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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

President-elect Barack Obama is considering appointing his top Mideast adviser, Daniel Kurtzer, as U.S. envoy to the Middle East, a senior Israeli diplomatic source told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. Officials in Jerusalem previously told this column Kurtzer was likely to become Obama’s envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

  Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel under George W. Bush, has been viewed by a number of Jewish and Israeli leaders as being biased against Israel. “With Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States,” Benjamin Nentanyahu was quoted as saying in 2001 by Haaretz.

  Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Kurtzer “frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel.”

  Morris Amitay, former executive director of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2001, “Kurtzer … will use his Jewishness as a protective cover for his anti-Israel views.”

  Kurtzer came under fire last summer when he traveled to Damascus where he reportedly urged Syrian officials to fast-track negotiations with Israel aiming at an Israeli withdrawal from the strategic Golan Heights. Kurtzer at the time stressed he was not in Damascus as part of Obama’s campaign but instead visiting as a private expert attending an international lawyers conference.

  Neither Kurtzer’s office nor Obama’s transition team responded to requests for comment.
 
Terrorists Granted Amnesty Planned Foiled Attack

  Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization were involved in planning a foiled suicide attack targeting Tel Aviv’s central bus station last week, terrorist and security sources told WorldNetDaily. Information obtained also indicates that specific Fatah terrorists granted amnesty in recent months by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plotted the attack.

  Last Tuesday, Israeli police, acting on specific intelligence, thwarted what they said would have been a large-scale terrorist bombing of Tel Aviv’s bus station, arresting a Palestinian resident of the West Bank city of Jenin who had infiltrated Israel with explosives.

  This column has learned that the original intelligence alerting security forces to the planned bombing came with the arrest – just hours before the plot was halted – of Ahmed Amire, a Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member in Jenin who had been pardoned by Olmert last June.  

  A leader of the Brigades took credit for the foiled attack along with the Islamic Jihad terror group. Nevertheless, the Israeli media and official Israeli government spokesmen declared that the thwarted bombing was an Islamic Jihad operation, omitting mention of Fatah and its Brigades.
 
Olmert Grants More Terrorists Amnesty

  In a gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday granted full amnesty to 45 terrorists from Abbas’s Fatah organization, Palestinian security officials told this column.

  Last June, Olmert granted temporary amnesty to 178 terrorists on condition they disarm, refrain from attacks and spend three months in PA detention facilities and another three months confined to the West Bank city in which they reside. According to the terms of the amnesty, if the terrorists fulfilled their end of the deal, Olmert’s office would grant permanent amnesty, allowing them freedom of movement in the West Bank and taking them off Israel’s most wanted list of terrorists to ensure they are not arrested.

  In spite of rampant Israeli media reports that many of the 178 pardoned terrorists refused to disarm and continued carrying out attacks, Olmert last October pardoned 48 more Al Aqsa Brigades members and earlier this year pardoned at least 80 more. About 45 percent of the temporarily-pardoned terrorists received permanent Israeli amnesty in coordination with Olmert’s office and Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services.
 
Muslim Cleric Calls On Obama To Convert

  Claiming Obama has roots in the Islamic religion, an Egyptian cleric has broadcast a plea urging the president-elect to convert to Islam while warning that if the U.S. doesn’t withdraw its troops from the Middle East and provide aid to Muslims, those “eager for [death]” will attack America.

  Egyptian cleric Hassan Abu Al-Ashbal, speaking last week on the state-funded Al Nas religious television network, declared, “You, Obama, are among those who have pledged before Allah – Allah who created you, sustained you, and brought you to this position – to be a Muslim who believes that Allah is the one God, especially since you have some kind of roots in Islam.”

  He added, “Convert to Islam, and you will be saved. All glory and honor lie in following Allah and his messenger, Muhammad. Know that the true religion is the religion of Islam, and all other religions are fabricated religions, which are null and void – religions that were abrogated by the shari’a of Muhammad.”

  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 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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