Palestine/Israel News and Information
JPN: Israeli Soldier Kills 4 Druze Israelis, Ex-Knesset Speaker Speaks, Israeli Government Ranked Poorly, Israeli Nukes
My headline and introduction to the piece about the terrorist attack on a bus filled with Palestinian citizens of Israel yesterday stated that those killed in the attack were Druze. An early report I had seen stated that the victims of the attack in Shfaram yesterday were Druze. Reports that followed either did not state their identities or clarified that of the four who were killed, two were Muslim and two were Christian. The neighborhood where the bus was attacked was largely Druze, and the identification of those wounded has not been stated.
I apologize for this error and wanted to issue a correction as soon as possible.
Mitchell Plitnick, Editor, Jewish Peace News
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August 5, 2005
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<#Article1>Jewish Terrorist Kills Four on Bus in Arab Town (Ha’aretz) 12 others wounded, killer is beaten to death by mob
<#Article2>End of an Era (Ha’aretz) Former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg offers a scathing critique
<#Article3>Israel Scores Low on Gov’t Quality Study (Jerusalem Post) Israeli corruption rampant, law enforcement poor
<#Article4>BBC: UK Sold Israel 20 Tons of Heavy Water in the Late 1950s (Ha’aretz) Some history of the development of Israel’s nuclear capability
<>More Important Articles Links to other important news articles for today
[JPN Commentary: It was another heinous terrorist attack that took place yesterday in the Northern Israeli town of Shfaram. But this time, it was an Israeli Jew murdering four Druze Israelis.
The terrorist, Edan Natan-Zada was only 19, a soldier who had gone AWOL a month ago in protest of the planned Gaza withdrawal. He was a young man who had recently moved to the settlement of Tapuah, a radical West Bank settlement strong with followers of the late fanatic “rabbi” Meir Kahane, who advocated the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the West Bank. Is it any wonder that this combination of military indoctrination with the hateful teachings of Kach (the outlawed political party inspired by Kahane) would produce someone who would perpetrate such a heinous act?
The killer’s family had contacted the Israeli Defense Forces, pleading with them to disarm Edan, who retained his weapon from his army service. The IDF did not act.
That killers like Natan-Zada, Baruch Goldstein (who massacred 29 Muslim worshippers in 1994 at Friday prayers in the Cave of the Patriarchs) and Yigal Amir (who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin) were all inspired by so-called “religious Jewish” teachings should appall Jews of good conscience everywhere, both secular and religious. But this is the inevitable result of the warping of Judaism to justify occupation, settlements, dispossession and the total disregard of Palestinians.
It is long past the time for excuses for the preachers of hate, rabbis and otherwise, to stop being made. Those who cheapen Arab lives; who would advocate that Israel should privilege its Jewish citizens over those who are not Jewish; who value expansionism over the basic human rights of Palestinians must be made to realize that their ideology produces these extremist terrorists. They cannot be allowed to distance or divorce themselves from this kind of incident.
The condemnations that have come from Ariel Sharon ring hollow. This is a man who has consistently disregarded the value of life, especially Arab life. For years, this man fomented the ideology that said “Expand the settlements! Do not give up one inch!” Condemning this act of terrorism after he planted the seeds for it is just opportunistic hypocrisy.
World Jewry must stand against the settler ideology. No longer can we tolerate an ideology that breeds daily violence, which occasionally erupts in more dramatic and headline-grabbing fashion as it did yesterday. And this will not be the last such incident until we stand together, as Jews and with our real allies (rather than those who wish to bring about Armageddon by supporting repressive Israeli policies) and declare that every life, Jewish or Arab or whatever, is of equal value. And that declaration must be followed by action — the action of quitting the mad policy of settlement on the West Bank and the repressive policies of denying the Palestinians their legitimate rights. — MP]
Jewish terrorist kills four on bus in Arab town By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
A Jewish Israeli man in an Israel Defense Forces uniform opened fire on passengers on a bus in a Druze neighborhood of the Israeli Arab town of Shfaram on Thursday afternoon, killing four people and wounding 12. The terrorist was killed by a mob that boarded the bus after the shooting.
The victims of the attack were identified as bus driver Michel Bahus, 56; passenger Nader Hayak, 55 and Hazar Turki, 23 and her 21-year-old sister Dina.
The attacker – Eden Natan-Zada, 19 – was a newly religious man, an IDF deserter from Rishon Letzion who recently moved to the West Bank settlement of Tapuah. He was an activist in the outlawed extreme-right Kach movement and went AWOL a month ago to protest the disengagement plan.
Natan-Zada’s mother said Thursday night that the family had begged the IDF to take his gun away.
The police sent hundreds of reinforcements to the north of Israel, fearing possible riots in Arab towns, similar to those in October 2000, in which 13 Arab citizens were killed.
Some of the officers were flown in from the Jerusalem and West Bank districts via IDF helicopters to reach the region as quickly as possible. The police force also began mobilizing patrol vehicles, water cannons, helicopters and mounted police to disperse any violent demonstrations.
In addition, the IDF raised the alert level in parts of the West Bank, as did jails holding Jewish and Arab prisoners in the same complex.
The Israeli Arab Follow-Up Committee announced a general strike to take place Friday and called for a protest rally in Nazareth.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, with Sharon calling it “a sinful act by a bloodthirsty terrorist.”
Magen David Adom ambulances evacuated the wounded to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Avtihaj Salameh, a passenger on Egged bus 165 at the time of the shooting, said that when the bus, which set out from Haifa, entered Shfaram, the driver asked passengers to request that the man dressed in an army uniform come up to him. The driver asked the man if he hadn’t made a mistake, and whether he really intended to reach Shfaram.
According to Salameh, the gunman stood by the driver for a few minutes. When the bus entered the Druze neighborhood, Salameh rang the bell signaling that she wanted to get off at the next stop, and stood by the rear door of the bus. She said that at that moment, the gunman, who was standing by the driver, opened fire inside the bus.
The shooting continued for more than five minutes, until youths, among them a security guard, arrived and subdued the gunman.
Shortly after the shooting, a mob boarded the bus and attacked Tzubeiri, killing him.
A resident of the neighborhood in which the shooting took place said there were 10-15 passengers on the bus at the time of the shooting. The witness said that when the shooting began, a mob approached the bus, but wasn’t able to board it. The minute the gunman ran out of bullets and tried to switch magazines, the mob tackled him.
The mob kicked the gunman and hurled objects at him. Police officers surrounded the bus in an attempt to protect the gunman from the mob, but moved away when they thought the Lower Galilee residents were going to set the bus on fire. Five police officers were wounded by the mob.
Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi said police forces had been diverted to the south to deal with anti-pullout protestors, leaving the north of the country short-handed. “We have sent forces from the center, and those from the south who were supposed to be going home have now been diverted to the north,” he said.
The settlement of Tapuah, where Natan-Zada lived, is one of the most extreme settlements, dominated by followers of U.S.-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, who believed in expelling Arabs from Israel and the West Bank. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.
There have been several incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Arabs over the years, but rarely inside Israel. In 1990, an Israeli opened fire at a bus stop where Palestinians gathered for job placements, killing seven.
In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born settler, entered the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron and opened fire on Muslim worshippers, killing 29 – the bloodiest attack by a Jewish extremist against Palestinians.
The October 2000 riots erupted in the north of the country as the intifada was breaking out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A commission of inquiry into the rioting was highly critical of the police and pointed to deep-seated feelings of discrimination among Israeli Arabs.
[JPN Commentary: As a greenie committed to the environment I never recommend anyone prints any article I post but every rule has got an exception and this is the one. If you have any Jewish friends please print this and give them a copy. Print more if you can distribute more. For this is more than an ordinary article. This is a new Jewish manifesto for 2005.
Many people have described Shulamit Aloni as a biblical prophet but all said and done she is not a believer. Avraham Burg is different. He comes from a religious family. His father Dr Yosef (Joseph) Burg was the leader of the National Religious Party and a perennial cabinet Minister — no matter who led the government. Avraham Burg joined the Israeli Labour Party, was the speaker of the Knesset and more recently headed the Jewish Agency. These are impeccable credentials and just listen to what he says.
“So the truth must be told: the government of Israel does not have a true plan; and worse the government has nothing with which to cover the huge pit that is now taking shape in the Israeli psyche.”
“The process by which the plan was approved smashed to smithereens what little remained of Israel’s political culture and doomed us to many more years of disabled, crippled democracy, conducted in the shadow of the anarchy of this period.”
“But the plan is bad not only because of the defective processes of its authorisation; it is bad mainly because of its content. It has no partner and no vision. It does not look a millimetre past its own nose. And any looking that there is portends only calamity. It is a vast fraud: sacrifice of the unimportant and insignificant settlements in Gaza and in the Sinai approaches in return for perpetuating the wrongs and perversions of the Israeli soul in the heart of Hebron, at Yitzhar, at Beit El and in patriarchal tombs that have become altars for binding living sons.”
“A security fence along the border, a fence around our settlements for their security, a fence to besiege and imprison their towns and villages, a fence along the Jordan. The whole land is one big fence and within it are imprisoned frightened people. Is this what is meant by security?
“And the Jewish religion – it is enduring so much abuse. So much superciliousness and racism underpin the words, ‘A Jew does not expel a Jew.’ The belief in the superiority of the genes, the lordship of the nation of lords in the name of God. But a Jew who murders a Jewish prime minister – yes? Because a Jew is only a human being, with weaknesses and with powers. Nothing is innate, nothing is automatic, and even God’s choice of the Jewish people is not guaranteed without a moral commitment and without constant labor toward self-improvement and more humane behaviour. All of this has been shunted aside in favour of the unholy trinity of recent years: racist Judaism resting on violent settlement and protected by a distorted security conception.”
This is so important I will try to give everyone a chance to read it and distribute it over the next 48 hours by not posting out anything else. If you have a network please post this around. — Sol Salbe]
[Sol Salbe writes for the independent Middle East News Service, which concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements. JPN thanks Sol for allowing us to reprint his commentary and this article he sent along.]
End of an era By Avraham Burg
So routine has the term “disengagement plan” become that it is blurring our understanding of what is involved. So the truth must be told: the government of Israel does not have a true plan; and worse the government has nothing with which to cover the huge pit that is now taking shape in the Israeli psyche. This is not a genuine plan, because it was a momentary caprice of the prime minister. The “non-plan” acted as a magnet for Israeli political opportunism at its finest: by the elders of the Labor Party, who are driven by the power of a personal biological clock and do not live according to slower political time; individuals who thirst for power; and a few other innocents who simply don’t understand what it’s all about.
The process by which the plan was approved smashed to smithereens what little remained of Israel’s political culture and doomed us to many more years of disabled, crippled democracy, conducted in the shadow of the anarchy of this period. The prime minister gave the boot to every political convention and simply led everyone down the garden path. Just as there is no capital market without a stock exchange and no family without partners, so there is no democracy or politics without parties. The disrespect shown by the prime minister and his associates for resolutions passed by his own party – their contempt and utter disregard – destroyed the basic concept of political life.
But the plan is bad not only because of the defective processes of its authorisation; it is bad mainly because of its content. It has no partner and no vision. It does not look a millimetre past its own nose. And any looking that there is portends only calamity. It is a vast fraud: sacrifice of the unimportant and insignificant settlements in Gaza and in the Sinai approaches in return for perpetuating the wrongs and perversions of the Israeli soul in the heart of Hebron, at Yitzhar, at Beit El and in patriarchal tombs that have become altars for binding living sons.
Nevertheless, this is the best worst disengagement we have. After it, not only the face of political democracy will look wrinkled, damaged and injured; at the same time, the national enterprise of illusions known as the settlements is also starting its inevitable collapse. For this reason alone, it may be worth paying such a high price.
The existence of the State of Israel is not yet assured: no one knows whether we will survive as a state or will be exiled again to every corner of the earth. The one thing I have no doubt about is that redemption will not come through messianism, the good life will not be brought about by expansion, and national level-headedness becomes ever more elusive the more the remote settlements do secretly – but in our name – to others what our haters did to us across the generations.
You are not my brother
For many years, three stories, partly true and partly fiction, nourished Israel. Under the overall rubric of “Zionism” they were: the god of security, the sanctity of settlement and the superiority of the Jewish religion. Three vastly powerful and resource-rich concepts, which became ends that justified even what had until recently been considered unacceptable and abominable. Even though it emerges time and again that the only periods of security we enjoyed in recent years were the brief and fragile intervals in which we momentarily forsook the lethal weapon of the struggle and talked – talking remains difficult for us. Dialogue has been erased from our consciousness as a true alternative. In the name of security we have the right to shoot and kill. In the name of security we have the right to expropriate and dispossess. In the name of security we have the right to harass and abuse. In the name of security we have the right to shed the image of God with which we were born. Take all the settlers’ screams about discrimination and laments about suppression, multiply them many-fold, and you will feel what the Palestinians have lived with for many years without our seeing or feeling.
This distorted security is bound umbilically to the settlement enterprise. It used to be said that the security border would pass along the outer extremity of the most distant settlement. Even though that delusion was shattered over and over in every Israeli war – from Tel Hai in 1920 to Kfar Darom in 1948 to the Golan Heights settlements in 1973 – security and settlement were nevertheless intertwined to the point of being inseparable.
A security fence along the border, a fence around our settlements for their security, a fence to besiege and imprison their towns and villages, a fence along the Jordan. The whole land is one big fence and within it are imprisoned frightened people. Is this what is meant by security?
And the Jewish religion – it is enduring so much abuse. So much superciliousness and racism underpin the words, “A Jew does not expel a Jew.” The belief in the superiority of the genes, the lordship of the nation of lords in the name of God. But a Jew who murders a Jewish prime minister – yes? Because a Jew is only a human being, with weaknesses and with powers. Nothing is innate, nothing is automatic, and even God’s choice of the Jewish people is not guaranteed without a moral commitment and without constant labor toward self-improvement and more humane behaviour. All of this has been shunted aside in favour of the unholy trinity of recent years: racist Judaism resting on violent settlement and protected by a distorted security conception.
When they threaten me and talk of ‘a war of brothers,’ I stop dead in my tracks. Are these my brothers? No! For me, fraternity and being a national family are not the product of an automatic pilot. I have no genetic siblings other than my two sisters, my parents’ daughters. I have brothers and sisters in values and spirit. If you are a bad person, a whining oppressor or a strong-armed occupier, you are not my brother, even if you observe Shabbat and uphold the religious precepts. And if a kerchief covers every hair on your head and you give charity and do good deeds, but everything that is below the head covering is devoted to sanctifying Jewish soil and takes priority over the sanctity of human life as such – you are not my sister. You are my enemy. Automatic Judaism, without self-criticism and without moral commitment implies an unacceptable racist doctrine.
Let us draw a distinction: there will be no “war of brothers” here; if a more violent struggle ever breaks out, it will be called a “civil war.” Because it is not a war between the diverse streams of the Jewish people, but an uncompromising struggle between good and bad. All the good people, theirs and ours, on one side, arrayed against all the bad people – and there is no shortage of them – on both sides.
Land of Israel vs. State of Israel
Following the passing of these classic Zionist narratives, the natural question that arises is what the future Israeli national stories will be and whether there will in fact be any. Looking at the present, we might be able to see the direction of the future. The visibility of the orange ribbons signalling opposition to disengagement – is closely linked with skullcap, flapping tsitsit (ritual fringe), tight shavis (head scarf), prayer book and a religious vocabulary. The hard core of the disengagement opponents comes mainly from the various religious groups: religious Zionists, nationalist Haredim (ultra-Orthodox), and the spiritual hybrids of New Age Jewry – those who run wild on the West Bank hilltops. The other Israeli sectors are apparently not taking an active part in the struggle. The Arabs are totally out of it, and many – perhaps the majority – of the country’s secular population is flabbergasted by the human and psychological disengagement of the religious settlers, those who until not long ago were the standard-bearers of the modern, Zionist, Israeli Jewish identity.
Something has gone awry with these religious people. The Land of Israel as a supreme value is this time not being posited against other values – human life, modern Western values and the aspiration to a life of peace, tranquility, quiet and security – but is engaged in a frontal clash with the State of Israel. The Land of Israel against the State of Israel. This is no longer about an occupation that is taking place far from the eye or the killing of innocent Palestinians as a hobby of “unconventional” types; it is about an open war against all the symbols of Israel’s sovereign government. The flaunters of orange against the army and its soldiers, settlers against the police and its policemen, believers in God against democracy, its authority and its elected representatives.
Precisely because the basic Israeli instinct is a democratic one, and even though there are things here we do not like, it is clear to us nonetheless that the democratic system, with all its faults, is the only one that makes it possible for us to continue living together, to continue to agree about how not to agree. The defiant challenge by halakha to the law, by the synagogue to the Knesset, by the rabbis to sovereignty – that is the real disengagement.
Until the twisted initiative of Ariel Sharon, there was a total blurring of spheres and values. The right, in all its shades of colour, was in favour of the hopeless attempt to integrate Judaism, territorial nationalism and democracy into one political package. And the left, with its various groups, stood by and watched: This was not its Judaism, this was not its nationalism, and it shed tears for democracy, which lay dying in the face of the occupation and the delusional lies. It was a sterile, stunned left, its herald of identity and banners of patriotism wrenched from it and from the movements that created the state, and transferred, without parade or ceremony, without respect and honour, to the new standard-bearers that heralded a new identity religious and national.
Four decades of warning
Suddenly, abruptly, Sharon’s sword cut the intractable knot. And it turns out that xenophobic nationalism and religion that relies exclusively on halakha and its teachers cannot coexist with the true, modern, democratic, compromise-prone core identity of the majority of Israel. In response to the disengagement plan, the outgoing carriers of identity are declaring that they are disengaging, forsaking and in practice discarding their monopolistic responsibility for Israeli identity and its components.
This is a unique opportunity, one rarely offered to a society that is trying to alter the flow of its currents. An inviting vacuum has been created at the centre of our existence here, and there is space for new winds and original opinions. Israeliness can reclaim its role in Jewish responsibility. There is a vital, burning need for a new Israeli identity that begins not with the words “A Jew does not,” but with “A Jew does.”
A Jew does maintain a close and natural connection with the spiritual sources of Jewish culture; a Jew does have a new and modern interpretation of precepts and norms that have become outdated; a Jew does integrate tradition and progress; a Jew does forge a synthesis between Judaism and universalism, between Israeliness and Judaism.
For this positive Jew, Israel is an open and generous place for the Other and for those who are different, for the stranger who lives among us. His Judaism says yes to peace and no to xenophobia; his culture is a national culture of self-confidence that pursues peace, not paranoia that is founded on violent military security. It also involves a renewed effort to integrate the Israeli experience both in the Middle East and within the democratic West, which is moving with resolve to the place where swords are buried and ploughshare and pruning hook are again taken to hand.
I do not believe in this disengagement or in those that are implementing it. I see political gloom and doom on the day after: because I believe only in long-term, non-violent dialogue and only in a total, coordinated and agreed severance of the terminal ills on our side and on theirs. Yet that said, within this black-orange sea this is a ray of light.
We are a survivor people that is not extreme, an adaptive culture, not a suicidal one. Therefore, whenever zealotry mixed with messianism and self-righteousness took the reins of power, we reached a terrible dead end. The pattern is there at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, in the holocaust of Betar and the Bar Kokhba revolt, in the period of Sabbatai Sevi, and in the time of Gush Emunim, the Bloc of the Faithful. Four decades of warning are now showing their result. It is clear to many that this bad and bizarre disengagement is not from our Palestinian neighbours or from terrorism. This is disengagement, small and meagre, from the nationalist madness that has seised control of our identity.
Avraham Burg is a former speaker of the Knesset
[JPN Commentary: World Bank data led to a report by an Israeli agency which ranked Israel as well behind most Western countries in terms of stability, accountability and level of corruption in government.
This comes as little surprise to anyone in Israel or who follows Israeli internal affairs. Corruption is rampant, to the point where it is virtually an accepted fact of life in an increasingly cynical Israel. Law enforcement as well lags well behind most Western countries.
Israel’s attorney general, Menahem Mazuz, who has repeatedly called for enforcement of international law with regard to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, correctly says that enforcement is only one part of what needs to change. He says that there needs to be a “… change the political and public culture in Israel. One gets the feeling that it has become more shameless than ever before. We must aim to reach a state of affairs where certain actions that are taken in the open today will come to be regarded by Israeli society and its elected officials as things that are ‘just not done’.”
This state of affairs cannot be divorced from the ongoing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. When the rule of law is so brazenly defied, that defiance does not remain confined to only one arena. — MP]
Israel scores low on gov’t quality study By Dan Izenberg
Aug. 3, 2005
“Israel is perceived as one of the most dangerous countries in the Western world, with a government that is neither stable nor efficient, has a low degree of accountability, a relatively high rate of public corruption and a low rating in law enforcement,” a local business consultant company said on Wednesday.
According to Keren Franco, an official for Business Data Israel (BDI), which published the report, the findings were based on data provided by the World Bank, which conducted a world-wide survey that included more than 350 variables and 32 different sources of information, including banks, universities, and private businesses.
According to BDI, the low grades compiled by Israel were caused primarily by the severe deterioration in security after the outbreak of the so-called Al Aksa intifada and the economic crisis, which lasted until 2003. Since then, it wrote, “The state of quality of government has deteriorated regarding all of the central parameters that were examined.”
For example, Israel received a grade of 80.8 percent on the index of “government efficiency,” putting it in second last place compared with Holland, England, the US, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. (Italy came in last.)
Regarding law enforcement, Israel received a grade of 74.4 percent, compared with an average of 90.3 percent for all the countries included in the BDI study.
Israel lagged behind all the other countries except Italy in the “government corruption” index, with a grade of 80.8 percent compared to the average of 91.4 percent.
Israel came last in the index for “regulatory framework,” which measures the degree to which government policy interferes with free market mechanisms. Israel received a score of 71.9 percent compared to the overall average of 90.6 percent.
Israel scored extremely low on the “political stability” index, which measures the threats to stability from illegal forces including terrorism and local violence. Israel scored 15 percent, compared to the second lowest, Italy, at 56.3 percent and the US at 60.7 percent.
In response to the BDI report, Attorney General Menahem Mazuz wrote that it was “another link in the chain of reports and surveys that have been published of late that point to the ongoing weakening of the ‘immune system’ of Israel’s political culture.”
The attorney general also included in his response a section of a recent speech in which he discussed the means for dealing these problems. “The way to deal with instances of corruption does not begin and end with criminal prosecution of those involved in the crime,” Mazuz said.
According to Mazuz, “In addition to this kind of action, we must also look into the breaches in the law or the supervisory systems that enable, or even encourage, this phenomenon, in other words, what is the ‘swamp’ that nourishes this phenomenon.
“Beyond this, we must aim to change the political and public culture in Israel. One gets the feeling that it has become more shameless than ever before. We must aim to reach a state of affairs where certain actions that are taken in the open today will come to be regarded by Israeli society and its elected officials as things that are ‘just not done’.”
The Movement for Quality Government issued a statement saying it “repeats the request it made to the prime minister to establish a national council to fight corruption. This is the only way to try to eradicate the affliction.”
[JPN Commentary: The following article is simply one relatively minor point in the history of Israel‚s development of nuclear weapons. Still, it is important to remind ourselves of the great threat the possession of nuclear weapons by Israel, or any other state in this conflicted region, poses.
That Israel has nuclear weapons cannot even be called a secret anymore, thanks to the heroic actions of Mordechai Vanunu. Israel has continued to refuse to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The loud controversy over Iran‚s potential to develop nuclear weapons (which the latest US intelligence states is still ten years away) rings hollow as long as Israel maintains its well-known stockpile, whether or not they care to publicly state that they have it. If Israel wants to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, given their close alliance with the only country not pressured to abandon all its nuclear capabilities, the USA (which is also the only country ever to use a nuclear weapon, and used it against a civilian population), it is best served by not making it imperative that some other Middle East country develop nukes of their own to balance the power. ˆ MP]
BBC: U.K. sold Israel 20 tons of heavy water in the late 1950s By Haaretz Staff
According to a BBC report, documents at the British National Archives dating back to the late 1950s show the United Kingdom sold Israel 20 tons of heavy water, a substance used to produce nuclear bombs, at a cost of around £1.5 million.
The decision to export the heavy water was made without the knowledge of Harold Macmillan’s government, according to the report.
It was also kept secret from the United States, which had refused to supply Israel with heavy water unless it was given a guarantee that it would be used for “peaceful use only.”
According to the documents, no such guarantee was made in the deal with Britain.
Then-British Foreign Office official Donald Cape was quoted as writing in the papers: “On the whole I would prefer not to mention this to the Americans.”
U.S. President John F Kennedy’s defense secretary from 1961, Robert McNamara, told BBC News he was “astonished” by the cover-up.
“It is very surprising to me we were not told because we shared information about the nuclear bomb very closely with the British,” he said.
“The fact Israel was trying to develop a nuclear bomb should not have come as any surprise.
“But that Britain should have supplied it with heavy water was indeed a surprise to me.”
The heavy water – surplus from a consignment bought from Norway in 1956 – was shipped from a British port to Israel. Officials presented it as a deal between Norway and Israel.
Heavy water is used in the production of plutonium, a key step in the process of creating nuclear weapons.
Israel has long been accused of nuclear activity but will neither admit nor deny that it has a reactor in the southern town of Dimona. It has also not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
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