Sunday, April 22, 2007

Two Resignations and some Fighting

Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson, who is suspected of theft, has suspended himself for three months. until the investigation into allegations that he embezzled millions of shekels is over.

Hirschson informed Prime Minister Olmert of his decision on Monday morning. Earlier in the morning Prime Minister Olmert, giving an interview on Israel Radio’s “Reshet Bet” dodged the issue of Hirschson saying that the interview was a pre-Memorial Day subject and not one of government actions, proper or improper.
In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Hirchson explained "under the public atmosphere created, I feel that it would not be right to continue serving as finance minister.

"My public responsibility and my conscience were the deciding factor, as well as the recognition that my family members are the ones being harmed, and I should fulfill my responsibility as a family man and be with them at this time, beyond my being a public figure," the suspended minister said.

The police claim to have strengthened their case that Hirchson embezzled funds from the non-profit Nili organization (associated with the National Workers' Organization) while he headed the workers' association.

Hirchson is accused of using the funds to finance a political campaign and cover the illegal gambling debts of one of Nili's directors.
In an interview with Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet on the eve of Israel’s Memorial day, PM Olmert responded to interviewer Aryeh Golan by saying that while he understood Golan wouldn’t like the answer, the Prime Minister didn’t think this was the right time or place to discuss the matter. PM Olmert also refused to discuss the charges of larceny against his office manager Shula Zakin, and the recently convicted former Justice Minister Chaim Ramon.

Olmert did say that mistakes were made in the War in Lebanon II, and those mistakes would be corrected. He said that on the eve of Israel’s 59th birthday, Israel was a strong vibrant country with a strong economy. He said that Israel had a host of enemies lined up to do it harm, from Islamic Jihad, to Hamas, and Iran. On the diplomatic front PM Olmert said that Syria had made no serious ovations to make peace with Israel.

The media has lately been filled with stories about Syria threatening to go to war with Israel to retake the Golan Heights, under Israel’s possession since the 1967 Six-Day war. Approximately 14,000 Jewish residents now live in the Golan Heights.

Military analysts believe that the possibility of Syria misreading Israel’s strength or weakness could encourage Syria to strike Israel thinking Israel was about to strike Syria. According to the prestigious Haaretz newspaper’s military analyst Ze’ev Shiff, Syria has been arming herself with advanced missile systems, both offensive and defensive. Some of the missiles, according to Shiff emanate from Iran, like the North Korean built 820c.

While the government is undergoing scrutiny, Balad Chairman, MK Azmi Bishara, resigned from Knesset on Sunday. He did so in a letter sent to the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. Bishara left Israel a number of weeks ago and has not returned. The media speculates that he was tipped off about the investigation against him and fled before he was arrested.

Bishara is one of the leading Israeli Arab Knesset members. His resignation takes place amid a cloud of suspicion. A press gag order has kept the exact details of the case from the public, but informed sources believe that the Shin Bet and Mossad have gathered enough evidence against Bishara to charge him with treason and money laundering..

Bishara has often been a visitor to Syria and other Arab countries. He was usually harshly criticized in the press upon his return. Bishara told the Arab TV channel Al Jazeera, that he would eventually return to Israel to face charges, but that he was setting down “new rules to the game.”

Bishara began his political career in the left-wing Communist camp, but was in favor of dialogue and co-existence between Arabs and Jews. His ideology changed about ten years ago when he became antagonistic towards the Israeli government, even though he was in the Knesset.

In the Al Jazeera interview Bishara said, "Recently, the accusations voiced against me at the Knesset have become stronger. It appeared as if I was taking advantage of my immunity, but this was not the case. I don’t want to give the Right this opportunity and in any even I had planned to resign, and therefore I submitted my resignation.

"The resignation can be submitted either to the Knesset or to Israeli representatives abroad, so I submitted my resignation to the ambassador."

Bishara continued, "I decided not to wait, and to submit my resignation and end my plans here before returning to Israel. I did not want to give the Israeli Right the opportunity to hold this festival against me.”

Bishara has raised the question of Arab-Israeli loyalty. He is supported by other Arab-Israeli legislators but even they now seem to observers to be losing their credibility with the Israeli public.

Meanwhile more Kassam rockets fell in Israel. A rocket fell in the town of Sderot, damaging a house and lightly injuring two Israelis. The Israeli Defense Forces have been fighting the rise in attacks.

Hamas, The Islamic militant group, called Sunday for new attacks on Israel after nine Palestinians were killed by Israel Defense Forces troops over the weekend.

"The blood of our people is not cheap," Barhoum said in a statement.
in Nablus, Tanzim terrorist Amin Mahmoud Amin Lubadeh and Islamic Jihad terrorist Fahdel Muhammad Mahmoud Nur were killed in exchanges of fire with IDF forces during an attempt to arrest them.

According to informed security sources Amin Lubadeh was the leading manufacturer of bombs and explosive belts in the Samaria region and was involved in numerous attacks and attempted attacks against Israelis inside Israel and in the Nablus area. Lubadeh's activity was funded by Iran through Hezbollah and by terror operatives in the Gaza Strip.

Fahdel Nur, a wanted Islamic Jihad terrorist, was the assistant to Islamic Jihad commander Hani Awijan. Nur was considered to be Awijan's successor following his death in July 2006. He was involved in planning suicide bombings and recruiting bombers for attacks inside Israel. In the past few months Nur was closely involved with Amin Lubadeh in bomb construction efforts and other attack plans.

Three other gunmen from the Islamic Jihad branch in Jenin were also killed in a gunfight with IDF forces. While the gunmen were described by the IDF as senior activists, two were twenty-years old, and one twenty-four.

Israel will impose a complete blockade of the West Bank and Gaza over the coming holiday celebrating Israel’s 59th birthday.