The Day In Israel: Monday May 24th, 2010

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a meeting with EU ambassadors in Israel the PA wants the indirect negotiations with Israel to fail.

avigdor lieberman“There is real commitment and a will to reach a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians on Israel’s part,” he told the ambassadors, but surmised that the other side only seems to have entered the talks pro forma.

The Palestinian leadership’s declarations that they maintain the option of ‘armed struggle’ if talks do not proceed at a pace they approve, show they are not coming into the negotiations with clean hands, Lieberman said, adding, “there is no alternative to direct negotiations.”

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and former Palestinian envoy to Lebanon, said on Sunday that Fatah does not rule out the possibility of resuming an “armed struggle” against Israel if the US-sponsored proximity talks fail.

I know he’s much maligned, but he sure seems to have a habit of hitting the nail on the head.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

5:20PM: The Australian opposition has criticized the Australian government’s decision to expel an Israeli diplomat (read: Mossad official).

Australia’s decision to expel an Israeli diplomat over the use of fake Australian passports in the Dubai assassination of senior Hamas  figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh has stirred up a storm in the country’s political system, ahead of the nearing elections.

The liberal opposition party (liberal here does not mean ‘liberal’ – ed.), which currently leads the polls, used the recent decision as an opportunity to slam Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Steven Smith.

According to the opposition, the current government was trying to gain the support of Arab countries in the struggle it is leading over a seat on the UN Security Council.

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop told British network Sky that there was no proof Israel was behind the passport forgery. “In the absence of proof, it would be appropriate to reprimand, appropriate to chastise the Israeli government,” she told the network.

Bishop said the decision to expel a diplomat was an exaggerated and mistaken political move. “The Government is facing an election. The Government is also seeking to pursue a seat on the Security Council. The Government is keen to curry favor within the Arab community,” she said.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told Australian network ABC that it was “pretty obvious” why the government decided to expel the Israeli diplomat.

“The reason why Australia has suddenly become so aggressive over it is because of the Security Council campaign. In an effort to try to beat Finland and Luxemburg, the Australian Government is going out of its way to ingratiate itself to other countries in the Middle East and build up its credentials,” he said.

Downer added that “Israel is not the only country that engages in this sort of behaviour, frankly. So it’s a bit rich to single out Israel.”

Foreign news editor of The Australian magazine, Greg Sheridan, also joined the criticism and wrote in his column that Rudd’s government overreacted and made a big mistake.

According to Sheridan, the decision created friction within the government, and was even condemned by Chairman of the Foreign Committee Michael Danby.

Sheridan added that while Foreign Minister Smith justified the decision by likening it the reaction of other governments, “only the British have expelled an Israeli diplomat and that was the action of a dying Government desperately casting around for minority support.

“Australia should not ape its former masters in London in this but embrace some of the sophistication of Berlin or Paris, neither, incidentally, regarded as hives of unreasonable pro-Israel bias,” he wrote, adding that “this is a very poor, very feeble decision by the Rudd Government and it will probably pay a political price for it.”

4:56PM: The Guardian has reported that Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to “the apartheid regime” of South Africa.

I would have liked to have dealt with the report, but Honest Reporting has already done a good job.

Excerpt:

The Guardian claims an exclusive with a front page story: “Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons” accompanied by a number of related articles, including “Israel and apartheid: a marriage of convenience and military might“. These articles are based on a new book by American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky.

The latter headline is revealing in that it fits with a long-standing pattern of Guardian efforts to promote the Israel apartheid analogy. Notice how this headline sells the image of Israeli association with a particular ideology rather than the South African state itself. Indeed, Chris McGreal, the journalist behind these latest articles, was also responsible for a lengthy two-part diatribe comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa back in 2006.

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While one can judge whether or not Israel should have maintained a relationship with apartheid South Africa, it is worth noting that many other Western nations also did so for reasons of trade and Cold War politics, including Britain and the US, while at the same time denouncing apartheid. (Israel also strongly condemned it.) So, while other countries rightly or wrongly exercised realpolitik in their dealings with apartheid South Africa, once again, it is only Israel that is judged by a different standard in the court of media opinion for doing exactly the same.

The Guardian constantly proves its open disdain towards the State of Israel, using its influence to push the growing demonisation campaign against Israel in the UK – part of a strategy to undermine Israel’s very legitimacy.

As if to prove that its agenda is less to do with the issue of Israeli nuclear weapons and more about associating Israel with apartheid, the “More on this story” box with links to related articles includes – “More on Israel’s apartheid links” – which actually links directly to The Guardian’s general Israel news page.

In addition, is it a coincidence that on the very same day as the South Africa nuclear story, The Guardian also publishes a comment piece by Gary Younge entitled “Israel’s complicity in apartheid crimes undermines its attack on Goldstone

Read the whole thing here.

2:45PM: Following the media bias evident in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald reports on the Dubai-passport fiasco (see 8:58AM update), news.com.au has decided to get the “Jewish” view on Australia’s decision to expel the Israeli official.

The “Jewish” view being that held by Jewish anti-Israel moonbat Antony Loewenstein.

If you are not familiar with Loewenstein, here’s a good place to start.

2:26PM: A (well made) message to the so-called “human rights activists” on their way to Gaza.

8:58AM: Commenter g in Sydney points out that the Sydney Morning Herald referred to Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s killing as “murder” (same as the Age report in the previous update)

Good point. And they also refer to him as a “senior Hamas official.”

6:08AM: Australia has expelled an Israeli diplomat after finding Israel responsible for fake passports used in the killing of a Hamas terrorist in Dubai.

Australia’s relations with Israel have hit a new low, with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith expelling an Israeli diplomat over the faking of four Australian passports used in the killing of a senior Hamas official in January.

Mr Smith told Parliament today that investigations by intelligence agencies had concluded Israel was responsible for the fake passports.

“Investigations and advice have left the government in no doubt Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports,” he said.

The scandal over the use of fake passports erupted internationally after the January murder of a Hamas operative by alleged Mossad agents.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of Hamas’s top arms dealers, was found dead in his Dubai hotel room on January 20.

Mr Smith has asked that a member of the Israeli embassy in Canberra be withdrawn from Australia within the week, as a result of the scandal.

‘‘This is not what we expect from a a nation with whom we have had such a close, friendly and supportive relationship with,’’ he said.

Mr Smith said there was no evidence the passport holders were anything but innocent victims.

‘‘The high quality of these counterfeited passports points to the involvement of a state intelligence service,’’ he said.

‘‘The Dubai passports incident also constitutes a clear and direct breach of confidential undertakings between Australia and Israel dating back some years,” he said.

Dubai police identified 27 people involved in the Dubau assassination, 12 of whom travelled on forged British passports.

Four of the suspects travelled on Australian passports in the names of four dual Australian-Israeli citizens.

The Australia Federal Police had sent a team to Israel to investigate.

According to Mr Smith, no government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign government.

Mr Smith said the abuse was not what Australia expected from a nation with which it had had such a close and friendly relationship.

He told Parliament that an Israeli diplomat will be expelled from Australia in response.

Isreal’s ambassador is overseas until June 8, but the Israeli embassy in Canberra has declined to comment until later today.

In March, Britain expelled Mossad’s London station chief over the use of forged British passports in the assassination of al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

The French, Irish and German governments also investigated the use of copies of their passports in the Dubai killing.

Where’s Tony Abbott when you need him?

5:58AM: Protesters at a pro-Israel rally in Boston.

Notice how they are not speaking of peace or a two state solution.

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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