The background of the letter is this week's Rafah agreement, forged under strong pressure by Secretary Rice. The agreement deals with the Rafah Crossing along the Philadelphi Route between Egypt and Gaza, which for years has been a favored spot for terrorists to smuggle in terrorists, weapons and drugs. Under the terms of the newly signed arrangements, Israel foregoes almost all control in the area, becoming vulnerable to terrorist threats from Sinai, Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
A sample letter can be seen here.
The campaign is being undertaken on the backdrop of the signing of the agreement that all Israeli security bodies consider dangerous. It also takes into account the U.S. insistence that Israel do nothing to prevent Hamas terrorists from taking part in the upcoming Palestinian Authority election.
Similar campaigns in the past have concentrated not only on letter-writing protests to public officials, but also on writing letters to newspaper editors, calling radio programs, and other methods of "getting the word out."
The sample letter accuses Bush and Rice, by pressuring Israel to allow Palestinian travel between Gaza and Hebron, of "establishing a pathway for violence," of "putting Israel at grave risk," and of "siding with our terrorist enemies." It also criticizes the agreement for "permitting the construction of a seaport in Gaza," and for not insisting on the cessation of terror.
"By not taking a stand against Hamas running in the Palestinian elections," the sample letter continues, "you are forcing Israel into dangerous compromises with the Palestinians and are guaranteeing more terror in the Middle East. These untenable policies are an outrage and are counter-productive to our efforts in Iraq."
|Israel Allows Russian Helicopters for PA|
14:27 Nov 18, '05 / 16 Cheshvan 5766
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
||Russia is donating two transport helicopters to the PA and also is contributing several dozen all-terrain vehicles, according to Moscow News. Israel previously refused to authorize their delivery.|
.S. Jews Pushed Rice Into 'Unprecedented' Intervention
The Russian government had planned to supply the Palestinian Authority (PA) with reconnaissance and patrol fighting machines but backed down "after taking into consideration Israel's position." Instead, the PA will receive 30 all-terrain vehicles, said PA national security advisor Jibril Rajoub.
Israel previously refused to allow a Russian offer to give the PA two upgraded medium transport helicopters and armored scout vehicles, which security officials feared would be used against Israel. PA police last week wrote a letter to chairman Mahmoud Abbas stating that it would use weapons only against Israel and not against terrorists.
PA interior ministry spokesman Colonel Tawfiq told Jane's Defense Weekly, "The Russians are ready to provide us with ammunition and light arms but [the decision] is up to the Israeli government, which is still refusing to authorize armament provision for our forces."
The PA also is scheduled to receive from Egypt half a million bullets, donated by the United States, the China News Agency Xinhua reported.
Israel agreed to the shipment on condition that the bullets be used only by the PA security forces. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Minister previously had objected to giving the PA more weapons and ammunitions. He told the United States that the PA would have all the weapons it needed if it would disarm terrorists.
Israel changed its position following American pressure, based on reports from special military envoy Lt.-Gen. William Ward that the PA police could not fight off opposition terrorists because of lack of ammunition.
The Russian shipment of the vehicles and helicopters follows an increasingly close relationship between the PA and Russia, a member of the Quartet, which played a pivotal role in forging an agreement with Israel allowing the PA to re-open the Rafiah border crossing without direct Israeli surveillance. Other members are the United States, the United Nations and the European Union
Russian police officers are training PA police and security forces, the PA radio service said.
00:24 Nov 20, '05 / 18 Cheshvan 5766
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
||Jewish Americans leaders urged Rice to change tactics and directly impose on Israel an agreement to re-open the Rafiah border, but even liberal leaders worry Israel's security has been breached.|
|American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week broke her previously stated policy of guiding, but not directing, negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Rice used "unusual personal involvement" to pressure Israel and the PA, according to the liberal New York Jewish daily The Forward.|
Under the agreement, Israel agreed to drop its demand for direct surveillance at the Rafiah border and to rely on video cameras without having authority to intervene on matters of security.
The left-wing Israel Policy Forum, Reform movement members and Americans for Peace Now met with Rice to express their backing before her recent trip to the Middle East. The Forum also sent a letter to Rice stating the "strong support" that the Bush administration has "from Jewish Americans on both sides of the aisle."
The agreement is in direct contradiction to the disengagement law, according to left wing activist Meron Benvenisti. He wrote in the Hebrew daily Haaretz, "One should not dismiss the importance of the Rafiah agreement [which] contradicts the disengagement plan as approved by the Knesset. [It] stated, Israel will oversee and guard the external land envelope.'"
Abe Foxman, director of the liberal Anti-Defamation league (ADL), told The Forward, "I am nervous about this" because Israel's security may have been compromised. "I worry because there is a basic asymmetry, an imbalance, between the two parties. For the Palestinians, it is about status and sovereignty, which could always be adjusted, while for Israel it is about security and trust. If you make a mistake..., there is no going back."
CBS news reported that Rice staged "a virtual all-nighter before getting both the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to the deal."
A State Department spokesman dodged a question by a reporter who began to ask, "It's the first time that this administration is directly implicated in the negotiations..." Spokesman Adam Erelie interrupted the reporter and replied, "Not really. No, we've been involved very directly and very intensively for a long time." Rice said that she still is a" big believer" in letting Israel and the PA conduct their own negotiations but added that direct intervention sometimes is needed.
Her direct intervention also was questioned by David Twersky, director of international affairs for the American Jewish Congress. He said Rice's shuttle diplomacy for "a very small, modest achievement just shows how bad things are." What's going to happen when there is something really important to discuss?"