|MIDDLE EAST UPDATES FROM AUG. 26th 2009|
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
NETANYAHU INSISTS “JERUSALEM IS NOT A SETTLEMENT”
After meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London on Tuesday afternoon August 25, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed hope that he would soon reach "a bridging formula" with the US to allow the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, but he also insisted that ‘Jerusalem is not a settlement’ and would be excluded from any Jewish construction freeze in the disputed territories.
CARTER AND TUTU LEAD ‘ELDERS’ TOUR OF ISRAEL :
Delegation promises to stay out of peace process Former US president Jimmy Carter and Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu are among the list of international dignitaries who arrived for a tour of Israel and the Palestinians areas on Tuesday under the banner of a new conflict resolution group called “The Elders.”
FAYYAD AIMS FOR DEFACTO STATE WITHIN TWO YEARS:
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in town for talks with British leader Gordon Brown, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told The Times of London on Monday August 24, that within two years, the Palestinian Authority is determined to sidestep paralyzed peace talks and establish its own de facto state. Fayyad said the idea was to “end the occupation, despite the occupation.”
IAF KILLS THREE SMUGGLERS IN GAZA TUNNEL STRIKES:
The Israeli Air Force hit smuggling tunnels underneath the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Monday night August 24, killing three smugglers and wounding seven, according to a Palestinian Health Ministry official. The air strikes were in retaliation for a mortar shell fired at Israel earlier in the day which lightly wounded one Israeli soldier. According to the IDF, about 220 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead in mid-January. More than 200 the number of rockets and shells have been fired on Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January
IRAQ ACCUSES SYRIA OF HARBOURING BAGHDAD BOMBING MASTERMINDS: - Mohammed Abbas (Reuters)
Iraq and Syria recalled their ambassadors on Tuesday August 25 after Baghdad demanded Damascus hand over two people it says masterminded bombings in the Iraqi capital last week which killed almost 100 people. Iraq's government has blamed supporters of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party for massive truck bombs and other attacks last Wednesday, and says it has already captured some suspects responsible.
THE IRAN COUNTDOWN: - Michael Crowley
White House officials are all but resigned to the futility of direct diplomacy with Iran. Former State Department official Nicholas Burns predicts that "even if negotiations are held this autumn, they will fail." And if that happens, administration officials say, Obama will have little choice but to start to clench his own fist. That means turning the screws on Tehran through what Hillary Clinton has vowed will be "crippling sanctions."
LEBANESE VILLAGERS EVICT HIZBULLAH OPERATIVES:
Hizbullah operatives were attacked by Lebanese villagers during violent clashes in the village of Marwahin in southern Lebanon on Aug. 23-24. The Hizbullah men sought to store arms in the town, just two km. north of the Israeli border. (Israel Defense Forces5
BRUTALITY IS AT THE HEART OF HAMAS PRACTICE AND IDEOLOGY: - Ron Prosor
Earlier this month, Hamas launched a devastating bombardment of rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire against a mosque in Rafah, killing at least 22 Palestinians and injuring over 100 more. Yet Hamas' disregard for the sanctity of a house of worship, and its contempt for the lives of neighboring civilians, is unlikely to be the subject of any probing reports from Human Rights Watch
ISRAEL TO FREEZE SETTLEMENTS FOR TOUGHER IRAN SANCTIONS:
Sarkozy ready for ‘severe’ new sanctions on Tehran. Israel has agreed to a partial settlement freeze in exchange for tougher sanctions on Iran that will target the oil and gas industry, according the Guardian (of London), a move that US President Barack Obama hopes will allow him to announce the renewal of stagnant peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority by the end of September.
ISRAEL RESEARCHERS BREAK-THROUGH IN TREATING HEART DISEASE:
Israeli researchers have made a major breakthrough in treating heart disease by growing heart muscle in the abdomen of rats and using it to patch hearts of rats that suffered heart attacks. This is the first experiment to show the heart can be rejuvenated after a heart attack, according to results published this week in the journal.
‘RECOGNITION IS THE PIVOT OF PEACE’ :
Benjamin Netanyahu, transcript from Prime Minister’s Office
If we're asked to recognize a Palestinian state as the nation state of the Palestinian people, it is absolutely essential that the Palestinian leadership says to the Palestinian people “you will have to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Recognition is the pivot of peace… Jerusalem is the sovereign capital of Israel. We accept no limitations on our sovereignty. Jerusalem is not a settlement. Jerusalem is the united capital of the Jewish people. It has only been around for 3,000 years
IRANIAN NEWSPAPER: PALESTINIANS MUST NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS THAN ISRAEL’S ANNIHILATION: (MEMRI)
An editorial in the Iranian paper Jomhouri-e Eslami on June 23, 2009, said: "Official Palestinian recognition of the Zionist regime by the Palestinians is Israel's most cherished dream. It would deal a death blow to aspirations for a Palestinian state, granting everlasting legitimacy to the Zionist regime." "The Palestinians must not be satisfied with anything less than the annihilation of the Zionist regime - a goal that is within reach."
ISRAEL MOVES TOWARD ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: - Neal Sandler (BusinessWeek)
On August . 11 it was reported that the huge natural gas reserves off Israel's Mediterranean coast discovered in January are 16% bigger than estimated just one month ago. Energy experts reckon this once energy-poor country now has enough natural gas to meet its needs for the next two decades.
NETANYAHU TO PRESS MERKEL ON GERMAN TRADE WITH IRAN: - Gwen Ackerman
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presed Chancellor Angela Merkel during talks in Berlin on Thursday August 27, to curb German trade with Iran and steer efforts to tighten sanctions against the Iranian government. Germany "must take the lead in harsher sanctions against Iran,"5
HARIRI: HIZBULLAH TO BE PART OF NEXT LEBANON GEOVERNMENT: Lebanese prime minister-designate Saad Hariri said Tuesday August 25, as his bid to form a government entered its eight week: "The national unity government will include the (ruling) March 14 alliance, and I also want to assure the Israeli enemy that Hizbullah will be in this government, whether it likes it or not, because Lebanon's interests require all parties be involved in this cabinet." Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned: "If Hizbullah joins the government it will be clear that the Lebanese government will be held responsible for any attack coming from its territory against Israel." (AFP)
US DROPS DEMAND FOR JEWISH BUILDING FREEZE IN EAST JERUSALEM:
The Obama administration has dropped demands on Israel for a Jewish construction freeze in eastern Jerusalem, Ha’aretz reported on Thursday August 27.
PA CLERIC CLAIMS JERUSALEM ‘HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ISLAMIC CITY’:
On Wednesday August 26, the Palestinian Authority's chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, responded to statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said earlier this week that Jerusalem "is not a settlement," and that "the Jews built it 3,000 years ago." Tamimi charged that "Netanyahu's claims are baseless and untrue… Jerusalem is an Arab and Islamic city and it always has been."
ONLY 4% OF JEWISH ISRAELIS THINK OBAMA IS PRO-ISRAEL:- Gil Hoffman (J. Post)
The number of Israelis who see President Obama's policies as pro-Israel has fallen to 4%, down from 6% in June, according to a Smith Research poll taken this week. This means the 96% think Obama is anti-Israel.
HIZBULLAH DEMANDS RETURN TO LEBANON OF 7 VILLAGES: - Nicholas Blanford Hizbullah has raised the demand for the return to Lebanon of seven villages in Israel's Galilee. They were originally populated by Shiites who found themselves under the French Mandate for Lebanon in 1920 before they were transferred to British-administered Palestine in 1924.
U.S: SETTLEMENTS NO PRECONDITION ON MIDEAST TALKS: - Matthew Lee
The Obama administration appears to be backing down on its insistence that Israel halt all settlement activity as a condition for restarting peace talks with the Palestinians. U.S. officials are now hinting that a less blanket moratorium would be acceptable provided the Palestinians and Arab states agree.
UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS LEBANON PEACEKEEPING MANDATE: P Worsnip
The Security Council extended on Thursday August 27, the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Lebanon but sidestepped the issue of whether they could do more to stop Hizbullah building up an armed presence in the south.
ISRAEL P.M. GIVEN AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMPS PLANS: - Allyn Fisher-Ilan
In late August German journalists handed Prime Minister Netanyahu a portfolio of 29 plans from the Auschwitz death camp discovered last year. (Reuters)
CHARISMA WON’T WIN OVER ISRAELI: - Shira Herzog
Along the way to a new American peace plan due next month, U.S. President Barack Obama lost the hearts of many Israelis. If Israeli mistrust of Obama isn't addressed, the U.S. peacemaking effort will founder. Aaron David Miller, a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center, describes Obama as "tone-deaf" to Israeli sensibilities on an emotional level. The President is convinced he supports Israel and believes this should suffice for Israelis to take risks
JEWS HAVE LIVED IN HEBRON FOR THREE MILLENIA: - Jerold S. Auerbach
On Aug. 23-24, 1929, the Jewish community of Hebron was exiled following a horrific pogrom. Until 1929, Jews had lived in Hebron for three millennia. There, according to Jewish tradition and Bible, Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah to bury Sarah. It was the first parcel of land owned by the Jewish people in their promised land. Ever since, religious Jews revered Hebron as the burial site of their matriarchs and patriarchs. The Jewish community of Hebron - some 700 people - recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of their return after the Six-Day War of 1967.
PALESTINIANS FLOCK TO TEMPLE MOUNT FOR RAMADAN PRAYERS:
Israel’s easing of travel restrictions on Palestinians at the start of Ramadan allowed some 90,000 Muslims to flock to the al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday August 28 for prayers to mark the start of Islam’s holy month
ARAB NATION SEIZES N. KOREAN ARMS HEADED FOR IRAN : by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The United Arab Emirates has seized a ship carrying North Korean weapons and ammunition to Iran, the Financial Times reported. The seizure is the first time a country has acted on United Nations sanctions against North Korea, and the move also reflects fears among Arabs that Iran will dominate the Muslim world with nuclear capability. A diplomat of a country that is a member of the U.N. sanctions committee said that weapons were ordered by an Iranian company with links to the Revolutionary Guard. The UAE reportedly seized the weapons several weeks ago, finding 10 containers of rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition that were camouflaged as “machine parts.”
IDF BOMBS TUNNEL FOLLOWING KASSAM ATTACK: by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The Israel Air Force successfully targeted a tunnel leading from the northern Gaza Strip towards the Western Negev after midnight Saturday August 29. The tunnel was intended to be used for an infiltration to execute a terrorist attack against Israeli citizens or IDF soldiers, military spokesmen said. The IDF confirmed that the smuggling tunnel hidden within a Gaza home was destroyed. The tunnel was dug from underneath a building located 1.5 kilometers (approximately one mile) away from the security barrier. 224 rockets have hit Israel since January!
BEACH KILLERS INDICTED FOR MURDER, FAILURE TO AID: by Maayana Miskin
Seven members of a gang that savagely lynched a Jewish man in Tel Aviv earlier this month (of August) have been indicted. Three were charged with aggravated assault and murder. Another four have been charged with failure to prevent a crime and failure to provide assistance, under the “Do not stand idly by your brother's blood” law, which requires witnesses to a crime to help the victim if possible.