‘No deal to free Shalit’
ON THE eve of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s summit meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh, Mr Olmert’s spokesperson said the two men would not be announcing a deal for the release of kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit.
Mr Olmert was scheduled to meet President Mubarak yesterday to discuss ways of moving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has asked Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, but Mr Olmert has insisted that there will be no prisoner release until Hamas frees Corporal Shalit, who was kidnapped over six months ago.
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has been trying broker a deal between Israel and Hamas. He reportedly reached agreement with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal last week on how many prisoners Israel would release, but Israeli officials have denied that a deal has been done.
Plot to kill Aussie tycoon
MILLIONAIRE businessman Isi Leibler discovered this week that he had been one of the targets of a Palestinian terrorist plot. Mr Leibler, who before emigrating to Israel eight years ago was a senior figure in the Australian Jewish community, discovered he was on a 1975 terrorist hit list. Among others targeted were politician (later Prime Minister) Bob Hawke, Israeli ambassador Michael Elizur and journalist Sam Lipski. Mr Leibler learned of the plan when Australian cabinet documents were released. He told the Jerusalem Post that he planned to write to the Australian authorities to ask for an explanation as to why he was not told about the intelligence at the time.
Beckett Sderot sympathy
FOREIGN SECRETARY Marga- ret Beckett telephoned her Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, on Tuesday to ask after the health of the two teenagers from Sderot who were seriously injured by a Kassam rocket last week. The boys are recovering from their wounds. The two foreign ministers also discussed the general Middle East situation and the conversation focused on Iran. Ms Livni hosted a delegation of senior Board of Deputies members in her office on Tuesday.
IDF chief ‘will not quit’
IDF CHIEF of General Staff Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz has no intentions of resigning, despite the shortcomings in the IDF’s performance during this summer’s Lebanon war. General Halutz told a press conference on Tuesday that the war had harmed Israel’s deterrence posture, but that it was his job to lead the army’s rehabilitation process. He said he would resign only if asked to by his superiors or if demanded by the findings of Winograd Committee, which is investigating the war’s handling.