Archive for the ‘Jacobs Trouble’ Category

There is an epic battle in the Middle East, no not the battle between Islam and Israel, it is the battle between Shi’ite Islam Iran, and Sunni Islam Saudi Arabia. And the eventual victor will be Shi’ite Islam Iran!

Barack Obama has pulled the U.S. back from open and unconditional support for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan, what this means is that Saudi Arabia is now attempting to support those countries and forces in the Middle East that are against Iran. Shi’ite Iran will triumph in this battle setting the stage for the end of the age!

Saudi Arabia was supporting Turkey with Loans, however now that Turkey is allying itself with Iran. Saudi Arabia has stopped loaning them money.

“Goldman argues that part of Turkey’s credit crisis owes to its apparent reliance on interbank loans from Saudi Arabia. In part due to their anger at Erdogan for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis have apparently stopped loaning to Turkish banks. 

The Saudis’ action has pushed Erdogan into the waiting arms of Iran’s ayatollahs. In an interview with Business Insider, Australia, terror financing expert Jonathan Schanzer said Turkey and Iran were able to minimize the impact of the international sanctions on Iran’s energy sector. Between June 2012 and June 2013, the Turkish-Iranian “gas for gold” sanctions-busting scheme brought Iran $13 billion in hard currency.”

from Caroline Glick:

Last Thursday, two Turkish businessmen stopped for lunch in a fish restaurant during a business trip to Edirne in the Babaeski region.

At some point during their meal, the restaurant owner figured out that they were Jews.

Rather than show them the hospitality Turkey is renowned for, he said he won’t serve Jews, and began cursing them and the Torah. He then took a long knife off the counter and threatened to kill them.

The men ran for their lives.

Anti-Semitic attacks have become regular events in Turkey. In December, after leaving an anti-corruption rally in Istanbul, a young woman was attacked by 10 to 15 supporters of Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan who had just left a support rally for the premier.

They accused her of being a Jew, as they beat her up.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Turkish opposition MP Ayken Kerdemir said that Erdogan has cultivated Turkish anti-Semitism. “He is not only capitalizing on the existing sentiments, Kerdemir explained. Erdogan is “fueling some of that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic feeling… with his rhetoric, conspiracy theories, campaign slogans and actions.”

Kerdemir explained that Erdogan’s cultivation of anti-Semitism in Turkish society will continue to affect Turkey’s behavior and social values long after he is gone. “Even after Erdogan and AKP are gone, even if [the opposition party] CHP comes to power, it will take us quite some time to mend inter-societal relations through dialogue, awareness raising and sensitivity training.”

Once you let that genie out of the bottle, it is very hard to stuff it back inside.

Erdogan’s anti-Semitism is not opportunistic. He isn’t simply exploiting a popular prejudice for his own benefit. He is an anti-Semite. And his anti-Semitism informs his behavior toward Israel.

In Kerdemir’s view, Erdogan’s uncontrollable hatred of Jews makes it impossible for him to agree to reconcile Turkey’s relations with Israel.

As he put it, “Erdogan’s core values vis-à-vis Jews and Israel prevent him from dealing with this issue in a tolerant, embracing and sustainable way.”

Against this backdrop it should surprise no one that this week Erdogan sunk prospects for a renewal of Turkish ties with Israel.

Immediately after he took office 10 years ago, Erdogan began systematically downgrading Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. This process, which began gradually and accelerated after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections, reached its peak in 2010.

In May 2010, Erdogan sponsored the pro-Hamas flotilla to Gaza whose aim was to undermine Israel’s lawful maritime blockade of the terrorist-controlled Gaza coast. The flotilla’s flagship, theMavi Marmara, was controlled by the al-Qaida-aligned IHH organization. Its passengers included terrorists who, armed with iron bars, knives and other weaponry tried to kill IDF naval commandos when they boarded the Gaza-bound ship to enforce the blockade. In the ensuing battle, the commandos killed nine IHH terrorists.

Erdogan used the incident on the Mavi Marmara as a means of ending what remained of Turkey’s ties to Israel. For three years, he insisted that he would only restore full diplomatic relations if Israel ended its blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza, apologized for its forces’ actions on board the Mavi Marmara, and paid reparations to the families of the IHH terrorists killed in their assault on the IDF commandos.

In March 2013, Erdogan relented in his demand that Israel end the blockade and acceded to a reconciliation deal offered by US President Barack Obama in a three-way telephone call with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that took place during Obama’s visit to Israel.

Following the phone call, Netanyahu apologized for “operational errors,” by IDF sailors aboard theMavi Marmara and offered to compensate the families.

Negotiations toward the reinstatement of diplomatic relations were to ensue immediately. But just after Netanyahu made his required gesture of appeasement, Erdogan began delaying the talks, while continuing his anti-Semitic assaults.

Talks eventually did start. And according to Israeli sources, they were about to conclude this week. Netanyahu was beginning to build political support for his decision to agree to Turkey’s demand for a massive $20 million settlement of claims against Israel by the dead terrorists’ families.

But then Erdogan walked away.

On Tuesday, Erdogan reinstated his initial demand that Israel must end its lawful naval blockade of terrorist-controlled Gaza before he restores ties to the Jewish state.

In many quarters of the Israeli media, Erdogan’s action was met with surprise. Reporters who for years have insisted that Israel can make the problem go away by bowing to Erdogan’s demands are stumped by his behavior.

But they shouldn’t have been.

It isn’t simply that Erdogan cannot reconcile with Israel because he hates Jews. As is almost always the case with anti-Semites, Erdogan’s anti-Semitism is part of his general authoritarian outlook informed by a paranoid mindset.

Erdogan sees a Jewish conspiracy behind every independent power base in Turkey. And his rejection of Israel is an integral part of his rejection of all forces in Turkey that are not dependent on his good offices.
Over the past 10 years, and with ever increasing brutality, paranoia and intensity, Erdogan has sought to destroy all independent power bases in the country. He purged the military by placing hundreds of generals in prison in his delusional Ergenekon conspiracy in which they were accused of seeking to overthrow his Islamist government.

He has destroyed most of the independent media in the country and sent hundreds of journalists and editors to prison.

The same is the case with independent businessmen.

Over the past year, Erdogan destroyed whatever remained of the plausible deniability he initially fostered between himself and the systematic abrogation of civil rights and the rule of law in Turkey.

This week, 17 people were sentenced to two years each in prison for “deliberately insulting the premier and not regretting their actions,” during a small demonstration in 2012 protesting the government’s health policy.

Also this week, Erdogan acknowledged that he calls television broadcasters in the middle of news shows and orders them to stop the broadcast of information he doesn’t want the public to know. This has included ending the live broadcast of a speech in parliament by the opposition leader, ending coverage of the mass anti-government demonstrations last summer, and removing a news ticker that reported on the corruption scandals surrounding Erdogan and his cronies.

Erdogan has also reacted to the corruption investigations of his cronies by firing the public prosecutors and police officers involved in the investigations.

To maintain the public’s support for his burgeoning dictatorship, Erdogan has adopted populist economic policies that have sunk the Turkish economy. To buy the public’s allegiance, Erdogan has borrowed heavily internationally and artificially lowered Turkey’s interest rates, even as the local currency dropped in value in international markets and Turkey’s current accounts deficits outpaced Greece’s on the eve of its economic meltdown.

As David Goldman explained last week in a financial analysis of Turkey’s incipient economic meltdown in The Asia Times, rather than raise consumer interests rates, Erdogan has blamed the Jews by railing against “the interest rate lobby.”

Indeed, since he first invoked the term during the anti-government demonstrations last August, Erdogan has taken to blaming the interest rate cabal for all of Turkey’s woes.

Goldman argues that part of Turkey’s credit crisis owes to its apparent reliance on interbank loans from Saudi Arabia. In part due to their anger at Erdogan for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis have apparently stopped loaning to Turkish banks.

The Saudis’ action has pushed Erdogan into the waiting arms of Iran’s ayatollahs. In an interviewwith Business Insider, Australia, terror financing expert Jonathan Schanzer said Turkey and Iran were able to minimize the impact of the international sanctions on Iran’s energy sector. Between June 2012 and June 2013, the Turkish-Iranian “gas for gold” sanctions-busting scheme brought Iran $13 billion in hard currency.

Erdogan’s hatred of Jews, his authoritarian mindset and his Islamist ideology informed his decision to transform Turkey into one of the leading sponsors of terrorism. In addition to its massive support for Hamas, beginning in the 2006 First Lebanon War Turkey began providing assistance to Hezbollah.

Then there is al-Qaida. Turkey has long harbored al-Qaida financiers. And according to IDF Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Turkey hosts three al-Qaida bases on its territory that enable terrorists to transit between Europe and Syria.

Erdogan’s ideological underpinning directs his embrace of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaida. But his decimation of Turkey’s economy has made him view Iran as Turkey’s economic savior. And that in turn pushes Turkey even deeper into the jihadist camp.

Obviously in this situation, the chance that Turkey will agree to reconcile with Israel, at any price, is nil.

The surprise that many Israeli journalists have expressed over Erdogan’s seeming about-face on the reconciliation deal brings us to the larger lesson of his transformation of Turkey.

These journalists believe that Israel’s bilateral relations with other countries are based on tit for tat. If I do something to upset you, you will get upset. If I apologize and try to make things right, then you will be satisfied and everything will go back to normal.

This simplistic view of the world is attractive because it places Israel in a position of power. If the only reason that Turkey is mad at Israel is that Israel will not apologize for its response to Turkey’s illegal aggression, then Israel should apologize and pay whatever damages Erdogan demands.

Moreover, Israel should make Erdogan believe the sincerity of its apology by maintaining faith with the myth that he is a responsible actor on the world stage, rather than a prominent sponsor of terrorism and the hangman of Turkish democracy and economic prosperity.

Appeasement is a seductive policy because it is gives its purveyors a sense of empowerment. And at times, when faced with a simple, limited dispute it can work.

But Turkey’s rejection of Israel is not a linear response to a specific Israeli action. It is a consequence of the nature of Erdogan’s regime, and due to his anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement, it is increasingly a consequence of the nature of Turkish society.

Kerdemir argued that Turkish anti-Semitism does not necessitate a rejection of Jews and Israel. And that’s true.

The problem is that when anti-Semitism is tied to several other political and economic pathologies, as it is in the case of Turkey, it is impossible as a practical matter for any accommodation to be reached.

THE SWORD-WIELDING restaurateur who responded to the mere presence of Jewish diners in his establishment with murderous rage is no more exceptional than lynch mobs in Ramallah. And as Turkey’s economic plight worsens and Erdogan’s embrace of Iran and jihadist groups tightens, Turkey’s behavior will only become more extreme, unappeasable and dangerous.

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From The Times of Israel:

A Romanian public broadcaster aired a Christmas carol celebrating the Holocaust.

TVR3 Verde, a television channel for rural communities, presented the carol on December 5 during its maiden transmission.

Sung by the Dor Transilvan ensemble, it featured the lyrics: “The kikes, damn kikes, Holy God would not leave the kike alive, neither in heaven nor on earth, only in the chimney as smoke, this is what the kike is good for, to make kike smoke through the chimney on the street.”

In a statement, TVR3 (Romanian Public Television Channel 3) distanced itself from the broadcast, saying it did not select the carol but only broadcast songs that were chosen and compiled by the Center for Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture, which belongs to the eastern county of Cluj.

TVR considers the selection “an uninspired choice and therefore notified the Cluj County Council of this,” the broadcaster’s statement read.

MCA Romania, a local watchdog on anti-Semitism, has written to Romanian President Traian Basecu and to Prime Minister Victor Viorel Ponta, to complain about the broadcast.

“We are shocked to see that the Romanian Public Television Channel 3 broadcast an anti-Semitic Christmas carol,” Maximillian Marco Katz and Marius Draghici of MCA Romania wrote in the letter. “It is outrageous that none in the audience took a stance against the anti-Semitic Christian carol that incites to burn the Jews.”

They added it was “absolutely unacceptable that TVR 3 tried to deny responsibility” by claiming it was the responsibility of Cluj County.

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from the Gatestone Institute:

The coming weeks probably represent the last opportunity for Iran and the international community to reach an enforceable deal that will dismantle Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, before Israel concludes that time has run out, that Iran has gotten too close to creating its first atomic bombs, and that the time for a military strike has arrived.

Despite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s well-planned and deceptive charm offensive at the United Nations last week, so far not a single uranium-enriching centrifuge has stopped spinning in the underground nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom. The heavy water plutonium facility at Arak is moving forward, and Iran has already amassed enough low-enriched uranium for the production of seven to nine atomic bombs.

The speech given by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the United Nations last week, in which he warned that Israel would act alone against Iran if it needed to, is an authentic warning, and serves a dual purpose.

First, the speech reintroduces a credible military threat and aims it squarely at the Islamic Republic.

This notice is important as deterrence against Iran has waned significantly since August, when President Barack Obama hesitantly climbed down from his commitment to carry out a military strike on Iran’s ally, the Syrian regime, over its use of chemical weapons to massacre civilians.

A diminished threat of military force leaves diplomatic efforts with Iran almost no chance of success: it leaves Iran with virtually no incentive to stop its nuclear progress, despite the painful economic sanctions it faces.

With no military threat, Iran might well conclude that the sanctions could disappear in the course of endless rounds of diplomacy, in which skilled Iranian negotiators would succeed in getting some of the sanctions lifted while giving up very little in return.

Many of America’s allies in the Middle East are very concerned about the lack of deterrence; and Netanyahu, keen to ensure that he has given talks with Iran all possible opportunities before taking matters into his own hands, has placed the military threat firmly back on the table, lest Iran forget that even if the U.S. will not act militarily any time soon, Israel most certainly will if it must.

The second purpose of Netanyahu’s speech was to put the international community on notice regarding the urgency of the situation, and to send the message that even if many in the West have fallen for Iran’s “campaign of smiles,” Israel has not, and if Israeli concerns are neglected, action will be taken.

Should the international community continue to allow Iran to buy more time for its nuclear program, as it has done for more than a decade, after Netanyahu’s warning, it will not be able to respond with surprise when Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites.

Israel’s leadership has long since concluded that a nuclear-armed Iranian regime — a regime that is doctrinally and theologically committed to Israel’s destruction, and that controls a state-sponsored terrorist network, active worldwide — is an outcome many times more dangerous than any military attack.

Israel’s defense establishment recognizes that stringent U.S.-led economic sanctions have forced Iran to the negotiating table. But senior officials, such as Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, have warned that merely arriving for negotiations and offering “sweet talk” is no reason to reward Iran by easing sanctions. On the contrary, easing sanctions now would guarantee that talks will fail.

Similarly, any agreement that allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium under the guise of a civilian energy program will simply enshrine Iran’s position as a nuclear breakout state. Only tangible, verifiable steps that will ensure Iran is pushed back by years from its current progress could be considered an accomplishment.

Against the background of these developments, it is worth bearing in mind that the core of Jerusalem’s defense doctrine holds that Israel cannot depend on any foreign power — even its most trusted ally, the United States — to deal with an existential security threat.

Israel’s clock, which gauges Iranian nuclear progress, ticks faster than that of America’s, due to Israel’s lesser strike capabilities, its smaller size, its closer proximity to Iran, and ultimately, because Israel is the openly and repeatedly declared number one target of Iran’s ambition to destroy it.

If Israel misses its window of opportunity to act, such a lapse would violate a central tenet of its own defense doctrine — that Israel cannot depend on any external power to deal with existential security threats — thereby making that option unthinkable. Once Israeli intelligence agencies and senior military command levels conclude that the clock has struck one minute to midnight, no amount of pressure from allies will succeed in dissuading it from acting in self-preservation.

A military strike would not be a goal in itself, as Iran could go right back to reactivating its program, but it would be a last resort designed to accomplish what years of talks could not: to push Iran back from the nuclear brink.

Israel’s strike capabilities remain a closely guarded secret, but according to international media reports, the Israel Air Force has more than 100 F15i and F16i fighter jets that can fly to Iran and return without the need to refuel, as well as, for other jets, advanced midair refueling capabilities that would allow them to strike multiple Iranian targets. According to the reports, Israel also possesses long-range Jericho ground-to-ground missiles.

Any strike, moreover, would be unimaginable without the Israel Defense Force’s advanced electronic warfare units.

In the event that Iran orders its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah to retaliate with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles on the Israeli home front, Israel could respond with devastating air force strikes using new weapons systems, and a lightning ground invasion of southern Lebanon to extinguish quickly the rocket attacks and leave Hezbollah on the ropes.

No one in Israel seeks war, and few dispute that a diplomatic solution that can really freeze the threat from Tehran is the most desired outcome.

But so far, beyond empty gestures, Iran has given no indication that it is prepared to give up its program, and time is running out.

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from Got Questions:

With the increasing tensions in the Middle East in recent years, and particularly the statements by Shiite Muslim extremists regarding the Twelfth Imam, many people have begun to ask how this relates to Bible prophecies. To answer, we must first find out who the Twelfth Imam is and what he is expected to do for Islam. Second, we must examine the statements by Shiite Muslims in relation to those hopes, and, third, we need to look to the Bible to shed light on the whole issue.

Within the Shiite branch of Islam, there have been twelve imams, or spiritual leaders appointed by Allah. These began with Imam Ali, cousin to Muhammad, who claimed the prophetic succession after Muhammad’s death. Around A.D. 868, the Twelfth Imam, Abu al-Qasim Muhammad (or Muhammad al Mahdi), was born to the Eleventh Imam. Because his father was under intense persecution, the Mahdi was sent into hiding for his protection. About the age of 6, he briefly came out of hiding when his father was killed, but then went back into hiding. It is said that he has been hiding in caves ever since and will supernaturally return just before the day of judgment to eradicate all tyranny and oppression, bringing
harmony and peace to the earth. He is the savior of the world in Shiite theology. According to one writer, the Mahdi will combine the dignity of Moses, the grace of Jesus, and the patience of Job in one perfect person.

The predictions about the Twelfth Imam have a striking similarity to Bible prophecies of the end times. According to Islamic prophecy, the Mahdi’s return will be preceded by a number of events during three years of horrendous world chaos, and he will rule over the Arabs and the world for seven years. His appearance will be accompanied by two resurrections, one of the wicked and one of the righteous. According to Shiite teachings, the Mahdi’s leadership will be accepted by Jesus, and the two great branches of Abraham’s family will be reunited forever.

How do the statements of Shiite Muslims, such as the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tie into this? Ahmadinejad is a deeply committed Shiite and claims that he is to personally prepare the world for the coming Mahdi. In order for the world to be saved, it must be in a state of chaos and subjugation, and Ahmadinejad feels he was directed by Allah to pave the way for that. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly made statements about destroying the enemies of Islam. The Iranian President and his cabinet have supposedly signed a contract with al Mahdi in which they pledge themselves to his work. When asked directly by ABC reporter Ann Curry in September 2009 about his apocalyptic statements,  Ahmadinejad said, “Imam…will come with logic, with culture, with science. He will come so that there is no more war. No more enmity, hatred. No more conflict. He will call on everyone to enter a brotherly love. Of course, he will return with Jesus Christ. The two will come back together. And working together, they would fill this world with love.”

What does all this have to do with the Antichrist? According to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, there will be a “man of sin” revealed in the last days who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God. In Daniel 7 we read of Daniel’s vision of four beasts which represent kingdoms which play major roles in God’s prophetic plan. The fourth beast is described (v. 7-8) as being dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong, and different from those which came before it. It is also described as having a “little horn” which uproots other horns. This little horn is often identified as the Antichrist. In verse 25 he is described as speaking “great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (3 ½ years). In Daniel 8, the vision of the ram and the goat identifies a king who will arise in the last days (v. 23-25), destroy many people, and stand up against Christ,
but this king will be broken. In Daniel 9:27 it is prophesied that the “prince that shall come” would make a 7-year covenant with many people and then bring in much desolation. Who will this Antichrist be? No one knows for certain, but many theories have been given, including the possibility that he will be an Arab.

Regardless of the various theories, there are a few parallels between the Bible and Shiite theology that we should note. First, the Bible says that the Antichrist’s kingdom will rule the world for seven years, and Islam claims that the Twelfth Imam will rule the world for seven years. Second, Muslims anticipate three years of chaos before the revealing of the Twelfth Imam, and the Bible speaks of 3 ½ years of Tribulation before the Antichrist reveals himself by desecrating the Jewish temple. Third, the Antichrist is described as a deceiver who claims to bring peace, but who actually brings widespread war; the anticipation of the Twelfth Imam is that he will bring peace through massive war with the rest of the world.

Will the Antichrist be a Muslim? Only God knows. Are there connections between Islamic eschatology and Christian eschatology? There certainly seem to be direct correlations, though they are like reading the descriptions of a great battle, first from the perspective of the loser, trying to save face, and then from the perspective of the victor. Until we see the fulfillment of these things, we need to heed the words of 1 John 4:1-4, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

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from Now The End Begins:

Is this the plunder of Ezekiel 38?“

Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, [that] at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.” Ezekiel 38

From Israel National News: Dr. Harold Vinegar of Israel Energy Initiative Ltd. in Jerusalem is optimistic about Israel’s potential in the oil industry. He spoke to Israel National Radio’s Goldstein on Gelt show with Douglas Goldstein about energy independence and the “black gold” that is underfoot.

Dr. Vinegar was the chief scientist of Royal Dutch Shell until his retirement in 2008. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and recently made aliyah. Now, he is the chief scientist of Israel Energy Initiative Ltd. in Jerusalem, which is developing Israel’s unconventional oil reserves.

Douglas Goldstein: What are unconventional oil reserves?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: Conventional oil is what everyone imagines. You drill a well and oil comes out of the well under the natural forces in the ground and you basically have an oil and gas well, but there’s a whole other class of oil called “unconventional oil.” This means that when you drill those wells, the oil will require some special treatment in the sub surface in order to get it to moved.

There are two classes of unconventional oils. One is the heavy oils in tar sands such as you find in Canada. These are extremely viscous molasses-like oils that need heating in the sub surface in order to get them to move, and the other class is the oil shales of the world, and these have the organic matter that makes up the carriage. It’s solid and it requires heating to a high enough temperature so that the solid basically becomes a liquid in the sub surface and then gets produced as conventional oil once it’s been heated. Those are the unconventional sources of oil.

Israel has oil shale. It doesn’t have much heavy oil, but its oil shale resources are world class, one of the largest and best in the world.

Douglas Goldstein: Why are we only finding out about this now? What’s the history of oil in Israel?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: The oil shales were basically not developed in Israel for two reasons. The first is that basically for as long as I can remember the real price of oil was $130 per barrel, going way back in my career. It’s always been roughly $20 to $25 per barrel in inflation-adjusted terms. That’s just not high enough for the capital cost required to produce unconventionals. You need something of the order of $30 per barrel and starting around 2003, the price of oil on the marketplace started rising and it’s been going up continuously since then and probably will continue to go up. Right now, we see Brent Crude at about $120 per barrel. The time has come that unconventionals are actually economic to develop and this plays in Israel’s favor because it has enormous quantities of this oil shale.

“And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.” Deuteronomy 33:24

Douglas Goldstein: When you say enormous, what are the specs of that?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: Our company has mapped over 250 billion barrels of recoverable oil in Israel and that’s a conservative estimate. To put that in perspective, Saudi Arabia has about 250 billion barrels of conventional oil reserves in the ground. What has happened with time is conventional oil has gotten more expensive and unconventional oil has gotten less expensive because there’s a small amount of conventional oil left in the world. Its price is driven by scarcity and as it becomes scarcer, the price goes up. Whereas unconventionals have enormous reserves, they swamp the amount of conventionals.

Orders have more magnitude but their cost is driven by technology and if technology improves, the unconventional gets cheaper. Starting a few years ago, they’ve crossed over. The two supply curves have crossed so that marginally the conventional oil that the companies are going after in the Arctic, deep offshore, are actually more expensive than the development of the unconventional, such as the tar sands in Canada and the oil shales in Israel. It’s a flip. Things have changed.

Douglas Goldstein: One of the big complaints that people have about oil shale is that the technology to get it out of the ground can have some bad environmental effects.  Is this true or are there ways of dealing with that?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: It’s true that oil shale has to be heated in the subsurface in order to convert it to oil and gas.  One has to be careful in terms of the technology that’s deployed and the local geology to be sure that there are not any negative environmental effects. Israel is blessed by having a geological and hydrogeological situation where the aquifers are far below the oil shale and separated from it by 200 meters of impermeable rock, so that there will not be any environmental issues associated with the Israeli oil shale. That’s different than some of the other oil shales in the world, where the aquifer actually flows through the oil shale. Then you have to be very careful about what technology is used to develop it.  Israel is in a very good situation that way, enormous reserves, very high quality oil, and very safe environmental issues.

Douglas Goldstein: Why is this not being actively pursued?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: We’re starting up our program here.  The first thing that has to be done of course is to appraise the resource. Is it really there? You have to convince yourself that it’s as large and of high quality as I’ve indicated. Our company has been doing an appraisal program. We drilled six appraisal wells in the Shfela Basin, taken thousands of feet of core, and it really is a world class resource.

In the laboratory, we’ve heated the oil shale up and we produced the oil from it. It’s very light. It almost looks like a rosé wine. The thickness of the resource is 300 meters thick.  It’s enormously rich and has a very small surface footprint, which is the characteristic of oil shale in general.  It’s the densest fossil fuel resource in the world so that projects that are done in oil shale don’t have a very large surface footprint compared to conventional oil.

Douglas Goldstein: Are we seeing companies like Royal Dutch Shell come in with tens of billions of dollars of investment to get the oil out of the ground?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: You’re not seeing Royal Dutch Shell coming into Israel, but they are in the sister deposit in Jordan. During the cretaceous period, about 70 million years ago, Israel and Jordan both were under the sea and they both had simultaneous deposition of the oil shale. They both have equivalent and sister deposit characteristics, and Royal Dutch has been drilling in Jordan for the last few years. They have drilled hundreds of wells and Jordan also has extremely rich oil shale.

What you’re not going to see in Israel is any of the major integrated oil companies coming here. When you do a lot of business in the Arab world, it’s just not advisable for these companies to enter the Israeli market, but the smaller independent oil companies that aren’t doing business there are definitely interested and we’ve had a lot of interest in our company. We’re traded on the New York stock exchange under Genie GNE and our particular company is valued at $250 million.

Douglas Goldstein: Does your company do the research?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: We are a RND and exploration company focused on oil shale and other unconventionals in Israel and other countries of the world. It’s the only pure play that I know of in the oil shale domain. A lot of major oil companies have very small roots in the big companies that work on oil shale, but we are the only company that’s focused entirely on oil shales. We have a lot of intellectual property here. We’re doing research on improving the technology for developing the oil shales and we’re searching for oil shales that meet the characteristics where the technology will be effective and economical.

Douglas Goldstein: How can people follow your work or follow what’s going on in the Israel shale oil area?

Dr. Harold Vinegar: Our company has a website, and you can read about our developments here. I think the takeaway message that I would like to give is that Israel has an extremely bright energy future. The growth of the natural gas discoveries and the Mediterranean as well as the enormous oil shale deposits on shore means that Israel is going to be a major oil and gas exporting country in the future. Things are really exciting here.

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We all know how that would turn out!

from Reuters:

Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel if it was sure the Jewish state was preparing to attack it, a senior commander of its elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, made the comments to Iran’s state-run Arabic language Al-Alam television.

“Iran will not start any war but it could launch a pre-emptive attack if it was sure that the enemies are putting the final touches to attack it,” Al-Alam said, paraphrasing the military commander.

Hajizadeh said any attack on Iranian soil could trigger “World War Three”.

“We can not imagine the Zionist regime starting a war without America’s support. Therefore, in case of a war, we will get into a war with both of them and we will certainly get into a conflict with American bases,” he said.

“In that case, unpredictable and unmanageable things would happen and it could turn into a World War Three.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made increasing hints that Israel could strike Iran’s nuclear sites and has criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s position that sanctions and diplomacy should be given more time to stop Iran getting the atomic bomb.

Tehran denied it is seeking weapons capability and says its atomic work is peaceful, aimed at generating electricity.

“The Zionist entity is militarily incapable of confronting Iran … the circumstances of the region do not enable it to wage war tomorrow or even in the near future,” Hajizadeh said.

“Our response will exceed their expectations,” he said. “Their assessment of our missile capabilities is wrong. Our response will not only be missiles.”

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from Yahoo News:

Democrats hurriedly rewrote their convention platform Wednesday to add a mention of God and declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel after President Barack Obama intervened to order the changes.

The embarrassing reversal was compounded by chaos and uncertainty on the convention floor. Three times Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the convention chairman, called for a voice vote on the changes and each time the yes and no votes seemed to balance each other out. On the third attempt, Villaraigosa ruled the amendments were approved — triggering boos from many in the audience.

The episode exposed tensions on Israel within the party, put Democrats on the defensive and created a public relations spectacle as Obama arrived in the convention city to claim his party’s nomination for a second term.

“There was no discussion. We didn’t even see it coming. We were blindsided by it,” said Noor Ul-Hasan, a Muslim delegate from Salt Lake City, who questioned whether the convention had enough of a quorum to even amend the platform.

“The majority spoke last night,” said Angela Urrea, a delegate from Roy, Utah. “We shouldn’t be declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

The language in the platform — a political document — does not affect actual U.S. policy toward Israel. The administration has long said that determining Jerusalem’s status is an issue that should be decided in peace talks by Israelis and Palestinians.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, welcomed the support of Democrats and Republicans alike on Israel. “Together, these party platforms reflect strong bipartisan support for the US-Israel relationship,” AIPAC said.

Obama intervened directly to get the language changed both on Jerusalem and to reinstate God in the platform, according to campaign officials who insisted on anonymity to describe behind-the-scenes party negotiations. They said Obama’s reaction to the omission of God from the platform was to wonder why it was removed in the first place.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the party chairman, said both the God and Jerusalem omissions were “essentially a technical oversight.” She insisted in a CNN interview there had been no discord on the floor and said the vote definitely met the two-thirds threshold.

The revisions came as Obama struggles to win support from white working-class voters, many of whom have strong religious beliefs, and as Republicans try to woo Jewish voters and contributors away from the Democratic Party. Republicans claimed the platform omissions suggested Obama was weak in his defense of Israel and out of touch with mainstream Americans.

GOP officials argued that not taking a position on Jerusalem’s status in the party platform raised questions about Obama’s support for the Mideast ally. Romney said omitting God “suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people.”

“I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don’t recognize,” Romney said.

Added to the Democratic platform was a declaration that Jerusalem “is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

That language was included in the platform four years ago when Obama ran for his first term, but was left out when Democrats on Tuesday approved their 2012 platform, which referred only to the nation’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”

Also restored from the 2008 platform was language calling for a government that “gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”

For decades, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have said it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to settle Jerusalem’s final status — a position reiterated earlier Wednesday by the White House. Both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city’s status has long been among the thorniest issues in Mideast peace talks.

The U.S. has its embassy in Tel Aviv, although numerous Republicans — including Mitt Romney — have vowed to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a speech to AIPAC. But as official policy, his administration has repeatedly maintained that Jerusalem’s status is an issue that Israelis and Palestinians should decide in peace talks. The platform flub gave Republicans an opening to revive their attacks on Obama’s support for Israel just as Democrats were hoping to bask in the glow of first lady Michelle Obama’s Tuesday speech and gin up excitement for her husband, who will accept his party’s nomination for a second term on Thursday.

But restoring the language did not placate Republicans, who used it to suggest that Obama’s party is now more supportive than he is of the Jewish state.

“Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

Republicans declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the platform the party approved last week at its convention in Tampa, Fla. GOP platforms in 2004 and 2008 also called Jerusalem the capital.

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Update: Israel tells Egypt to remove tanks from sinai

from Now the End Begins:

“They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from [being] a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.” Psalm 83

ISMAILIA, Egypt – Egypt is preparing to use aircraft and tanks in Sinai for the first time since the 1973 war with Israel in its offensive against terrorists in the border area, security sources said on Monday.

The plans to step up the operation were being finalized by Egypt’s newly appointed Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he made his first visit to Sinai on Monday following the killing of 16 border guards on Aug.5.

Egypt blamed the attack on Islamist terrorists and the conflict is an early test for President Mohamed Morsy – elected in June following the overthrow last year of Hosni Mubarak – to prove he can rein in terrorists on the border with Israel.

“Al-Sisi will supervise the putting together of final plans to strike terrorist elements using aircraft and mobile rocket launchers for the first time since the beginning of the operation,” an Egyptian security source said.

Another security source said the army was planning to attack and besiege al-Halal mountain in central Sinai, using weapons including tanks, where militants were suspected to be hiding.

Disorder has spread in North Sinai, a region with many guns that has felt neglected by the central government, since the overthrow of Mubarak in a popular uprising. Mubarak’s government had worked closely with Israel to keep the region under control and Islamist President Morsy has promised to restore stability.

The 1979 peace treaty between both countries limited military presence in the desert peninsula though in recent years Israel agreed to allow Egypt to deploy more forces there to stem weapons smuggling by Palestinian gunmen and other crimes.

After the border attack this month, Egypt launched a joint army-police operation that has raided militant hideouts, arrested their members and seized weapons.

Israeli officials, who say they are in regular contact with Cairo, have encouraged Egypt to take tough action against the gunmen responsible for the assault and have previously allowed the use of helicopters in the operation.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing of the border guards but a Sinai-based Islamist terrorist organization, the Salafi Jihadi Group, warned the Egyptian army last week that the crackdown would force it to fight back. Al-Sisi was appointed defense minister last week in a surprise shake-up by Morsy, replacing Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who served as Mubarak’s defense minister for 20 years.

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Ezekiel 38:13:

Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’”

From Bloomberg:

Egypt’s decision last month to stop selling natural gas to Israel could be a harbinger of increasingly confrontational Egyptian-Israeli relations, an indication of a worsening Egyptian economy, or both.

In any case, the end of the arrangement, which provided 40 percent of Israel’s supply, suggests the need for more Israeli creative thinking and assertive diplomacy — not with Egypt but, counterintuitively, with Turkey and Lebanon.

The Egyptian move would have raised greater concerns just a few years ago than it does today among Israelis, who import 70 percent of natural gas and all of their oil. Then, Israel saw no alternative to a near-complete dependence on other countries to meet its energy needs.

Discoveries of large underwater gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, however, have changed Israel’s energy prospects almost overnight. In 2009, a consortium of U.S. and Israeli companies discovered the Tamar field about 50 miles off the Israeli coast, with an estimated 8.3 trillion cubic feet of gas. A year later, a similar consortium discovered Leviathan, a huge field nearby estimated to hold 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Strategic Game-Changers

These finds, and the prospect of more in adjacent waters, could be strategic game-changers for Israel. A 2010 U.S. Geological Survey study estimated that the Levant Basin off the coast of Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Gaza Strip could hold about 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas and 5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. If true, Israel could meet its own electricity needs in the future and possibly become a net exporter to a gas-thirsty region. This would bring economic and political benefits as well as regional clout at a time when Israel’s regional standing is more uncertain than it has been for decades.

But, because nothing is simple in the Middle East, there is also a real threat that these gas discoveries could serve as a spur for conflict rather than economic growth. The Tamar and Leviathan discoveries are generally accepted to fall within Israel’s exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean, although Lebanon originally insisted that Leviathan crosses into its waters. Exploration continues, and it could be only a matter of time before a field is discovered straddling contested boundaries.

Imagine a scenario in which a new field is found in Israeli waters but bleeds into the 330-square-mile disputed area where Israel and Lebanon’s claimed economic zones overlap. It could also run into Cypriot territorial waters. Suddenly, the world could face a situation in which Turkey insists that the field not be developed until the problem of a divided Cyprus is resolved, while Hezbollah threatens to take military action against what it sees as an Israeli effort to commandeer Lebanese national resources. (In December 2010, Hezbollah stated that it wouldn’t allow Israel to “plunder Lebanon’s maritime assets.”) The U.S. would be pulled in two directions — one by its NATO ally Turkey, the other by Israel.

It is just this scenario that dozens of students considered in a recent competition I supervised for Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The students, looking for ways to resolve this problem, came up with two broadly different approaches.

Politics Before Economics

The first is the politics-before-economics pathway, which posits that the regional conflicts need to be resolved before the gas can be developed. This model assumes that companies are unlikely to make multibillion-dollar investments in a situation of acute political uncertainty. Depending on the location of the drilling, the extraction operations could face threats ranging from Hezbollah rockets to Turkish naval incursions. The complicated nature of gas extraction, which requires capital- intensive infrastructure such as pipelines or liquefied natural gas facilities, means that there would be plentiful targets for sabotage. (The Arish-Ashkelon pipeline, carrying gas from Egypt to Israel, was attacked 10 times last year.)

Moreover, the economics of the investment would need to make sense solely in the context of Israel’s domestic-energy market — and perhaps Jordan’s — because exports northward and beyond to Europe wouldn’t be feasible so long as Lebanon and Turkey objected to Israel’s plans.

The optimist in all of us might say that the prospects of plentiful, economical gas should be enough to push conflicts to resolution. Israel and Lebanon, currently in a state of frozen war, should be able to resolve their differences, agree on maritime (and land) borders, and negotiate a mechanism for the shared exploitation and commercialization of the gas. After all, Lebanon, which is 99 percent dependent on imports for its gas, could be a huge beneficiary of this peace.

One might also hope that the lure of energy riches would bring about an equally historic resolution of the Cyprus conflict, under which the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus come to agreement on the terms of their coexistence. Such progress on Cyprus could provide a boost to the Israeli-Turkish relations, which have been on a negative trajectory since the Gaza flotilla incident in May 2010. If sufficient, gas developed in the eastern Mediterranean could flow through Turkey, and on to Europe, helping lessen Turkey’s dependence on Russian gas and bolstering its ambitions to become an energy corridor.

This potential outcome of sweetness and light should motivate American and other diplomats who may find themselves involved in mediating crises in the Levant. But optimism should be tempered by reality. One need only look to the Caspian Sea — where five bordering states have failed to agree on boundaries for years — to see how waiting to resolve territorial disputes can stall development of natural resources.

Agreeing to Disagree

Fortunately — as the students I worked with pointed out — there is an alternative to waiting for a complete resolution of longstanding conflicts. This less-obvious route involves more limited bargains, which don’t demand final resolution of complex territorial and political disputes.

Israel and Lebanon — as well as Cyprus and Turkey, if necessary — might agree to disagree. They might choose a limited accord in which each side states that it does not relinquish any of its claims or withdraw any of its grievances, but agrees to start developing the gas and oil fields following agreed-upon guidelines, pending final resolution of the big political issues.

Historical examples suggest this model is viable. In 1979, Malaysia and Thailand agreed to a joint development arrangement to exploit the resources of their continental shelf, setting aside “the question of delimitation of the Gulf of Thailand for a period of fifty years.” More recently, the 2003 Timor Sea Treaty between East Timor and Australia pushed off the settlement of boundaries for 50 years in order to open the door for resource development under agreed terms.

Even in the Middle East, there have been some precedents, if less-successful ones. In 1971, Iran and the United Arab Emirate of Sharjah, feuding over control of the island of Abu Musa, agreed to a joint resource-development plan, but stated that that pact shouldn’t be interpreted to suggest that either “Iran nor Sharjah will give up its claim to Abu Musa nor recognize the other’s claim.”

These precedents suggest a less ambitious approach to developing eastern Mediterranean gas is worth exploring if more comprehensive peace efforts prove impossible at the time. Too often, politics trumps economics in the Middle East. Let this time be an exception.

(Meghan L. O’Sullivan, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and former deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration, is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

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Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel called an early election to make sure he had support for action against Iran, in Parliamentary style governments, the party in power can call an election as early as it wants, but is usually limited how far out it can call an election. If a governing party calls an early election, they do it for one reason, to show other opposition political parties that the voters are behind their policies and increase their party’s majority in parliament so they have a freer hand with their policies. In this case Benjamin Netanyahu’s right wing coalition government wants to act against Iran, but some of the Opposition parties have been arguing against it, So an early election was called to make the other parties show where they stand on Iran.

The other parties sensing that the majority of voters are for action against Iran, knew they would look bad in an election and most likely lose seats in the Knesset (The Israeli Parliament) So the largest opposing parties agreed to form a “National Unity” government with Netanyahu’s Right wing coalition, which means there will be no major opposition now in Israel’s parliament to military action against Iran, and no election.

Obama has been holding back on action against Iran, but would agree to active U.S. military support for a strike against Iran if the national polls showed he might be facing certain defeat in the Presidential election this fall.

Also Federal Government Policy Makers through the CIA are pushing for military action against Iran, just as they did for action against Libya, because even though Iran was shut out of the International SWIFT system which allows them to do international trade through international banks using the international currency of trade: The Dollar, they have been able to continue to sell oil in exchange for physical goods and Gold.

The Asian countries which have the largest stockpiles of gold have been getting around the international trade embargo with Iran by giving them goods & gold for Iran’s Oil.

The only thing that gives the U.S. Dollar any value now is the fact that it is the currency used globally for international trade. If you want to buy or sell in the international market you have to use Dollars. Also All global Oil buying and selling is done via the exchange of U.S. Dollars. This portion of international trade is the largest by value of support for the value of the U.S. Dollar, and it allows the U.S. to print as many dollars as it wants, it is why the U.S. is not in the position that Greece and other EU countries are in financially even though we have more national debt per capita and as a ratio to GDP. If a substantial amount of the Oil trade was done using other currencies or goods or gold then the value of the dollar would plummet and this would severely decrease the value of other countries goods that are sold in the international market in dollars. And would increase their cost of importing goods from other countries.  And the world’s largest trading nations would call for another currency or basket of currencies to be used to conduct international trade. If this happened then the U.S. would fall into a severe depression, be forced to make unprecedented cuts in its federal budget, and most likely hyperinflation would ensue because of the huge amount of dollars that would be dumped because they would have no value.

The U.S. now only holds onto global power because its currency is the currency of international trade. It no longer has a large enough percentage of Global manufacturing output to make it the global power that it is.

As Cicero said about the Roman Empire, and it is also true of the U.S. today:

“The budget should be balanced

The Treasury should be refilled

Public debt should be reduced

And the assistance to foreign lands

Should be greatly curtailed

Lest Rome become bankrupt

People must again learn to work

Instead of Living on Public Assistance”

– Cicero 55BC

from msnbc:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off plans Tuesday for early elections and formed a unity government in a surprise move that could give him a freer hand to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The deal, agreed at a secret meeting overnight, means the centrist Kadima party will hook up with Netanyahu’s rightist coalition, creating a wide parliamentary majority of 94 legislators in the 120-seat parliament, one of the biggest in Israeli history.

“A broad national unity government is good for security, good for the economy and good for the people of Israel,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office, quoting Netanyahu.

At a news conference, Netanyahu promised “serious and responsible” talks on Iran with Kadima, and said the coalition would promote a “responsible” peace process with the Palestinians.

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan said the accord would help build support for potential action against Iran’s atomic program which Israel views as an existential threat.

“An election wouldn’t stop Iran’s nuclear program. When a decision is taken to attack or not, it is better to have a broad political front, that unites the public,” he told Israel Radio.

Global powers wary of war The recently elected head of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, will be named vice premier in the new government, officials said, adding that the accord would be formally ratified later Tuesday and presented to parliament.

As deputy prime minister in a former Kadima-headed government in 2008, Mofaz was among the first Israeli officials to publicly moot the possibility of an attack on Iran.

A onetime defense minister, the Iranian-born Mofaz has been more circumspect while in the opposition, saying Israel should not hasten to break ranks with war-wary world powers that are trying to pressure Iran through sanctions and negotiations.

Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, said the coalition deal “sends a very strong signal to Tehran, but also to Europe and the United States, that Israel is united and the leadership is capable of dealing with the threats that are there if and when it becomes necessary.”

Israeli officials have said the next year will be crucial in seeing whether Iran is willing to back down in the face of widespread international condemnation and curb its nuclear plans.

Israel has regularly hinted it will strike the Islamic republic if Tehran does not pull back.

Iran regularly dismisses Israeli and Western accusations that it is working on developing a nuclear bomb, saying its program is focused on generating electricity and other peaceful projects. Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

‘A pact of cowards’ The next national election is not due until October 2013 but Netanyahu this month had pushed for an early poll after divisions emerged in his coalition over a new military conscription law. Parliament was preparing for a final vote to dissolve itself and clear the decks for a September 4 ballot while the backroom talks with Kadima were under way.

The accord stunned the political establishment and drew swift condemnation from the center-left Labor party, which had been touted in opinion polls to be on course for a resurgence at the expense of Kadima.

“This is a pact of cowards and the most contemptible and preposterous zigzag in Israel’s political history,” Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich was quoted as saying in the media, where commentators hailed Netanyahu’s political prowess.

Kadima, with 28 seats, will add significant weight to the coalition, but it remains uncertain how it will get along with religious and ultra-right parties also in the cabinet.

Inter-government relations are likely to be tested swiftly over the issue of settlement building after the high court ordered the government on Monday to demolish five apartment buildings in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Many of Netanyahu’s supporters want him to push through legislation to legalize settlements, such as the Ulpana apartments, which a court has ruled were built on privately owned Palestinian land.

It is not clear if Kadima would support such a move, which would draw international condemnation on Israel. Palestinians say settlement building is jeopardizing their chance to create an independent state.

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