October 10, 2008
Briefs: Peace process proceeeds, says Livni; Bush waives Palestinian aid rules
Tzipi Livni said the peace process will move forward and that Israel will be able to face challenges better with a stable government.
The Israeli prime minister-designate, who is working to form a new government coalition, made her first national policy address Sunday at the Foreign Affairs Ministry's conference on policy and strategy.
"Israel wishes to arrive at peace with all of her neighbors -- the Palestinians, Syria, Lebanon and the Arab nations," Livni said. "We have proven our willingness not only by embarking on diplomatic processes but by evacuating Gaza."
She added: "The process should continue, and we should press ahead and conduct ourselves correctly. Don't let incidental dates or political changes get in the way of a responsible process."
Livni said the government must achieve both financial and political stability. She took a swipe at other political parties that are making budgetary demands in order to agree to join the coalition.
"We must maintain financial stability, and in order to safeguard [the economy], we must also preserve the political balance; we must achieve political stability quickly," Livni stressed. "Therefore, we are in need of a government that will maintain the equilibrium, a government that can transcend partisan demands."
Earlier at the same conference, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that Israel had failed to live up to the commitments it made at the Annapolis peace summit in 2007.
"We believed in what was promised -- that this year would be different," he said. "But we are already in October, and we are losing hope that by the end of the year we will see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and the end of the occupation."
Al-Maliki warned that the failure to come to a peace agreement would lead to the domination of Hamas and a return to violence.
Bush Waives Palestinian Aid Restrictions
President Bush waived restrictions on direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
"I hereby certify that it is important to the national security interests of the United States to waive" restrictions on direct funding for the Palestinian Authority, Bush wrote in a message Monday to the State Department.
The waiver allows Bush to transfer as much as $75 million to the Palestinian Authority. Such direct funding is otherwise subject to conditions, including proof that the Palestinian Authority has disarmed terrorists and ended incitement.
Bush is making an end-of-presidency push for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Most funding for the Palestinians in recent years has been directed through nongovernmental organizations, partly to avoid the taint of corruption and terrorism that had attached itself to the Palestinian Authority.
The Bush administration has praised the new P.A. leadership for reforms and said it needs the money in part to meet challenges from Islamist extremists.
Obama Campaign Returns Gazans' Cash
The Obama campaign returned $33,000 to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who purchased a large quantity of campaign T-shirts.
The revelation arises out of a Republican request to the Federal Election Commission to investigate thousands of small donations to the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Republicans claim that some of the donors are from overseas, which is illegal.
Reporting the request Monday, the Washington Post noted that Newsweek, its sister publication, reported that two Palestinian brothers had paid $33,000 for a bulk order of T-shirts. Such purchases from online stores are counted as donations.
The campaign returned the money and said its staff had mistaken the brothers' address abbreviation for Gaza, "Ga.," as the U.S. state of Georgia.
Papers Reveal Israel's Confusion in '73 War
Top Israeli army officials did not know what was happening in the field during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, according to newly declassified documents. Israel's Defense Ministry declassified documents Tuesday relating to the investigation of failures of the war.
The deliberations of the Agranat Committee, which was established to investigate the conduct of the military and the government during the war, including testimony of senior officers such as Ariel Sharon and Moshe Dayan, were made public nearly 35 years to the day after the outbreak of the war.
Former Prime Minister Sharon, who commanded the 53rd Division during the war, told the committee at the time that the higher command "had no idea of what was happening on the ground," according to a report in the newspaper, Ha'aretz. Sharon also discussed his plan to cross the Suez Canal, which led to Israel's victory.
Dayan's testimony was reminiscent of issues that arose following the 2006 Second Lebanon War, including not calling up reservists right away and not anticipating a full-scale war.
U.S. Could Waive Israeli Visa Requirement
The United States could soon waive the need for an entry visa by Israelis. In a meeting in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Israel Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit discussed waiving the need for a visa for Israelis to visit the United States, the newspaper, Yediot Achronot, reported Oct. 3.
The change in policy would begin to be formulated later this month. To qualify, Israel would have to switch from a paper to a biometric passport system.
Approximately 313,000 Israelis have traveled to the United States so far this year. The current process for obtaining an entry visa requires a fee, embassy interview and a long wait.
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.