In this issue:

Israel's Ben-Eliezer: Barghouti Should Lead Palestinians

Peace Talks and Nuclear Desalination

Israeli Foreign Ministry Criticizes Livni for Attending Anti-Iran Rally

U.S. 'Baited' Iraqi Targets

From Volume 6, Issue 40 of EIR Online, Published Oct. 2, 2007
Southwest Asia News Digest

Israel's Ben-Eliezer: Barghouti Should Lead Palestinians

Sept. 28 (EIRNS)—Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer called for the release of Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti from Israeli prison. "Marwan Barghouti is, in my opinion, the next leader of the Palestinians," Ben-Eliezer told the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. "I say there is no need to be alarmed, and that it is possible to talk about the possibility of releasing him. I would consider it. In my opinion, this move is legitimate, even though this person has been convicted of charges that are very grave, and I don't make light of them."

Ben-Eliezer said that some Israelis might have a "psychological repugnance" about releasing Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for murder, but added, "I don't have any psychological repugnance of that sort. What I find repugnant is the future we are creating for our children. It is necessary to talk about everything and to examine everything, and to see what is good for the State of Israel."

Barghouti is a prominent leader of Fatah, and calls for his release have been made by Lyndon LaRouche and former Secretary of State James Baker III. Prof. Ahmed al-Kedidi, one of panelists at the Sept. 15-16 Schiller Institute conference on the Eurasian Land-Bridge in Kiedrich, Germany, is also an advocate of Barghouti's release.

Underscoring Barghouti's importance, Ben-Eliezer said, "In my opinion, there is a triangle here, whether or not we like to talk about it, that includes [President] Abu Mazen, [Prime Minister] Salam Fayyad, and Marwan Barghouti.... No one should think that anything can happen without Barghouti.... Barghouti, in my best estimation, is in fact the tough side of the triangle, that wins a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of respect, not only because of the fact that he is in prison, but rather because, as jargon has it, 'he is the cleanest of them all.' But you have to remember that we are also talking about a leader, who, even when he is a prisoner, should not be not be scorned and should be listened to. He is also the only leader for whom Hamas maintains a great deal of respect, and I daresay there is even some awe of him in Hamas."

In motivating his call for Barghouti's release, Ben-Eliezer said that as a security-minded person, "we must look 10 years ahead. We must make an accounting of how much longer we will continue to keep our children in a situation of 50 days of reserve duty a year, and until when we will be investing everything we have in the issue of security.... We have to look at Barghouti attentively, even when he is a prisoner. And we have to see how we hold a dialogue with him and how we find the opening through which the peace process will also occur. We aren't dismissing anything."

Peace Talks and Nuclear Desalination

Sept. 27 (EIRNS)—On Sept. 18 Lyndon LaRouche issue a statement supporting a call by Israeli President Shimon Peres for opening peace negotiations with Israel. LaRouche recommended that one substantive issue that could be addressed is the need for freshwater development, and the prospects of nuclear-powered desalination as a means of expanding the overall amount of potable water. "Isn't it time," LaRouche asked, "for a war-proof design for nuclear desalination? Isn't Syria a likely partner to Israel for such an agreement?"

In fact, over the past year, all the countries in the region have initiated moves to acquire nuclear power reactors for electricity and desalination. Last August, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer announced Israel's intention to build a nuclear power reactor to generate electricity and water desalination, and that Israeli would consider a joint project with a neighboring country. The major obstacle for Israel is that it is not a signer of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and is a non-declared nuclear power with allegedly 200 nuclear weapons. Israel has reportedly approached the Nuclear Suppliers Group of the International Atomic Energy Agency about a possible exemption from NSG technology controls, like that sought by Washington for an accord with India. This could only be possible in the context of regional peace talks that could lead to concrete cooperation among the countries of the region.

Also in August, Jordan, which has a peace agreement with Israel, announced through its Committee for Nuclear Strategy, its intention to build a nuclear power station by 2015, and have 30% of its power needs provided by nuclear energy by 2030. Jordan has uranium resources that could be exploited.

Another country with a peace agreement with Israel is Egypt, which in 2006 announced the completion of a feasibility study to establish a nuclear power stations for electricity and desalination at El Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast. By 2015 it hopes to have completed the construction of a 1,000 megawatt reactor.

Syria, which has a chronic electricity shortage, has been considering a nuclear power reactor for the last decade. In 2003, it was in serious discussions with Russia for a $2 billion reactor for power generation and desalination. These plans have been put on the back burner by Russia, because of the Bush Administration's aggressive policy against Iran, and U.S. pressure on Russia for its ongoing construction of an Iranian nuclear power station at Bushehr.

All these projects could be integrated into a regional program, as proposed in LaRouche's Oasis Plan for Regional Development, through projects in the fields of transport infrastructure, and nuclear power generation for electricity and desalination. It has been three decades since LaRouche made this proposal, and the time is more ripe then ever.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Criticizes Livni for Attending Anti-Iran Rally

Sept. 25 (EIRNS)—Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni came under attack from her own Foreign Ministry for attending an anti-Iran rally in New York. Unnamed Foreign Ministry sources told the Jerusalem Post that by going to the rally, Livni is making the Iran nuclear issue appear to be only an Israeli-Iran issue, not a world issue, and that the Israeli and the Jewish lobby is running U.S. policy.

Up until now we have tried to lower our public profile on the matter," one official said, "By taking the lead on this we are sending the wrong message. The average American viewer will see a demonstration of Jewish organizations with the participation of the Foreign Minister of Israel and ask, 'Is this whole thing any concern of ours?'" He said it is one thing to take the issue up aggressively in diplomatic circles, and quite another in the streets of New York.

Livni gave a highly polemical speech at the rally saying, "Where is the world? Where are its values? Why does it hesitate, while Iran casts its dark shadow of terror across the globe? While its President mocks the Holocaust and markets hate. We are here to tell the world—to demand from the world—to wake up before it is too late."

U.S. 'Baited' Iraqi Targets

Sept. 25 (EIRNS)—Three U.S. Ranger snipers in Iraq, who are standing trial for murder, have testified that they were following a policy of "baiting" targets to kill. The Rangers are charged with killing unarmed Iraqis, and then planting detonation wires or similar incriminating evidence on the body, to justify the crime.

In sworn statements, according to the New York Times and Washington Post, soldiers testifying for the defense said that there was no "dropping" of evidence, but that they were following an authorized "bait program," placing wires and bomb related material in an open spot, then killing anyone who picked it up.

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