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Update – 27 October 2008

Dear Advocates, 

Today our local papers have all covered the latest news in Israel that the newly appointed leader of Kadima, Tzipi Livni, will be sending Israelis to the polls after coalition talks failed. This means that a general election could be called for 27 January 2009.

All of the reports show that Livni had the support of Labour leader Ehud Barak, but was unwilling to secure the support of Shas after the party demanded that any negotiations with the Palestinians should not include the issue of Jerusalem, a condition that Livni dubbed “extortion”.

Livni has stated, “Anyone willing to sell their principles for the prime minister’s chair does not deserve to sit in it. I have told the president that under the current circumstances elections must be held… The people will choose their leader. There are others who are willing to pay any price, but I am not willing to sell the state and its citizens only to become the prime minister.”

For more information please read ‘Angry Livni sends Israel back to the polls’ from the Age, ‘Israel facing poll as coalition talks fail’ from the Australian and ‘Livni pushes Israel to polls’ from the Herald Sun. For coverage from the Israeli papers, please read ‘Livni aims for election as soon as possible, seeks Knesset dissolution’ from Haaretz and ‘Livni: Efforts to form coalition failed’ from Jpost.

Polls are suggesting that the likely outcome will be that the right-wing Likud party, led by Binyamin Netanyahu, would easily win the elections. As Livni has been the chief negotiator in peace discussions with the Palestinians, many believe that the election of Netanyahu would bring an end to the process. Now a spokesman for Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri has said ‘The Israelis will use the elections as an excuse not to make any concessions to Mahmoud Abbas… this proves that Hamas was right when it said that the so-called peace process was a waste of time and that there’s no point in negotiating with the occupation.” For more information, including details of a possible election in the West Bank and Gaza Strip please read ‘Livni’s decision kills peace process’ from Jpost.

One can only hope that these statements from Hamas do not signal that they will launch a campaign of violence, much like those in the days of Yasser Arafat, which had the intention of influencing the outcome of the Israeli elections.

Online today there is also reports that a US helicopters carried out a raid on Syrian soil in pursuit of Iraqi fighters, killing eight civilians. Please read ‘Syria condemns ‘US aggression’ after cross-border raid’ from Times Online, ‘Eight die in US attack inside Syria’ from the Australian and ‘US military official confirms helicopter raid on Syrian soil‘ from Jpost. Although Israel is not connected and has denied any involvement, when I heard of the incident my mind immediately went back to last year, on 6 September, when the Israelis struck a Syrian nuclear facility under a blanket of secrecy. The two incidents are not linked, and one would hope that it stays that way because the repercussions could affect Israel more on a regional level. Nevertheless, please read ‘Analysis – US takes page from Israel’s book in Syria strike’ from Haaretz for more details.

Meanwhile, news has come through the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has received a letter from home, an action that was coordinated by a French delegation. The letter is believed to have been written in September. For more information, click here and here. On the back of a number of rallies and protests for the release of Shalit, Hamas has declared that these demonstrations will not help with the release.

A Hamas spokesman has said, “The Shalit family and the abducted soldier’s friends need to understand that the Israeli government is the single reason why the prisoner exchange is deadlocked.” He continued, “The Shalit case is dependent on prisoners swap… He will never be released if the Israeli occupation does not release Palestinian prisoners whom Hamas wants free, whatever the consequences might be”. Hamas wants 450 prisoners of their choice released as well as additional 500 that Israel can choose.

On the topic of abductions comes the news that in September Israel foiled a plan by Hamas to lure Israeli soldiers to the Egyptian border before drugging them and taking them captive. For more, please read ‘Israel foils Hamas abduction plan’ from Jpost. This is a worrying phenomenon that could dramatically lower the morale of soldiers going to serve in units in those areas.

For a long time now I have been following the libel case against Phillipe Karsenty by Charles Enderlin and France2 television in relation to footage shown after the death of a young Palestinian boy, Muhammad al-Dura in 2000. I have covered this in my updates on a number of occasions (here, here and here), with the conclusion that regardless of the outcome of the case, the damage was done eight years ago and the papers are not interested in exposing the truth now. Please read this in-depth analysis of the case entitled ‘The Muhammad Al-Dura Blood Libel: a Case Analysis’ from the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs.

Finally, last week an Israeli made the news in our local papers (and many overseas) with the news that a company called “Better Place” is aiming to create electric car networks that allow zero emission vehicles to run on clear energy grids to reduce the plant’s reliance on oil. Charging spots would be located around the cities and would provide cables to connect batteries to a green energy grid, providing power from renewable sources including hydro and wind. The CEO of this company, Israeli born Shai Agassi, has said, “We are investing in Australia’s economy and adding jobs while helping the country take a generational leap forward to oil independence.”

For more information please read ‘Mass Use of Electric Cars four years away’ from Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Plan for electric car network’ from the Age, ‘AGL, Macquarie in $1b electric car deal’ from the Australian and ‘Electric Car just four years away’ online on ninemsn news. From the International Press, please read ‘The Next ‘Better Place’ is Australia’ from the New York Times and ‘Better Place Plans Electric Car Network in Australia’ from Bloomberg.

The State Zionist Council of Victoria is holding its 70th Annual Assembly tomorrow evening. Please read President Dr. Danny Lamm’s latest Op-Ed that appeared in the Jewish News on 24 October 2008 entitled ‘Questions for the next 70 years of Zionism in Australia’.

November 4 will mark 13 years since the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l. The State Zionist Council and Hamerkaz HaIsraeli will be holding a commemoration on Sunday 9 November 2008 at 7:30pm at Beth Weizmann Community Centre on the topic of “Rift and Rehabilitation”. For more information, click here.

Best wishes,


Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
9272 5507