Let the Palestinian people decide. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
Even if we manage to elect a national council that represents all Palestinians, the leadership of the factions and the managerial class cannot be entrusted with making a decision regarding the partition of historic Palestine. They are so desperate to have an entity to manage no matter how insignificant that may be. They very well realize that such an entity will be a collection of reservations, a human warehouse. The leaders of the factions are bickering about who will be the administrator of the prison, and they have brought with them over eighty thousand prison guards. With an equivalent population to the West Bank and Gaza, the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles, with much higher crime rates, each has less than nine thousand police. The factions are leading their people into a trap, using the flag as bait.
By Mahmoud N. Musa – Paris
“At some point, Mr. Abbas must admit to his people that most of the refugees will never return to Israel: that is the price of partition”. This statement appeared on page 14 of the issue of the Economist dated September 24th to 30th, 2011. The Economist is a weekly British journal that distributes over one million copies of every issue and to a large extent represents the mainstream of Western political and economic thought.
The logic of partition is that it is two sides of the some coin. If there is going to be a Palestinian state, this means that there is going to be a Jewish state. The partition of the land means the separation of the people who live on it. For Palestinians to have a separate state and also having their people return to Israel is seen as having one’s cake and eating it at the same time. It is true that Palestinians have the legal and moral right to return to their original homes, but one gives up one thing to get another. Palestinians would be giving up their right of return in exchange for getting a state. To think otherwise would be eccentric logic and self-deception.
The politics of partition does not end there: it affects Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Upon formation of such a state, Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will become citizens of the new state. This means that in Jordan they will lose what little political rights they currently have, something that is being openly discussed by influential groups such as the retired military organization. Surplus people and the malcontent will be pressured to move to their state. In Lebanon and probably also in Syria, refugees will be moved from their temporary camps to permanent ones in the West Bank or Gaza.
By Bill Van Auken
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Wednesday confirmed the existence of the task force, which was first reported by the New York Times.
Speaking to the media at the close of a two-day NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Panetta stated, “We have a group of our forces there working to help build a headquarters there and to insure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one so that we can deal with all the possible consequences of what’s happening in Syria.”
In an unprecedented move, Israeli officials own up to a cyber attack targeting Iran. But why, asks Saleh Al-Naami
A Palestinian woman sits with her wounded grandsons in a hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, after an Israeli airstrike, Sunday; a Palestinian protester holds a flag in front of Israeli soldiers and border police during a protest outside Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, marking the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War, Tuesday
Recently a large number of retired Israeli generals volunteered to give interviews to local and foreign media to clearly state that Israel is behind the recent cyber offensive on sensitive Iranian computer systems. The Russian cyber security software maker Kaspersky Lab was the first to leak the attack, in which the "Flame" virus was used. In a detailed report, the company said that the goal of the attack was to gather intelligence about Iran's nuclear intentions, not as an attack like the "Stuxnet" virus in 2009 that disrupted centrifuge equipment for uranium enrichment at Iranian nuclear facilities.
What was surprising is that Moshe Yaalon, deputy prime minister and strategic affairs minister, openly declared that Israel was behind the cyber attack.
In a conflict of this nature, there are no winners. (BBC)
By Ramzy Baroud
The conflict in Syria is giving way to a troubling phenomenon of hastily drawn sectarian lines throughout the Middle East. A perpetual and repugnant war is likely to replace the collective aspirations for equality, freedom and democracy that fuelled the non-violent uprising nearly 15 months ago.
Between May 25 and 26, 108 civilians were remorselessly butchered in the central town of Al Houla. The majority of them were women and children. The massacre was not the first, and is unlikely to be the last in what has become a Syrian bloodbath with no end in sight. The nature of the dreaded battle is already being defined in sectarian terms. Even carefully-worded statements by UN chief Ban Ki-moon have acknowledged the worrying situation. “The massacres of the sort seen last weekend could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war, a civil war from which the country would never recover,” he warned at a forum in Istanbul.
While intellectuals and political analysts may contend with definitions of ‘civil war’, ordinary Syrians have no other option but to recognise the horrifying reality. “The civil war has begun,” a Syrian activist told BBC correspondent, Paul Wood, who is reporting undercover in Syria. “We will look back at this time, and say this was when it started,” the activist reportedly said.
"In this case, America spent $2 billion and didn't lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than it has in the past." -- Joe Biden
By Pepe Escobar
They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing a Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway - an eerie echo of Saddam Hussein's "hole" - he was found by Transitional National Council (TNC) "rebels". And then duly executed.
Abdel-Jalil Abdel-Aziz, a Libyan doctor who accompanied Gaddafi's body in an ambulance and examined it, said he died from two bullets, one to the chest, one to the head.
The TNC - which has peddled lies, lies and more lies for months - swears he died in "crossfire". It may have been a mob. It may have been Mohammad al-Bibi, a 20-year-old sporting a New York Yankees baseball cap who posed to the whole world brandishing Gaddafi's golden pistol; his ticket perhaps to collect the hefty $20 million dangled as the bounty for Gaddafi "dead or alive".
It gets curioser and curioser when one remembers that this is exactly what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her lightning visit to Tripoli, had announced less than 48 hours before; Gaddafi should be "captured or killed". The Fairy Queenie satisfied Clinton's wishes, who learned about it by watching the screen of a BlackBerry - and reacting with the semantic earthquake "Wow!"
Finally a prisoner swap deal has been reached -- widely seen as a victory for Hamas -- on captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Palestine
Having lost all hope of rescuing or securing the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by military means, Israel has finally agreed to accept nearly all Hamas's conditions for a prisoner swap deal that would also see the release from Israeli prisons of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including men, women and children.
In an emergency meeting that lasted several hours Tuesday night, the Israeli cabinet approved the prisoner swap deal by a large margin, with only three ministers voting against the deal. The head of the Shin Bet (Israel's domestic security agency) Yoram Cohen Israel was forced to accept the deal, seemingly because there was no other way to bring Shalit home.
Tehran would have to be terminally foolish to try to snuff out an ambassador on US soil, author says.
By Pepe Escobar
Washington is looking to increase sanctions on Iran as a result of the plot to kill a Saudi ambassador [EPA]
No one ever lost money betting on the dull predictability of the US government. Just as Occupy Wall Street is firing imaginations all across the spectrum - piercing the noxious revolving door between government and casino capitalism - Washington brought us all down to earth, sensationally advertising an Iranian cum Mexican cartel terror plot straight out of The Fast and the Furious movie franchise. The potential victim: Adel al-Jubeir, the ambassador in the US of that lovely counter-revolutionary Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
FBI Director Robert Mueller insisted the Iran-masterminded terror plot "reads like the pages of a Hollywood script". It does. And quite a sloppy script at that. Fast and Furious duo Paul Walker/Vin Diesel wouldn't be caught dead near it.
The good guys in this Washington production are the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In the words of Attorney General Eric Holder, they uncovered "a deadly plot directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign Ambassador on US soil with explosives".
The "arc of instability" includes 97 countries. A startling number of these nations are in turmoil, and in every single one of them, Washington is militarily involved.
It’s a story that should take your breath away: the destabilization of what, in the Bush years, used to be called “the arc of instability.” It involves at least 97 countries, across the bulk of the global south, much of it coinciding with the oil heartlands of the planet. A startling number of these nations are now in turmoil, and in every single one of them -- from Afghanistan and Algeria to Yemen and Zambia -- Washington is militarily involved, overtly or covertly, in outright war or what passes for peace.
Garrisoning the planet is just part of it. The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence services are also running covert special forces and spy operations, launching drone attacks, building bases and secret prisons, training, arming, and funding local security forces, and engaging in a host of other militarized activities right up to full-scale war. But while you consider this, keep one fact in mind: the odds are that there is no longer a single nation in the arc of instability in which the United States is in no way militarily involved.
The US, with its allies, has already begun plans to subvert the Arab Spring to save its own regional hegemony.
By Joseph Massad
The US and its Arab allies are scrambling to control the outcome of the Arab Spring in a way that will prolong their regional dominance [GALLO/GETTY]
A specter is haunting the Arab world - the specter of democratic revolution. All the powers of the old Arab world have entered into a holy alliance with each other and the United States to exorcise this specter: king and sultan, emir and president, neoliberals and zionists.
While Marx and Engels used similar words in 1848 in reference to European regimes and the impending communist revolutions that were defeated in the Europe of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there is much hope in the Arab world that these words would apply more successfully to the ongoing democratic Arab uprisings.
In the case of Europe, Marx ended up having to write the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon in 1852 to analyse the defeat of the 1848 revolution in France. He explained how revolutions could overthrow an existing ruling class but would not necessarily lead to the rule of the oppressed. He analysed the process by which Louis Napoleon was able to hijack the revolution and proclaim himself emperor, restoring monarchy to republican and revolutionary France, as his uncle Napoleon Bonaparte had done before him to the glorious French Revolution of 1789.
By ABDULLAH GUL
THE wave of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa is of historic significance equal to that of the revolutions of 1848 and 1989 in Europe. The peoples of the region, without exception, revolted not only in the name of universal values but also to regain their long-suppressed national pride and dignity. But whether these uprisings lead to democracy and peace or to tyranny and conflict will depend on forging a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and a broader Israeli-Arab peace.
The plight of the Palestinians has been a root cause of unrest and conflict in the region and is being used as a pretext for extremism in other corners of the world. Israel, more than any other country, will need to adapt to the new political climate in the region. But it need not fear; the emergence of a democratic neighborhood around Israel is the ultimate assurance of the country’s security.
In these times of turmoil, two forces will shape the future: the people’s yearning for democracy and the region’s changing demographics. Sooner or later, the Middle East will become democratic, and by definition a democratic government should reflect the true wishes of its people. Such a government cannot afford to pursue foreign policies that are perceived as unjust, undignified and humiliating by the public. For years, most governments in the region did not consider the wishes of their people when conducting foreign policy. History has repeatedly shown that a true, fair and lasting peace can only be made between peoples, not ruling elites.
There must be a break with the past. (Aljazeera)
By Ramzy Baroud
'Now it is time to naturalize the flow of history,' wrote Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs (British Guardian, March 16).
The process of naturalization is now underway in the region Davutoglu refused to describe as the Middle East (arguing that the term is “orientalist”, and preferring to call the region “West Asia and the south Mediterranean”).
Davutoglu is one of the most articulate and passionate Turkish politicians of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Along with Recep Tayyip Erdoðan and Abdullah Gül, he has labored to naturalize the flow of history in Turkey, sidelining an incessantly intrusive military, and forging links between regions, cultures and competing political thoughts. While the mission was and remains arduous, it has successfully led to the emergence of a unique Turkish political thought - proud of its roots, yet receptive to progress and modernity.
When Hamas was elected as the majority party at the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, the group was inspired by the objectives that propelled the AKP. Ahmed Yusuf, a top Hamas official in Gaza, has even been writing a book entitled, “Erdoðan and a New Strategic Vision”
“Erdoðan’s model is liberal. It is a model that dares to take responsibility and change things and establishes good relations between the religious and secular elements of society,” Yusuf said, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet (June 10, 2010). “It is a model that works for democracy and human rights, and supports an open society. That is what we want.”
So Many Ways to Strut Your Democratic Stuff in a New World
By Pepe Escobar
Three mummies were recently found in an underground temple in Luxor, Egypt. Translated hieroglyphs identified them as the Clash of Civilizations, the End of History, and Islamophobia. They ruled in Western domains into the second decade of the twenty-first century before dying and being embalmed.
That much is settled. Without them, the Middle East is already a new world that must be understood in a new way. For one thing, Egypt, that previously moribund land of “stability” and bosom buddy of whoever was in power in Washington, has been hurled into the Middle East’s New Great Game. The question is: What will be its fate -- and that of the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets in a staggering show of aggressive nonviolence in January and February?
By Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent
Saturday, 5 March 2011
Saudi Arabia was yesterday drafting up to 10,000 security personnel into its north-eastern Shia Muslim provinces, clogging the highways into Dammam and other cities with busloads of troops in fear of next week's "day of rage" by what is now called the "Hunayn Revolution".
Saudi Arabia's worst nightmare – the arrival of the new Arab awakening of rebellion and insurrection in the kingdom – is now casting its long shadow over the House of Saud. Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.
The opposition is expecting at least 20,000 Saudis to gather in Riyadh and in the Shia Muslim provinces of the north-east of the country in six days, to demand an end to corruption and, if necessary, the overthrow of the House of Saud. Saudi security forces have deployed troops and armed police across the Qatif area – where most of Saudi Arabia's Shia Muslims live – and yesterday would-be protesters circulated photographs of armoured vehicles and buses of the state-security police on a highway near the port city of Dammam.
Although desperate to avoid any outside news of the extent of the protests spreading, Saudi security officials have known for more than a month that the revolt of Shia Muslims in the tiny island of Bahrain was expected to spread to Saudi Arabia. Within the Saudi kingdom, thousands of emails and Facebook messages have encouraged Saudi Sunni Muslims to join the planned demonstrations across the "conservative" and highly corrupt kingdom. They suggest – and this idea is clearly co-ordinated – that during confrontations with armed police or the army next Friday, Saudi women should be placed among the front ranks of the protesters to dissuade the Saudi security forces from opening fire.
By Robert Fisk
Mubarak claimed that Islamists were behind the Egyptian revolution. Ben Ali said the same in Tunisia. King Abdullah of Jordan sees a dark and sinister hand – al-Qa'ida's hand, the Muslim Brotherhood's hand, an Islamist hand – behind the civil insurrection across the Arab world. Yesterday the Bahraini authorities discovered Hizbollah's bloody hand behind the Shia uprising there. For Hizbollah, read Iran. How on earth do well-educated if singularly undemocratic men get this thing so wrong? Confronted by a series of secular explosions – Bahrain does not quite fit into this bracket – they blame radical Islam. The Shah made an identical mistake in reverse. Confronted by an obviously Islamic uprising, he blamed it on Communists.
Bobbysocks Obama and Clinton have managed an even weirder somersault. Having originally supported the "stable" dictatorships of the Middle East – when they should have stood by the forces of democracy – they decided to support civilian calls for democracy in the Arab world at a time when the Arabs were so utterly disenchanted with the West's hypocrisy that they didn't want America on their side. "The Americans interfered in our country for 30 years under Mubarak, supporting his regime, arming his soldiers," an Egyptian student told me in Tahrir Square last week. "Now we would be grateful if they stopped interfering on our side." At the end of the week, I heard identical voices in Bahrain. "We are getting shot by American weapons fired by American-trained Bahraini soldiers with American-made tanks," a medical orderly told me on Friday. "And now Obama wants to be on our side?"
The democratic revolution in Egypt provides a number of insights.
By Brian Napoletano
Imperial conquests have always had their ideological justifications. Even in earlier ages, exterminating a people, exploiting their resources, stealing their lands, and enslaving their children were generally non-starters when it came to firing up the local populace for another military campaign. Accordingly, the Romans “civilized” the barbarians, the Spanish conquistadores “brought the gospel” to the “New World,” and the English were “shining the light of civilization” on the Indian subcontinent. Although most history books tend to minimize the genocide and slavery that accompanied Europe’s string of conquests (including North America), few have any illusions about the true objectives of Rome, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, and other countries’ imperial adventures. Similarly, when future students of history read about the mission undertaken by the US government to “spread democracy” at the dawn of the twenty-first century, they too will most likely understand its true motives far better than most of the intellectuals and analysts who frequently appear in the news media today.
The recent democratic revolution in Egypt provides a number of insights into the gap between the US government’s ostensible and actual commitments to democracy in Northern Africa and Western Asia. According to most accounts in the popular media, Washington’s enthusiasm for the revolution was tempered by its desire for “stability” in the region. Specifically, US officials, according to this framing of the revolution, wanted to support the democratic revolution, but had to consider what sort of message such support would send to their other allies in the region. Underlying this explanation is the fact that the US is allied to a number of regimes that are not democratic, and may soon be facing popular uprising similar to the one that took place in Egypt.
The chief Palestinian negotiator appears disconnected from his own people and his wider Arab and Muslim constituency.
By Daud Abdullah
One of the most shocking revelations of The Palestine Papers obtained by Al Jazeera relates to the demographic and territorial concessions that the Palestinian Authority was willing to give on Jerusalem.
The papers show that not only did PA negotiators demonstrate a willingness to accept Israel’s annexation of all the settlements in Jerusalem, except Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa), but that they were also willing to disown parts of the besieged Arab neighbourhoods in the city. Worse still, Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator, displayed clear "flexibility" regarding the sovereignty on the Haram al-Sharif.
As Ahmed Qurei described the PA's concessions on East Jerusalem settlements, this was “the first time in history that we make such a proposition; we refused to do so in Camp David.”
For their part, the Israelis, during negotiations in 2008, refused to return to the point at which the Camp David talks collapsed in July 2000. Udi Dekel, the head of the Israeli team, pointed this out in a May 29, 2008 meeting with Samih al-Abid, the PA's map expert:
“Since 2000, something happened in those 8 years. So we are not at the same starting point. You started a terror war on us and we created facts on the ground. This is the reality that we live in today, so we can’t go back to Camp David. Circumstances changed considerably since then.”
Despite prior condemnations, Israel is pressing ahead with demolitions as it continues to colonise East Jerusalem and the West Bank, writes Khaled Amayreh
Israeli bulldozers demolished the Shepherd Hotel in an Arab East Jerusalem neighbourhood Sunday to make way for a new Israeli enclave
Israel this week demonstrated once again its determination to scuttle any genuine peacemaking effort that might lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.
Israeli bulldozers and huge hydraulic jackhammers descended on the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah to demolish the Shepherd Hotel, a huge complex dating back to the 1930s. Part of the structure served as home to the former grand mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Husseini. The doomed structure thus had a lot of historical significance related to the history of the Palestinian struggle.
The demolition was the latest step by Israel to consolidate Jewish hegemony over the occupied Arab town and obliterate its erstwhile Arab- Islamic identity. The forced Judaisation of the city -- holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews -- is done feverishly through shadowy deals and dubious expropriation practices in which deception, cheating and trickery loom large.
In an unprecedented move in Lebanon’s history, 11 ministers of the 30-member Cabinet resigned Wednesday, thus toppling PM Saad Hariri’s government.
The 10 opposition ministers as well as State Minister Adnan Sayyed Hussein declared withdrawal from the government and held Hariri and his bloc responsibility for the failure of the Saudi-Syria effort to defuse the crisis in Lebanon over the international tribunal into the Rafiq Hariri assassination.
By Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN: For reaction to the WikiLeaks documents, we’re joined by world renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of over a hundred books including his latest Hopes and Prospects. Forty years ago, Noam and Howard Zinn helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg edit and release the Pentagon Papers that top-secret internal U.S. history of the Vietnam War.
AMY GOODMAN: What are your thoughts today? For example, we just played this clip of New York republican congress member Peter King who says WikiLeaks should be declared a foreign terrorist organization.
NOAM CHOMSKY: I think that is outlandish. We should understand -- and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point -- that one of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population. In the Pentagon Papers, for example, there was one volume -- the negotiations volume -- which might have had a bearing on ongoing activities and Daniel Ellsberg withheld that. That came out a little bit later. If you look at the papers themselves, there are things Americans should have known that others did not want them to know. And as far as I can tell, from what I’ve seen here, pretty much the same is true. In fact, the current leaks are -- what I’ve seen, at least -- primarily interesting because of what they tell us about how the diplomatic service works.
Human beings are humane and even brave enough to blow the whistle.
By Gilad Atzmon
It is an 'attack on the international community,' said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in reference to the release of 250.000 secret cables by Wikileaks.
Clinton is correct; this is indeed a long overdue, necessary attack on an ‘international community’ of war mongers and war criminals.
The leaked cables reveal a very gloomy picture of the state of our world current affairs: It unveils a clear dichotomy between the people of the world and our conflict driven political leadership.
For most of us, it is plainly clear that Wikileaks is not just an act of pure journalism -- it is also the ultimate form of true democracy: it respects the most sacred liberal principle, namely, ‘the right to know’.
One of the more curious denunciations of WikiLeaks came from Senator Joseph Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, who called the latest leak “an offense against our democracy and the principle of transparency,” because the organization had acted to “short circuit” the “democratic process” by deciding to make public documents that the government had deemed secret.
“I always thought that a transparent society was a totalitarian society" -- French minister Francois Baroin
The release by WikiLeaks of the first of some quarter of a million classified US embassy cables from around the world has provoked expressions of outrage and demands for retribution from Washington and its allies.
US Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated on Monday that the Justice Department, aided by military intelligence, is conducting an “active, ongoing, criminal investigation,” presumably aimed at WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
Both Democratic and Republican politicians joined in the denunciations and threats. Some went so far as to call for prosecution for treason and execution of Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, charged with leaking to WikiLeaks the so-called “Collateral Murder” video depicting the 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians by a US helicopter gunship.
By Patrick Martin
The Obama administration has devoted enormous attention and effort to a worldwide campaign to destabilize Iran and open the way to direct military aggression, the latest mass of documents released by WikiLeaks confirms. The first batch of more than 250,000 secret diplomatic cables between the State Department and 270 US embassies and missions around the world were made public Sunday night by the Internet-based organization, which is opposed to US militarism.
The documents reveal a wide range of efforts by the US government over the past decade, and especially in the last three years, to mobilize support for its campaign against Iran—as well as to forestall a premature Israeli air strike against the Islamic Republic, which US officials feared would be counterproductive and strengthen Iran in the long run.
US embassy cables US embassy cables reveal that Hillary Clinton instructed staff around the world to spy on UN staff and leaders. Photograph: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
What do the cables released by WikiLeaks tell us about diplomacy and US foreign policy in the Middle East?
* Gary Younge, Seumas Milne, Craig Murray, Richard Norton-Taylor, Juan Cole, Abbas Edalat, Phil Wilayto
Gary Younge: 'Leaks reveal how tight room for manoeuvre can be'
The behind-the-scenes revelations about American diplomacy really only shock three groups of people.
The first is those who believe the US is a force for unalloyed good in the world with a foreign policy rooted in principle rather than pragmatism. Even after the past nine years the number of those in that category is higher than many would think. For them, the problem with the US invading Iraq was not that it broke international law on a false pretext, leaving thousands dead or displaced, but that it lost. The lesson they have drawn is not that the US needs to adopt more subtle methods than bombing, torturing and invading but that not all of the world is ready for freedom. Last month, during the final debate between the Colorado Senatorial candidates, Republican, Ken Buck, said: "It's a fundamental mistake to assume that a people as backward as the Afghans are going to be able to build the industrialised nation and the democracy that it takes to be able to achieve what we would consider a western-style democracy."
US embassy in London The release of more than 250,000 US embassy cables reveals previously secret information on American intelligence gathering, and political and military strategy. Photograph: Rex Features
• More than 250,000 dispatches reveal US foreign strategies
• Diplomats ordered to spy on allies as well as enemies
• Saudi king urged Washington to bomb Iran
Read the full coverage of the US embassy cables at www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-us-embassy-cables
By David Leigh
The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.
At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many designated "secret" – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN leadership.
These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches, which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.
By Nick Turse
The construction projects are sprouting like mushrooms: walled complexes, high-strength weapons vaults, and underground bunkers with command and control capacities - and they're being planned and funded by a military force intent on embedding itself ever more deeply in the Middle East.
If Iran were building these facilities, it would be front-page news and American hawks would be talking war, but that country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps aren't behind this building boom, nor are the Syrians, Lebanon's Hezbollah, or some set of al-Qaeda affiliates. It's the US military that's digging in, hardening, improving, and expanding its garrisons in and around the Persian Gulf at the very moment when it is officially in a draw-down phase in Iraq.
As for the US, the sudden emergence of supposed terror threats has become a standard means of disorienting the American people and maintaining social control. In announcing this threat on the eve of an election, Obama is taking a page from the Bush playbook. The Bush White House used terror scares in an attempt to manipulate public opinion on the eve of the elections of 2002, 2004 and 2006.
By Barry Grey
1 November 2010
In what has become a regular feature of American public life—especially on the eve of major elections—the airwaves were taken over Friday by breathless reports of a new terror threat. It is impossible to determine how much is fact and how much is fiction in the ever-expanding claims being made regarding two packages from Yemen allegedly containing high explosives and addressed to two synagogues in Chicago.
But the very fact that the decision was made, undoubtedly at a very high level, to give such massive media coverage to the alleged plot—before any concrete details were being reported and entirely on the basis of unsubstantiated claims made by, for the most part, anonymous officials—is sufficient reason to adopt a highly skeptical attitude.
The tag line of a popular American television series about a US counterterrorism group—“Not every conspiracy is a theory”—is apt. The hidden purposes behind the current government-media campaign remain unclear, but one thing is certain: no trust should be placed in any of the information being given out.
• Victims were scavenging for rubble, say rights groups
• Attacks allegedly took place outside 300-metre buffer zone
Mohammed Sobboh and his brother Adham Mohammed Sobboh and his brother Adham Photograph: Guardian
At least 10 Palestinian children have been shot and wounded by Israeli troops in the past three months while collecting rubble in or near the "buffer zone" created by Israel along the Gaza border, in a low-intensity offensive on the fringes of the blockaded Palestinian territory.
Israeli soldiers are routinely shooting at Gazans well beyond the unmarked boundary of the official 300 metre-wide no-go area, rights groups say.
According to Bassam Masri, head of orthopaedics at the Kamal Odwan hospital in Beit Lahiya in the north of Gaza, about 50 people have been treated for gunshot wounds suffered in or near the buffer zone while collecting rubble in the past three months; about five have been killed.
He estimates that 30% of the injured are boys under 18.
The new Ottomans and the new Byzantines are poised for an intercept as the US stumbles in the current Great Game, reports Eric Walberg
The neocon plan to transform the Middle East and Central Asia into a pliant client of the United States empire and its only-democracy-in-the-Middle-East is now facing a very different playing field. Not only are the wars against the Palestinians, Afghans and Iraqis floundering, but they have set in motion unforeseen moves by all the regional players.
The empire faces a resurgent Turkey, heir to the Ottomans, who governed a largely peaceful Middle East for half a millennium. As part of a dynamic diplomatic outreach under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey re-established the Caliphate visa-free tradition with Albania, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya and Syria last year. In February Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay offered to do likewise with Egypt. There is "a great new plan of creating a Middle East Union as a regional equivalent of the European Union" with Turkey, fresh from a resounding constitutional referendum win by the AKP, writes Israel Shamir.
Turkey also established a strategic partnership with Russia during the past two years, with a visa-free regime and ambitious trade and investment plans (denominated in rubles and lira), including the construction of new pipelines and nuclear energy facilities.
Just as Turkey is heir to the Ottomans, Russia is heir to the Byzantines, who ruled a largely peaceful Middle East for close to a millennium before the Turks. Together, Russia and Turkey have far more justification as Middle Eastern "hegemons" than the British-American 20th century usurpers, and they are doing something about it.
In a delicious irony, invasions by the US and Israel in the Middle East and Eurasia have not cowed the countries affected, but emboldened them to work together, creating the basis for a new alignment of forces, including Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iran.
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
It is crystal clear that Israel, the arrogant, fanatical and belligerent Jewish state is trying hard to undermine Turkey. Israel feels that its hegemony in the Middle East is being challenged by Turkish efforts to reassert the country’s national interests by enhancing relations with Islamic neighbors and also by courageously opposing Israeli ethnic cleansing and other manifestly criminal policies against the Palestinians.
In recent days and weeks, Israel has been quite furious about the recent referendum in Turkey which granted the government additional powers to assert real democracy and prevent the recurrence of military coups.
The Turkish republic had witnessed three military coups against democratically-elected governments the last of which took place nearly 30 years ago, when the military introduced draconian constitutional amendments making the anti-Islam military establishment effectively above the people’s will.
In the mid 1990s, the Turkish military forced the popular Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign amid suspicions that the conservative premier was trying to re-Islamize Turkey.
The Israeli media has been quite vociferous about “losing Turkey” as if that country of 75 million people were supposed to be a banana republic subservient to Israel. Moreover, Israeli commentators, affiliated with fanatical Zionist circles, have urged the Israeli government to envisage ways and means to “overcome” the “growing Turkish threat”!
He did it with seven words. “Ultimately the U.S. cannot impose a solution.”
By Alan Hart
He was speaking at the White House the day before the start of the new round of direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, after he had met with them and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. (In my last post I anticipated Obama saying at the point of his complete surrender that “America can’t want peace more than the parties.” He also said that – ahead of schedule!)
Today there is a growing number of seriously well informed people of all faiths and none (including me) who believe there will only be peace if it is imposed.
Among those who have dared to say so in public is one of the most eminent Jewish gentlemen of our time, Henry Siegman. A former national director of the American Jewish Congress, he is president of the U.S./Middle East Project, which was part of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1994 until 2006 when it was established as an independent policy institute. He is also a research professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Programme of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. During his more than 30 years of involvement in the Middle East peace process, he has published extensively on the subject and has been consulted by governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations involved in the peace process. In a comment piece for the Financial Times on 23 February 2010, (quoted in Conflict Without End? the Epilogue to Volume 3 of the American edition of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews), he wrote this:
The Gang of Four
So, the curtain is raised once again, the actors emerge, and the crowd applauds - it's the latest scene in the tragic comedy of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
As Barack Obama, the US president, welcomed his guests at the White House to unveil the resumption of direct "negotiations" between the Israelis and Palestinians, it was almost difficult not to feel a sense of déjà vu.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Jordan, Benyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas all took it in turns to impress upon us the importance of "seizing this moment" to achieve peace. Each leader emphasised just how critical it was that this latest round of negotiations succeed; for, after all they "are all fathers, blessed with sons and daughters whose generation will judge them" - as President Obama so eloquently put it.
But then again so were Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat, as were Bashar Al-Assad and Yitzhak Shamir. Yet peace remains as far fetched today as it was in Madrid and Camp David.
The question is why?
By WAJAHAT ALI
One wonders why only 20% of Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim, considering the overwhelming evidence conclusively proving his slavish allegiance to Islam and utter disregard for Christianity.
After Obama's wishy-washy defense of Muslim Americans' freedom to build a community center, which includes a mosque, two blocks away from Ground Zero, a poll from the Pew Research Center reveals that nearly 20% of Americans -- up from 11% a year ago -- consider him a Muslim, and nearly 43% are unsure of his religion.
By Stephen Lendman
22 August, 2010
On August 21, Haaretz writer Natasha Mozgovaya headlined, "Israel, Palestinians accept US invitation to direct peace talks," saying:
They'll "restart direct talks on Sept. 2 in a modest step toward forging a peace deal within 12 months to create a Palestinian state and peacefully end one of the world's most intractable conflicts."
Another grand illusion is assured, fudged to look real. Henry Kissinger coined the phrase "constructive ambiguity," meaning to give negotiations an appearance of progress. For others, it's putting lipstick on a pig or how Edward Said described the Oslo Accords and Declaration of Principles, saying:
"the fashion-show vulgarities of the White House ceremony, the degrading spectacle of Yasser Arafat thanking everyone for the suspension of most of his people's rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton's performance, like a 20th century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance, (and) the truly astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation."
By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
An influx of hair-raising stories keeps coming from the Egyptian side of the Rafah border terminal. Nearly all these stories underscore the degrading treatment meted out to Gazans, already thoroughly savaged by the manifestly criminal siege imposed by Israel on the coastal enclave in coordination with several regional and international players, including Egypt itself.
In fact, according to testimonies collected from Gazans who have been in the "Egyptian hell," the Egyptian treatment of some Gazans is far worse than that which is accorded to them by the Israel.
This is more than disgraceful. It is criminal.
A few weeks ago, a Gazan woman died while waiting on the Egyptian border. True, death is an act of God, but it can also be the result of criminal negligence and degrading treatment, especially if the dead is ill.
Three days following the exceptional press conference made by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in which he directly accused the Israeli enemy of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the revelations of Sayyed Nasrallah are still making the headlines in Lebanon and the region…
While the Lebanese political scene seemed to be as usual divided over the evidence revealed, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the son of the slain Prime Minister, broke his silence and was quoted as rejecting the attempts to undermine the importance and the value of Sayyed Nasrallah's revelations.
Following Monday's press conference, Hariri made several external calls with world leaders seeking to reinforce internal unity and justice at the same time. He met with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz in Riyadh on Wednesday after holding talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday.
By Franklin Lamb -
"Throughout my life, I have always supported the human being in his humanism and I have supported the oppressed. I think it is the person’s right to live his freedom and it is her and his right to face the injustice imposed on each by revolting against it, using his practical, realistic and available means to end the oppressor’s injustice toward him, whether it is an individual, a community, a nation, or a state; whether male or female." - Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah (1935-2010), perhaps sensing his imminent death, during his last dialogue with the Washington DC-based Council for the National Interest on June 2, 2010.
Tens of thousands of people swarmed the coffin of Lebanon's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Fadallah, as it made its way through the streets of south Beirut. His passing shocked and saddened the region and the loss of his advocacy of dialogue, respect and unity among all religions is incalculable.
The loss of his support for the current campaign to obtain civil rights for Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees will make that struggle more difficult. Justice for Palestine and ending the Zionist occupation was part of his unwavering lifelong work. Some media outlets reported that shortly before he died, upon being asked by a medical attendant if he needed anything, he replied, "Only the end of the Zionist occupation of Palestine."
Erdogan rejected claims that Turkey is shifting its foreign policy.
By Belen Fernandez – Istanbul
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently categorized as 'black propaganda' the claim that Turkey is shifting its foreign policy orientation away from the West, especially in the aftermath of the May 31 Israeli murder of 9 Turkish humanitarian activists on the Mavi Marmara.
Explaining that his administration’s policy of improved relations with neighbors—manifestations of which include the waiving of visa requirements for citizens of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Libya—has drastically increased tourism revenues, Erdogan has also reminded the West of Turkey’s application for European integration, pending since 1963, and has threatened the European Union with the label “Christian Club” in the event that Turkey is not admitted.
The denunciation of black propaganda is simply an effort to stave off domestic and international opponents keen to create the impression that the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party is abandoning the secular, Western-oriented legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. If permitted to generate enough momentum, such a propaganda campaign could ultimately result in an attempted military coup; as for Erdogan’s subsequent announcement that there are Turks who refer to their dogs as “Arab”, it turned out that this was not meant as further evidence of Turkey’s Western alignment but rather as a condemnation of those sectors of the population who continue to invoke the World War I-era “stab in the back” of the Ottoman Turks by Arabs in concert with the British.
The Israeli attack on the aid flotilla has drawn condemnation around the world [Reuters]
Nearly two dozen nations have condemned Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla at the conclusion of a regional summit in Istanbul.
Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president, released a statement agreed to by 21 of the 22 participants in the conference.
Israel was the 22nd participant, and it refused to sign the document.
The summit was a meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, a bloc of 22 Eurasian states founded in the early 1990s. Delegates mostly discussed security issues, particularly Israel and Afghanistan.
GAZA – The Hamas government internal security officials asked Gaza residents to beware of phone calls from Israeli intel collectors attempting to "trick" citizens into revealing data on locations inside the Strip.
Sub-department director Abu Abdullah said citizens had reported a series of phone calls, some from unidentified callers and others from individuals claiming to be Israeli intelligence officers.
In either case, Abu Abdullah said, the Israeli callers tell citizens "they want to check up on the situation in Gaza, and ask questions that trick citizens into cooperating with apparent investigations."
One young man received a call inquiring about the humanitarian situation in the strip in light of the ongoing power cuts, Abu Abdullah said.
He advised residents to disconnect immediately when they discover that the caller is an Israeli intelligence officer, of if they suspect the same.
"The occupation has begun to turn to internet and phone lines, a common trick, in the recruitment of Palestinian citizens who willingly or not become collaborators," the officials said.
De facto government security departments were working on overcoming what he described as security breaches like the phone calls, and were receiving tips on men and women who had given information to the phone callers.
One young man received a call inquiring about the humanitarian situation in the strip in light of the ongoing power cuts, Abu Abdullah said.
He advised residents to disconnect immediately when they discover that the caller is an Israeli intelligence officer, of if they suspect the same.
"The occupation has begun to turn to internet and phone lines, a common trick, in the recruitment of Palestinian citizens who willingly or not become collaborators," the officials said.
De facto government security departments were working on overcoming what he described as security breaches like the phone calls, and were receiving tips on men and women who had given information to the phone callers.
Jordan's King Abdullah II
Jordan's King Abdullah II has warned of a new regional war should an upcoming Arab summit on the Middle East peace process prove futile.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, the Jordanian king said that a meeting of Arab countries will be held in July to discuss the so-called Mideast peace process.
He stressed the importance of the results of the meeting, saying there should be changes by July or war is inevitable.
"If we hit the summer and there's no active process, there's a very good chance for conflict - and nobody wins when it comes to that," he added.
By force of arms or by force of morals? Palestinians are looking again at the meaning and tactics of resistance, writes Saleh Al-Naami
The Palestinian reporters who went last week to cover the student march against settlement activities on the outskirts of Bethlehem did not expect the police forces of Salam Fayyad's government to be the ones confronting them, assaulting them and preventing them from covering the march. Meanwhile, occupation forces stood by and watched. The reporters gathered at the local office of a media organisation and demanded an explanation from the government and police. But for many Palestinians, the situation did not require any explanation: Fayyad's government is determined to prevent demonstrations and large mass mobilisation against the Israeli occupation.
Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) are not shy about not tolerating a mood of popular action that could trigger a third Intifada. Adnan Al-Damiri, spokesman for Fayyad's security apparatus, justified security intervention to prevent many demonstrations by various popular movements to protest against Israel's actions. Al-Damiri provoked many by banning protests in the West Bank after occupation forces left.
Israel has no intention of halting settlements in East Jerusalem.
By James Gundun - Washington D.C.
The US-Israeli spat has reached a temporary conclusion. Israel has no intention of halting construction of settlements in East Jerusalem, as both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat recently revealed. The White House correspondingly went silent for Passover and the peace process remains frozen until further notice.
Whether US officials have truly pressured Israel to the limit or we’re watching an elaborate show remains uncertain, though many indications lean towards stagecraft over statecraft. A new "crisis" looms in the near future, whenever Jerusalem comes to a head again, or Gaza, or something completely new. But whatever the case, America and Israel have transitioned from defending themselves to damage control.
Having won its battle, Israel is already deep into a re-branding campaign.
Netanyahu is too savvy for Obama, most Israeli politicians are.
By James Gundun - Washington D.C.
The display shouldn’t be so shocking. President Barack Obama was a professor before a politician, and that scholarly charm and cool helped get him elected. As if explaining a basic science problem - what goes up must come down, and vice versa - Obama calmly dismissed the suggestion that US-Israeli relations have reached a crisis.
"We and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away, but friends are going to disagree sometimes. There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward."
Say what they wish, but Israel and America are in a crisis. A crisis isn’t world ending, it’s a time of trial when an important decision must be made. The present qualifies, but let’s issue Obama a temporary pass since he has larger problems at hand. Suppose US-Israeli relations aren’t in a crisis.
Israel's foreign minister is likely to face tough questioning from his British and Irish counterparts in Brussels over the alleged use of forged European passports by men who murdered a Hamas official in Dubai last month.
Avigdor Lieberman will be in the Belgian capital on Monday as the UAE continues to point the accusing finger at Mossad, Israel's secret service, for deploying the hit squad that killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel on January 19.
Dubai police say at least 11 suspects in the killing of al-Mabhouh used altered British, Irish, French and German passports.
Britain, Ireland and France have already summoned Israeli diplomats to seek information on possible Israeli involvement.
US-backed security operations in the West Bank reinforce bitter political divide.
Speaking before a House of Representatives subcommittee in 2007, (US Lt.-General Keith) Dayton described the project as "truly important to advance our national interests, deliver security to Palestinians, and preserve and protect the interests of the state of Israel".
By Jon Elmer in Bethlehem
Abu Abdullah has never been charged with a crime, but he has been arrested by Palestinian security forces so many times in the past two years that he has lost count.
He has been arrested at work, in the market, on the street, and, more than once, during violent raids by masked men who burst into his home and seized him in front of his family.
Deep in the heart of the Deheishe refugee camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem, Abu Abdullah describes in detail the beatings he has endured in custody, the numerous cold, sleepless nights in cramped and filthy cells, the prolonged periods bound in painful stress positions, and the long hours of aggressive questioning.
"The interrogations always begin the same way," Abu Abdullah explains. "They demand to know who I voted for in the last election."
Allegations of misconduct have been made against Palestinian security services [GALLO/GETTY]
Abu Abdullah is not alone. Since Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's caretaker government took power in Ramallah in June 2007, stories like Abu Abdullah's have become commonplace in the West Bank.
The arrests are part of a wider plan being executed by Palestinian security forces - trained and funded by American and European backers - to crush opposition and consolidate the Fatah-led government's grip on power in the West Bank.
His political credibility wagered on the peace process, Palestinian President Abbas is not coping well with Israel's perpetual intransigence, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
With the Obama administration effectively reneging on pledges to get Israel to freeze settlement expansion in the West Bank, or even abide by the outdated "roadmap" peace plan, Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas is finding himself in an increasingly unenviable position.
Abbas had been insisting all along that he wouldn't agree to resume talks with Israel unless the latter agreed to halt settlement expansion in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. However, in recent weeks, the Palestinian leader has been signalling that he may return to the negotiating table virtually without conditions.
In an interview that appeared on Sunday 31 January on The Guardian website, Abbas was quoted as saying that he would be prepared to resume face-to-face talks with Israel if the latter froze all settlement construction for three months and accepted the borders of 4 June 1967. "These are not preconditions; they are requirements in the roadmap. If they are not prepared to do that, it means they don't want a political solution."
By Victor Thorn – American Free Press
“His explosives couldn’t have blown up his own seat. Even if full power, it wouldn’t have worked.” These were the words relayed to me during a Jan. 2 interview with military analyst and counterinsurgency specialist Gordon Duff in regard to the attempt of Christmas Day underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab [sometimes referred to as Abdulmutallab] to ignite 80 grams of the explosive PETN on a flight destined for America. He also explained how the patsy’s country of origin, Nigeria, is clandestinely controlled by the Israeli army and Mossad.
These entities train the military, sell weapons, run the airports, and wield power over DICON (Defense Industries Corporation). Furthermore, Mutallab’s father is a Mossad partner and Israel’s No. 1 contact in Nigeria. As the former CEO of his country’s most influential bank and the man who ran their national arms industry, Mr. Mutallab also harbors extremely close relationships with the U.S. ambassador and CIA chief in Nigeria.
On Nov. 19, 2009, Mutallab supposedly felt so alarmed about his errant son’s behavior that he met with the CIA’s station chief in Nigeria. Duff describes the father in a Dec. 31 article for Veterans Today as “one of the richest people in the world, head of a major bank, head of the national armaments industry, and close associate of the U.S. ambassador,” as well as being a Mossad asset. Yet we’re to believe that nobody prevented his Yemeni-influenced “terrorist” son from boarding a plane ultimately bound for Detroit?
For the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, Erdogan is becoming a household name.
By Ramzy Baroud
Uri Avnery’s assessment of the recent Israeli-Turkish diplomatic and political row - that “the relationship between Turkey and Israel will probably return to normal, if not to its former degree of warmth” – seems sensible and daring. In my view, however, it is also inaccurate.
Simply put, there is just no going back.
In a recent article entitled “Israel Must Get Used to the New Turkey,” Suat Kiniklioðlu, Deputy Chairman of External Affairs for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wrote, “Israel appears to be yearning for the golden 1990s, which were the product of a very specific situation in the region. Those days are over and are unlikely to come back even if the Justice and Development Party (AKP) ends up no longer being in government.”
By James M. Wall
President Obama sent George Mitchell on another mission to the Middle East this past weekend.
After meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Mitchell found that nothing has changed.
One full year on the job, and George Mitchell has been unable to find anything remotely resembling progress toward peace. His latest trip to the region began, and will end, under a cloud of failure.
One British newspaper, The Guardian commented on a Time magazine interview with Obama. According to The Guardian’s analysis:
Barack Obama has admitted that his attempts to break the political deadlock in the Middle East by pressuring Israel to end the construction of Jewish settlements have failed.
He said he raised expectations of a breakthrough too high because he underestimated the political obstacles involved – an acknowledgement that he was unable to force the hand of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
“The Middle East peace process has not moved forward and I think it’s fair to say, for all our efforts at early engagement, [it] is not where I want it to be,” he told Time magazine.
“This is just really hard … This is as intractable a problem as you get. If we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high.”
In this Dec. 18, 2009 file photo, showing Israeli police as they detain a left-wing activist during a demonstration in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Israel is arresting a growing number of prominent opponents of its policies toward the Palestinians, spurring accusations that it is trying to crush legitimate dissent. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)
By BEN HUBBARD
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 19, 2010; 2:13 PM
JERUSALEM -- Israel is arresting a growing number of prominent opponents to its policies toward the Palestinians, say critics who are accusing the government of trying to crush legitimate dissent.
In the most high-profile case yet, Jerusalem police detained the leader of a leading Israeli human rights group during a vigil against the eviction of Palestinian families whose homes were taken by Jewish settlers.
Since the summer, dozens of Palestinian and Israeli activists have been picked up, including those organizing weekly protests against Israel's West Bank separation barrier as well as others advocating international boycotts of Israeli goods.
Some of the Palestinians were released without charge only after weeks and months of questioning.
By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS - When Yemen refused to vote in support of a U.S.-sponsored Security Council resolution against Iraq during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, a visibly angry U.S. delegate turned to the Yemeni diplomat and said: "That will be the last time you will ever vote against a U.S. resolution."
Washington's subsequent retaliation, in the aftermath of that negative vote, was predictable.
The United States not only downgraded its relationship with Yemen but also cut off all military aid to a country once heavily armed with Soviet weapons.
But since that much-talked-about confrontation in the Security Council chamber, there has been a dramatic turnaround in the fluctuating love-hate relationship between the two countries.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar [MaanImages]
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas has not ruled out a prisoner exchange with Israel, one of the movements top leaders said upon returning from talks on the issue in Damascus.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar told Ma’an, “Hamas did not close the door on the Shalit deal.
Hamas is demanding that Israel release some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held in Gaza.
Zahhar said Hamas is still holding internal consultations on the prisoner deal, and other issues, including reconciliation with Fatah, and the steel wall Egypt is building on the border with Gaza.
He said the wall issue had been raised with the Egyptian government.
Zahhar returned to Gaza on Thursday via the Rafah border crossing along with Hamas officials Khalil Al-Haya and Nezar Awad Allah.
Earlier, Reuters news agency reported that Hamas rejected Israel’s terms for a swap in a message relayed to a German mediator on Wednesday night.
The terms, according to recent reports, were to have approximately 100 of the 450 named prisoners whose release is a condition of the swap, sent to the Gaza Strip or elsewhere in the Middle East, effectively exiling the men and women from their places of origin.
Hamas officials, however, told the mediator they were willing to continue talks and asked to start a fresh round of mediated talks next week, Reuters reported.
The reply came after Hamas officials met in Damascus to form a final decision on the Israeli offer.
"The consultations will continue and the negotiations will continue. We cannot say that the deal has reached a dead end. And we cannot say that (the talks were) concluded by a deal," Hamas leader Ayman Taha told Reuters.
Also on Thursday the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reported that Israel is still refusing to release 22 senior Palestinian prisoners, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmad Sa’adat, and two of the leaders of Hamas' military wing in the West Bank, Ibrahim Hamad and Abdullah Barghouthi.
In addition, Israel is refusing to free another 15 accused militants from the West Bank, seven from Gaza, 44 from East Jerusalem, and 20 Palestinians living inside Israel.
Analyst says apologies to Israel over arrest warrants undermine British judiciary.
More than half of the 1,400 Gazans killed during Operation Cast Lead were civilians
By Daud Abdullah
David Miliband, the UK's foreign secretary, has apologised to his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, after the humiliation and embarrassment caused by the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister.
The arrest warrant was issued over Livni's suspected war crimes role during Israel's war on Gaza, but was later withdrawn after she cancelled her visit to London.
Miliband also promised to begin work immediately to change UK laws to ensure that no such warrants would be issued for Israeli officials in the future. As an added sweetener to the act of contrition, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, also personally called Livni to assure her she would always be welcomed to visit the UK.
All of this is easier said than done. Already there is a huge outcry in Britain over the mere thought of changing UK laws or reneging on treaty obligations simply to protect Israeli officials involved in the serial breach of international law.
In their deluded fantasy the Israelis claim that the judicial order in London will seriously impair bi-lateral relations between London and Tel Aviv, jeopardise the Middle East peace process and undermine Britain's image in the region.
By BEN HUBBARD
RAMALLAH, West Bank — A leader of the most persistent Palestinian protest movement against Israel's West Bank separation barrier was asleep in his home when troops broke down his door and arrested him.
Supporters of Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, a 38-year-old teacher, say his pre-dawn arrest on Thursday by dozens of troops is part of a recent, heavy-handed campaign by Israel to shut down a five-year-old movement that is the last source of unrest in the West Bank.
Since 2005, demonstrators led by Abu Rahmeh have marched every Friday from the West Bank village of Bilin to the nearby separation barrier that slices off 60 percent of the village land. Their acts of protest, which have also included chaining themselves to trees, have won praise from Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu and support among Israeli peace activists.
The EU's policy statement on a future Palestinian state now needs to be acted on, writes Khaled Amayreh from occupied Jerusalem
A watered-down, though still strongly worded policy statement issued by EU foreign ministers this week has drawn ambivalent reactions from both Israel and the Palestinians, with the latter urging the EU to act on the document and not allow it to sink into irrelevance.
Adopted by European foreign ministers in Brussels on 8 December, the document reasserts the two-state solution, urging Israel to allow for the creation of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its future capital.
Saad Hariri: 'I know I won’t win but I want to participate anyway..'
By Franklin Lamb - Beirut
'There is no obstacle to cooperation with any official in the new Lebanese unity government with the exception of Hezbollah,' Nicole Shampaine, the Director of the US Department of State's Near East Affairs Bureau Office for Egypt and the Levant 12/3/09.
Beirut: Lebanon’s first Sunday morning in December was cold, cloudy and rainy as this politically exhausted country’s’ new Prime Minister, Saad Eddine Hariri, donned a gray track suit, with matching Nike running shoes and joined hundreds of pro-Hezbollah runners, two dreamy Jordanian princesses and 33,000 others from 73 countries as well as all 18 Lebanese confessions for the annual ‘friendship first, competition second’, 42 km Beirut Marathon. Despite the weather, the atmosphere was warm as Christmas decorations were being hung with care across Lebanon in Christian, Shia, Sunni and Druze neighborhoods. Saad, telling race watchers on the sidewalks, “I know I won’t win but I want to participate anyway. We have to bring Lebanese together, and sport is a very important event that can bring them together actually passed on the 42 km course in favor of the 10 km event—but then, how many politicians anywhere, used to the good life, can even run two km these days.
Hamas announced Wednesday that it was postponing continued negotiations on the release of captured Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit until after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which ends on Monday. The Hamas announcement was issued in Damascus following meetings between Khaled Mashaal, the organization's politburo Chief there, and a delegation of senior Hamas representatives from Gaza.
The statement is not a negative answer to the compromise deal proposed by the German mediator, but it does dash Israeli hopes for reaching a quick agreement by the end of this week.
Senior Hamas officials told the Al-Arabiya TV network Wednesday that the talks between Hamas and Israel hit a snag over some of the Palestinian detainees the Islamic resistance group wants freed in return for Shalit, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sa'adat. Israel is also objecting to freeing Israeli Arab detainees, said the Hamas officials.
A senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, Khalil Al-Haya, accused Israel of holding up negotiations. "The government of the Zionist entity has not met the demands of the organizations holding Shalit," he said. He did not say that the deal had been torpedoed or had failed, though he did say Israel was responsible for the delay in reaching a deal.
The American station Fox News reported that Hamas is also demanding that Israel commit to not harming the freed detainees in the future.
The Israeli security cabinet met Wednesday in occupied Jerusalem, but discussed the freezing of construction in the settlements. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked ministers to keep completely silent in the media on the Shalit deal.
The deal will have a number of components in addition to the prisoner release. Hamas is expecting the economic blockade on Gaza to be eased and a partial opening of the crossings into Israel and Egypt.
At the same time the United States is pressuring Netanyahu to make a number of significant good will acts on the behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose regime is expected to suffer as the prisoner release is being attributed to Hamas. The freeze on construction in West Bank settlements is considered one of these acts.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Barghouti said he hopes to be freed as part of the Shalit deal, and intends to run for president in Palestinian elections. He said maybe now Israel will understand that it cannot ignore Hamas' demands. He added that the most important issue at hand is peace between Fatah and Hamas.
Hamas has long stated that Barghouti is among the detainees it wants released by Israel. Seen as a potential successor to Abbas, Barghouti was sentenced in 2004 to five life terms. "We are confident that Marwan will be part of the deal," said Khader Shkirat, one of his lawyers, who said he had visited Barghouti yesterday. Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on Monday that Barghouti would not be swapped.
Among the other prisoners Israel refuses to release, reported the Egyptian newspaper Al-Hayat, are Ibrahim Hamed, the former commander of Hamas' military wing and the mastermind behind the 2002 bombing at Moment cafe in occupied Jerusalem; Abdullah Barghouti, a relative of Marwan Barghouti, and another mastermind of the Moment attack as well as attacks at Sbarro pizza parlor in occupied Jerusalem and on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv. Other reports say Israel also refused to release Abbas Al-Sayyed, who planned the Passover Seder night bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002.
Hopes of Obama's 'change' are continuously raised but have yet to be fulfilled.
By George S. Hishmeh – Washington
There is growing frustration, inside and outside the United States, with the otherwise attractive Obama administration primarily because of its failure to bring about any measurable change in U.S. policy especially in the Middle East. Hopes are continuously raised but have yet to be fulfilled.
The spirited American leader has moved crowds with his ideas, here and abroad as illustrated during his current East Asia tour but none of these ideas have materialized. This has led some to look for alternative courses, skirting an American involvement, as hard as this may seem to be.
‘While much attention has been paid to the feud between the (rightist) Fox News Channel and the White House, The New York Times observed last Monday,’ the Obama administration is now facing criticism of a different sort from ... progressive hosts on MSNBC (a popular TV channel) who are using their nightly news-and-views-cast to measure what (Rachel Maddow, a liberal host) calls ‘the distance between Obama’s rhetoric and his actions.’
By RANNIE AMIRI
After five long years, and at great expense to a state hoped-to-be-called Palestine, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has finally realized that subservience to the United States and Israel pays little in dividends. Indeed, what he has done to the cause of Palestine, the unity of its people, and the advancement of their rights has been nothing short of unmitigated disaster.
Last week, Abbas said he would not seek re-election in polls scheduled for January 2010. His resignation however, was quickly rejected by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and as of today, no one has announced their intent to run in his place.
In truth, many consider the move a tactic to exert additional pressure on the Obama administration, especially after Abbas’ demand for an Israeli settlement freeze prior to talks went largely ignored.
(General Stanley) McChrystal seems to have inverted the old Clausewitzian maxim: he genuinely believes that politics is a continuation of war by other means.
By TARIQ ALI
It’s been a bad autumn for Nato in Afghanistan, with twin disasters on the political and military fronts.
First, Kai Eide, the UN headman in Kabul, a well-meaning, but not very bright Norwegian, fell out with his deputy, Peter Galbraith, who as the de facto representative of the US State Department had decreed that President Karzai’s election was rigged and went public about it. His superior continued to defend Hamid Karzai’s legitimacy. Astonishingly, the UN then fired Galbraith. This caused Hillary Clinton to move into top gear and the UN-supported electoral watchdog now ruled that the elections had indeed been fraudulent and ordered a run-off. Karzai refused to replace the electoral officials who had done such a good job for him the first time and his opponent withdrew. Karzai got the job.
By Ramzy Baroud
When British Foreign Secretary David Miliband uttered a few words regarding the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, many wanted to believe that London was taking a sharp stance against Israel’s continued violations of international law. Alas, they were wrong.
The fact is Miliband’s statement, made during a press conference that followed talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, in Amman, was merely tactical, aimed at lessening the negative impact of the feeble position adopted by Washington regarding the same issue.
This is what Miliband had to say: "Settlements are illegal in our view and an obstacle to peace settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements challenge the heart of... a Palestinian state."
But then, he added: "It's so important for all those who care about security and social justice in this region that discussions about borders and territory are restarted in a serious way, because if you can progress on border and territory, you can resolve the settlements issue."
This is classic Miliband. While his clear and decisive statement regarding the illegality of the settlements and the fact that their construction is an obstacle is to be welcomed, one cannot decipher a politician’s statement in increments; to be truly appreciated, they must be understood as a whole.
Hamid Karzai, the incumbent president, has been declared the winner of Afghanistan's presidential election.
Afghanistan's election panel announced the decision after cancelling Saturday's planned runoff.
On eve of his visit to Tehran, Turkish prime minister expresses his faith in strategic relations with Israel, tells Guardian that Iranian President Ahmadinejad 'is no doubt our friend', and once again slams Israeli foreign minister
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes his country's strategic alliance with Israel remains alive, but does not hesitate to reach out to Iran as well.
"There is no doubt he is our friend," Erdogan told British newspaper The Guardian in an interview published Monday, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "As a friend so far we have very good relations and have had no difficulty at all."
The complaints commission has called for thousands of votes to be scrapped [AFP]
KARZAI VOTE 'BELOW 50 PER CENT'
Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, is facing a runoff vote after a UN-backed election watchdog recommended that thousands of ballots apparently cast in his favour be scrapped, diplomatic sources have told Al Jazeera.
The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) published the findings of its long-awaited investigation into poll fraud in Afganistan's elections on Monday.
The report, published on the ECC's website, called for ballots cast at 210 polling stations during the country's August 20 polls to be discarded.
Mahmoud Abbas / Bashar Al-Assad [MaanImages]
BETHLEHEM -- Ma'an - Syria turned away President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, reportedly over his decision to delay a vote over South African justice Richard Goldstone's report on the Gaza assault last winter.
The president was originally scheduled to arrive in Damascus on Tuesday, following a brief state visit to Yemen that began on Sunday.
The Qatari network Al-Jazeera reported on Monday that Abbas' trip was suddenly called off in light of Syria's outrage over the Palestine Liberation Organization's decision in Geneva on Friday to stall debate on the report.
The wildly unpopular move led the UN Human Rights Council to delay approval for the Gaza fact-finding mission's results until March 2010 at the earliest.
[First graders at a UNRWA-run Elementary School in Gaza City participating in stress-relieving games and activities]
NEW YORK - 24 September 2009 – National leaders and senior government ministers from around the world have gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York today to pay tribute to the efforts of the UN agency that has assisted Palestinian refugees across the Middle East for 60 years.
A series of public events are being held to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was set up to provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
Karen AbuZayd, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, said today’s high-level event offers “an occasion for reflection on why after 60 years of exile and dispossession, millions of Palestine refugees remain stateless.
“With increasing talk about an emerging peace deal, let us all recommit ourselves to finding a peaceful solution in which the tragic situation of the refugees will be resolved.”
In a world exclusive, Ken Livingstone discusses religion, violence and the chances for peace with the Hamas leader Khaled Meshal
The key to peace in the Middle East is restoration of international law and the recognition of the right of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews to live in peace and security side by side. As President Obama says, there is no peace process today. Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, continues to extend illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and maintain a near-complete blockade of Gaza. Palestinians fire ineffectual rockets into Israel. Israel regularly attacks Palestinian territories with modern weapons.
No major conflict can be resolved without each side talking to the other. That was the case in South Africa, Ireland and countless other situations where people said they would never talk to their opponents. I was vilified in the Eighties for saying that, to resolve the Irish conflict, you had to talk to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
In the Middle East, peace can only be achieved through discussion between the elected representatives of both the Israelis and the Palestinians - and that means Hamas, which won a big majority in the last Palestinian parliamentary election, as well as Fatah. This does not mean that I agree with the views of Hamas, Fatah or the government of Israel. Far from it: I do not. For example, I think a number of passages in the original Hamas charter are unacceptable and should be repudiated. Many observers believe that this is also the view of some in Hamas.
By Aijaz Zaka Syed - Dubai
What a farce! Can it get any better than this? Once America's darling, Hamid Karzai appears to be inching towards victory in yet another ‘democratic election’ that has been like going on – forever.
In the latest update, Afghan election commission has put Karzai’s vote share at 56 per cent. Which seems to have come as a bit of a shock to the Coalition of the Willing. They had been hoping to dump Karzai and move on with another ‘moderate and democratic leader’, Abdullah Abdullah.
Violence has reached its worst level of the eight-year-old war despite record numbers of Nato troops
Dozens of Afghan civilians, troops and police, and five US soldiers, have been killed in a wave of violence around Afghanistan, officials have said.
Roadside bombs, gun battles and a suicide attack took place on Saturday in all corners of the country, including the north and west, which had been comparatively quiet until recent weeks.
In the worst incident on Saturday, the interior ministry said a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province in the south had struck two passenger cars, killing 14 civilians.
The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax—
Of cabbages—and kings…
M. Shahid Alam
These kleptocrats throw themselves at the feet
of Western plutocracies: they spurn
the real source of power – their own people –
seeking clientage under Western boots.
Lesser rogues gravitate to bigger ones:
this is the law of global hegemony.
This tendency emerges again and again
as long as its victims stay hidebound.
These lesser rogues – Zardari, Karzai,
Abdullah, Mubarak, Abbas –
will get their marching orders from DC,
hold down their own people for a fee,
unless the people, every one of them,
pick up their shoes, sandals, chappals
(any old footwear will do),
and point them at these scoundrels,
a shot across the bow of their kleptocracies.
If this does not work (and it might not),
ask the shoe-throwing Iraqi.
He knew better what to do with a shoe.
"We are here because we want to preserve our land for the next generation. Without our land we are nothing and we will defend it with our lives if necessary" -- Jackson Luhat Paren, headman of Long Deloh
By Jonathan Gorvett in Sarawak State, Borneo
The Penan in Long Deloh say the land around their homes has belonged to them for generations
In the jungles of central Borneo, loggers and native tribes, environmentalists and plantation companies, rights lawyers and government developers are now locked in an increasingly desperate battle.
The future of one of the world's last great rainforests is at stake.
The outcome of this fight could determine much beyond Borneo's borders too, as environmental scientists become increasingly alarmed at the effect deforestation taking place here is having on the world's weather.
The current front line in this confrontation lies about 160km inland from the town of Miri, in the Eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo.
In recent days a string of barricades have gone up in this region, the Upper Baram river, as native tribespeople try to prevent logging and plantation companies entering what the tribesmen see as the last remnants of their land.
By Pepe Escobar
PARIS - America's convoluted, Alice-in-Wonderland interpretation of this summer's top political show - the "free expression of the people" in the Afghanistan election - reads like an opium dream. In fact, it is actually a pipe dream - as in Pipelineistan. With the added twist that no one's saying a word about the pipe that's delivering the opium dream.
As in an opium dream, delusion reigns. The chances of United States President Barack Obama actually elaborating what his AfPak strategy really is are as likely as having his super-envoy Richard Holbrooke share a pipe with explosive uber-guerrilla warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Obama says "success in Afghanistan" involves "diplomacy, development and good governance" - but all dazed and confused world public opinion sees are packs of extra marines being deployed to "fight the Taliban".
By Jeremy Scahill
August 20, 2009
In April 2002, the CIA paid Blackwater more than $5 million to deploy a small team of men inside Afghanistan during the early stages of US operations in the country. A month later, Erik Prince, the company's owner and a former Navy SEAL, flew to Afghanistan as part of the original twenty-man Blackwater contingent. Blackwater worked for the CIA at its station in Kabul as well as in Shkin, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where they operated out of a mud fortress known as the Alamo. It was the beginning of a long relationship between Blackwater, Prince and the CIA.
Now the New York Times is reporting that in 2004 the CIA hired Blackwater "as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda." According to the Times, "it is unclear whether the CIA had planned to use the contractors to capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance."
Arabic has 16 words for the different levels of love between two people, according to The Knowledge of Language, an Arabic book by Abu Mansoor al Tha'albi dating back to the 11th century.
With so much flexibility, no wonder someone from Oman may struggle to understand a visitor from the Maghreb, although each would say he was speaking Arabic. And in the UAE, a melting pot for dialects from across the region and beyond, the differences can be even more frustrating.
One man who was fed up with constantly asking or hearing "wait, what does that mean?" is Abdullah Arif, a 23-year-old Saudi Arabian graduate living in Dubai, who decided to do something about it.
That was last summer. In March he set about making things a little more clear for others like him and two weeks ago he launched Mo3jam.com, one of the web's most comprehensive user-generated compendiums of slang and colloquial Arabic.
The Palestinian people's choice: Stick to their guns or watch their homeland evaporate.
By Terrell E. Arnold
In late 2005, the Bush administration, along with the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon, promoted parliamentary elections in Palestine. The goal, obvious if unstated, was to provide a popular credential for the government that would be run by the expected to be victorious candidates, members of the Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas. Since Abbas had won with a decisive 62% of the votes in a January 2005 election to succeed the late Yasser Arafat, the parliamentary election of January 2006 looked like a slam dunk. Hamas, participating for the first time in a national election, along with five or six small parties stood against Fatah. The results, however, surprised most observers by giving the parliamentary majority to Hamas. Fatah won only 45 seats in the new parliament, while Hamas won an absolute majority of 74 in the 132 seat assembly.
Various pundits agonized over why this occurred. The conventional wisdom was that, after all, Hamas was nothing but a terrorist group. It had no political experience and ran no candidates of known political caliber on the Palestinian scene. As often happens with conventional wisdom, however, this batch was false.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai delivers a speech during a campaign event. The Afghan President's alliance with rival designed to prevent civil war after election
By Jerome Starkey in Kabul
Friday, 7 August 2009
With less than two weeks to go until national elections, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, is trying to cut a secret deal with one of his rivals to knock out his leading contender and ensure a decisive victory to avoid the chaos that a tight result might unleash.
Afghanistan's second democratic polls threaten to split the country along sectarian lines. That would risk undermining US and British-led peace efforts which are already under pressure from a resurgent Taliban.
Mr Karzai and his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, hail from different ethnic groups and different regions. If neither wins outright in round one on 20 August, officials fear Afghanistan could be engulfed by violence reminiscent of the civil war of the 1990s.
"The whole country is armed. Everybody has weapons. You have to keep everyone happy," an Afghan analyst said. Mr Abdullah's campaign staff have threatened to hold demonstrations should Mr Karzai win, insisting that he could only do so fraudulently.
Alice Walker meets with Hamas Sister, Huda Niam, Mother of five
Gaza, Palestine, International Woman's Day 2009
In this essay, Poet Alice Walker writes of encountering "the horror" (as in Joseph Conrad's novel, 'The Heart of Darkness') in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel and finding her voice again after a period of speechlessness. Part of what has happened to human beings, she believes, is that we have, over the last century, witnessed cruel and unusually barbaric behavior that was so horrifying it literally left us speechless. We had no words to describe it even when we viewed it; nor could we easily believe human beings could fall to such levels of degradation; we have been deeply frightened. This self-imposed silence has slowed our response to the plight of those who most need us, often women and children but also men of conscience who resist evil but are outnumbered by those around them who have fallen victim to a belief in weapons, male or ethnic dominance, greed and drugs.
OVERCOMING SPEECHLESSNESS: A Poet Encounters “the horror” in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel
Three things cannot be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
By Alice Walker, Citizen
Three years ago I visited Rwanda and Eastern Congo. In Kigali I paid my respects to the hundreds of thousands of infants, toddlers, teen-agers, adolescents, young engaged couples, married people, women and men, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters of every facial shape and body size, who had been hacked into sometimes quite small pieces by armed strangers, or by neighbors, or by acquaintances and “friends” they knew. These bodies and pieces of bodies are now neatly and respectfully buried in mass graves. Fifteen years ago, these graves were encircled by cuttings of plants that are now sturdy blossoming vines that cover their iron trellises with flowers. Inside the adjacent museum there are photographs of the murdered: their open smiles or wise and consoling eyes will remain with me always. There is also, in the museum, a brief history of Rwanda. It tells of the long centuries Tutsi and Hutu lived together, intermarrying and raising their children, until the coming of the Belgians in the 1800s. The Belgian settlers determined, because they measured Hutu and Tutsi skulls, that the Tutsi were more intelligent than the Hutu, more like Europeans, and therefore placed the Tutsi above the Hutu. When the Belgian colonists left for Europe, over a hundred years later, they left the Tutsi in charge. The hatred this diabolical decision caused between these formerly friendly peoples festered over generations; coming to a lethal boil in the tragedy of genocide.
By Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA/RAMALLAH -- Islamic Hamas movement which rules the Gaza Strip slammed Wednesday the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) decision to freeze the work of the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite news TV channel in the West Bank.
Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza told Xinhua on phone that Hamas movement denounces the closure of al-Jazeera office by the Authority of Ramallah in the West Bank, adding that the move "shows the full security coordination with the Zionist occupation."
"Closing al-Jazeera office is a clear restrict of the freedom of speech and media. It's an attempt to hide the reality, mainly the real situation in the West Bank, and also an attempt to hide the facts, mainly the crimes that the authorities in Ramallah are practicing against our people," said Radwan.
Americans have something to be truly proud of on this Independence Day, says Anayat Durrani
The indomitable British MP George Galloway celebrated the former British colony's independence in an appropriately defiant way, as he departed New York for Cairo 4 July, to join the Viva Palestina US convoy that will take over 100 trucks filled with medical aide to the suffering people of Gaza. If successful, the American convoy will mark the largest grassroots medical relief effort for Gaza in US history.
Rabbis, Christian activists, and Americans of various backgrounds departed JFK airport wearing blue t-shirts with the 1776 US Declaration of Independence superimposed on the Palestinian flag. Over 200 Americans, including Vietnam War Veteran Ron Kovic, will join Galloway as he crosses the Rafah border into Gaza mid-July.
Galloway spent most of June through his 4 July departure date in the United States raising money for the convoy through several "Save Gaza" speaking engagements across the nation. Pastors for Peace served as fiscal sponsor for the Viva Palestina US Convoy to Gaza.
By Nicola Nasser - The West Bank
In his speech at Bar Ilan University on June 14, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a new Israeli 'peace plan,' with preconditions that a Palestinian negotiator must first meet before he would “promptly” engage in “unconditional” bilateral talks to meet an international consensus demanding the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. His preconditions added to the fourteen conditions the former Israeli government of comatose Ariel Sharon attached to Israel’s adoption in grudge of the 2003 Road Map blueprint for peace with the Palestinian side, on the basis of which the U.S. administration of President Barak Obama and his presidential envoy George Mitchell are now urging an early resumption of “immediate” Israeli – Palestinian peace talks, which Mitchell on June 26 hoped “very much to conclude this phase of the discussions and to be able to move into meaningful and productive negotiations in the near future."
Sharon’s conditional approval of the Road Map has condemned the blueprint as a non-starter, led to the Israeli military reoccupation of the Palestinian autonomous areas, aborted former U.S. President George W. Bush’s promise to Palestinians to have their own state twice in 2005 and 2008, and doomed the twenty – year peace process since the Madrid conference in 1991 to its current impasse that Obama and Mitchell are trying to break through. It is a forgone conclusion that Netanyahu’s preconditions -- Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state,” “demilitarization” of the prospective Palestinian less-than-a-sovereign state and preserving Israel’s illegitimate “right” to expand its illegal colonial Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories -- will fare worse than Sharon’s conditions.
In his June 14 speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said for the first time he would accept a Palestinian state, but set strict pre-conditions for its establishment. SPIEGEL ONLINE presents the full text of his speech.
Editor's note: The following is a translation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's June 14 speech as provided by his office.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Honored guests, citizens of Israel. Peace has always been our people's most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and our prayers conclude with the word peace.
We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision.
June 4, 2009
By Hanan Awarekeh
Offering the Arabic greeting of Assalaamu Alaykum, or "peace be unto you", in the early part of his speech and quoting a passage from the Holy Koran and cited his father's Muslim background in a bid to highlight his sensitivity to Islamic grievances against the West, US President Barack Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo in the second leg of his 5-Day tour to the Middle East.
"America is not and never will be at war with Islam," Obama said. "We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims."
By Jeff Halper
Would Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu say the magic words "two states" after his meeting with President Obama? All Israel held its breath. (He didn't). The gap between the two is wider than those words could ever have bridged, however. Obama, I believe, sincerely -- perhaps urgently -- seeks a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, a pre-condition, he understands, to getting on with larger, more pressing Middle Eastern issues. Netanyahu, who rejects even the notion of a Palestinian mini-state as grudgingly accepted by Barak, Sharon and Olmert, is seeking a permanent state of "warehousing" in which the Palestinians live forever in a limbo of "autonomy" delineated by an Israel that otherwise encompasses them. The danger, to which we all should be attuned, is that the two sides might compromise on apartheid -- the establishment of a Palestinian Bantustan that has neither genuine sovereignty nor economic viability.
By Rannie Amiri
"What we are talking about is not Israelis and Palestinians sitting at the table, but Israelis sitting with Palestinians, Israelis sitting with Syrians, Israelis sitting with Lebanese. And with the Arabs and the Muslim world lined up to open direct negotiations with Israelis at the same time. So it’s the work that needs to be done over the next couple of months that has a regional answer to this – that is not a two-state solution, it is a 57-state solution.
"That is a very strong statement when we are offering a third of the world to meet them with open arms. The future is not the Jordan River or the Golan Heights or Sinai, the future is Morocco in the Atlantic to Indonesia in the Pacific. I think that’s the prize." -- Jordan’s King Abdullah in an interview with the Times of London, 11 May 2009.
Seasoned analysts of the litany of Middle East “peace proposals” floated over the years inevitably stumble on one obstacle preventing their implementation: Israel always has another “problem” to deal with before it can resolve its dispute with the Palestinians.
This manufactured excuse regularly cycles among the usual parties and countries – Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iraq, Iran etc. One or another invariably constitutes an “existential” threat jeopardizing the nuclear-armed country’s security. By convincing the United States it has more pressing issues to deal with, Israel has successfully managed to delay, postpone or suspend negotiations with the Palestinians for decades.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM -- The Hebrew radio on Monday revealed that the Israeli Knesset will discuss soon a draft law introduced by member of the Zionist national union party Aryeh Eldad calling for considering Jordan the Palestinian state.
The radio quoted Eldad as saying that this law would ensure Israel’s security and meet the international community’s calls for giving the Palestinians a state.
The Zionist national union party, which is considered one of the most ultra-extremist Israeli parties, had distributed in December 2002 leaflets among Palestinian passengers traveling across Al-Karama bridge on the Jordanian borders urging them to stay in Jordan as their existing state in which they could live away from the occupation.
By Stephen Williams
The Martyrs' Cemetery is but a few meters from Jenin Refugee Camp. On a warm, sunny day I stood in front of the memorial to the victims of the massacre of 2002 and remembered them, as I had long promised to do. I remembered the forgotten.
It is not an imposing monument; had the victims been Israeli, a more grandiose memorial would have been built, perhaps with a museum, perhaps with a carefully-maintained eternal flame. I was disappointed at first. Is this what I had travelled from Occupied Jerusalem to see? Through Ramallah, Nablus and those checkpoints manned by bored, surly adolescent soldiers?
The Arab League's Hesham Youssef says that without progress towards peace we should prepare for the worst, Dina Ezzat reports
Today, Arab foreign ministers will meet at the headquarters of the Arab League for an extraordinary assembly that has one focus: Palestine. The topics: Israeli war crimes against Palestinians under occupation in Gaza, the fate of East Jerusalem that is subject to unchecked Israeli colonial measures, and the prospects, if any, for the resumption of peace talks.
These issues will be discussed against the backdrop of a hesitant sense of optimism in the Arab world that the new US administration will be keen to deliver long pursued peace in the Middle East -- or at least to take a path that would eventually lead the region towards a just, fair and durable political settlement of the Arab Israeli struggle.
"The foreign ministers will meet to consider specific documents, formulate positions and design a plan of action. The first document is the report of the international independent fact-finding mission that the Arab League delegated to the Gaza Strip to examine evidence for the involvement of the Israeli occupation army in committing war crimes against Palestinians under occupation during the last Israeli war on the Gaza Strip," said Hesham Youssef, chief of staff for Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
'Unlike his predecessor, President Obama seems to be trying.'
By Joharah Baker
The UN Conference on Racism which just closed in Geneva was one of the many instances that Israel was able to enforce its dictates on the United States (and others, obviously). After tremendous pressure from Israel, the US backed down from attending the conference even though the opening declaration might as well have been tailor-made for Israel.
In any case, one would think Israel would be satisfied with the United States' obvious alliance with it, especially given the latter's superior position as the only "superpower" today. This is not the case, however, and even Palestinians – accustomed to Israel's arrogance, are slightly shocked at its effrontery.
NABLUS - Israeli military bulldozers demolished eight Palestinian houses southwest of Nablus Wednesday morning, witnesses said.
The demolitions are the first following a wave of eviction and demolition notices handed out by Israeli authorities to Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in March and April.
Ghassan Doglus, the head of a local committee against settlements, said that bulldozers backed by soldiers invaded the Jetit area, near Aqraba village and began destroying buildings.
Mitchell, left, reiterated his support for a two-state solution as he met Lieberman]
Israel's prime minister has told a visiting US envoy that the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a "Jewish state" before it will discuss establishing an independent Palestinian state.
Benyamin Netanyahu made the remarks as he met George Mitchell, the US special envoy for the Middle East, in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
"Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognise Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples," a senior official in Netanyahu's office quoted the new prime minister as saying.
March 2, 2009
By ROGER COHEN
So a Jerusalem Post article says that I’m “hardly the first American to be misled by the existence of synagogues in totalitarian countries.”
The Atlantic Monthly’s Jeffrey Goldberg finds me “particularly credulous,” taken in by the Iranian hospitality and friendliness that “are the hallmarks of most Muslim societies.” (Thanks for that info, Jeffrey.)
A conservative Web site called American Thinker, which tries to prove its name is an oxymoron, believes I would have been fooled by the Nazis’ sham at the Theresienstadt camp.
The indignation stems from my recent column on Iranian Jews, which said that the 25,000-strong community worships in relative tranquillity; that Persian Jews have fared better than Arab Jews; that hostility toward Jews in Iran has on occasion led to trumped-up charges against them; and that those enamored of the “Mad Mullah” caricature of Iran regard any compromise with it as a rerun of Munich 1938.
Hillary Clinton is to formally announce the aid package
next week, reports say [
The US is set to offer more than $900m to help rebuild Gaza following Israel's military assault on the Palestinian territory, officials say.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is to formally announce the funding at a donor conference in Egypt next week, one US official told the Reuters news agency on Monday.
February 9, 2009
By NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD
We are a delegation of 8 American lawyers, members of the National Lawyers Guild in the United States, who have come here to the Gaza Strip to assess the effects of the recent attacks on the people, and to determine what, if any, violations of international law occurred and whether U.S. domestic law has been violated as a consequence. We have spent the last five days interviewing communities particularly impacted by the recent Israeli offensive, including medical personnel, humanitarian aid workers and United Nations representatives. In particular, the delegation examined three issues: 1) targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure; 2) illegal use of weapons and 3) blocking of medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians.
"It is time the new US administration realise that efforts to neutralise Hamas can't succeed. They [Israel and the US] tried the criminal blockade of Gaza and failed; and then they tried this holocaust and failed. They must talk with Hamas, or else there will be no peace in Palestine." -- Ahmed Youssef, chief political advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Gaza-based Hamas government.
The arrival of George Mitchell to the region is being greeted with both relief and dispassion, report Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah and Sherine Bahaa in Cairo
Despite an air of optimism in some regional capitals about the recent appointment by US President Barack Obama of Senator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy, there are serious doubts in many quarters as to whether the veteran diplomat will be able to work the miracles the region so badly needs.
Sceptics, and they are legion, argue that getting Israel to end once and for all its 40-year-old colonialist occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip (for many the foremost miracle needed) necessitates a transformation, if not revolution of strategic thinking in Washington.
The US is Israel's guardian-ally. Absent meaningful US pressure on Tel Aviv, the Jewish state will continue to behave and act as it has always, namely defying international law, savaging the Palestinians, and building more Jewish colonies on occupied Arab land.
Netanyahu would offer something else. First, he is a faithful representative of an authentic "Israeli" view - an almost complete distrust of Arabs and the chance of reaching peace with them, mixed with condescension and dehumanization. Second, he will finally arouse the world's rage towards us, including that of the new U.S. administration. Sadly, this may be the only chance for the kind of dramatic change that is needed.
By Gideon Levy
Benjamin Netanyahu will apparently be Israel's next prime minister. There is, however, something encouraging about that fact. Netanyahu's election will free Israel from the burden of deception: If he can establish a right-wing government, the veil will be lifted and the nation's true face revealed to its citizens and the rest of the world, including Arab countries. Together with the world, we will see which direction we are facing and who we really are. The masquerade that has gone on for several years will finally come to an end.
Netanyahu's election is likely to bring the curtain down on the great fraud - the best show in town - the lie of "negotiations" and the injustice of the "peace process." Israel consistently claimed these acts proved the nation was focused on peace and the end of the occupation. All the while, it did everything it could to further entrench the occupation and distance any chance of a potential agreement.
22 January 2009
It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn't the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to "slaughtered innocents", but these were not quite the "slaughtered innocents" the Arabs had in mind.
There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership" Obama has apparently offered him, whatever "full" means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.
January 20, 2009
GAZA – Two Palestinian children were killed by explosives left behind by Israeli forces in Gaza and a farmer was shot dead by Israeli gunfire, hospital officials reported.
The director of Emergency and Ambulance Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, Muawiya Hassanain, told Ma’an that the farmer came under Israeli fire east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. His corpse taken to Kamal Udwan hospital.
Friday, January 16, 2009
ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey's prime minister on Friday said Israel should be barred from the United Nations while it ignores the body's calls to stop fighting in Gaza.
"How is such a country, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN (headquarters)?" Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Erdogan's comments reflected a growing anger in Turkey, Israel's best friend in the Muslim world, over Israel's Gaza operation.
President George W. Bush on his way to announce the transfer of 14 terrorism suspects from previously secret C.I.A. prisons abroad to the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, September 6, 2006. By Gerald Herbert/A.P. Photo.
George W. Bush defended harsh interrogations by pointing to intelligence breakthroughs, but a surprising number of counterterrorist officials say that, apart from being wrong, torture just doesn’t work. Delving into two high-profile cases, the author exposes the tactical costs of prisoner abuse.
By David Rose
By the last days of March 2002, more than six months after 9/11, President George W. Bush’s promise “to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act” was starting to sound a little hollow. True, Afghanistan had been invaded and the Taliban toppled from power. But Osama bin Laden had vanished from the caves of Tora Bora, and none of his key al-Qaeda lieutenants were in U.S. captivity. Intelligence about what the terrorists might be planning next was almost nonexistent. “The panic in the executive branch was palpable,” recalls Mike Scheuer, the former C.I.A. official who set up and ran the agency’s Alec Station, the unit devoted to tracking bin Laden.
From U.S. Central Command/A.P. Photo (Zubaydah); from A.P. Photo (Sheikh Mohammed); from Reuters/Landov (Padilla); from Press Association/A.P. Images (Mohamed).
Clockwise from top left: al-Qaeda lieutenant Abu Zubaydah; al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed shortly after his capture, in 2003; terror suspect Jose Padilla; former British resident and current Guantánamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.
Some in Gaza have praised Hamas' achievements as a resistance movement [EPA]
By Motasem Dalloul in Gaza
On December 14, 1987, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Mohammad Taha, two prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, formed the Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, Hamas, as an alternative to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
From the outset, Hamas wove its way into the socio-economic Palestinian fabric by operating social welfare programmes, running hospitals and schools, and providing for the families of killed fighters.
Since the first and second intifadas (1987 and 2000, respectively), Hamas has gained political power culminating in its surprise 2006 parliamentary elections win.
Many children were among those hurt in
the restaurant bombing
A suicide bomber has killed at least 55 people in a Kurdish restaurant, about 5km north of the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
More than 100 people were also wounded in the explosion on Thursday, police said.
Iraqi and US security forces have sealed off the area.
Karzai has always insisted that his government is ready to hold talks with 'Afghan Taliban' who have no al-Qaeda links
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has said he will go to "any length" to protect Mullah Omar, the fugitive leader of the anti-government Taliban, in exchange for peace.
Karzai said in Kabul on Sunday he would offer the protection even if it meant defying Afghanistan's international partners, who could remove him from his job or leave the country in disagreement.
Sixty-third General Assembly
21st Meeting (PM)
ISRAEL’S ‘ENORMOUS WEB OF UNLAWFUL PRACTICES’ DEVASTATING PALESTINIAN SOCIETY, PALESTINE’S OBSERVER SAYS, AS FOURTH COMMITTEE DEBATES SITUATION IN TERRITORY
Chairman of Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Underlines Interlocking, Reinforcing Relationship between Human Rights, Potential for Peace
Through an “enormous web of unlawful practices” that entailed systematic human rights violations, Israel was causing severe devastation and damage to Palestinian society, the observer for Palestine said today as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) launched its annual discussion of Israeli practices affecting the human rights of Arabs in the occupied territories.
Opening the Fourth Committee’s general debate, she said that despite the Special Committee’s inability to conduct a field mission -- due to lack of cooperation by Israel -- it had nevertheless carried out an objective examination of the critical human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Syrian Golan.
For its report, the Special Committee, which was established by the General Assembly in 1968 to investigate Israeli practices affecting Palestinian human rights in the occupied territories, had visited Egypt, Jordan and Syria and heard from 33 witnesses, as well as different Government officials and non-governmental organization representatives on the situation of human rights in the occupied territories.
Obama's victory was celebrated around the world, and not just by Americans
Barack Obama: [To] all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world - our stories are singular but our destiny is shared. A new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, congratulated Obama on his US election victory, saying it took the world into a "new era".
Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, said Washington would not adopt a "quick disengagement" policy with Baghdad under the presidency of Barack Obama as a "great deal is at stake here".
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Zebari said: "I think it [Obama's election] was a major, major change ... although as far is Iraq is concerned I don't believe there will be any changes overnight. And there won't be any immediate disengagement because a great deal is at stake for everybody.
"I don't think there is much difference between the Iraqi government position and President-elect Obama's. He is contemplating withdrawing US forces within 16 months. We may have some difficulties with that time-line, but we also, in the status of forces agreement, set the date of 2011 as the date for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. So really the differences are not very wide."
Blood was on walls, houses, streets and all over the place.
"My mother, Manal and Fatima Mas'oud the three of them turned to piles of burnt and torn flesh."
By Sameh A. Habeeb
In November 2006 a horrible war crime was committed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli army. The operation was not directed to some militants who were heading to fight Israel, but for an extended poor family! A nearby military operation was running by the same army in which they bulldozed farms, crushed cars and uprooted trees and streets.
I remember the place of action as well as every single detail. I want to tell you again what has happened as I am encouraged, but not satisfied by what Archbishop Desmond Tutu said adter his visit of investigation to Gaza. He was too late to investigate a massacre after 2 years, but it's better than nothing! He stigmatized Israel indirectly and held her responsible for that offence on civilians.
International law says refugees have the right to return to their homes of origin, and receive real property restitution and compensation for the losses and damages they've suffered. The UN General Assembly set forth the framework for resolving the Palestinian refugee case in UN Resolution 194 (III) which provides: repatriation for those refugees "wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors," or compensation for those choosing not to return. On November 22, 1974, Resolution 3236 clarified the right to return as an "inalienable right". therefore, neither Mahmoud Abbas nor any political party or group has the authority to "compromise" any refugee's inalienable right to return to his or her home and land.
By Akiva Eldar and Avi Issacharoff
RAMALLAH - Perhaps it was the daytime fast and abstention from smoking during the holy month of Ramadan, and perhaps it was the conversation about the exhausting negotiations with Israel that caused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to press the white button at least three times in the course of last Wednesday's interview.
Sa'id, his personal assistant, enters without a word, pulls out the packet and lights a cigarette for the president. Abu Mazen's relaxed mood does not hint at all the troubles bombarding him from inside and out.
DUBAI — A group of Arab international lawyers and human rights activists accused Israel on Sunday of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.
"The catastrophic situation in which Gaza citizens live, which led to the deterioration of medical, economic, ecological and humanitarian conditions, in addition to the death of innocent people, amounts to genocide," said the 11 activists in a statement received by AFP.
The family of prisoner Abu Ali Yatta [Ma'anImages]
BETHLEHEM - The Zionist government in Israel agreed Sunday to release 200 Palestinian prisoners in "goodwill gesture" to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but it turns out that most of the prisoners slated for release later in August were already due to be freed by the end of 2009, data from the Israeli prison service show.
An elderly Palestinian woman remembers the Nakba [GALLO/GETTY]
By Sandy Tolan
The Nakba in al-Ramla is the second part of Sandy Tolan's account of the fall of an Arab town in July 1948 and the expulsion of its residents. Click here to read the first part.
Firdaws Taji Khairi will always remember the voices of Israeli soldiers shouting through loudspeakers outside her home in al-Ramla, as the Nakba unfolded right before her.
"Yallah Abdullah!" they cried as they pounded on people's doors with the butts of their rifles. "Go to King Abdullah! Go to Ramallah!"
Obama to visit Israel, West Bank next week: officials
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) — US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas next week, officials said on Monday.
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property by in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) 19 – 25 June 2008:
* 3 Palestinians killed by IOF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
* 2 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF in Nablus.
* 18 Palestinians, including 5 children and 2 old men, were wounded by the IOF gunfire; 12 of them were wounded in Ne’lin village near Ramallah.
* IOF conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
* IOF demolished 2 uninhabited houses and partially demolished 3 inhabited houses, in Qalqilya.
* IOF arrested 48 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children, in the West Bank. IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
* IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property.
* IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property.
* An elderly Palestinian man was run down by an Israeli settler.
* Israeli settlers burned large areas of agricultural land in Bourin village, south of Nablus.
* Five Palestinian shepherds were injured by Israeli settlers in 2 separate attacks in Yatta village, south of Hebron.
Several steamy issues suggest a delay in signing the Iraq-US security agreement, writes Saif Nasrawi
By Saif Nasrawi
Negotiations over a proposed joint Iraq-US security agreement are certainly to hit a snag in the coming few weeks amid mounting opposition to its terms by Iraq's major political factions and religious establishment.
Both Shia and Sunni Iraqi political and religious leaders recently voiced serious concerns over the pivotal issues under negotiation, including the longevity of the agreement and whether it will allow for a permanent or temporary American military presence, capacity for US troops to carry out military operations and arrests of Iraqis without Baghdad's prior permission, legal immunity for American troops and security contractors, and the possibility of American military action outside the borders of Iraq.
Hamas is pushing ahead in Gaza, trying to force an end to the siege while conditions appear favourable, writes Saleh Al-Naami
A Palestinian girl holds the photo of one of her relatives jailed in an Israeli prison during a protest at the Red Cross offices in Gaza
By Saleh Al-Naami
Israeli army commander of the southern region General Yuav Galant was on his way home to attend a family celebration last Friday afternoon when senior officers told him to immediately return to the southern Gaza Strip. There, tens of thousands of Hamas activists were marching towards the Sufa commercial crossing on the Gaza-Israel border in protest of the ongoing siege. The Israeli army's leadership was not taking any risks, dealing with the situation as though the protesters aimed to cross the border. Thousands of soldiers were called up for deployment along the border under cover of Apache helicopters and unmanned drones.
Abdulrahman Abdullah will be granted permission to travel to Jerusalem from Gaza, and then onto the US
Students from Gaza who were awarded scholarships to study in the US but prevented from travelling by Israeli authorities, have now been allowed to leave Gaza to begin their study programme.
The U.S. State Department reconsiders withdrawing Fulbright grants to seven Palestinians and asks Israel to let them travel.
Palestinian student Hadeel Abu Kawik was supposed to spend next year in the United States on the prestigious Fulbright scholarship program, but now will remain where she is -- trapped in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli blockade. Hatem Moussa / Associated Press
By Richard Boudreaux, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
JERUSALEM -- Confined by Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, two Palestinian sisters who dreamed of postgraduate studies abroad got their chance in January when Gaza militants destroyed part of a wall along the Egyptian border.
Yasmin Abukwaik, 22, joined the thousands who fled Gaza before the breach was sealed and now studies X-ray technology in the United Arab Emirates. Her sister Hadeel, a 23-year-old software engineering instructor, took a risk and stayed so she could qualify for one of the few Fulbright grants for Gaza residents to study this fall in the United States.
By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*
BAQUBA - After more than five years of U.S. occupation, the very dreams of the people of Baquba have changed. For a start, they are no longer about the future.
Today, a shower is a dream. Or that the electricity supply continues just that little bit longer.
"These needs are very trivial for people of other countries," 43-year-old political leader Saad Tahir told IPS. "But in Iraq, people dream more of these things than of some ambition or success."
By William James Martin
Former President Jimmy Carter independent Middle East diplomacy is nothing less than a coup of the American foreign policy of the Bush administration.
He has now met twice with the representatives of Hamas including its head, Khalid Meshaal and has had one-on-one meetings with the heads of state of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and with King Abdullah of Jordan. The Prime Minister of Israel, Edmund Olmert has refuse to meet with him.
Abbas looks to Bush to bring Israel to heel, marvels Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Bush in Washington Thursday in a desperate effort to save the American-backed peace process from the danger of collapse. Abbas is reportedly "gravely concerned " that the prospects of reaching a breakthrough in peace talks with Israel before the expiration of Bush's term in the White House are very slim.
Note: This is the first installment in a series of three which we will publish across Thursday, Friday and the weekend. Editors.
By Franklin Lamb
“The Bush administration parking a flotilla from its US 6th fleet off the coast of Lebanon was made necessary, it claims, to demonstrate Washington’s ‘commitment to stability in the region’. This provocation, aimed at Hezbollah and also Syria, is the equivalent of a Sicilian fish wrapped in newspaper with a white rose—left on a doorstep: “This is business. It is not personal. Here is an offer you cannot refuse“.
– Italian officer seconded to UNIFIL outside his Tebnine HQ, South Lebanon
Recent US back channel feelers to Dahiyeh, where Hezbollah’s decision makers are sometimes present, reflect US calculations that given current trends in the Middle East, Hezbollah will play a major regional role.
According to US Senate Intelligence Committee sources, the efforts to date have run tepid and less ‘qualitative’ than informal Iran-USA contacts. US diplomat Thomas Pickering has revealed that he has been a participant in secret Iran-US ‘back channel’ discussions for the past five years. The subjects discussed include Iran’s nuclear program, the broader relationship between the two and US relations with Hezbollah. Other participants include former US diplomat William Luers and MIT nuclear expert Jim Walsh. While “unofficial”, the discussions, organized by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the UN Association of the USA, are thought to be useful.
Philadelphia has been described as a "Mecca for US Muslims".
By Sarah Brown in Philadelphia
As the US city of Philadelphia prepares for its most closely watched political primary in generations one significant part of the population seems to have already picked their man.
Muslim-American community leaders, activists and voters in the city of brotherly love, as Philadelphia is known, say Barack Obama is by far their preferred candidate.
People evacuate a wounded Palestinian after an Israeli artillery strike hit the place in southeast Gaza City, April 16, 2008. Eighteen Palestinians, including Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana'a, were killed on Wednesday in several Israeli army operations, including ground incursion and artillery shelling, in Gaza Strip. MaanImages/Wissam Nassar
GAZA – An activist from Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades was killed and two others were injured in clashes with Israeli troops near the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to Palestinian medical sources.
By Kim Sengupta
Thursday, 10 April 2008
The fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the toppling of the statute of Saddam Hussein – a symbol of US victory and might – was marked yesterday by death and destruction across the country and an admission from the White House that projected troop withdrawals would have to be delayed.
Questions over journalists' deaths
Tariq Ayoub died when a US tank fired
at Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau [Getty]
By Linda Isam Haddad
An international media advocacy group has criticised the US military for not fully investigating the deaths of three journalists killed when their hotel and Al Jazeera's office came under US fire as Baghdad fell on April 8, 2003.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says it has continuously called on the US military to fully investigate the incidents that came just before the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled.
"[Bush] targeted these journalists, he targeted Al Jazeera and he has an agenda against them" -- Khalid Ayoub, Tariq Ayoub's brother
GAZA - Shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell killed a five-year-old Palestinian child and injured two others in Al-Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, witnesses and medics said.
Palestinian medical sources identified the deceased child as Abdullah Bhar. Witnesses said that Israeli military helicopters are flying over the central Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 35-year-old Palestinian farmer in the northern Gaza Strip.
In Syrian, the strategic choice of negotiations over resistance prevailed, but not as unchallenged as hitherto
This week, in the Syrian capital Damascus, the Arab summit declared that this year is make or break, not just for the chances of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, but also for the fate of the Arab Peace Initiative and the entire Arab-Israeli struggle.
"The next few months will be critical -- very critical," announced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before the Arab summit Saturday.
The speech of Abbas, delivered to the inaugural session of the summit, came against the backdrop of the dismal failure of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to herald a breakthrough under the patronage of the United States whose president has committed to achieving a framework for Palestinian-Israeli peace before leaving office at the end of the year. It also came amid anticipation of a fresh round of frequent visits by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region, declared as an essential catalyst to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, the Damascus-based deputy chief of Hamas's political bureau, argued . . . that Abbas, "the admittedly democratically elected president of all Palestinians", is lagging behind the evolving position of even European leaders, including Quartet Envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair who recently told the European Parliament that "the politics of isolating Hamas has not brought any benefits." Pursuing Palestinian reconciliation, "not just between Fatah and Hamas but among all Palestinian factions", is an obvious prerequisite, according to Abu Marzouk, for any effective management of the coming few months.
While Syria emerged unscathed, the Damascus Arab summit is more proof that ossified Arab ruling orders are out of touch, writes Ayman El-Amir
Click to view caption
The 20th Arab summit conference ended in Damascus with no surprises but with a few casualties. One of the victims was the decades-long charade of Arab solidarity that governments had been pandering. Arab countries that symbolically boycotted the conference by demoting their representation as a way of punishing Syria, the conference's host, cut off their nose to spite their face. They seriously undermined whatever is left of official pretensions to Arab unity, weakened the rickety institution of the summit conference, and created wounds that will take time to heal. What started in 1964 as a summit meeting to defend the River Jordan against Israeli projects to divert its course ended up, in 2008, as but a modest attempt to save whatever remains of convivial inter-Arab relations. Meanwhile, as regime solidarity evaporated, Syrian diplomacy scored a victory.
So the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, stayed away, sending representatives of a lower level to the "summit". It was a tactical political error that neither punished Syria, the summit, nor improved their leadership position in the Arab world.
By Salama A Salama
The prospects for the Damascus summit were gloomy right from the start. Presidents vowed to stay away. Pundits predicted a resounding failure and the summit didn't let them down. It reproduced everything that is inane and pathetic in Arab politics. An Arab initiative that Israel trampled underfoot was revived. An ineffective promise to resolve the Lebanese crisis was reiterated. For icing on the cake, everyone lauded the initiative Ali Abdullah Saleh made possible for reconciling Hamas and Fatah, even though the Yemeni president didn't bother to show up in Damascus. Perhaps he's had enough, and who's to blame him?
Why exactly is it better for Arab "moderate" countries to join a US-Israeli alliance than an Iranian-Syrian one? Haven't we made enough concessions already in the hope that things would get better in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq? Is it really that bad to let Iran and Syria have their way for a change? Has it not been clear since Annapolis that the Americans have no interest in resolving the Palestinian issue? -- Salama A. Salama
The Shia group has been labelled by the US as one of the biggest threats in Iraq [AFP]
The Mahdi Army is an armed group loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia leader from a dynasty of revered clerics persecuted under Saddam Hussein - Iraq's former president.
The group was formed in 2003 to protect Shia areas due to the collapse of public order in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
No sooner signed than ignored, reactions to the Sanaa Declaration are indicative of deep rifts that persist in the Palestinian Fatah movement, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
Representatives of Fatah and Hamas this week signed a generally worded agreement in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, with both sides hoping it would end the present national rift between the two largest Palestinian political factions.
The Sanaa Declaration, drafted under the auspices of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, called for ending the internal struggle between Fatah and Hamas and returning the Gaza Strip to the "status quo preceding the events of June 2007", an allusion to Hamas's counter- coup that ousted forces answerable to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.
By Samar Fatany, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Merkel publicly announced her shame over the Jewish Holocaust at a time when a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place — also with German sympathy and blind support. The same kind of acquiescence that led to the first Holocaust is allowing this new Holocaust to continue unabated.
The German Stuka dive-bombers and the Panzer tanks have been replaced by the helicopter gunship and the Israeli tank. The Jewish victims have been replaced with Palestinians, and the former oppressed has now become the oppressor.
Palestinian rivals reach agreement
PLO and Hamas representatives reached the agreement in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Sunday after negotiations appeared close to collapse.
Yemen's peace initiative proposes seven points for Palestinian reconciliation
• Gaza must be returned to how it was prior to the Hamas takeover last June
• Agreement to hold early elections
• Resumption of dialogue on the basis of the 2005 Cairo agreement and the Mecca agreement of 2007
• Respecting the Palestinian Law and Basic Law and adherence to it by all parties
• Reconstruction of the Palestinian security institutions
• All Palestinian institutions to be free of any factional discrimination, subject to the law and the executive authorities
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush, whose secret Palestinian intervention backfired in a big way.
By David Rose / Vanity Fair
“A Dirty War”
The Al Deira Hotel, in Gaza City, is a haven of calm in a land beset by poverty, fear, and violence. In the middle of December 2007, I sit in the hotel’s airy restaurant, its windows open to the Mediterranean, and listen to a slight, bearded man named Mazen Asad abu Dan describe the suffering he endured 11 months before at the hands of his fellow Palestinians. Abu Dan, 28, is a member of Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, but I have a good reason for taking him at his word: I’ve seen the video.
By Robert Weissman
There was a time, not so long ago, when U.S. governmental hypocrisy on human rights and corporate interests was at least acknowledged.
But now it seems that the Bush administration has so degraded society’s standards, and Big Business so routinely claims that it is bound by no ethical standard except to make money and follow the law — even as it aims to define that very law, and then frequently flouts the remaining legal restraints — that the hypocrisy is no longer even acknowledged. >
By KATHLEEN and BILL CHRISTISON
We want to express our strong support for Ralph Nader's presidential candidacy.
There are several reasons. The first is a response to the many who say that, because Obama cannot be seen to sympathize with the Palestinians or criticize Israel during the campaign, we should all lie low for now, not even press him on the issue, get him nominated and elected, and then work on him to change after he becomes president. With all due respect to this position, which we recognize as legitimate, and to those who believe this, we feel it is a pipe dream to expect that Obama will ever change after being elected on a platform of unquestioning support for Israel and its oppression of Palestinians. He will have huge debts of gratitude to the Jewish community, and particularly to his very pro-Israeli political endorsers as well as huge monetary debts to pro-Israeli contributors, that will keep him from ever looking honestly at what Israel is doing to the Palestinians and particularly from ever speaking out forthrightly against this oppression.
GAZA , Palestine _ One Palestinian has been killed and three others injured in a raid against a police station in the west of Gaza City.
The station is located next to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's house.
Dr. Mu'awiya Hassanain, head of emergency and ambulance services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, said that ambulances transferred the dead body and the casualties to a hospital in Gaza.
Four Palestinian children were killed in an Israeli air raid in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon, bringing the number of those killed in the Gaza Strip to 27 in the last 24 hours. Eight of the dead are children.
Up to 10,000 Turkish troops launch an incursion which threatens to destabilise the country's only peaceful region (Independent Graphics)
By Patrick Cockburn
Saturday, 23 February 2008
A new crisis has exploded in Iraq after Turkish troops, supported by attack planes and Cobra helicopters, yesterday launched a major ground offensive into Iraqi Kurdistan.
The invading Turkish soldiers are in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas hiding in the mountains. They are seeking to destroy the camps of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) along the border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. "Thousands of troops have crossed the border and thousands more are waiting at the border to join them if necessary," said a Turkish military source.
By Pepe Escobar
It was a discreet, almost hush-hush affair, but after almost three years of stalling and endless delays it finally happened. Now more than ever, it may also signal a geoeconomic earthquake, a potentially shattering blow to US dollar hegemony.
The Iranian oil bourse - the first oil, gas and petrochemical exchange in the Islamic Republic, and the first within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - was launched on Sunday by Iran’s Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari, flanked by Minister of Economy and Financial Affairs Davoud Danesh Ja’fari, the man who will head the exchange.
The US military says the Awakening Councils have helped fight al-Qaeda in Iraq
Sunni armed groups known as Awakening Councils appear to have withdrawn their support for US forces and the Iraqi government in Diyala province.
The move has been seen as a significant blow to the US, which has hailed the groups' work in securing towns and neighbourhoods as a rare success in increasing security in the country.
Somalia is one of many nations who may be affected by the new US president
Al Jazeera website readers from Somalia, Israel, Venezuela and the Philippines give their view on how the US elections will affect them.
Abdullah Sheikh, 26, school teacher, Somalia
Somalis are interested in the US election more than any other nation in the world, because the US government is involved in Somalia and supports the transitional federal government (TFG) which is composed of ruthless warlords formed by Ethiopia and supported by the Bush administration.
"Any US president who would push us, either politically or by using the aid package as a bribe, to end the conflict in a peaceful and just way would be good for Israel" -- Su Schachter, Israel
"The US has changed leadership for decades yet there is no change in their policy towards their Third World country allies" --Ian K Siaotong, Philippines/Saudi Arabia
Opec has dismissed further calls by the US to boost oil output, saying the global market is well supplied.
Abdullah al-Attiyah, the Saudi oil minister, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi, on Sunday: "I don't think there is a need to increase because the market is well supplied."
By Chris Hedges
The Gilbert and Sullivan charade of statesmanship played out by George W. Bush and his enabler, Condoleezza Rice, as they wander the Middle East is a fitting end to seven years of misrule. Despots stripped of power are transformed from monsters into buffoons. And this is the metamorphosis that is eating away at the Bush presidency.
The son of Mahmoud al-Zahar, centre, was killed in the Israeli incursion. Al-Zahar said the Palestinians would retaliate in the way Israel understands.
Israel's latest deadly incursion into the Gaza strip Tuesday left at least 19 people dead and more than 50 injured. The attack was so brutal that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it "a massacre" and announced a one day strike of public sector employees and three days of national mourning for the latest victims of the Zionist state's illegal occupation and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.
By Pakinam Amer in Cairo
Iran's Ahmadinejad, left, and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah have strengthened ties and security co-operation between their two countries in recent weeks
George Bush, the US president, has urged Arab states to think of Iran as the greatest threat to their security, but his warnings are likely to fall on deaf ears in the Middle East.
Bush bows to his Saudi buddy to receive a medallion. Bush's visit was timed to coincide with the announcement of a proposed $20bn arms deal
The US president has made clear his intention to go ahead with a $20bn arms deal to Saudi Arabia, as he arrived in Riyadh, near the end of his Middle East tour.
Bush's visit to Israel was preceded by the seizure of swathes of Palestinian land and the announcement that there will be no halt in settlement building. What hope for negotiations then, asks Saleh Al-Naami
OFFICIAL VERSUS POPULAR: Israeli President Shimon Peres and US President George W Bush inspect the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony upon Bush's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport yesterday. Meanwhile, Palestinians prepare anti-Bush banners on the eve of his visit to the Palestinian territories. Official Palestinian welcome sharply contrasts with popular discontent in anticipation of the presence of the US president in the region
By Saleh al-Naami
Mohamed Al-Nuseir, 57, who lives in Bethlehem, had no warning that Israel was about to confiscate his family's land. The first he heard was on Saturday, when he was sitting in front of the television with his family and the satellite news presenter announced the Israeli government's decision to seize Palestinian territory south of the Mount Abu Ghoneim settlement bordering occupied Jerusalem in order to build 1,000 units to house yet more settlers. Nor had he conceived such a thing possible, not on the eve of American President George Bush's visit to Israel. His family, like all the others in the area, has all the documents to prove its legal ownership of the land.
Israel's policy of assassinations in lieu of re-occupation in Gaza is doomed, argues Saleh Al-Naami
By Saleh Al-Naami
Last Thursday at 8pm, in a home in an alley of the eastern quarter of the Al-Bureij Refugee Camp, a very human scene was taking place between a mother and her eldest son. The mother was trying with all her power to prevent her son, who is wanted by the occupation forces, from leaving the house. She had noticed pilotless reconnaissance planes flying in the area and was worried that harm would befall him. Yet her efforts were to no avail. Mohamed Abdullah Abu Murshid, 30, a military leader for the Islamic Jihad movement in central Gaza Strip, insisted on going out to join some of his colleagues on a visit to a comrade who was in hospital after an Israeli shelling.
Murshid and his three colleagues left his home for Shuhada's Al-Aqsa Hospital on the eastern edge of the nearby city of Deir Al-Balah. After their car had travelled two kilometres, one of the reconnaissance planes in the area fired two missiles at the vehicle, killing the four and injuring 10 bystanders, one of whom died from his injuries three days later. The car was turned into a pile of scrap metal. Not an hour passed before Israeli reconnaissance planes attacked another car transporting four others. This targeting of Islamic Jihad activists came two weeks after another assassination campaign in which 11 members of the military department of Islamic Jihad were killed, including Majed Al-Harazin, the leader of the movement's military wing, which calls itself Saraya Al-Quds.
No. 50/2007 13 - 26 Dec. 2007
The Annexation Wall obstructs the movement of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Especially in the Gaza Strip
* 23 Palestinians, including one civilian, were killed by IOF in he Gaza Strip.
* 10 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF.
* 8 of the victims were killed by IOF during an offensive on al-Musaddar village in the central Gaza Strip.
* 32 Palestinians were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the Gaza Strip, and 9 persons, including an American human rights defender, were wounded by IOF in the West Bank.
* IOF invaded al-Musaddar village in the central Gaza Strip
* IOF razed 133 donums of agricultural land.
* IOF partially destroyed 10 houses and arrested one Palestinian.
* IOF transformed a number of houses into military sites.
* IOF conducted 24 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
* IOF arrested 87 Palestinian civilians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in the West Bank.
* IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.
* IOF have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world and a humanitarian crisis has emerged.
* IOF prevented at least 150 Palestinian pilgrims to travel through Erez crossing.
* IOF troops positioned at checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 3 Palestinian civilians.
* IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property.
* IOF demolished a house in Jerusalem
* Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian farmer in Nablus.
Fatuma found it difficult to bring her son
to a health clinic due to the fighting
By Mohammed Adow
Aid workers say they are struggling to provide help for the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced arriving at camps on the outskirts of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.
To the ire of Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia resume efforts to re-establish Palestinian national unity, reports Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
By Khaled Amayrech
Palestinian national unity was broken following the mid-June bloody showdown between Hamas and Fatah, which ended with Hamas defeating Fatah and taking over the Gaza Strip.
This week, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal met with top Saudi officials and updated them on the latest efforts to end the rift between the two largest Palestinian political movements.
That the Palestinians would be the losers at Annapolis was a foregone conclusion, writes Saleh Al-Naami
By Al Naami
Shaul Goldstein, leader of the Israeli settlers in the West Bank, had only praise for his prime minister, Ehud Olmert, after hearing the speeches of US President George W Bush, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Olmert at the Annapolis meeting on Tuesday. Speaking to Israeli television Channel 10, this stalwart of Israel's far right hailed the outcome of Annapolis as positive because it would allow settlements to expand in the West Bank. Goldstein's glee is in stark contrast to the feelings of most Palestinians who, reading the text of the speeches, could be left in no doubt that they are the losers.
(Photo via My Sideways World.)
By Christy Hardin Smith
Two top Kurdish leaders are a long way from the mountains of northern Iraq this week.
On Monday night, Omer Fattah Hussain was the toast of a dinner held at the 10,000-square-foot McLean mansion of Ed Rogers, a Reagan White House political director and current chairman of the lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers. In an opulent living room just off an art-filled entryway with a curved double stairway, the deputy prime minister of the Iraqi Kurds’ autonomous region mingled with such luminaries as former assistant secretary of defense Richard Perle, former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and former White House press secretary Tony Snow.
George Bush, US president, has told Israeli and Palestinian leaders that he is optimistic on the eve of a Middle East conference in Maryland.
"I'm looking forward to continuing our serious dialogue with you and the president of the Palestinian authority to see whether or not peace is possible," he told Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister.
The tone of the much-vaunted upcoming Arab-Israeli peace meeting is turning perceptively positive, inexplicably, writes Dina Ezzat
By Dina Ezzat
This afternoon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah are expected in Sharm El-Sheikh for talks with President Hosni Mubarak. The three-way Arab summit might expand to include some other Arab leaders. It will be followed, this evening and tomorrow morning, by a ministerial meeting of the 13-member Arab Peace Initiative Committee in which Abbas and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa will participate.
These meetings come 48 hours after the US has already issued invitations for its proposed peace meeting to be held in Annapolis, next Tuesday. They also come at the tail end of an Egyptian- Israeli summit that convened in Sharm El-Sheikh Tuesday morning and where both President Mubarak and his guest Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that the Annapolis meeting would pave the way to the eventual launch of final status talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
Chavez, centre, said an attack on Iran could be costly, drawing criticism from the Saudi king
Venezuela's president has warned that oil
prices could more than double if the US attacks his country or Iran.
The bombing of Hiroshima announced the arrival of the American empire. And on its fringes the moral confusions ripple away, writes Azmi Bishara
By Azmi Bishara
MUSHARRAF AND BHUTTO: Since coming to power through a military coup against Nawaz Sharif the Musharraf government has received $10 billion in American aid, of which $7 billion was for military purposes. One is reminded of the support received by the Zia-ul-Haq regime which deposed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Under General Zia's dictatorship Pakistan became the third largest recipient of US aid after Israel and Egypt.
Provocations and misunderstandings abound, but Israel as a state for Jews only remains the heart of the problem, writes Khaled Amayreh
By Khaled Amayreh
While on his way to Jerusalem for another round of talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Alaa) and members of his negotiating team were held at an Israeli army checkpoint and kept waiting for nearly half an hour. The affront, which may have been deliberate, infuriated the former Palestinian Authority prime minister, who demanded that preparatory peace talks be moved to a third country.
MOTHERLY AFFECTION: While children in the northern Gaza Strip watch the funeral of Mohamed Hamad, a young militant killed in clashes with Israeli troops on Monday, their house exhibits a scene made all the more poignant by the seige of Gaza
Palestinian factions plan an alternative to the Annapolis conference and it will convene in Damascus, reports Khaled Amayreh from Ramallah
By Khaled Amayreh
The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) has been making frantic efforts to block the "national conference" that the Hamas-led opposition plans to convene in Damascus to highlight their rejection of the upcoming US-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Maryland, scheduled for November or early December. The conference in the Syrian capital was due to take place on 7 November but has been postponed, reportedly in order to coincide with the Annapolis conference.
Critics say US forces are often too hasty to call for air strikes on targets [EPA]
The US military has said it killed 11 people in a helicopter attack on a group of men planting a
roadside bomb in Iraq, but residents said those killed were farmers and that the dead included children.
US secretary of state seeks to impose Israeli diktats on Palestinians
By Chris Marsden
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was busy “lowering expectations” after her five-day tour of the Middle East. In truth, Israel had its expectations fully realised, and, amongst the Palestinians, only the Abbas regime would have entertained any other outcome.
A glimmer of hope for an end to Palestinian infighting, predicts Saleh Al-Naami
A Palestinian boy plays with his new plastic toy handgun on the first day of Eid
By Saleh Al Naami
He didn't try to hide his resentment as a reporter on the local radio cited a Hamas leader as saying that the movement had reached an agreement with Fatah to initiate dialogue with the aim of ending their current crisis. For Wael Khalil, the 35-year-old officer who is investigating recent bombings in Gaza, Fatah is not acting in good faith. "Had we not been working around the clock, we wouldn't have been able to foil most of the bombing attempts ordered by Fatah in Ramallah," Khalil told me.
By Ruthie Blum
Arnon Soffer arrives at our meeting armed with a stack of books and papers. Among them is a copy of an interview I conducted with him three and a half years ago ("It's the demography, stupid," May 21, 2004), and print-outs of angry responses the geostrategist from the University of Haifa says he continues to receive "from leftists in Israel and anti-Semites abroad, who took my words out of context."
The passage that aroused the most ire was as follows: "When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It's going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day."
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, September 28, 2007
It was a pretty quiet year, relatively speaking. Only 457 Palestinians and 10 Israelis were killed, according to the B'Tselem human rights organization, including the victims of Qassam rockets. Fewer casualties than in many previous years. However, it was still a terrible year: 92 Palestinian children were killed (fortunately, not a single Israeli child was killed by Palestinians, despite the Qassams). One-fifth of the Palestinians killed were children and teens - a disproportionate, almost unprecedented number. The Jewish year of 5767. Almost 100 children, who were alive and playing last New Year, didn't survive to see this one.
Washington's purported peace conference could be bad news for Abbas, figures Khaled Amayreh
By Khaled Amayreh
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is warning Israel that it will seek reconciliation with Hamas if the upcoming American-sponsored conference in Washington fails to produce a breakthrough towards ending the 40-year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
As usual, the Israelis managed to extort more US taxpayers' money in exchange for allowing the US to arm Arab Middle East countries.The $30.4 BILLION being promised to Israel is $9.1 BILLION more than Israel has received over the past decade, an increase of nearly 43 percent. Meanwhile, the 100-year-old infrastructure in US cities is exploding under the sidewalks, schools are crumbling, and families are losing their homes because they can't afford to keep up the payments.
By David S. Cloud
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.
Alastair Crooke: Our Second Biggest Mistake in the Middle East
The author argues that the West could not have chosen a worse time to try to make Fatah a proxy dependent on Western financial subsidy and Israeli ‘concessions’ to make up for the popular support it patently lacks.
By Alastair Crooke
‘The situation in Gaza is dangerous, and the danger is that Hamas will take over and turn Gaza into “Hamastan” – into a kingdom of thugs, murderers, terrorists, poverty and despair.’ This was the reaction of Ephraim Sneh, Israel’s deputy defence minister, to Hamas’s seizure of a number of key security institutions in Gaza in the days leading up to 14 June, when Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, dismissed the unity government. But, despite what much of the media says, this is not a ‘civil war’, and Hamas is not made up of ‘gangs beyond the control of their leaders’. Hamas’s action was conducted with the aim of removing the influence of just one of Fatah’s security forces in Gaza, the militia controlled by Muhammad Dahlan, Abbas’s national security adviser. Hamas has insisted that this has not been a conflict with Fatah in general, and it was notable that neither the Palestinian security forces – effectively the Palestinian ‘army’ – nor the police in Gaza were targets of the recent violence.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denounces Abbas's emergency government as illegal and in violation of the Constitution
GAZA, Palestine – Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said on Saturday that the emergency government formed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "is illegal and unlawful and that any decision or decree coming from this government is invalid and in violation of the constitution".
Lorry bomb tears through busy market in northern Iraq village.
More than 150 people have been killed by a lorry bomb in a crowded market in the northern Iraqi village of Amirli, an Iraqi military commander told Al Jazeera.
Many people were trapped under the rubble of homes which were demolished in the blast [Reuters]
"I heard the cries of my child, then I heard nothing else until I woke in hospital ... I don't know the fate of my husband and my family" -- Sukaina Abdul Razak
Many homes in the small community were destroyed when a suicide bomber detonated a powerful bomb on a lorry loaded with bricks, security and administration officials said on Saturday.
STONEWALLING IN RAMALLAH
Even as the Abbas government does Israel's bidding, it is being targeted by its new patron, reports Khaled Amayreh from East Jerusalem
bY Khaled Amayreh
The Ramallah-based Palestinian "emergency government" continues to adamantly reject any rapprochement with Hamas, despite growing calls to this effect by a number of key Arab and Muslim countries as well as Palestinian intellectuals.
To effect this strategy [of delegitimizing the democratically elected Hamas government], the PA, in coordination with Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, (who are ironically being hunted by the Israeli army at present despite Abbas's obsequious pandering to the Olmert government) is hounding and imprisoning Hamas activists and leaders in droves in the West Bank.
Olmert told the Israeli cabinet this week that Israel would stop transferring the money to the Abbas government and boycott his regime the moment he agreed to renew contacts with Hamas.
Pious words about promoting democracy in the Middle East are belied by the long history of US machinations, argues Joseph Massad*
By Joseph Massad
As the enemies of the Palestinian people have been attacking them on every front -- Israel with its inquisition against Azmi Bishara and with him Palestinian resistance to the racist basis of the Jewish state inside the green line, or Hariri Inc. and its 14 March allies intent on proving the might of the Lebanese army at the expense of Palestinian civilian lives in Nahr Al-Bared, and the continued siege by the Israeli military occupation and its US sponsor of the occupied territories -- the latest attack came from Palestinian collaborators with the enemy: the Fatah leadership abetted by the United States. Indeed the subversion of Middle East democracy has been the mainstay of US policy in the region since the CIA supported the 1949 Hosni Al-Zaim coup that overthrew democracy in Syria. The list after that is long, US support for the shah of Iran's coup in 1953 against the Mossadegh government, destroying the Jordanian liberal parliamentary experience by organising a Palace coup in 1957, supporting the Baathist coup in Iraq in 1963 against the popular Abdul-Karim Qassim, and so forth. American policy has not been limited to the overthrow of liberal and democratic governments in the region but of actively supporting if not planning and abetting dictatorial rule in its place and training and supplying those rulers who have instituted regimes of extreme repression and tyranny. Its current role in subverting Palestinian democracy and imposing a corrupt collaborator class on the Palestinian people is therefore anything but novel.
Jordan: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has skipped a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a visit to Jordan, Al Jazeera reported on Friday.
Abbas was reportedly kept waiting at a palace room for a telephone call that never came. Al Jazeera said the move appeared "deliberate".
The move comes days after Abbas dissolved the unity government set up under the Saudi deal and accused Hamas of attempting to assassinate him.
An official close to Abbas said the meeting was postponed "due to lack of time as both leaders had busy schedules".
The official said Abbas would meet Abdullah in Saudi Arabia "in the few coming weeks" but gave no details.
King Abdullah has urged Abbas's Fatah faction and rival Hamas to enter into talks, saying that infighting was only benefiting the Israelis.
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, stated that the recent decrees issued by President Mahmoud Abbas regarding dissolving the armed groups, are transforming his into a “mini dictator” in this area as he ordered the arrest of dozens of Hamas members in addition to ordering the arrest of Fateh members who oppose him, according to the Hamas statement.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH A COUP D'ETAT BY AN ELECTED GOVERNMENT?
By ROBERT FISK
How troublesome the Muslims of the Middle East are. First, we demand that the Palestinians embrace democracy and then they elect the wrong party - Hamas - and then Hamas wins a mini-civil war and presides over the Gaza Strip. And we Westerners still want to negotiate with the discredited President, Mahmoud Abbas. Today "Palestine" - and let's keep those quotation marks in place - has two prime ministers. Welcome to the Middle East.
Who can we negotiate with? To whom do we talk? Well of course, we should have talked to Hamas months ago. But we didn't like the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people. They were supposed to have voted for Fatah and its corrupt leadership. But they voted for Hamas, which declines to recognise Israel or abide by the totally discredited Oslo agreement.
For now, internal Israeli politics appear to be dictating the possibilities of movement on the Arab-Israeli peace front, writes Dina Ezzat
Beleaguered Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to visit Amman next week for talks with Jordan's King Abdullah on the Palestinian issue. Arab diplomatic sources say Olmert, still weathering calls to resign over his mismanagement of the war on Lebanon last summer, is buying time and unlikely to commit to anything more than rethinking his plan to suspend the twice-monthly meetings he agreed with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to hold with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abdullah, they add, is simply maintaining Jordan's traditional stance as the foremost mediator between Palestinians and Israelis.
Jerusalem – Ma'an – The Chair of the Christian National Coalition, Dimitri Deliani announced on Saturday that the coalition's foreign relations committee has recently pursued several contacts, aimed at supporting the position of Patriarch Theofelios III of the Roman Orthodox Church in Palestine and Jordan. The Israeli government and settlers are exerting pressure on the patriarch, aimed at forcing him to complete a deal over property in the Jaffa Gate area.
The deal was made between his predecessor, Patriarch Erinios, and private Israeli companies. Erinios was dismissed from his post when the scandal emerged that he had authorised the sale of church property in the Old City to Israeli developers.
Israel's prime minister is engaged in a public relations exercise. Meanwhile, it is business as usual, as his army plans a wide ranging assault against Gaza, reports Khaled Amayreh from East Jerusalem
Instead of giving the Arab peace initiative serious consideration, the Israeli prime minister has been indulging in a public relations exercise in an attempt to downplay the Arab world's attempt to reach out its hand to the Jewish state. He hopes to distract international attention away from Israeli intransigence.
By Lucy Komisar
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Now that the U.S. Congress is investigating the truth of President George W. Bush's statements about the Iraq war, they might look into one of his most startling assertions: that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
By Lydia Georgi
Saudi King Abdullah, whose country is a close US ally, on Wednesday slammed the “illegitimate foreign occupation” of Iraq in an opening speech to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh.
King Abdullah said he hoped peace between Israel and the Palestinians could be acheived this year [AFP]
Jordan's King Abdullah has urged the US to seize the opportunity to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks and broker a final Middle East settlement.
The Arab League has called on the United Nations Security Council to set a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Saudi's King Abdullah compete to lead the Muslim world
The leaders of Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to fight the spread of sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
New Yorker, Issue of 2007-03-05, Posted 2007-02-25
By Seymour Hersh
Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
A STRATEGIC SHIFT
In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
A senior Hamas lawmaker on Sunday slammed Jordan's King Abdullah II for asking forthcoming Palestinian national unity government to recognize Israel.
Janus-like, Russian President Vladimir Putin showed two faces toward Islam last week. In a historic and widely reported visit to Riyadh on
February 11, Putin announced that "Russia is determined to enhance cooperation with the Islamic world". As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, he added, Russia has long experience in fostering cooperation between faiths and ethnicities, adding, "Russia is bent on pursuing this approach in all regions, including the Middle East and the Gulf."
Mahmoud Abbas (left), the Palestinian president, asks Ismail Haniya (right) of Hamas to form new government. Center is Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas
Rival Palestinian leaders have signed a deal to form a government of national unity aimed at ending lethal infighting and a crippling international boycott.
"The international community must respect our accord, recognise our Palestinian reality and deal with it seriously" -- Khaled Meshaal
Abbas, left, and Meshaal say they will not leave
Mecca until they have an agreement
Rival Palestinian factions holding a second day of talks in Saudi Arabia have agreed on the formation of a unity government, according to a Palestinian official.
Palestinian leaders have arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks aimed at ending months of factional fighting in Gaza between Hamas and tah.
Police restricted Palestinian entry to the Old City, forcing protests and prayer outside
Taysir al-Tamimi, a senior Muslim scholar and judge, has said Israeli bulldozers are moving towards the al-Maghareba gate of the al-Aqsa mosque compound to demolish parts of a mound covering the walkway.
Iraqis faced another day of violence in Baghdad after Bush delivered his speech with US armoured vehicles patrolling Haifa Street in Baghdad
The State of the Union speech by George Bush, the US president, appears to have been met with little interest on the streets of Baghdad.
The oft- stated objective of "energy independence" is as devoid of substance and irrelevant to our security as "computer independence" or "clothing independence." Philip Auerswald writes
By Philip E. Auerswald
Oil prices have ended their steep ascent -for now - and are headed downward. The near-universal alarm among politicians, pundits and consumers over
America's dependency on foreign oil has yielded to a wary sense of relief. But both the prior alarm and the current relief are misguided.
Ismail Haniya, the Hamas-aligned Palestinian prime minister, has accused Israel and the US of trying to stoke Palestinian civil war, in an address delivered shortly before Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, begins a regional tour.
"The American and Israeli policies seek to push the Palestinian people towards civil war and internal conflict so that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict becomes a Palestinian-Palestinian conflict," he said on Saturday.
Haniya urged an end to internal violence on Saturday and called for fresh efforts to form a unity Palestinian government.
By M K Bhadrakumar
Two prominent leaders of the Middle East headed abroad last weekend, canvassing support from the international community. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad went on a tour of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador, the "red rain land" of Latin America, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert headed for China.
By Martin Fletcher
My colleague Rosemary Righter wrote last week that the defeat of Somalia’s Islamic courts by Ethiopian forces was the “first piece of potentially good news in two devastating decades”.
As one of the few journalists who has visited Mogadishu recently, I beg to differ. The good news came in June. That is when the courts routed the warlords who had turned Somalia into the world’s most anarchic state during a 15-year civil war that left a million dead.
The US has vessels positioned
off the coast near Somalia [AFP]
Clan elders and residents of southern Somalia have said that about 100 civilians were killed in US and Ethiopian air attacks this week.
A senior US official said the US had only carried out one raid in Somalia and no civilians had died.
By Amira Hass
Until Enaya Samara, who has been living in forced exile for the past eight months returns to her village near Ramallah, and until Someida Abbas, who was banished from his home 10 months ago accompanies his children to kindergarten again, it will not be possible to believe the (Israeli) defense establishment's promise to change its policy.
More than ever before, the Israeli system today denies the fact that it is repression and discrimination, an integral part of every occupation, that create the security threat. The most it is prepared to do is make "improvements" and mete out "favors," but it will not recognize rights.
By Pepe Escobar
Washington at large and President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in particular may apply every contortionist trick in the geopolitical book to save their skins in Iraq - and the reasons are not entirely political.
Photos confirm US raid child deaths. US spokesman denies responsibility
Local officials said six children were among the
dead in the US air strike
Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage that confirms children were among the victims of a US air raid northwest of Baghdad. Local officials said that the bodies of 17 civilians, including six children and eight women, had been pulled from the debris of two houses in al-Ishaqi.
We've checked with the troops who conducted this operation - there were no children found among the terrorists killed. I see nothing in the photos that indicates those children were in the houses that our forces received fire from and subsequently destroyed with the air strike -- Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver, a US military spokesman
By Paul Craig Roberts
Tens of millions of Americans want President George W. Bush to be impeached for the lies and deceit he used to launch an illegal war and for violating his oath of office to uphold the US Constitution.
IN THE TOWN OF BEIT HANOUN, the site of an Israeli shelling that killed eighteen civilians on Wednesday, another child was killed Sunday by the ongoing Israeli shelling of the town. And an eighteen-year old boy who was critically injured in Wednesday's shelling died today of his injuries, making the death toll since the invasion started last week reach 75, one-third of whom are children.
To read the full text of the Pope's speech click here.
Several thousand Palestinians marched in the Gaza Strip
SEVERAL THOUSAND MUSLIMS have held demonstrations around the world in protest against comments made by Pope Benedict about Islam.
The story of Israel's siege of Gaza last week -- called "Locked Kindergarten" -- and the death of 22 Palestinians, including five children, did not appear on the front pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, or the Hartford Courant. - Editor
By Gideon Levy
ABDULLAH A-ZAKH IDENTIFIED HIS SON'S BODY BY THE BELT. The shoes and socks also looked familiar, irrefutable proof that he had lost his son. In the morgue of Shifa Hospital, after hours of searching, he found the bottom part of the boy's body. The next day, when Operation "Gan Na'ul" - "Locked Kindergarten" - ended and the Israel Defense Forces exited the Saja'iya neighborhood of Gaza, leaving behind 22 dead and large-scale destruction, the other body parts were found.
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