World Affairs Brief - Jan. 2, 2009

Joel Skousen, editor (by subscription only)

In foreign affairs things are never as they seem. In the current Israel-Gaza conflict, it isn't as simple as "they fired rockets at Israel and Israel is attacking in self-defense." The larger question is how did those thousands of rockets get into Gaza--an enclave supposedly cut off from all the world by rigorous checkpoints? Yes, some crude short range rockets are built inside Gaza, but all the parts and explosives have to be brought in, as well as the larger, medium range rockets of Russia design, now being manufactured in North Korea, Iran and around the world. All these weapons are imported through a myriad of tunnels that run under the Egyptian-Gaza border. Egypt knows this and looks the other way. Israeli intelligence also has eyes and ears all over Gaza and knows this too, but doesn't act until it's too late. Why? To understand what's really going on inside Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and the whole Middle East, you have to understand the secret back room deals that the US and Israel have made with the various Palestinian factions. You have to see who is funding and backing the belligerents, and who has the real power to call the shots. We will never know all that is going on behind the scenes but this week I'll help you sort out the fact from the fiction.

First, some background: I've delayed covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in any detail because it is so convoluted and complex. Now that we have a major flare up going on in Gaza, it's time to set the record straight--not an easy task. Sorting out all the details would take several books. I only have the space to give my readers an overview.

There are two major opposing points of view on Israel floating around America, neither of which is fully true. Each uses part of the truth to cover for numerous distortions.

The most prominent is the establishment point of view adhered to by all the major US Israeli lobbies, and the most conservative Christian Churches, especially the mega-ministries run by John Hagee and Rick Warren and others--that Israel is fulfilling God's Biblical mandate as a homeland for the Jews and is only acting in self-defense against Arab attacks--and is therefore worthy of our unconditional support.

The second view holds that the entire creation of Israel was a Zionist plot and that those same Zionist Jews have used ignorant Christian support to help conspiring Jews to gain control over all Western governments, which now threatens the freedom of the entire world. Naturally, the various pro-Israeli and Christian lobbies label this view as conspiratorial, extremist and anti-Semitic.

The first PRO-ISRAEL view errs NOT in its allegiance to the Bible's prophetic mandate for a homeland for Israel, but in viewing the government of Israel as the legitimate implementation of that divine mandate. It is not. In fact, honest Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel have been deceived about this, just as American conservatives were deceived into believing that George W. Bush was a Christian and conservative. In point of fact, the various governments of Israel since Menachem Begin have only been playing the role of "Israel first." Begin was the last of the Israeli Prime Ministers actually fighting for Israel's interests. Each subsequent Israeli government, even though falsely labeled as "right wing" has made many secret agreements with Yasser Arafat and other terrorists and have entered into conspiratorial combinations with various globalists forces in Europe and America to undermine Israel's security and set her up for an international takeover. The Vatican has also played a role in these behind the scenes plots to further international control, as a means of securing its vested interests to claimed historical property.

The Second ZIONIST view and its errors are more complex to explain. This view rightly makes the case that there is a conspiracy involved in all of this, but it fails to recognize that it is more complex than a simple Jewish conspiracy for power. That claim doesn't even come close to explaining the historical origins of the Marxist Jews who started this nor the allegiance of those running the current crisis. There are two forms of Zionism, almost diametrically opposed to one another--a) the original Torah based religious fervor, longing for a homeland (proper and non-violent)--and (b) the hijacked Marxist version of Zionism (violent and predatory) that dominated the early Zionist leaders who actually had power in Israel during the 1948 war for independence.

That Marxist version of Zionism was later hijacked by the NWO globalists, so this wasn't a purely Jewish conspiracy at all, even though there have been many Jews involved at various levels. These Jews did not join nor conspire because of their Jewishness, nor because they cared a whit about Jewish religion (most are atheists and despise orthodoxy Judaism). They are brought into the globalist halls of secret power because they are smart and ruthless hirelings that naturally gravitate to the centers of finance and world power. These have no allegiance whatsoever to any Godly mandate for the land of Israel. One need only observe their constant betrayal of Israel's religious settlers--the beleaguered minority of honest religious Jews--to see their true colors. I'm not talking about the orthodox religious parties like Shas whose leaders are not honest and that betray the principles of the Torah. These religious leaders have become corrupted by making one deal after another with corrupt coalition governments in exchange for financial support--mostly of their religious schools.

It is my considered opinion that Jews represent only a minority of the very top leaders (which, except for the Rothschilds, are hidden from public view). They do predominate, however, at the second level, because they are such effective handlers of puppet presidents and kings--Henry Kissinger being one of the prime examples.

Israel is being supported unconditionally by the globalists because it is an engine for conflict creation, and because America's knee-jerk sense of defense for Israel effectively guarantees monetary and military support for Israel no matter how egregious its crimes against civilians. Israel is also a major source of black operations through its Mossad--whether that be targeted assassinations of world leaders, or black arms shipments to controlled terrorists around the world. There is a seamless relationship between our CIA and the Mossad. The Mossad often does the CIA's dirty work so that if caught the US has "plausible deniability." Israel is also used as a back channel to funnel sophisticated weapons technology to the West's future enemies like Russia and China.

That is why, when you see inside the secret deals they have been making with the Arab factions and leaders, there is no intent to ever have peace--only the continuation of secret monetary and military support for the most radical elements of the Moslem Brotherhood. These deals are recipes for conflict and will never lead to peace. In fact, it is the continual lack of peace that drives the useless concessions that Israel keeps making.

The media plays a very special role on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It always gives positive coverage to the peace initiatives of the international community, especially the Camp David variety--lots of show, but filled with secret deals the public is never allowed to see. The media also appears to be acting contrary to Israel by always playing up the amount of civilian damage Israel commits upon innocent Palestinians during their retaliatory attacks in Gaza or the West Bank. This is done in part because the media can't get access to Palestinian areas unless they play the pro-Palestinian role. But its real purpose is to keep the opposing forces somewhat balanced so that violence in the Middle East rises like a never-ending crescendo. That's the real reason why the US always gives an equal amount of foreign aid to Israel's enemies in Egypt as it does to Israel.

International intrigue has always made the conflict worse. For much of their history together, common Israelis and Palestinians have traded amicably with each other and got along fairly well together. But now, due to constant and heavy-handed crackdowns by the Israeli government and their adoption of US style air power attacks, which destroys a lot of property and kills or wounds hundreds of civilians, Arab hostility toward everything Israeli is at a fever pitch. This growing hostility is easily exacerbated by radical Arab propagandists in schools and on television, but the real culprit are the Arab and Israeli leaders who are both fronting for larger conspirators who have anything but peace on their mind.

Historically, the Arabs have been funded, trained and controlled by the Russians--who still have a strong presence in Syria, Egypt, and Iran. But now placing the blame is not so clear cut. The US and British globalist governments play both sides of the street. They fund terrorism and fight terror (half-heartedly) so as to ensure there are plenty of excuses to intervene and control other nations and the Israeli and US populations. Even now, Arabs are still being armed and funded by Russia using its surrogates in Egypt and Syria. That is why Hamas has been able to maintain its arms pipeline through its tunnel system on the Egyptian Gaza border. These are not crawling type tunnels, but tunnels big enough to drive trucks through. Don't be deceived by the appearance of a crackdown by Egyptian police on Gaza protestors. This is merely a token show of force to make it appear as if Egypt is not complicit in preserving these tunnels.

The US and Israel also tolerate this black market arms traffic--as well as the normal smuggling of food, and household goods that is typical of a restricted border area. The US and Israelis also ship arms and ammunition directly to "police" forces in Gaza and the West Bank during periods of truce--and the public wonders why terror never stops. The Israelis lie to their people about everything. They say they don't negotiate with terror when they do all the time. They say they never release prisoners for hostages, but they do by the hundreds. They even have betrayed their own soldiers to Arab ambushes or attacks in order to justify larger wars. The Israelis set up Yasser Arafat's secret bank accounts in Switzerland (through Marc Rich and others). One of the reasons the globalists never do root out terrorism in Gaza is that it leaves the world with a continual expectation that Israel should make some new concession to achieve peace. That's been the rationale for all the latest releases of prisoners. But, most of these prisoners just go back into the ranks of the Hamas fighters.

The US trains Palestinians in the US in ways that defy reason--unless you understand the globalist conflict creation motives. Security forces from Palestine have been given terrorist training by the CIA (under the false guise of "counter-terror") at their so-called "farm" in Virginia. But how is teaching Palestinian security forces the nuances of bomb building and detonation a counter-terrorist exercise? It can go both ways, and it always goes toward terror--not counter-terror. This CIA relationship began in earnest during the secret accords of the Oslo agreement back in the 1990s and have continued after every temporary "peace deal" brokered by the Israeli government, with collusion of the US.

A Note on Sources: Barry Chamish is one of the best sources for private intel on Israel. He is Jewish and now lives in America out of fear for his life in Israel. is another, though you have to be careful with Debka. Giora Shamis, Debka's principal and publisher told me he gets almost all his information from government sources and doesn't always have the resources to check them out. Thus, a fairly good percentage of his specific tips and projections don't come true or are wrong. He is, I believe, on the side of Israel and provides some useful analysis from time to time.

Barry Chamish is much more savvy overall because he understands the globalist conspiracy and the complete corruption of all the major political parties in the Knesset. He isn't afraid to talk about it either. Chamish, because of his courageous effort to alert the Israeli people to the government's role in the assassination of PM Yitzak Rabin, is often the recipient of whistleblower information out of Israel. He takes it with a grain of salt, and always checks it against everything else he knows. I've known Chamish for years and generally trust his gut feelings when he feels like something has the ring of truth. Here is a recent sampling [my comments and clarifications in brackets].

"In the late '90s, my work on the Rabin murder was a serious discussion topic in certain circles in Israel. One night I was at a very sabra [Second generation Israelis who fought in the '48 war of Independence] party in Jerusalem when a man in his thirties, well wined-up, started a conversation with me. He claimed he worked for Intelligence...

the gentleman continued with a story he claimed to have partially witnessed that made perfect sense. It concerned Defense Minister Rabin in the late '80s:

"Rabin wanted Israel out of Lebanon [because of secret US pressure-knowing that getting Israel out of South Lebanon would make Israel much more vulnerable to future rocket attacks by Hizbullah, for conflict creation purposes] but the Lebanese government was too unstable to cut an agreement with. The Shiites under Hezbullah were forcing Israel out of Lebanon with a very demoralizing murder campaign against the army and he had to deal with them to make any agreement stick. He insisted on a thin security zone along the border to prevent [no--provide some tiny buffer] armed attacks on Israeli territory, but he was willing to pull out of the rest of the country. But his zone was no good against Katyusha rockets or artillery shells flying over it [which is precisely what happened in the 2007 war with Hezbullah].

"'He ended up with a secret deal with Hezbullah and pulled out of Lebanon in stages to test whether they'd keep it. Rabin realized he couldn't demand a full cessation of rocket or artillery attacks against Israel. But he could make them more acceptable if there was only one target, that being Kiryat Shmoneh.'

"To guide the unacquainted. You drive north from Tiberius, which is below sea level and climb a steep road. You look back and see the the Puddle Of Galilee [because the Israeli government stupidly gave up water rights from border mountains that feed the lake] and imagine the day you can finally walk across the whole lake, perhaps in five or six years. You now have reached the top of the climb and you turn right. You pass the lovely Bohemian-style town of Rosh Pina, the famous archeological site of Tel Khatzor until you finally arrive at a town of 15,000, resting on a mountain, Kiryat Shmoneh.

"'Kiryat Shmoneh is 90% Sephardi and 85% of them are Moroccan. To the establishment, that made the town expendable. As Defense Minister, Rabin's first duty was to protect the Ashkenazi Labor/ left kibbutzim [the Kibbutzim were a product of the original Marxist Jews who led Israel in the 1920-1940s. The predatory labor monopoly of Histradrut is also a relic of this era] around Kiryat Shmoneh, and the Ashkenazi towns along the border. If you want to know the safest places to live in the country they are Metulla, Rosh HaNikra, or Naharia. Rabin's deal means Hezbullah won't touch them.'[note how these agreements are a combination of elements that help Rabin to sell it to the pro-defense elements of his government, and yet effectively gut any real security. Thus, when Hezbullah finally decided the time was ripe for an attack, Israel is always vulnerable].

"Call it a one, albeit likely, source, or call it rumor mongering, but this item spread throughout the country. I met the most unlikely people espousing it back to me. It caught on because it fits reality so perfectly [That's Chamish checking to see if it matches all the other intel he receives plus the actual history of what happened later--and it does match]. In fact, Hezbullah kept its word for almost 20 years until the second Lebanon War broke out in 2006 [when the Russians via the Iranians and Syrians gave Hezbullah the permission to start the war].

That said, another rumor has arrived, from a likely source. Temporarily gone are the days when I could meet Israelis at parties or they could meet me anywhere with information. For the time being, I rely mostly on electricity for anyone to communicate with me [Because Chamish had to flee to America to avoid the regular efforts of Israeli black operations to get him involved in an "accident."]. I quote [Note that Chamish's source rarely understand the full import or the conspiratorial issues involved in what they tell him]:

"'...Sharon thought the PA would keep the peace in Gaza after he evacuated the Jews from there [Not at all. Sharon was a globalist conspirator and knew that the Jews were being removed, first as a major betrayal of the religious and patriotic Jewish community, and second because it would give the Palestinian terrorists a free hand in Gaza without Israeli army interference. Without anymore Jews in Gaza, the army had no "defending the Jews" excuse to stay. The Israeli controlled road to the former Jewish settlements cut Gaza in half at the waist and heavily restricted the terrorist's ability to transport weapons coming into the south from Egypt up to Northern Gaza where the rockets are launched]. Hamas taking over ruined his plan. When they started pounding Israel with crude rockets, the defense establishment wanted to go back into Gaza and stop the attacks [The Israeli IDF is mostly patriotic and tries to do the right thing. It's the Defense Minister, a political appointee, that is there to stop them, or often to stop short of full victory]. But the Bush administration went ape. That would stop their hopeless peace plans. They ordered Sharon and his Defense Ministry never to threaten the Hamas government militarily. The Pentagon gave Israel tiny border areas where the military could operate and outright banned any operation that could change the status quo and stop the rockets. "'Sharon was forced [no, he was a willing accomplice] to enter into secret negotiations with Hamas to hammer out the rules of engagement. His number one concern was Ashkelon. It is Israel's fourth largest city and nearly impossible for rockets to miss from Gaza. And more frightening, the city has a broad political and national population. Something had to be sacrificed to save Ashkelon, and that something was Sderot, a mostly Moroccan town [the city that is the subject of most of the rocket attacks].

"The way I've been hearing it, Israel agreed not to fight a war in Gaza that would end in a regime change. Hamas could shoot as many rockets as it wanted, on condition that they miss their targets [Hamas had to fire rockets to keep up its hard-core image among its radical fighters]. In short, the deal was 'don't mass kill Jews and we'll keep you in power.' Most rockets would be aimed at Sderot, or the desert. It was permitted to do damage there. But Ashkelon, and especially its power station, were to remain no-hit zones. In return, Israel offered an insurance policy. It will not prepare its people for a war against Gaza by refitting public or school bomb shelters, distribute gas masks and the like [Israel has gone further than that in taking away people's gas masks and weapons--especially in the most right-wing religious settlements]. Israel is being held captive by Hamas and the Americans.

"'Hamas broke the deal once last May when Bush was in Jerusalem. They slammed a Katyusha into a shopping mall, maiming over a dozen. But otherwise, in a city as large as Ashkelon, the rockets always find 'open areas' to land in. If Hamas wanted to, it could aim at crowded football games, fairs, gatherings, just name wherever people gather. And if Israel wanted to, it could pound Gaza militarily and oust Hamas. But the way I've been told, there's a deal floating out there and neither side will break it.'"

There are such secret deals, and they are used to have an excuse to reign in the IDF so they don't go in and eliminate real terror--which is the only solution that would lead to peace (as long as you also gave both Israel and the Palestinians their liberty under a fair system of law). But neither the radical Arab leaders nor the globalist Israeli politicians want liberty or peace. And, there will be no peace because they want control, and war gives them the excuse and power to control both sides.

As Akiva Eldar of Haaretz put it, "The only way to kick Hamas out of Gaza is to put the enclave under IDF martial law and a civil administration [true, if that administration were fair]. In other words, to disengage from the disengagement. In any case, someone will have to take responsibility for the fate of a million and a half human beings. It is doubtful whether the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas will want to rule over Gaza and be portrayed as a 'collaborator' with Israel. Even if it does, it is doubtful the PA will be able to stop the rocket fire at Israel. Still, Abbas' position will improve if it is he who mediates the next cease-fire. An Israeli occupation of Gaza without a scaling down of the occupation in the West Bank and progress in the peace process are likely to further weaken Abbas' already weak position and his efforts to compromise Hamas' standing in the West Bank."

We mustn't underestimate the difficulties which make the Gaza strip totally unworkable as an independent state. It is a true ghetto that is a near complete welfare state. Sara Roy's description is appalling: "The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. On 5 November the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. Food, medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertilizer, plastic sheeting, phones, paper, glue, shoes and even teacups are no longer getting through in sufficient quantities or at all [Gaza is nowhere near self-sufficient in basic commodities]. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Program (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza, and requires 15 trucks of food daily to do so... most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. The majority of commercial bakeries in Gaza -- 30 out of 47 -- have had to close because they have run out of cooking gas. People are using any fuel they can find to cook with. Shortages of gas and animal feed have forced commercial producers to smother hundreds of thousands of chicks. By April, according to the FAO, there will be no poultry there at all: 70 per cent of Gazans rely on chicken as a major source of protein. Banks, suffering from Israeli restrictions on the transfer of banknotes into the territory were forced to close on 4 December... The World Bank has warned that Gaza's banking system could collapse if these restrictions continue. All cash for work program has been stopped and on 19 November UNRWA suspended its cash assistance program to the most needy. It also ceased production of textbooks because there is no paper, ink or glue in Gaza."

Most of the direct aid is channeled through Hamas, which benefits politically as the "provider" of the people. Hamas gets its money from a combination of the EU, Socialist International [Communist front], Egypt and Iran. It can never be independent of international aid, fuel, money, and energy. The real reason the globalist community is pushing to making it an "independent" state is that it can never be independent of globalist control and welfare--hence it enhances globalist control inroads into the region.

The Political motives: I've just covered the larger issues that you won't get elsewhere. There are, of course, lesser corruption and political conspiracies that operate simultaneously with the globalist agenda. These often get into the press, because they think greed explains everything. Israeli politicians acts as if they hate each other (sometimes true), but in reality, they collaborate on many things that are not good for the country. Only a few at the top fully understand the control system that works on all major parties.

As a review for new subscribers, keep in mind that the Labor party represents the old Left/Marxist elements in Israel. Its support is getting smaller every year since the PTB in Israel have agreed that a phony Right-wing agenda is much more effective at controlling the majority (who are interested in a successful economy and a proper defense). The Likud party represents the establishment "Right-Wing" and is led by Kissinger-protege Benjamin Netanyahu. It long ago abandoned the true Right and the patriotic settlers that originally supported it and, like the American Republican Party, is now merely a front for the globalists. But, it always keeps playing to the far right so as to corrupt its Right-wing constituents into unwise compromises and to position itself to accept the inevitable electoral backlash that comes when the current center-Right (actually Left) government gets into trouble. TheKadima party is a breakaway party from Likud that formed when Likud's globalist/leftist leader Arial Sharon could no longer keep up his front as a Right-wing leader. He refused to form a coalition government with small parties further to the Right. Even though these religious parties can usually be bought by benefits for their religious schools and churches, they had tired of Sharon's constant betrayals. Ehud Olmert, Sharon's successor in Kadima (after Sharon's incapacitating stroke), lost popular support after the disastrous failure of the Lebanon war with Hezbullah and because of his involvement in numerous corruption scandals. All the top leaders are corrupt. Only some get caught.

The current PM is a woman, Tzipi Livni, is very ambitious and unprincipled. She is locked into a political struggle in the upcoming elections with Defense Minister Ehud Barak (the former Leftist PM from Labor Party). Barak's political popularity had been very low due to the appeasement defense policies of Olmert, of which he shared the blame. Suddenly, his stock is rising with his hard line response to Hamas in the Gaza attacks--but all that will turn to dust when another secret deal is made with Hamas to again protect the terrorists for another fight later on. Thus, at least part of what is going on in Gaza is to refurbish Barack's and Livni's image.

Haaretz correspondent Yossi Verter filed this report: "Two months after Ehud Olmert was elected as Israel's prime minister, the Second Lebanon War broke out. Two months before Olmert departs, the military campaign in the south breaks out. But Olmert isn't the story here; he's on his way to the Prime Minister's Bureau pensioners' ward. Ehud Barak is the story here. The man who, until yesterday, had to remind the Israeli voter of his existence with self-ridicule on billboards and satirical shows is returning to the political ring with force. In the coming days, weeks maybe, Barak will stand in the center of the public's attention. For better or worse, he's in his element. The beginning of the raid in Gaza bears the wily and deceptive fingerprint of Barak, the Israel Defense Forces most highly decorated combat soldier [based upon fraud--his military cowardice was covered up to make way for his political career]. This does not make him the most suitable candidate for the premiership, but it may deliver him and his party from the humiliating defeat the polls are predicting.

"If, by the end of the operation, the general sentiment will be that Israel has once again failed to meet its goals, if rockets continue to land and Gilad Shalit remain captive, the public will turn their anger at Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and power will drop like a ripe fruit into Benjamin Netanyahu's lap [That is why this globalist has positioned himself to the Right, and why the US is pressuring the IDF to cease the operation before a successful conclusion]."


IPS wrote that "Formally, the Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process' appears set to continue, in line with the last UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution. But the chances of finding a resolution are virtually nil in light of Israel's new campaign against the Gaza Strip. 'Even before Israel's latest bombardment of Gaza, the so-called peace process was dead,' Magdi Hussein, secretary-general of Egypt's Islamist-leaning Labor Party (officially frozen since 2000)... On Saturday (Dec. 27), Israel began a series of punishing air strikes throughout the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas. According to Israeli officials, the campaign comes in retaliation for rockets fired at Israel by Palestinian resistance factions... The current round of negotiations began in November 2007 with a peace summit in Annapolis in Maryland... The Annapolis summit was followed by a series of negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The PA rules the West Bank. Up until this point, however, Abbas's frequent talks with his Israeli counterpart have failed to bring any gains to the Palestinian side, with Israel continuing to reject key Palestinian demands... include an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders [which cuts off most of Israel's water supplies and makes Israel such a tiny nation that it is highly vulnerable to military attack], the return of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel [which would overwhelm the Jews in every election], and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital [allowing the Arabs to have unfettered access to build and rearm for another attack on Israel]." Israel's sellout leaders would gladly agree to these except they cannot get away with it and still stay in power. The numerous right wing minority parties would rebel and bring down the government coalition.

"Abbas's negotiations with Olmert have also failed to significantly reduce the number of Israeli military roadblocks riddling the Palestinian West Bank, or stop the continuous construction of Jewish-only 'settlements' on occupied Arab land." The report fails to acknowledge that the land was captured after the Arabs attacked and lost the last 5 wars, so this is hardly a clear cut question of Arab land. Second, the Israeli government has dismantled by force hundreds of Jewish religious settlements, but they do not do so to placate the Arabs. They do this because these are the most anti-government Jewish settlers--true Zionists and not globalists.

As Helene Cobban (Leftist) wrote, "The US's actual power in the region is noticeably reduced from what it was in 2006. Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, and Tzipi Livni have launched the whole of the Middle East on a wild ride. Neither they nor their backers in Washington will be able to shape this outcome. The best we can hope for now is some kind of forceful political intervention from other, more neutral powers."

As if on cue, French newspapers announced, "Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel is working toward a peace treaty while it is attacking targets of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this week, Israel rejected a 48-hour truce proposed by France. Meanwhile, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said the European Union must take the initiative to seek a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, noting the United States cannot be counted on at this time. He made his remarks as the Czech Republic took over the EU's rotating presidency today. Mr. Topolanek said he is organizing a diplomatic mission to the Middle East that will look for a solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Czech news agency said the mission will include EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the bloc's external relations commissioner." Solana is a long-term Marxist and will follow the EU path of pushing for more aid and power for the Palestinian state.