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Eye to Eye: Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel -- 2008

Major events that coincided with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Israel

Record-setting events that corresponded with President George W. Bush and/or Secretary of State Rice's peace efforts in 2008

• The U.S. tornado season began in early January at the time of Bush’s preparation for his trip to Israel and during his visit to Israel. In the year 2008 there was a total of 2,127 tornadoes through November (NOAA), the most-ever recorded in one year.

• One of the largest floods in U.S. history (a 500-year flood) and the largest and costliest flood since 1993 occurred in the month of June.

• Southern California experienced an earthquake near Chino Hills on July 29, the largest since the 1994 Northridge earthquake (while U.S. President Bill Clinton and Syrian President Hafez Assad were meeting in Geneva on the Golan Heights).

• The 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season produced a record number of consecutive storms to strike the United States and ranks as one of the more active seasons in the 64 years since comprehensive records began. Overall, the season is tied as the fourth most active in terms of named storms (16) and major hurricanes (five), and is tied as the fifth most active in terms of hurricanes (eight) since 1944, which was the first year aircraft missions flew into tropical storms and hurricanes. For the first time on record, six consecutive tropical cyclones (Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike) made landfall on the U.S. mainland.

• Hurricane Dolly slammed into South Texas on July 23, the day Barack Obama was in Jerusalem committing to a Palestinian state and the splitting of Jerusalem (according to the Palestinians).

• Hurricanes Gustav and Ike developed into two of the costliest multi-billion-dollar, record-breaking hurricanes in U.S. history. Gustav began on Aug. 24 and came ashore on Sept. 2. Ike began on Sept. 1 and came ashore on Sept. 13.

• The highest crude oil prices in history occurred when crude oil topped $148 per barrel in mid-July.

• Amid the worst financial crisis in nearly a century, the widely-watched S&P 500 lost more than 50 percent of its value since hitting all-time highs just over a year ago.

• Two of the largest Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) drops in history occurred on Sept. 29, the eve of Rosh Hashanah when the Dow dropped 777.68 points (the Dow's largest single-day point drop in history). Stocks were also extremely choppy and volatile on Oct. 9, the eve of Yom Kippur when the Dow dropped 678.91 points.

• The U.S. government approved a $700 billion bailout of the U.S. financial system.

• There was a loss of $10 trillion in U.S. stock market capitalization in 2008.

• The U.S. Federal Reserve committed $2.12 trillion in 2008 to prop up the U.S. banking system, and it may reach $3 trillion. The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc.

• Condoleezza Rice's 24th trip to Israel and the Middle East on Nov. 6-9 did not produce a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

• The worldwide stock markets have lost an estimated one-third of their stock market capitalization, totaling $28 trillion.

Major catastrophes and events that occurred in 2008 that corresponded with Bush Administration efforts to divide the land of Israel

Jan. 4-5 Bush had multiple interviews with Israel and Middle East news services prior to his trip. He declared his commitment to Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security. There were hurricane force winds in California and Nevada. Two million households and businesses lost their power due to the winds. Floods in Nevada.

Jan. 8 Bush left for Israel. A tornado hit Jerusalem, Arkansas, that morning. The Midwest experienced 38 tornadoes from Jan. 7-11.

Jan. 9-11 Bush and Rice were in Israel to meet with the Israelis and the Palestinians.

• Jan. 10: Major fog in Jerusalem and Ramallah on the morning of the Bush-Abbas meeting. Bush forced to take 34-car caravan to Ramallah instead of flying on Marine One. The skies cleared immediately after their meeting and prior to Bush's trip to Bethlehem.

• President Bush later declared a major FEMA disaster for Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska for the period from Jan. 7-11.

Jan. 11-16 Bush and Rice traveled to Kuwait City, Kuwait; Manama, Bahrain; Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to talk about the status of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the Iranian threat.

During this part of the Middle East trip, there were record low temperatures and rain during the red carpet welcoming ceremonies.

Baghdad, Iraq, which is a short distance north of Kuwait, experienced its first snow in 100 years. During Bush's few-hours visit in Dubai, they experienced flooding due to record rain on that day. Riyadh had snow flurries and temperatures in the 20s, which followed summer-like temperatures the week before. There was also a major blizzard in the northeast U.S., record cold temperatures, record crude oil prices, and the approval of a $154 billion U.S. economic stimulus bill shortly after the president's return to the U.S.

• Rising fears about credit markets and the health of U.S. financial institutions drive down stock prices. Between Jan. 1-22, the Dow lost over 1,000 points -- more than 8 percent of its total value.

Mar. 3-7 Rice in Egypt, Israel and the Palestinians territories. President Bush met with Jordan's King Abdullah II Tuesday at the White House about the ongoing peace efforts in the time remaining before he leaves office. Bush said that the United States is engaged and will remain engaged in helping convince the prime minister of Israel and President Abbas that now is the time to formulate a vision of what a state will look like.

• The credit collapse of 2008 explained by Martin Weiss, Ph. D., who wrote:

The credit collapse is a sudden surge in debt defaults by borrowers ... and an equally sudden disappearance of new loans by lenders. It's an unprecedented surge in home foreclosures ... and an equally unprecedented cutback in new home mortgages.

It's causing unexpected corporate bankruptcies ... plus equally unexpected demands by banks to put up more collateral. It's threatening to sink businesses, paralyze local governments, and gut the investment portfolios of millions of Americans.

It's even starting to sabotage the best laid plans of government -- neutralizing the Fed's interest rate cuts ... pre-empting Congress' economic stimulus plan ... and threatening to strip Washington of its traditional powers to fight a recession.

• Spot gold nears $1,000 level broken by futures: Spot gold was hovering just below the $1,000-an-ounce barrier broken on the futures market overnight after the dollar hit another record low against the euro, boosting the metal's appeal as an alternative investment.

• Dollar plunged against euro, yen and franc as fed plan disappointed (Bloomberg)

• The dollar fell to a record -- below $1.55 per euro -- as firms from Citigroup Inc. to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the Federal Reserve's plan to inject $200 billion into the banking system may fail to break the freeze in money-market lending.

• The dollar set a record low for the tenth trading day in 12. It has lost 3.6 percent since Feb. 26, when Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said credit market turmoil and slower growth pose a "greater threat'' than inflation. The comments drove the euro above $1.50 for the first time.

• Fed took boldest action since the Depression to rescue the U.S. mortgage industry.

Mar. 22–24 U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney visited Israelis and the Palestinians. He said peace is not likely as long as Hamas and Hezbollah exist. The United States' commitment to Israel's security is "enduring and unshakeable," Cheney added, "as is our commitment to Israel's right to defend itself, always, against terrorists, rocket attacks and other threats from forces dedicated to Israel's destruction."

The Jerusalem Post wrote that for his part, Cheney -- who's one of the Bush Administration's security hard-liners -- suggested that responding to threats on Israel could become a bigger priority. The Bush Administration is particularly worried about Iran's efforts to enrich uranium that could be used as fuel for nuclear weapons.

"As we continue to work for peace, we must not and will not ignore the darkening shadows of the situations in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria and in Iran, and the forces there that are working to derail the hopes of the world," Cheney said.

Mar. 28-31 Rice traveled to Jerusalem and Jordan. She met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to support their ongoing bilateral dialogue and the serious effort underway to achieve agreement this year on the establishment of a Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. The secretary discussed efforts to improve conditions on the ground and to advance Palestinian economic development and capacity building. Additionally, she met with King Abdullah to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, the political situation in Lebanon, stability in Iraq and other regional developments.

• On Monday, Mar. 31, the Bush Administration -- dealing with an enormous financial crisis -- proposed a sweeping overhaul of the way the government regulates the nation's financial services industry from banks and securities firms to mortgage brokers and insurance companies.

• The plan would give major new powers to the Federal Reserve. The Fed would be given broad authority to oversee financial market stability. That would include new powers to examine the books of any institution deemed to represent a potential threat to the proper functioning of the overall financial system.

• President Bush's Housing and Urban Development secretary (and good friend from Dallas), Alphonso Jackson, quit amid a criminal investigation.

May 1-5 Rice in UK, Israel and the West Bank - no apparent corresponding event or catastrophe

May 13-18 Bush/Rice in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - no apparent corresponding event or catastrophe

June 3-4 Bush, Olmert and Rice met in Washington. Record floods occurred in the midwestern U.S., the largest floods since the summer of 1993 (the summer the Oslo treaty was negotiated).

• During the Bush-Olmert meeting in the Oval Office at the White House, a violent storm with winds in the 55 mph range with gusts up to 70 mph hit the Washington, D.C., area and the White House. At the very moment Olmert was leaving the West Wing of the White House, the White House press and photographers were forced to run quickly to the press room for cover because of high winds, lightning and pouring rain.

Olmert was under the covering of the porte-cochere at the West Wing entrance and got into his limousine quickly due to the horizontal rains and very strong winds. Up to 500,000 residences and businesses were without power. It was projected that some areas of Washington could remain without power for 24 to 48 hours.

June 11-17 Rice in Paris, Jerusalem and Ramallah, and in Israel during the continuation of record floods in the midwestern U.S.

July 23-24 Barack Obama visited the Israelis in Jerusalem and the Palestinians in Ramallah where he declared his support for a Palestinian state and the dividing of Jerusalem -- the same day Hurricane Dolly slammed into the south Texas coast and moved inland. Dolly roared into south Texas with 100 mph winds on July 23, dumping a foot of rain near the Texas-Mexico border. The storm did extensive damage on South Padre Island and left more than 100,000 homes without power.

July 29 Rice met at the State Department with Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and the Chief Palestinian Negotiator Ahmed Queri. An earthquake shook Southern California -- the largest since Jan. 17, 1994 (when Bill Clinton was with Syria's Assad)

Aug. 15 David Welch, assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, was in Israel. Under Rice's directions, he was secretly working on a final draft of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal as Tropical Storm Fay formed Aug. 15 -- eventually hitting and exiting Florida a record-setting four different times from Aug. 18-24.

Aug. 24-25 Rice was in Jerusalem pressing Israel to sign a document by the end of the year that would divide Jerusalem by offering the Palestinians a stake in Israel's capital city as well as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to top diplomatic sources involved in the talks.

• The day Rice arrived in Jerusalem, a tropical depression began and quickly developed into Hurricane Gustav.

• Around 1.5 million people were without power in Louisiana on Sept. 1. The state reported about 100,000 people remained on the coast after evacuation. Nearly 2 million people had evacuated from south Louisiana in the days before Gustav's arrival.

• On Aug. 30, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney canceled their planned attendance at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Because of the expected U.S. landfall, governors and some other political leaders from Louisiana and other states chose to stay home from the 2008 Republican National Convention. As the hurricane approached the coast, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain canceled all non-essential opening-day festivities at the convention and said that he might give his acceptance speech via satellite from the affected area.

• A catastrophic risk management company says private insurers could face damages from Hurricane Gustav ranging between $4 billion and $10 billion.

Newark, California-based Risk Management Solutions said on Sept. 2 that the estimate included damage to the offshore petroleum industry and damage from wind and storm surge. The estimate did not include potential levee damage or post-Gustav flooding from heavy rainfall that was forecast for the rest of the week. The company said damage to the offshore petroleum industry could range from $1 billion to $3 billion. Insured losses to homes and businesses were estimated from $3 billion to $7 billion. Those estimates did not include liability facing the federal flood insurance program

Sept. 1 Rice was negotiating an agreement that would obligate the Bush Administration and future U.S. administrations to a Palestinian state. Hurricane Ike formed on Sept. 1.

• On Sept. 13, Ike turned at the last minute and missed a direct hit on Galveston, the Houston ship canal and 25 percent of the United States' oil refineries, but it did slam into Galveston and parts of Houston. Jeff Masters, director of Weather Underground, a private commercial forecasting service, noted that the cost of Ike's rampage along the Gulf Coast could reach $22 billion, which would make it the third costliest hurricane on record behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Flood damage could add another $20 billion-plus to the U.S federal government.

Risk Management Solutions (RMS) on Oct. 24 announced that it had updated its estimate for U.S. onshore and offshore insured losses from Hurricane Ike to $13 billion to $21 billion, of which $10 billion to $15 billion was estimated for wind and storm surge in Texas and Louisiana. The estimate also included $2 billion to $3 billion from inland wind and flood losses and $1 billion to $3 billion in offshore losses, but did not include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike in Ohio could hit $500 million or higher, making it one of the state's costliest natural disasters. The Ohio Insurance Institute said $500 million was a preliminary figure, and it could go higher. The Sept. 14 storm knocked out electrical service for 2.6 million customers in Ohio. Wind reaching 78 mph swept across the region, and at least seven of the 56 deaths blamed on Hurricane Ike -- from Texas to Pennsylvania -- were in Ohio.

• Sept. 14 In one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street's history, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself to Bank of America for roughly $50 billion to avert a deepening financial crisis, while another prominent securities firm, Lehman Brothers, filed for bankruptcy protection and hurtled toward liquidation after it failed to find a buyer.

• Sept. 15 Lehman Brothers investment bank declared $600 billion bankruptcy. Merrill Lynch acquired by Bank of America.

• Sept. 17 U.S bailed out AIG insurance giant for $85 billion.

• Sept. 19 White House requested $700 billion bail-out plan from Congress for all financial firms with bad mortgage securities to free up tightening credit flow.

• Sept. 22 The last two standing investment banks, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, converted to bank holding companies.

• Sept. 26 The Quartet met and pressed Israel and the Palestinians to seal a peace deal this year and expressed "deep concern" over continuing settlement expansion by the Jewish state in the West Bank. The biggest and most serious financial crisis in history was facing the United States and the world community. U.S. Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernacke asked for a $700 billion bailout from Congress to stop major damage to the U.S. financial system. There were emergency meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Feds seized Washington Mutual in largest-ever U.S. bank failure.

• Sept. 29 U.S. House of Representatives rejected mammoth $700 billion bail-out plan. Governmental bail-outs announced for key banks in Britain, the Benelux and Germany as well as a state takeover of a bank in Iceland.

• Oct. 1 U.S. Senate adopted massive bailout plan, adding sweeteners to get House acceptance.

• Oct. 3 Wells Fargo Bank and the fourth-largest U.S. bank Wachovia Corp. announced merger.

• Oct. 3 The largest government intervention in capital markets in U.S. history cleared the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming law with a signature by President Bush.

• Oct. 11 G7 finance ministers gathered for talks in Washington, agreeing to use all available tools to address crisis.

• Oct. 15 European Union leaders guaranteed inter-bank lending.

• Oct. 29 U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to 1 percent, the lowest level since June 2004.

• Oct. 30 Japan announced 26.9 trillion yen ($276 billion) stimulus package, including 2 trillion yen in financial assistance for all households to jump-start consumption and up to 6 million yen in tax breaks for housing loans for 10 years.

• International Monetary Fund approved a new program to provide emergency loans to countries facing serious cash shortages.

• Nov. 3 Euro-zone finance ministers met tp rule out stimulus package.

• Nov. 4 Economic woes helped propel Democrat Barack Obama to presidency in U.S. elections.

• Nov 5-9 Rice in Israel, Palestinian territories and Jordan. The Dow lost 10 percent of its value on Nov. 5-6.

• Condoleezza Rice all but conceded during trip to Israel that deadline for Mideast peace agreement was no longer possible.

• Nov. 5 Harvard University sponsored Islamic Finance 101, a conference on Sharia finance, at the U.S. Treasury Department.

• Nov. 6 The European Central Bank and Bank of England announced coordinated rate cut. IMF predicted global recession for 2009.

• Nov. 8 G20 finance ministers meeting in Sao Paulo.

• Nov. 9 China announced 4 trillion yuan ($588 billion) economic stimulus package.

• Nov. 9 The Quartet met in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, about Israel's land.

• Secretary Rice (Nov. 9): "But I do think that what we heard today from the parties, which is the most important element of this, is that they believe in the Annapolis process. They believe in the integrated nature of this process that builds peace, both from the bottom up and from the top down. They believe that their negotiations are producing an atmosphere of trust, as well as a foundation on which to build."

• Nov. 10 U.S. government invested an additional $40 billion in AIG in exchange for preferred stock in the insurer (which has now climbed to $150 billion).

• Nov. 15 Leaders of G20 nations gathered in Washington to discuss the world financial crisis.

Bush-Olmert last meeting?

President George W. Bush welcomed acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the White House to discuss the covenant land of Israel while the U.S. was experiencing the biggest financial crisis in history -- which has now spread worldwide.

Sunday, Nov. 23

Ehud Olmert arrived in the U.S. for his meetings with Bush, Cheney, Rice and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Upon arrival, he proceeded to the Blair House where he stayed for two nights across from the White House.

At the time of Olmert's arrival, President Bush was returning from Peru on Air Force One. He was on the phone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on the need for a major financial bailout of Citicorp.

Monday, November 24 -- The news headlines were on Israel, the U.S. financial collapse, and other relevant news

Ehud Olmert restated Israel's commitment to the Annapolis peace process of November 2007 in his breakfast with Rice. He later met Cheney ahead of his meeting and private dinner with Bush.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: Support Palestinians' rights to self-determination, statehood

Ban Ki-moon said, "It has been 60 years since some 800,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes becoming refugees and an uprooted and marginalized people." The secretary-general added that the fact that Palestinians still have no state represents the U.N.'s "single greatest failure."

Bush and Olmert meet

On Monday, President George W. Bush welcomed acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the White House for their last meeting. Here is an excerpt of what Bush and Olmert said in a photo opportunity before their meeting:

PRESIDENT BUSH: I am pleased to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, back to the Oval Office. And I thank you for bringing your wife to have dinner tonight with Laura and me. I'm looking forward to it.

We've been through a lot together during our time in office. We strongly believe that Israel will benefit by having a Palestinian state, a democracy on her border that works for peace. And, Prime Minister, that vision is alive because of you. And I thank you for your steadfast support for peace.

PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'm delighted to have this opportunity to express again the deep gratitude we all have to you, personally, as a human being, as a friend, as a courageous leader who has helped Israel so much over the period since you were president of the United States of America.

I will never forget that you have removed one of the most threatening strategic dangers from Israel on the east side, in Iraq. And this is a great achievement that makes life much better for many people in our part of the world, particularly for us and for our neighbors, as well.

You have set forth in motion the Annapolis process, which I was very proud to take part in.

It continues with your guidance and support and inspiration. And this is very important, because as you say, a two-state solution is the only possible way to resolve the conflict in the Middle East.

The news from the same day of the Bush-Olmert meeting:

U.S. pledges top $7.7 trillion to ease frozen credit (Bloomberg)

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.

Citicorp bail-out

The U.S. government announced an injection of $20 billion for Citigroup Inc and a plan to shoulder most of its potential losses on $306 billion of toxic assets, after the bank's shares sank more than 60 percent in the previous week due to concern about its ability to survive.

The $20 billion of government capital comes after a $25 billion injection last month.

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Olmert hinted an agreement on some core issues may be forthcoming

In Washington on Tuesday, Olmert hinted an agreement on some core issues may be forthcoming before he leaves office in February.

Olmert announced Tuesday that "in principle there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future."

"We're in a situation where it's possible to do so, and I hope we do. It would be good for the state of Israel," said Olmert speaking to Israeli reporters after a meeting with President Bush.

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Mazuz announces plans to indict Olmert

Ehud Olmert is now much closer to standing trial on criminal charges than any Israeli prime minister has ever been, this following a decision by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to indict the premier on charges stemming from the Rishon Tours affair.

The Rishon Tours affair is one of six criminal investigations being conducted against the prime minister. Ironically, it is also the most recent.

It began in June as an offshoot of the Talansky affair, in which Olmert is suspected of having received hundreds of thousands of dollars, some of it in cash, from an American Jewish supporter and businessman, Morris Talansky. On Sept. 7, the police completed their investigation of the two affairs and recommended indicting the prime minister.

Another investigation involves Olmert's purchase of a home in Jerusalem's German Colony at a price below market levels. He is suspected of repaying the contractor by persuading the city to ease restrictions and grant him better building terms than he would have otherwise received. These cases are still under police investigation.

Merkel criticizes US over crisis

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, turned the tables on her international critics on Wednesday by accusing the US and other governments of making "cheap money" a central tool of their economic management, thus planting the seeds of a similar crisis in five years.

"Excessively cheap money in the US was a driver of today's crisis," she told the German parliament. "I am deeply concerned about whether we are now reinforcing this trend through measures being adopted in the U.S. and elsewhere and whether we could find ourselves in five years facing the exact same crisis."

Thursday, Nov. 27

Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to suspend himself immediately

Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Thursday called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to suspend himself immediately in light of the indictment facing him over the Rishon Tours scandal.

Livni, who also serves as foreign minister, summoned an emergency meeting of Kadima on Thursday to discuss the repercussions of a potential indictment against Olmert.

"The prime minister must take leave. There is no other option," Livni said.

Olmert refuses to take leave of absence

After being called upon by the Kadima chairwoman to suspend himself due to an indictment to be filed against him, the prime minister said he has "important things to do," while his associates blamed Livni for putting political interests before that of the state.

"I have important things to do," the prime minister said after leaving a meeting he held on the financial crisis with Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu and the coalition factions. Netanyahu had agreed to support the government's economic plan.

Forecasters said Saturday that at least three tornadoes, with winds as high as 165 mph, hit between 3 and 4 a.m. Friday, when few people were awake to hear tornado warnings on radio and TV.

Bush's disaster declaration for Lake, Sumter, Seminole and Volusia counties also freed up loans and other assistance to individuals. Early estimates showed at least $68 million in property losses and about 1,300 homes and buildings damaged or destroyed.