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The Day In Israel: Thursday April 8th, 2010

Remember the Saudi cleric who said he would visit Jerusalem this week and film an episode of his show there to support Muslim claims to the city?

Turns out he is chicken sh*t.

Drats. I was really looking forward to hearing about the progress of his visa application.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

10:44PM: Ha’aretz reports:

The U.S. strongly condemns the glorification of terrorists by the Palestinian Authority and urges Palestinian leaders to curb incitement against Israel, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters on Thursday.

In his statement Crowley addressed both the recently uncovered naming of a Ramallah street after the Hamas suicide bombings mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, as well as to statements made by PA officials, condemning the refurbishing of an ancient synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Yihyeh Ayyash, also known as the “engineer,” for whom the Ramallah street was named, was the architect of multiple attacks, including a 1994 bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, which killed 20 people, and injured dozens.

Ayyash was killed in 1996 in what was most likely an Israeli assassination, after his cell phone exploded in his Beit Lahia home, in the Gaza Strip.

“We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists,” Crowley said, adding that “honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians, either by official statements or by the dedication of public places, hurts peace efforts and must end.”

The State Department official also added that the U.S. would ” continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement.”

Crowley also addressed comments made by PA officials in the wake of the rededication of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter.

Last month Palestinians rioted in Jerusalem as part of a “day of rage” declared by Hamas, also protesting the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Fatah official Khatem Abd el-Kader, called Palestinians to “converge on al Aksa to save it” from “Israeli attempts to destroy the mosque and replace it with the [Jewish] temple,” calling the synagogue’s rededication a “provocation,” adding that Israel is “playing with fire.”

In his statement Thursday, Crowley said that the U.S. was “disturbed by comments of Palestinian Authority officials regarding reconstruction and refurbishing of Jewish sites in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.”

This represents the first time the US has demanded anything of the palestinians in a long time.

Interestingly enough, the Ha’aretz report initially dealt exclusively with the PA’s accusation that Israel’s use of the term incitement is absurd. But for some inexplicable reason, Ha’aretz decided to delete the first story and replace it with this one on the US’ stance on palestinian incitement. You can still see evidence of the initial report in the comments to it.

10:28PM: Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist Ahmed had always dreamed of being a star on Broadway.

dancing terrorist

2:10PM: The big news here is the lifting of the media gag order on the Anat Kam case, which has been publicized by all and sundry outside of Israel.

anat kam
Channel 2

A media gag order was lifted Thursday on information pertaining to a case widely publicized outside of Israel in recent days, in which a former IDF soldier is accused of handing sensitive information to a local journalist.

On October 28, 2008, an article was published in Ha’aretz newspaper that accused the IDF of defying an Israeli Supreme Court ruling against killing wanted Palestinian terrorist who could have been captured alive. A November 2008 story suggested the military had unilaterally loosened its rules of engagement and marked terrorists for assassination.

Following the publication, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi – with permission from then-Attorney General Menahem Mazuz asked the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and police to launch an investigation in order to discover who had leaked the documents cited by journalists Uri Blau in his articles.

The purpose of the probe was twofold – on the one hand, to discover the identity of the source, and secondly, to recover all the documents that were believed to be in the journalists possession. In early 2009 the IDF’s field security unit, together with the Shin Bet, began the investigation.

According to the Shin Bet, close to 2,000 documents were copied by Anat Kam when she served as the assistant to the bureau chief of OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh between 2005 and 2007. The documents contained top secret information concerning General Staff orders, personnel numbers in the Central Command, intelligence information, information on the IDF doctrine and data pertaining to central sensitive military exercises, weaponry and military platforms. The files also contained details on what the Central Command does in the event of a major escalation – how it deploys forces to the West Bank and where it stations them there.

The leak “posed a direct and real threat to the lives of IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens,” Shin-Bet Chief Yuval Diskin said Thursday. He added that throughout the entire investigation, the Shin Bet operated with utmost sensitivity due to Blau’s involvement. Every procedure throughout every step of investigation, he said, was taken with permission from Mazuz and State Prosecutor’s Office.

On July 15, 2009, the Shin Bet reached an arrangement with Blau that within three days, he would deposit all the documents within his position with the Shin Bet. Several days later, he met with Shin Bet representatives and handed 50 files to them, as well as his laptop computer. The device was destroyed in Blau’s presence, and the Shin Bet purchased him a replacement. The Shin Bet was also obligated not to use the documents returned by Blau to locate or track the source of the leak.

The Shin Bet agreed not to launch a criminal investigation against Blau based on the information that he had provided. The agreement stipulated that in the event that the journalist would want to use info that he gleaned from the documents in the future, it would be done with approval from the Shin Bet’s legal department.

At this stage, the Shin Bet did not know who had leaked the documents. A short time later, the Shin Bet identified Kam, now 23, as the source of the leak. During her interrogation, she confirmed that during her army service she had collected thousands of documents containing sensitive material. Toward the end of her service, in 2007, she burned them on a CD and transferred them to her computer at home. In the summer of 2008, Kam tried to interest another journalist in the documents; he was interested, but talks with Kam fell through. Between July and October 2008, she transferred to Uri Blau many of the documents. Upon receiving them, Blau went on to publish several articles based on the information.

On January 14, 2010, an indictment was filed against Kam. She has been held under house arrest for five months.

During the investigation, however, the Shin Bet realized that there was a major gap between the number of documents Blau had returned and the number Kam said she had given. Additional intelligence obtained by the Shin Bet reinforced suspicion that Blau was still in possession of hundreds of documents classified as top secret.

Blau is currently residing in England after leaving the country in December 2009.

Diskin said Blau was wanted for interrogation, stressing that the journalist must immediately clarify the whereabouts of the additional documents that the Shin Beyt suspects are in his possession. Diskin said that in the coming days the Shin Bet would “speed up” its investigation, with the goal of obtaining and securing the documents as soon as possible.

“The risk is great, since we do not know where these documents are,” Diskin said. “We have reasonable grounds to suspect that Blau has additional documents in his possession.”

Explaining the need for the publication ban that was lifted Thursday, Diskin said that until April 6, the Shin Bet had conducted negotiations with Blau’s attorney in an attempt to reach an arrangement under which the documents would be recovered. As a result, the Shin Bet maintained the publication ban and decided Thursday to lift it after receiving a negative answer from Blau’s attorney regarding the request to return all documents remaining in his possession.

“From a security perspective, and due to the needs of the investigation, after much consideration we found it necessary to maintain the gag order until today,” Diskin said. He added that Kam underwent security clearance before being appointed to the sensitive position in which she served in Maj.-Gen. Naveh’s office. He also said that after Kam was discovered as the source of the leak, the IDF made several changes and improvements to its information security apparatus in order to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future. While calling the investigation of journalists a “minefield,” Diskin said it was possible the Shin Bet was overly sensitive when conducting its investigation of Blau and should have “taken off its gloves earlier.”

“We carried on with this investigation too long,” Diskin said.

Asked what Anat Kam’s motivation was to copy the documents and leak them to a journalist, Diskin refused to elaborate except to say that it was done for ideological reasons.

Meanwhile, anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein has creamed himself.

With this article, I’m happy to report I’ve hit the blogger equivalent of Nirvana: a link in the Times along with my blog’s name and my own name.  For this, ironically, I have Judy Miller to thank since this information in the Times report was copied from Judy Miller’s Daily Beast story.  Today, was the biggest day of traffic for my blog in its history, over 6,000 unique visitors, over three times normal.

8:25AM: Fox News’ Shepard Smith interviews Judith Miller about her Daily Beast column on the Anat Kam media blackout in Israel.

While Shep sounds very hostile towards the Israeli government throughout the interview, he steps it up a notch at around 5:55 when he claims “..every time you say one single word that isn’t ‘We love you Israel’ you are an antisemite, which is disgusting as well.”

It is good to see Shep’s true colors, even beneath those layers of makeup.

6:06AM: According to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, US President Barack Obama is “seriously considering” proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Middle East conflict.

Despite recent turbulence in U.S. relations with Israel, President Obama is “seriously considering” proposing an American peace plan to resolve the Palestinian conflict, according to two top administration officials.

“Everyone knows the basic outlines of a peace deal,” said one of the senior officials, citing the agreement that was nearly reached at Camp David in 2000 and in subsequent negotiations. He said that an American plan, if launched, would build upon past progress on such issues as borders, the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. The second senior official said that “90 percent of the map would look the same” as what has been agreed in previous bargaining.

The American peace plan would be linked with the issue of confronting Iran, which is Israel’s top priority, explained the second senior official. He described the issues as two halves of a single strategic problem: “We want to get the debate away from settlements and East Jerusalem and take it to a 30,000-feet level that can involve Jordan, Syria and other countries in the region,” as well as the Israelis and Palestinians.

“Incrementalism hasn’t worked,” continued the second official, explaining that the United States cannot allow the Palestinian problem to keep festering — providing fodder for Iran and other extremists. “As a global power with global responsibilities, we have to do something.” He said the plan would “take on the absolute requirements of Israeli security and the requirements of Palestinian sovereignty in a way that makes sense.”

Meanwhile, US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley refused to directly address the report. However, he did say that Washington would not try to impose a certain stand on the parties at this stage, but would suggest its own ideas as part of the peace talks, in order to bridge the gaps.


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About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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