. The operation, they said, will utilize horse-mounted police, water cannons and tear gas for possible use against protesters.

The Israeli Defense Forces last week declared Hebron a closed military zone, saying the move was an effort to stem the flow of protesters ahead of the eviction of the families living in a converted marketplace at the entrance to the Jewish section of the city. The closure was temporarily lifted. Dozens of protesters, including minors and women with infants, have been arrested in protests.

At a Cabinet meeting this week, interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed the IDF to prepare a plan to immediately evacuate the Hebron market if occupants refuse to leave voluntarily. Israel says the evictions will be carried out by February 15.

Hebron spokesman David Wilder said Hebron leaders have been conducting negotiations with the IDF to end the standoff, but, he contends, “it’s becoming increasingly clear Olmert and [senior Kadima member Tzippy] Livni want to use a Hebron eviction as an example to show Israel and the world their policy is expulsion of Jews and withdrawals.”

*******

A dovish Israeli lawmaker has proposed a multibillion-dollar bill to pay Jewish residents of the West Bank to relocate from their communities to an area outside the territory, fuelling speculation here Israel may be planning a large-scale withdrawal from the West Bank.

“I see Israel giving up the vast majority of the West Bank, either in a peace deal or perhaps unilaterally. My bill is meant to give hope and a sense of security to the settlers who will have to get out of the territory or may even be forced out,” said Knesset Member Avshalom Vilan of the extreme leftist Meretz-Yahad party.

Vilan’s evacuation campaign, termed One Home, seeks $2-$3 billion in state aid to pay upwards of 80,000 West Bank Jewish residents in 68 communities to leave their homes located outside Israel’s security fence.

About 200,000 Jews live in the West Bank. The security fence, still under construction in certain areas, cordons off nearly 95 percent of the territory from Israel’s pre-1967 borders. More than half the West Bank’s Jewish residents reside on the side of the fence closest to Israel. Vilan says One Home is focused on compensation for only those residents caught outside the security fence.

Many West Bank Jewish residents and nationalist leaders fear Vilan’s Knesset bill foreshadows an Israeli evacuation of the territory.

“The bill itself is rubbish,” charged Knesset Member Effie Eiam of Israel’s National Union. “It is meant to foster dialogue in the Knesset and the country about an Israeli withdrawal. It̓s all rhetoric to help create the atmosphere for a withdrawal.”

*******

The suicide bombing that wounded at least 31 in Tel Aviv last week was coordinated by the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, despite a claim of responsibility by Islamic Jihad.

“We were behind this holy attack. We coordinate often with Islamic Jihad. In today’s case, Al Aqsa supplied the bomber with a martyrdom belt and we backed it in many other ways I can’t speak of,” said Abu Jihad, the Al Aqsa chief for the northern West Bank.

Other senior members of the Al Aqsa cell stating they were involved in the attack previously told WND during in-person interviews they regularly receive funding from the Syrian and Iran-backed Hizbullah militia. The cell is led by Al Aqsa’s Balata camp chief, Ala Senakreh.

The Al Aqsa leaders, some speaking on condition their names be with held, warned that their group, along with Islamic Jihad, would attempt more suicide bombings in the next few weeks ahead of Israeli elections.

*******

Hamas, responsible for more than 100 suicide bombings and scores of shooting and rocket attacks, is “interested” in Israeli peace proposals and may be willing to negotiate indirectly with the Jewish state, Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip, said in a widely reported interview – while ruling out the possibility of his terror group disarming or ceasing “resistance” attacks.

“If the Israelis have an offer to be discussed and [the offer includes] two very important points – the release of all [Palestinian] detainees and a stop of all Israeli aggression, including the process of withdrawal from the West Bank…then we are going to search for an effective and constructive process,” said al-Zahar during a joint interview conducted by WorldNetDaily and ABC Radio.

Al-Zahar blasted the road map and general American involvement in Palestinian affairs. He refused to justify his new-found inclination toward negotiations alongside Hamas’s official charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel by “assaulting and killing,” and rejects all peace talks with the Jewish state.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He is a co-host of ABC Radio’s nationally syndicated John Batchelor Show and can be heard regularly on several top American radio programs.

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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