AUSTRALIANS AT WAR

AUSTRALIANS AT WAR
Now available. $20-00 including postage in Australia. Click on image above for details..... TELLING THE HISTORY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AS IT REALLY WAS.

Monday, January 31, 2011

WILL ISRAEL INVADE THE EGYPTIAN SINAI?

Israel’s government are deep in discussions about how best to handle the Egyptian crisis. The possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian government weighs heavily on their minds.

With the Egyptians in the midst of revolution and right now at their most vulnerable in terms of defending themselves against an Israeli strike, the Israelis may well be tempted to retake part of the Sinai in order to create a buffer zone to pre-empt the opening up of the Gaza Strip. This would not only halt the possibility of an increased flow of armaments which the Gazan Palestinians can then use to defend themselves against continued Israeli oppression, but halt the flow of arms into the Gaza altogether.

Of course, the Israelis will no doubt be considering many options, but they will also have in minds their long term objectives and that is to ultimately create a Greater Israel.

The Israelis have always been past masters of turning adversity into triumph and this may well be one threat that they may choose to turn into opportunity.

ELBARADEI EMERGES AS POTENTIAL NEW EGYPTIAN LEADER WITH SUPPORT OF MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

Mohamed ElBaradei, the retired UN chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who recently returned to Egypt to join the protests against Hosni Mubarak, has emerged as a strong contender to lead the Egyptian people under a unity government.

With the support of Egypt’s largest and best organised opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, coupled with his genteel manner, negotiating skills and experience and his willingness to be on the streets with the people, ElBaradei has shown himself to be the most popular of contenders for leadership of a genuinely popular revolution.

As IAEA chief during the George W. Bush era, ElBaradei succeeded in frustrating pro-war Western leaders especially during the lead-up to the Iraq war and then later as the US and Israel tried desperately to accuse Iran of having a nuclear weapons program.

Despite his popularity among the Egyptians and, indeed, among the Arab people generally, together with the respect he has also earned from many in the West, ElBaradei’s alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood will be troublesome for the Israeli and the US governments and their allies.

The Muslim Brotherhood is known to have strong sympathies with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In the event of gaining power, a new Egyptian government – especially one dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood – may open its borders to trade with the Gaza which will then make it easier to bring more arms in for the Gazans to defend themselves against Israeli oppression. Israel is unlikely to tolerate this and may well invade and occupy the Gaza Strip in order to prevent the Palestinians getting help from the Egyptians.

While ElBaradei is well known as a peace loving man, the real power in a future Egyptian government is likely to be with the Muslim Brotherhood which is not known for its patience with the right-wing Zionists of Israel.

The region is in turmoil at the moment and it is impossible to predict what will transpire. However, one thing is for sure; whatever happens, there will be tumultuous change.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

THE EGYPTIAN CRISIS: THE NEOCONS JUST CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES.

True to their professed ideology, the neoconservatives have come out in support of the call for free elections in Egypt, but, reading between the lines of their commentary, that support is contingent only on the results of such free elections being in line with US and Israeli interests.

William Kristol writes in The Weekly Standard:

“Surely, I would say, it’s time for the U.S. government to take an active role (much but not all of it behind the scenes), working with the army and civil and political organizations to bring about a South Korea/Philippines/Chile-like transition in Egypt, from an American-supported dictatorship to an American-supported and popularly legitimate liberal democracy.”

Hasn’t US government’s support of the Mubarak regime been the cause of the trouble in the first place? What makes Kristol think that the Egyptian opposition want the US to have any part in selecting a new government for them? Supposing the people of Egypt choose a different form of democracy that is not a ‘South Korea/Philippines/Chile-like transition’ to a Western-style liberal democracy. What if the Egyptian people choose in free and fair elections an Islam-dominated government that supports the Palestinian cause.

In the Washington Post yesterday, neoconservative Elliott Abrams wrote:

“We cannot deliver democracy to the Arab states, but we can make our principles and our policies clear. Now is the time to say that the peoples of the Middle East are not "beyond the reach of liberty" and that we will assist any peaceful effort to achieve it - and oppose and condemn efforts to suppress it.”

‘…we can make our principles and our policies clear’!?

Remember, this is the same Elliott Abrams who in 2006 supplied arms to Fatah in the Gaza Strip and West Bank after Hamas won free and fair elections throughout the Palestinian territories.

The neocons aren’t in the slightest bit interested in ‘free and fair democratic elections’. They have proven time and time again to only be supportive of elections that see groups win that will kowtow to US interests. If a popularly elected group come to government that is not in the interests of the US, then the US will resort to every underhand trick it knows to change that government.

Neocon democracy is not real democracy; it’s a pseudo-democracy whereby you are free to select any government you like providing the US and Israel approves of it.

ISRAEL AND THE U.S. ARE GETTING DESPERATE OVER EGYPT.

It is clear that Israel and the US are desperately doing all they can behind the scenes to ensure that the Mubarak camp of Egyptian politics remains in power. It is also clear that they have all but given up on Mubarak being able to maintain power.

Mubarak’s decision to appoint Omar Suleiman, for years Egypt’s top intelligence man and confidante to Mubarak, to be vice-President underscores two important factors. First, Mubarak has abandoned the plan to groom his son, Gemal, to succeed him, which, in turn, indicates that he himself may step down – probably sooner rather than later – to clear the way for Suleiman to succeed, and secondly, since Suleiman has very close connections with the CIA, MI6 and Mossad, he clearly would have the support of the US, the UK and Israel.

The uprising in Egypt has also exposed West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas for the turncoat that he is. The Jerusalem Post reports that Abbas has phoned Mubarak to offer his support. Hamas, on the other hand, are supporting Mubarak’s ousting since it has been Mubarak’s government that has supported Israel’s efforts to completely isolate the Gaza Strip which borders the Egyptian Sinai.

The myriad of tunnels that are Gaza’s lifeline for everyday supplies as well as arms for defence against Israeli oppression, are only possible due to sympathetic, as well as generally corrupt, Egyptian officials turning a blind eye to the tunnel networks. However, the Egyptian government’s decision to build an underground barrier to put a halt to tunnelling would squeeze the already well-squeezed Palestinian population in the Gaza even further. The prospect of a complete change of government in Egypt that is likely to be far more sympathetic to the Gazan peoples cause, therefore, is very much welcomed by Hamas and consequently dreaded by both Israel and Abbas. It is even conceivable that, if the Mubarak regime falls and if it seems likely that it is replaced by an Islamist government that expresses support for Hamas, Israel could decide to fully invade the Gaza Strip and occupy it permanently.

It is doubtful that the appointment of Suleiman will placate the Egyptian opposition, as the US and Israel seems to hope, even if Mubarak steps down. For the opposition, Suleiman is simply more of the same and is unlikely to usher in the kind of changes the opposition are demanding which is to immediately vote in a President and parliament of their choice in free and democratic elections.

Egypt is Israel and America’s most important ally being geographically placed connecting the Middle East to North Africa and bordering Israel. If Egypt falls to Islamic control the only thing that will be certain is that the future of the Middle East will remain uncertain as it waits for Israel and the US to respond.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

THE LAST THING THE U.S. WANTS IN NORTH AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST IS DEMOCRACY.

Are you wondering why so little is being said by Obama and his administration about the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East? The fact is the US has painted itself into a corner as far as this part of the world is concerned.

For years successive US administrations have been telling the world that democracy is what they would like to see throughout the Arab world while at the same time they have been quietly supporting various styles of oppressive totalitarian governments with massive amounts of aid and cash to their leaders. All the while opposition in most of these countries is brutally crushed often with the clandestine support of the US who are anxious to preserve the status quo in the region.

Now the peoples of these countries have awoken and have had enough of being oppressed and abused. They are demanding the right to choose their own government. One would have thought that on the face of it the US would be supporting these demands for democracy but instead all the US have said is that leaders of these countries in turmoil, particularly Egypt, should now take the opportunity of making some political reforms. In other words, make a few concessions but whatever you do, don’t hand over power to the people.

Egypt is especially troublesome for Obama. It is one of the most influential of the Arab nations straddling as it does both North Africa and the Middle East and having a long border with Israel. Furthermore, Egypt’s biggest opposition party is the Muslim Brotherhood, a party that has a massive following quite capable of coming out on top in fair and open elections and which supports the Palestinian cause. The last thing the US and the Israelis want, therefore, is for there to be free and open elections in Egypt.

Both the US and Israel are mindful of the last time an Arab bloc had a free and open election; the Palestinian elections of January 2006 when Israel’s arch-enemy, Hamas, surprisingly romped home to win. The West then refused to recognise Hamas as the legitimate government of the Palestinian people. Hamas then asserted its power in the Gaza Strip by kicking out their opposition, Fatah, while Fatah consolidated its power in the West Bank with the help of the Israelis and the US.

An Egypt governed by a theocratic government would be intolerable to the Israelis. It would mean the already porous border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip would be opened up and even more arms and material would flow into the Gaza. A new Egyptian government would also open up trade and commerce to the Gaza bringing an end to Israel’s attempt to ghettoise and ultimately strangle the Gaza and Hamas into submission. Israel would be left with little alternative but to invade and militarily occupy the whole of the Gaza Strip.

The unrest among the other North African and Middle Eastern nations is also of a concern to the US and Israel. From Israel’s point of view, a successful overthrow of the various autocratic and totalitarian governments of the region would leave Israel surround by hostile nations whose governments will also now be hostile. From the Americans point of view, especially if such a revolution were to roll on into the major oil producing states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, etc., it would mean that hegemony and influence over the regions resources would be lost. That would be disastrous for the US. The idea of having to procure resources from a universally hostile region would be totally unacceptable to the US.

The US and Israel can only hope that the revolts quickly peter out and the status quo is restored. However, the more violent the various authorities crack down on the dissidents, then the less likelihood of peace being restored in favour of the repressive governments.

Any actions that Israel now takes against its enemies, Hezbollah and Hamas, will only inflame the situation further. However, Israel may feel compelled to take action, particularly against Hamas, if it feels that Egypt is going to fall to the Islamists. And if Israel takes action against Hamas, it may also feel that would also be the ideal opportunity to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The big question now is; where does all this leave Iran?

The fact is, if this develops into a war between the West and Islam then the much overplayed rivalries between Shia and Sunni Muslims will be put aside. Remember, Hamas is Sunni and Hezbollah is Shia, yet both are supported by Iran.

Middle Eastern and Arab politics are extremely complex but when the ordinary people take it upon themselves to exert their power – especially in multiple places at the same time – then those complexities are broken down into simplistic causes which have a tendency to unite rather split.

Whatever happens next, the US and Israel must bear responsibility.

Friday, January 28, 2011

THE ULTIMATE CHUTZPAH?

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon yesterday said that Israel is fed up with ‘giving and giving and giving’ while Palestinians refuse to recognise a Jewish nation state.

This has to be the ultimate chutzpah.

The only reason Israel is now in a position to be ‘giving, giving, giving’ is because it has spent its entire existence taking, taking, taking from the Palestinians and Arabs! Given that, why on earth would the Palestinians and Arabs want to recognise a racist Jewish nation state that continually invades, bombs, occupies, starves out, ghettoises and then builds on land that was never theirs in the first place?

Israel is not a Jewish state; more than 25% of the people in Israel are not Jews. That’s the reality of today’s Israel.

Many Jews, both in Israel and throughout the Diaspora, are aware that modern Israel is not a truly Jewish state and that Palestinians and Arabs have as much claim to the right to live on the lands that are now called Israel as the Jews do – and to do so with equal rights and the freedom to live where they like and to partake as real equals in political life.

But despite this, right-wing Zionists insist that not only do they have sole right to the lands that are now Israel but also the sole right to occupy the lands that are the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and, given half a chance, even south Lebanon up to the Litani River with the ultimate aim of creating a Greater Israel that precludes all Palestinians and Arabs.

It’s not a matter of Zionists ‘giving, giving, giving’; it’s more a case of ‘giving back, giving back, giving back.’

Fair-minded Jews and Arabs alike must come together and insist on the only solution that could possibly ever work – regardless of how impossible it may seem today – and that is the creation of OneState where all live as equals.


UPDATE

MORE CHUTZPAH FROM YA’ALON

Not only does Ya’alon want the Palestinians to give the Zionists more after taking from the Palestinians and Arabs what wasn’t theirs anyway, but now he’s moaning that Hezbollah are in the Gaza Strip giving support and training to Hamas who are trying to prevent the Zionists from taking any more.

Never mind that Israel receives all the training it needs from US personnel in Israel and not to mention the billions of dollars worth of arms and materiel it also receives from the US for the sole purpose of helping Israel achieve a Greater Israel. And here he is complaining that Hezbollah are giving training to Hamas.

I don’t know how Ya’alon can keep a straight face when he comes out with this nonsense.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SO WHO DID THE MOSCOW BOMBING AND WHY?

Odd, is it not, that Russia would reaffirm its recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and then, less than a fortnight later, some deranged person would blow themselves up at Moscow airport killing some 35 people and injuring scores of others.

According to reports, Russian police are hunting for three men said to be the suicide bomber’s accomplices. The suspects according to the reports are all from Russia’s predominately Islamic (Sunni) north Caucasus region which includes Chechnya.

The questions that analysts must ask are these: First the obvious one; is the bombing of Moscow airport linked to Russia’s recognition of Palestine and, if so, then who is responsible and why? And, secondly; if it is not linked and Chechen Islamic fighters are responsible, then why and to what end did they take this action considering that Chechnya has recently enjoyed a reasonable period of calm.

Certainly, it is not outside the realms of possibility that this bombing was a false flag operation designed to realign public opinion against the world of Islam which by association includes Palestine. Of course, if this is the case and it was a false flag bombing, then there can be little doubt that Mossad would have somehow been behind it.

If, however, Chechen fighters were responsible, then it may be that the bombing was carried out by some splinter group upset at the current status quo in Chechnya and with Russia.

One other possibility is that renegade Chechen fighter and leader, Dokka Umarov, had organised the bombing and, since he has in the past suggested that he would die fighting for his cause – indeed, it was recently reported that he may have already died – Umarov may even have been the bomber himself having decided to be a martyr to his cause. There is certainly a sense in his biography that having seen much of his own family killed over the years of fighting that he may well have considered that being a suicide bomber himself would be a fitting way to end his life. This is just supposition of course, but don’t be surprised if this is the case.

Getting back to the other scenario, however, a false flag operation organised by Mossad with the finger of blame being pointed at Chechen rebels is just as likely and achieves the same end for Israel.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ISRAEL’S I.D.F. FINDS NEW WAY OF GETTING SOLDIERS TO KILL INNOCENT PALESTINIANS.

Last week an IDF assassination squad murdered an innocent Palestinian civilian while he slept in his bed. Yesterday a soldier involved in the murder was discharged from the IDF. This, it seems, is all his ‘punishment’ is likely to be.

For your average reluctant Israeli conscript, however, rather than being a punishment, it’s a ticket out of an army they never really wanted to be in. One wonders now if there is likely to be a rush of IDF conscripts volunteering for special operations that are likely to provide opportunities for ‘accidentally’ murdering Palestinians while on sensitive operations like assassination hit teams.

It’s not my intention here to be cynical at the expense of an innocent mans death, but rather to highlight the value that the Israelis place on the life of a Palestinian. It’s bad enough that the world accepts with barely a ‘tut-tut’ that Israeli soldiers are used by their government to carry out extra-judicial executions but the crime is compounded when innocent people die and all the murderer gets is a ‘discharge from service’.

Who will be next? Where will it end? Government sponsored extra-judicial executions must end. Justice must be delivered by courts of law, not by the vengeful whims of presidents, prime ministers, intelligence chiefs or defence ministers.


TALKING OF THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT AND ITS SOLDIERS GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER…

It seems an Israeli government commission, the Turkel Commission, is about to find that the Israeli government didn’t commit any war crimes when it murdered passengers on the MV Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010.

What a surprise.

It’s a bit like Hitler asking his chief judge, Roland Freisler, to head-up a committee to investigate wrong-doings at Dachau concentration camp.

And the world lets them get away with it without a by your leave!

Monday, January 17, 2011

IS THE FIX IN FOR IRAN TO COP THE BLAME FOR RAFIK HARIRI’S MURDER? AND WHAT COULD BE THE REPERCUSSIONS?

I suppose it was inevitable that the murder of Lebanon’s popular Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February 2005 would ultimately be blamed on Iran. I suspect also that if a way could have been found to blame Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the deed – despite the fact that he didn’t become President until August 2005 – then they would have done so. Instead, because Ahmadinejad wasn’t around at the time the finger of blame is being pointed at Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

According to an anonymous Newsmax source quoted in a Ha’aretz report on 15 January 2011, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), set up to inquire into the murder, will soon release their preliminary findings and name the Supreme Leader as the person who authorised the killing which, according to the source, was carried out by Hezbollah under the auspices of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

For six years now, Iran barely got a mention in connection to the killing. Initially it was the Syrians that copped the blame; four Lebanese pro-Syrian security generals were arrested and spent some four years in custody before being released through lack of evidence. Hezbollah, on the other hand, points the finger of blame at a far more likely culprit; one that has well established form for such a crime: Israel’s Mossad.

The murder of Rafik Hariri led directly to the so-called ‘Cedar Revolution’ which ended up with the Syrians withdrawing from Lebanon after having had a military presence in the country since 1975. Syria, then, despite Hariri wanting Syria out of Lebanon, had nothing to gain from murdering Hariri. Not withstanding any evidence that the STL may have that conclusively proves otherwise, the circumstantial evidence would certainly suggest that there is at least a strong likelihood that Israel was behind the killing. Just the nature and method of the killing alone has all the hallmarks of an Israeli Mossad hit.

With Syria out of the equation, Hezbollah, so Israel thought, would be easier to deal to with by the Israelis when in July 2006 they bombarded and invaded Lebanon in the hope of finishing off Hezbollah and occupying south Lebanon up to the Litani River. They also hoped that Iran might also be drawn into the fight providing Israel and the US an excuse to attack Iran with a view to ‘regime change’. Iran didn’t bite and Hezbollah put up a fight that the Israelis didn’t expect as Hezbollah launched thousands of rockets against Israel.

Ever since the Second Lebanon War of 2006 the US and Israel have been steadily increasing their rhetoric and propaganda against Iran with a view to getting Western public opinion to support an eventual attack against Iran. Now, it seems, the demonisation of Iran continues, this time by accusing it of being responsible for the murder of Rafik Hariri. At the same time, Israel may now consider taking advantage of any internal strife in Lebanon by choosing yet again to launch an all-out attack against Hezbollah to defeat it once and for all and to occupy again, only on a more permanent basis, the south of Lebanon up to the Latani River. The casus belli for Israel to attack Lebanon would be to prevent Hezbollah taking full control of Lebanon.

One can only hope that cooler heads will prevail in Lebanon and that Hezbollah will realise what Israel’s ploy more than likely is.

Again, time will tell.

Friday, January 14, 2011

THE CHINESE J-20 STEALTH AIRCRAFT: COULD IT BECOME A GAME-CHANGER?

At around 1300hrs local time on Tuesday 11 January 2011, the new Chinese designed and built stealth aircraft known as the J-XX, or J-20 as it has become known in the West, took off for an 18 minute maiden flight around the airfield where it was built at Chengdu in Sichuan province, China.

Since the Chinese have released no significant information about this aircraft, some commentators have wondered if it is a prototype of an aircraft the Chinese hope to put into production or is merely a demonstrator or proof of concept aircraft. All indications thus far point to the aircraft being – pending successful testing and results – a prototype of an aircraft the Chinese plan to develop for production.

The first indicator is the fact that two prototypes have been built. Since, even by Chinese cost standards, these machines are very expensive to design and build they have shown that there is much more to this project than mere sophisticated experimentation.

The second indicator is the geo-political timing of the first flight; the same day that the US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao in China – much to the chagrin of neoconservatives who saw the timing of the first flight of the J-20 on the same day as Gates speaks to Jintao about defence matters as a deliberate insult to America.

The J-20 aircraft is an extremely sophisticated machine clearly designed for stealth operations as defined by its shaping features which closely replicate current US stealth aircraft designs. The one stand-out feature about the J-20 as compared to US designs of similar type aircraft, however, is its relative size. Though not hugely larger than comparable US stealth aircraft, it is significantly large enough to assume that, together with its delta-wing/canard layout (which provides higher manoeuvrability) that the aircraft is designed for a series of multi-role functions ranging from straight-out combat dog-fighter/escort fighter to supercruise strike and long-range stand-off bomber to supercruise long-range reconnaissance. It is even conceivable that one day J-20’s could be seen flying in groups with some in the role of bomber while others provide fighter cover.

If tests are successful and the prototypes perform up to expectations, it is likely that in the long term the aircraft will become China’s front-line multi-role airborne weapon and go into high volume production particularly if it can be shown to be produced for multi-role purposes using a universal basic airframe for all roles. If this is the case, then China will not only have a highly sophisticated yet relatively inexpensive per unit cost aircraft, but will also have a highly valuable and very saleable aircraft to sell to China’s regional partners throughout Asia, Central Asia and possibly even the Middle East.

It is this, of course, that has the US very worried. While the US has a range of very sophisticated stealth aircraft, they are currently finding it difficult to justify further development and production in the light of America’s current economic situation. US military aircraft are exceptionally expensive to design, develop and build, indeed, it’s most advanced design so far, the F-22 Raptor, is now unlikely to go into full production. This, together with the latest development in China, has given rise to a now tangible feel permeating in some quarters in the West that China is now catching up, if not actually overtaking, the US technically in both terms of design and production capability.

If the J-20 lives up to its designer’s expectations, then this aircraft can very easily become a game-changer for US and Western foreign policy in the not too distant future. Certainly the US will need to think seriously about the future of its own aerospace industries.

But, far more importantly, it’s also going to have to think very seriously about its geo-political role in a future world where the US is no longer the top dog on the block.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

‘WORLD’S MOST MORAL ARMY’ COLD-BLOODEDLY MURDERS INNOCENT PALESTINIAN IN BOTCHED ASSASSINATION.

A death squad from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), which Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said is the most moral army in the world, in an obvious case of misidentification, yesterday cold-bloodedly and deliberately murdered a 65-year-old Palestinian man in his bed.

Amr Qawasme of Hebron was shot dead in a hail of gunfire as he lay in his bed. An AFP photo that accompanies both the Ha’aretz article and the BBC article reporting the murder is of the widow holding a picture of her dead husband whilst sitting on the bed in which he died. The photo shows clearly the position of the bloodstains on the bed, pillow and wall behind indicating exactly where Amr Qawasme was when he was shot.

The murder happened as the IDF mounted a series of raids in the Hebron to deal with the Hamas men that the Palestine Authority had released from PA detention the previously day. It seems that the IDF were out to arrest most of the men the PA had released but were out to assassinate one of them, Wael Mahmoud Said Bitarwho, who the IDF believed had played a part in a suicide bombing at Dimona in 2008 and who apparently lived in the same building as Amr Qawasme.

The world must take note of these crimes. The Zionists of Israel should be aware that these crimes will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NETANYAHU ASKS FOR POLLARDS RELEASE. HOW WILL ‘THE ISRAELI PEOPLE SHOW THEIR GRATITUDE’? IS A SETTLEMENT FREEZE ON THE CARDS AGAIN?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent a personal letter to President Obama requesting clemency for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard who is currently serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for spying.

For the Israeli Prime Minister to personally write to the President of the United States an open letter on behalf of an individual in this way is not a decision that Netanyahu would have made without knowing for sure what the outcome is likely to be and, more importantly, what the consequences are going to be. For Obama to now refuse such a request from the leader of its closest ally in the Middle East would be a massive diplomatic slap in the face to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu ends his letter to Obama by telling him that ‘the people of Israel will be eternally grateful’. One needs to ask: How grateful will Israel be? Will, say, a three month settlement freeze be gratitude enough?

Certainly, some consideration to a way of showing gratitude has been mused over. Why else would the Knesset take a vote on approving the letter and, even more intriguingly, why would 25 members not approve it (against 43 that did with one abstention). One would have thought that a letter pleading for Pollard’s release would receive unanimous approval from his fellow Israelis. What possible reason would 25 members have for not approving such a request? Could it be that they know that the price of showing ‘gratitude’ will be another freeze which they are dead set against?

Time will tell.