VTJP Palestine/Israel Newslinks 8 December, 2010: A Disgrace: British Ministers Who Legislate for War Criminals to Walk Free in London

8 December, 2010 — VTJP


Ma’an News

Medics: 3 injured by Israeli shelling in Gaza
12/8/2010 – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli tank shelling injured three Palestinians Wednesday east of Gaza City, medics said. The three hurt in the incident, near the Karni crossing, were not identified. An Israeli military spokesman said that “an IDF force fired tank rounds toward a number of suspicious individuals who approached the security fence in….

Settlement waste water floods high school
12/8/2010 – QALQILIYA (Ma’an) — Village council officials from the northern West Bank region of Azzun Atma announced Wednesday that recent rains had caused large amounts of waste water to flood from the nearby settlement of Sha’are Tiqwa. The majority of the sewage, secretary of the village council Abed Al-Karim Ayyoub said, had pooled….

Israeli forces demolish school near Nablus

12/8/2010 – NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces demolished a number of Palestinian buildings near the West Bank city of Nablus Wednesday, including a Palestinian Authority school, officials said. Ghassan Doughlas, the official in charge of monitoring settlements in the northern West Bank, said Israeli military vehicles raided Tana area, seven kilometers from the village of Beit Furik….

Israel expels Hamas MP jailed over Jerusalem status
12/8/2010 – JERUSALEM (AFP) — An Israeli court on Wednesday freed and expelled a Hamas MP jailed for entering Jerusalem despite the withdrawal of his residence permit, court sources said. Israeli officials escorted elected official Mohammed Abu Teir to the Beituniya crossing point which connects the northern limits of occupied East Jerusalem with the occupied West Bank, where…. Related: Court banishes Hamas MP from Jerusalem and Hamas condemns Abu Tier expulsion

Prisoners continue hunger strike
12/8/2010 – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The lives of six men detained by Palestinian Authority security services marking their 12th day of hunger strike are “in the hands of their captors,” a statement from the Gaza-based Independent Commission for Human Rights said Wednesday. The men announced the strike almost two weeks earlier in protest over what….

Palestinian mortar fire into Israel injures one
12/8/2010 – JERUSALEM (AFP) — Palestinian militants fired several mortars into southern Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Wednesday, wounding one person, the military said.” There were four or five mortars that landed near Kerem Shalom,” an army spokeswoman said, adding that one Israeli was moderately wounded. Militants earlier fired a rocket which hit an empty house….

Israel says it will allow exports from Gaza
12/9/2010 – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israel’s security cabinet announced Wednesday that it will allow increase exports of goods from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and abroad, easing the blockade of the tiny coastal territory. Israeli media reported the decision, citing a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.”The purpose…. Related: UN, rights groups say hopeful over Gaza export decisions

Mother of four detainees released
12/8/2010 – HEBRON (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court decided Wednesday to release Hebron native and mother of four detainees Shahira Barqan from prison, her lawyers announced. Attorney Naser Al-Nubani said the elderly Barqan was released after one month in Israeli custody, adding that she was in bad need of medical treatment. Her release followed one….

Settler visit closes Salit village overnight
12/9/2010 – SALFIT (Ma’an) — Residents of the northern West Bank town of Kilf Haris were ordered to close their shops early Wednesday as Israeli soldiers evacuated the area ahead of a visit by religious Israelis to a nearby tomb. Locals said they believed the military escort of at least 10 armored vehicles was for a….

7 Palestinians detained in overnight raids
12/8/2010 – BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces arrested seven Palestinians during raids in the occupied West Bank overnight, the army said. The detainees were taken for security questioning, the army said. They were not identified and it was not clear why they were being held….

3 reported detained in Hebron
12/8/2010 – HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli military forces detained three Hebron residents including one minor during home raids on Tuesday morning, the head of the city’s prisoner association reported. A husband and wife, identified as Hanadi Al-Juneidi, 28, and Baha Abu Mayyala, 27, were detained in the city center, the official said, noting the….

Israel, Palestinians to US to rescue peace talks
12/9/2010 – JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel and the Palestinians are sending top officials to Washington for talks, the two sides announced on Wednesday, to try to rescue a Middle East peace process in crisis. The peace process appeared to be in tatters after Washington on Tuesday admitted defeat in its efforts to secure an Israeli freeze on settlement….

UN concerned over closure of Gaza NGO
12/8/2010 – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The United Nations expressed concern Tuesday over Hamas authorities’ closure of the Sharek Youth Forum, a large independent NGO in Gaza.” I am very concerned about the recent forced closing of Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza. Sharek is an important NGO partner of the United Nations in its work….

In photos: Checkpoint stalls Palestinian firefighters
12/8/2010 – MaanImages / Stringer – Palestinian firefighters wait to cross into Israel from the West Bank city of Jenin at the Al-Jalameh checkpoint, 5 Dec. 2010, under orders to help extinguish a fire in northern Israel that killed more than 40 people and burned acres of woodland….

Court banishes Hamas MP from Jerusalem
12/8/2010 – JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s Supreme Court ordered Palestinian lawmaker Muhammad Abu Tir to be removed from Jerusalem to the outer West Bank Wednesday. His attorney, Osama Saadi, said the court was satisfied with Abu Tir’s four-month detention, and that the official would be banished to the West Bank at the…. Related: Israel expels Hamas MP jailed over Jerusalem status and Hamas condemns Abu Tier expulsion

Egypt probes reported migrant abductions
12/8/2010 – EL-ARISH, Egypt (AFP) — Egypt is investigating reports that people traffickers are holding up to 300 Eritreans hostage in the Sinai Peninsula, a senior security official told AFP on Wednesday.” So far we have not confirmed these reports given by local media” that about 300 migrants were being held hostage by traffickers in a mountainous region….

Mideast peace efforts in ‘crisis’ as US freeze bid fails
12/9/2010 – JERUSALEM (AFP) — The Middle East peace process lay in tatters Wednesday after Washington admitted defeat in its efforts to secure an Israeli freeze on settlement building, the Palestinians’ condition for resuming talks. However, the United States said it is still holding out hope that a peace deal can be reached next year. US officials….

UN urges ‘strategy adjustment’ in light of talks collapse
12/9/2010 – JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry issued a statement expressing concern on Wednesday, over Israel’s continued refusal to halt settlement construction in occupied areas. The refusal, despite US efforts to coax the nation into a deal leading to a halt of construction, is….

Palestinians aim for US recognition of state
12/9/2010 – CAIRO (AFP) – The Palestinians are hoping for US recognition of an independent Palestinian state in response to Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement building, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Wednesday.” We hope that the American administration would recognize the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as a response to Israel’s settlement….

Former ambassador: US must talk to Hamas
12/8/2010 – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A former US official met with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza Wednesday, after calling on America to end its policy of refusing to speak with the Islamist Hamas movement. Mark Hambley, the former US ambassador to Qatar and Lebanon, told a group of journalists before his meeting with Haniyeh….

EU regrets Israeli refusal to freeze settlements
12/8/2010 – BRUSSELS (AFP) —The European Union regrets Israel’s refusal to freeze the construction of settlements in the West Bank which are illegal and “an obstacle to peace,” an EU spokeswoman said Wednesday.” We note with regret that the Israelis have not been in a position to accept an extension of the moratorium as requested….

Facts on the ground: Israel’s settlements
12/8/2010 – JERUSALEM (AFP) — Key dates in the conflict over settlements in the Palestinian territories seized by Israel in June 1967:— September 1967: Work begins on the first settlement of Kfar Etzion, south of Jerusalem. — May 1977: Prime Minister Menachem Begin intensifies settlement activity and encourages construction in the Gaza Strip and deep within the West Bank….

Abbas: Palestinians back regional firefighting force
12/8/2010 – ATHENS (AFP) — President Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday said he supported proposals for a regional firefighting unit after 42 people died in Israel’s worst-ever blaze last week.” We agree to create the basis for an agreement to tackle natural disasters,” Abbas said during a visit to Athens in statements translated into Greek.” We all….

Egypt calls for ‘end game’ in Mideast peace talks
12/8/2010 – SOFIA, Egypt (AFP) — Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged the international community on Wednesday to call an ‘end game’ in Middle East peace talks and set clear deadlines for reaching Israeli-Palestinian agreement.” The Egyptian view is as follows: Let’s agree on an end game,” Gheit said after talks in Sofia….

Abbas, Mubarak to discuss peace process crisis
12/8/2010 – CAIRO (AFP) — President Mahmoud Abbas is to hold talks with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on Thursday, a Palestinian diplomat said, at a time of crisis in the Middle East peace process. Abbas is to brief Mubarak on “the latest contacts with the American administration concerning US efforts to freeze settlements and resume negotiations,” ambassador….

Abbas: 6 options if talks fail
12/8/2010 – ANKARA, Turkey (Ma’an) — Palestinians will not resume talks with Israel if that country fails to stop settlement construction on lands occupied in 1967, President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated Tuesday during a visit to the Turkish capital of Ankara. The comment came amidst reports from the United States that mediators were unable to reach an….

Hamas: US stance encourages Israeli crimes
12/8/2010 – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A statement from Hamas released on Wednesday condemned the American position following that nation’s announcement of the failure of mediators to secure a deal with Israel to halt settlement constructions, resulting in an apparent end to peace talks. Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the announcement of failure by the….

UN, rights groups say hopeful over Gaza export decisions
12/8/2010 – JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli rights group Gisha and UN officials both expressed hope that the Israeli cabinet decision to allow increased exports from Gaza to the West Bank and internationally would help foster a more rapid recovery for the coastal enclave. Gisha said it hoped the decision would be a “harbinger of removing the…. Related: Israel says it will allow exports from Gaza

Hamas condemns Abu Tier expulsion
12/8/2010 – GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Following the expulsion of Hamas MP Mohammed Abu Teir from Jerusalem by an Israeli court on Wednesday, party spokesman Fawzi Barhum said the move was a “clear violation of international conventions,” and condemned the act. He said it was the latest in Israeli attempts to push Palestinians from their lands….

US: We oppose Israel settlements
12/8/2010 – WASHINGTON (AFP) —The United States continues to oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but is holding out hope for a Mideast peace deal next year despite a continued impasse over building there, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday.” Our position on settlements has not and will not change,” spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.” The….

Palestine Note

Link Israel aid to ending occupation
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – The Obama administration has abandoned its feckless effort to induce Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to accept a 90-day settlement freeze designed to kick start peace negotiations – and save Israel from suicidal settlement expansion. Any doubt…

When seduction fails: Time for Obama to make his own weather
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – Barack Obama’s latest effort to seduce Benjamin Netanyahu to stop expanding illegal settlements in occupied territories as a portal into renewed Palestine-Israel talks has collapsed. Khruschev, Oops, I mean Netanyahu has yet again thrown eggs in…

Facebook, Twitter and change in the Middle East
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – Los Angeles, California – We all know the many ways the Internet has been used in the service of terrorism – Al Qaeda-linked websites, recruitment videos, uploads of Osama Bin Laden’s latest video screed, and how-to-blow-things-up…

No deal: US ends negotiations with Israel on settlements
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – The US suspends efforts to persuade Israel on settlement building freeze. Al Jazeera – The United States has suspended its demand for Israel to renew a freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, throwing…

Israel ire as Argentina and Brazil recognize Palestine
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – BBC News – Israel has reacted angrily to Argentina’s recognition of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders. Monday’s move by Argentina comes days after a similar step by South American neighbor Brazil. The Argentinian foreign ministry…

Wikileaks: Saudis urge force to destroy Hezbollah
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – BBC News – Saudi Arabia proposed an Arab-led military force to destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon two years ago, a US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks suggests. Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal presented a senior US diplomat…

Mideast press divided on abandoning moratorium
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – BBC News – Newspapers in the Middle East have responded in different ways to the US administration’s decision to abandon efforts to persuade Israel to freeze settlement building in occupied Palestinian territory as part of moves…

Peace process in crisis; Palestinians doubt U.S.
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – Reuters – The Palestinians on Wednesday said “Israeli obstinacy” made Washington give up on efforts to freeze Jewish settlement and questioned whether the United States could ever help them attain independence. Senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed…

Palestinian Statehood: Obama’s Challenge at the United Nations
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – Reza Aslan, The Daily Beast – Now that the United States has given up on its demand that Israel freeze settlement activity in exchange for the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, it is time…

Rabbis issue anti-Arab ruling and anti-Jewish statements
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – A group of Israeli rabbis issued a religious ruling forbidding Jews to rent homes to Arabs. Even Benjamin Netanyahu could take the high road on this one. “How would we feel if we were told not…

International volunteer day at TYO
Palestine Note 8 Dec 2010 – Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) celebrated United Nations’ International Volunteer Day today (Sunday, December 5, 2010) in conjunction with the penultimate week of the fall session. In an award ceremony with honored guests An Najah National University…


US fails in settlements freeze bid
AlJazeera 7 Dec 2010 – The US suspends efforts to persuade Israel on settlement building freeze.

Saudi plan for anti-Hezbollah force
AlJazeera 7 Dec 2010 – Cable leak reveals Saudi plan of setting up an Arab force to fight Hezbollah with the help of the US, UN and Nato.

Gulf states ‘concerned’ about Iran
AlJazeera 7 Dec 2010 – Gulf nations step up appeals to the West for a greater voice in renewed talks with Tehran over its nuclear programme.

International Solidarity Movement

IDF resumes use of prohibited tear gas canisters
12/8/2010 – International Solidarity Movement – 8 December, Ha’aretz – These tear gas grenades, which are in effect 40 mm rounds with a range of 250 meters, were responsible for numerous serious injuries and at least one death. In March 2009, the U. S. peace activist Tristan Anderson was hit in the head by one of these canisters while demonstrating….

Israeli army bulldozes West Bank village
12/8/2010 – International Solidarity Movement – PressTV – Israeli military bulldozers have leveled a school and forced dozens of families living in tents near the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) to evacuate. The Israeli bulldozers entered the village of Tana early on Wednesday, razing the structures. A Red Cross facility was also severely damaged in the demolition activity, witnesses told….

France ‘will recognize’ Palestinian state
12/8/2010 – International Solidarity Movement – 08 December, PressTV – France has declared that it will recognize a free and independent Palestinian state based on borders before the 1967 war, becoming the first European nation to do so. Bernard Valero, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Paris agrees with the formation of a Palestinian state based on the….

Relief Web

Secretary-General Reiterates Urging of Israel to Fulfil Obligation on Settlements
Relief Web 8 Dec 2010 – Source: UN Secretary-General

Three hundred thousand Dollars funding from the Swiss Embassy to support the ‘Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee”
Relief Web 8 Dec 2010 – Source: UN Development Programme

Statement attributable to Mr. Robert Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
Relief Web 8 Dec 2010 – Source: UN Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories

OPT: Ministry of Justice workshop on Planning and Reporting
Relief Web 8 Dec 2010 – Source: European Union

Inter Press Service

Mideast Peace Key to Countering Iran, Arabs Told U.S. Diplomats
IPS Gleeful Israeli leaders and their neo-conservative supporters here have spent much of the past week insisting that the State Department cables published by Wikileaks prove that Sunni Arab leaders in the Middle East are far more preoccupied with the threat posed by an ascendant and possibly nuclear Iran than with…

Stop The Wall

The Barrier strangles al-Walajah
B’tselem 13 Nov 2010 – The Barrier currently under construction runs close to the homes of al-Walajah, in southwest Jerusalem, damaging the ancient agricultural terraces and blocking villagers’ access to them. The goal is to leave as much village land as possible west of the Bagram F

Los Angeles Times

No progress evident in Iran nuclear talks
LA Times 8 Dec 2010 – Western officials portrayed the Geneva meetings as a test of whether Tehran would consider limits on its atomic research. Iran agrees to meet again but rebuffs a U.S. invitation to bilateral talks. A long-awaited meeting with Iran on its disputed nuclear program ended without visible progress on Tuesday, dealing a stinging setback to the Obama administration’s strategy built on patient diplomacy and tough economic sanctions.

New York Times

U.S. Drops Bid to Sway Israel on Settlements
New York Times 7 Dec 2010 – The White House ended its effort to get Israel to renew a freeze on the construction of Jewish settlements.

World Briefing | MIDDLE EAST: Iran: Action Against Broadcaster of Soap Operas
New York Times 7 Dec 2010 – Iran has closed the Tehran office of a satellite television channel partly owned by the News Corporation and arrested five employees for “helping the anti-revolutionary movement.”


Brazil and Argentina Support Dr. Barghouthi’s Demands for Recognition of Palestinian Independence
Palestine Monitor – Two months ago Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) called for an independent declaration of Palestinian statehood. This week Argentina and Brazil, South America’s two greatest powers, threw their support behind the proposal. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (AFP)…

Mavi Marmara Returns to Istanbul Ahead of Leading New Gaza Flotilla
Palestine Monitor – The Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, on which nine activists were killed on the May 31 Flotilla Massacre, is returning to Istanbul on the anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead’. In a ceremony organised by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), politicians, activists and survivors will gather to…

‘The Palestine Cables’: WikiLeaks expose European chill on Israel after Cast Lead, and Lebanese advice on defeating Hezbollah
Mondoweiss – WikiLeaks has gone from a drip to a torrent, and we need a way to keep up. W ith this post we inaugurate a new feature at this site. “The Palestine Cables” will be a weekly chronicle/analysis of important revelations bearing on Israel/Palestine that are contained…

Why is the White House sending its Iran negotiator to a neocon conference in D.C.?
Mondoweiss – Well because that’s where the power is. The permanent Establishment in D.C. has a neoconservative flavor right now, Obama has to truckle to those folks. (Ask me why later.) The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a neoconservative shop. It takes a hawkish stance on confronting…

US’s greatest contribution to the peace process has been to reveal Israeli intransigence
Mondoweiss – In light of the US failure to broker an Israeli settlement freeze, it’s clear to me now that the single most valuable contribution the United States has made to the cause of Middle East peace over the last two years was taking on the issue of…

While the US stumbles with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, others are taking the lead
Mondoweiss – Yesterday brought us the news that the Obama administration is giving up on pressuring Netanyahu on settlements . Are they giving up, or are they just losing their edge?Apparently, ” U.S. officials said they were not abandoning the peace effort altogether, just changing tactics .” Unfortunately, “…

Halfway there! Please help us meet our matching fund goal in December.
Mondoweiss – We are halfway to our goal in our current fund raising drive . Thank you! It only took us five days to raise the first $10,000 – by far our best start ever. We’re hoping to raise another $10,000 in order to meet the $20,000 matching fund…

Misc 2

Yediot’s legal editor cites Nuremberg Laws, Eichmann trial, in critique of new Rabbinical ruling
Coteret 8 Dec 2010 – Rabbis’ disgrace Analysis, Boaz Okon, Yediot, December 8 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post] Okon In 1834, a clothes salesman in London refused to sell an article of clothing to a customer. The refusal stemmed from the fact that the…

Mid-East talks in crisis – Abbas
BBC 8 Dec 2010 – Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says Middle East peace talks are in crisis following Israel’s refusal to stop building in settlements.

Saudis ‘seek anti-Hezbollah force’
BBC 8 Dec 2010 – Saudi Arabia proposed an Arab-led military force to destroy Hezbollah, a leaked US diplomatic cable suggests.

Israel eases Gaza export blockade
BBC 8 Dec 2010 – Israel says it will allow more exports out of Gaza, further easing its blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Israeli PM raps rabbis’ warning
BBC 8 Dec 2010 – Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised rabbis who issued a statement saying it is a “sin” for Jews to rent or sell property to non-Jews.


The Impact of Poverty on Nutrition and Health Status in the Bethlehem Governorate — A Case Study
Roubina Bassous-ghattas and Nader Sh. Hrimat, This Week in Palestine11/29/2010
The total population of the Bethlehem Governorate in 2007 was 176,235, forming about 7.5% of the total population of the West Bank; almost 22% of the population has increased since the year 1997. Population density is high in geopolitical Area A, reaching up to 1,758 persons/km2. Bethlehem City alone forms 14.3% of the total population in the governorate.
In terms of economy, the Bethlehem Governorate registered the highest unemployment rate among the West Bank governorates, climbing to 20.2% in 2009 compared with an average of 17.8% for the West Bank. Up to 36% of the Palestinians in the southern West Bank (including Bethlehem) are suffering from poverty and hardship. In addition, approximately 15.3% of households in the Bethlehem Governorate were found to be food-insecure during the year 2009, compared with 25% in the West Bank (FAO/WFP, 2009), who are unable to secure sufficient income to meet their essential food and non-food requirements, mainly due to the lack of income-earning possibilities. Of these, most live in rural marginalised areas that are characterised by low productivity and limited access to a wide variety of crops.
Such conditions have forced the poorer households to change food consumption patterns. Almost 35.5% of Bethlehem Governorate residents reduce their food expenditures as a main coping strategy, forcing these families to buy fewer food items and to substitute normal foods with cheaper, less desirable items. For example, food reduction mainly on quantity of meat purchased/consumed reaches up to 38% of Bethlehem Governorate households. In the long run, such coping mechanisms will take a permanent toll on lives and livelihoods, through poorer health and nutritional status.
In response to such conditions, the FSIS Project (the Food Security Information System in the Tubas, Bethlehem, and Hebron governorates), which was conducted by the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ) and funded by the Spanish Cooperation, focuses on studying and assessing the socio-economic, health, and nutritional status of the most vulnerable 70 communities and the poorest 3,500 households in the targeted governorates…. more.. e-mail

Leaks Suggest Iran Is Now Winning in the Middle East
Juan Cole, Truthdig12/7/2010
Iran is winning and Israel is losing. That is the startling conclusion we reach if we consider how things have changed in the Middle East in the two years since most of the WikiLeaks State Department cables about Iran’s regional difficulties were written. Lebanon’s Sunni prime minister, once a virulent critic, quietly made his pilgrimage to the Iranian capital last week. Israeli hopes of separating Syria from Iran have been dashed. Turkey, once a strong ally of Israel, is now seeking better relations with Iran and with Lebanon’s Shiites.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s visit to Iran was in part an attempt to reach out to a major foreign patron of his country’s Shiite Hezbollah Party. Hariri’s father, Rafiq, was mysteriously blown to kingdom come in 2005, and a United Nations tribunal is now rumored to be leaning toward implicating Hezbollah. Many Lebanese are terrified that the tribunal’s findings might set Kalashnikovs clattering again in Beirut, given that the Hariris are Sunni Muslims linked to Saudi Arabia, and their followers could attack Lebanese Shiites in reprisal. Lebanon, a small country of 4 million, is more than a third Shiite, but Christians and Sunni Muslims have formed the political elite for two centuries.
Hariri’s consultations with the ayatollahs in Tehran were an attempt to seek Iranian help in keeping Hezbollah militiamen in check (many Lebanese Shiites look to Iran as their external patron, just as many Sunnis look to Saudi Arabia and Christians to France and the U.S.). The talks also aimed at reconfirming Iranian pledges of economic aid to Beirut. In return, according to one anonymous Iranian source who spoke to Agence France-Presse, Hariri would throw his support behind Iran’s “development of nuclear capabilities for civilian and peaceful purposes.”
If true, it is a 180 degree turn. According to The New York Times, an August 2006 cable reports that Saad Hariri had said that “Iraq was unnecessary” but “Iran is necessary,” and that the U.S. “must be willing to go all the way if need be” to halt Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, should negotiations prove fruitless. more.. e-mail

Actual Wiki Cables Belie NYT’s Version of Saudi / Gulf States’ Stance on Iran
Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe, CounterPunch12/7/2010
“The Times’ Account Seriously Distorted the Content”
The dominant theme that emerged in U.S. media coverage of the first round of Wikileaks diplomatic cables last week was that Arab regimes in the Gulf – led by Saudi Arabia – shared Israel’s view that Iran’s nuclear program had to be stopped by military force, if necessary.
The New York Times generated that version with a front- page story featuring an alleged quote by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urging the United States to “cut off the head of the snake”, as well as other statements by Gulf Arab leaders suggesting support for military action.
“The cables reveal how Iran’s ascent has unified Israel and many longtime Arab adversaries -notably the Saudis – in a common cause,” the Times claimed.
The notion that these leaders, like Israel, favor a military solution to Iran’s nuclear program has become widely accepted by the news media in the past week. In a curtain-raiser to this week’s talks in Geneva between Iran and the world’s most powerful nations, for example, the Washington Post Monday asserted that the Wikileaks disclosure “show[ed] that Persian Gulf leaders have pressed for a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities….”
But a careful reading of all the diplomatic cables reporting the views of Saudi and other Gulf Arab regimes on Iran shows that the Times’ account seriously distorted the content – and in the case of the Saudis, ignored the context – of the cables released by Wikileaks. — See also: Muhammad Sahimi: What the Media Does Not Say About the Anti-Iran Leaks more.. e-mail

Brazil and Argentina Support Dr. Barghouthi’s Demands for Recognition of Palestinian Independence
Palestine Monitor: 8 Dec 2010 – Two months ago Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) called for an independent declaration of Palestinian statehood. This week Argentina and Brazil, South America’s two greatest powers, threw their support behind the proposal. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (AFP) On Sunday, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared his support for a Palestinian state on 1967 borders. In a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Silva wrote his announcement intended to help facilitate the “legitimate aspiration of Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel.” A day later his position was echoed by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez. Their announcements have helped bid momentum toward Dr. Barghouthi’s goal that “all states, governments and international institutions recognise the Palestinian state and its borders immediately.” The South American leaders have adopted the position independently, in accordance with Dr….more

Mavi Marmara Returns to Istanbul Ahead of Leading New Gaza Flotilla
Palestine Monitor: 8 Dec 2010 – The Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara, on which nine activists were killed on the May 31 Flotilla Massacre, is returning to Istanbul on the anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead’. In a ceremony organised by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), politicians, activists and survivors will gather to mourn the losses on the flotilla and in Gaza, while reiterating their commitment to ending Israel’s illegal policies. Having been held in Israel along with all ships that formed the Freedom Flotilla, the Marmara has now been repaired and is ready to form part of a new flotilla that will sail to Gaza on May 31, 2011. The IHH have published a list of demands addressed to the Israeli authorities in acknowledgement of what the UN Human Rights Council have called “Incredible violence” and an “unacceptable level of brutality” against the ship’s passengers. The attack drew near unanimous condemnation from world leaders, although soldiers…more

Palestine 2011: The Breaking Point
Palestine Chronicle: 8 Dec 2010 – By Jeff Halper Struggling as I have for the past decades to grasp the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and find ways to get out of this interminable and absolutely superfluous conflict, I have been two-thirds successful. After many years of activism and analysis, I think I have put my finger on the first third of the equation: What is the problem? My answer, which has withstood the test of time and today is so evident that it elicits the response… “duh” … is that all Israeli governments are unwaveringly determined to maintain complete control of Palestine/Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, frustrating any just and workable solution based on Palestinian claims to self-determination. There will be no negotiated settlement, period. The second part of the equation – how can the conflict be resolved? – is also easily answerable. I don’t mean entering into the one state/two state conundrum…more

Dipping into Hummus Again
Palestine Chronicle: 8 Dec 2010 – By George S. Hishmeh — Washington, D.C. Here we go again. Hummus is back in the news, and almost on the front pages of American newspapers. My column, titled ‘The Undeclared War on Arab Cuisine’ and written more than two years ago, had received more letters than most columns I have written. This is probably because I challenged the claims of Israelis or their friends that this popular dip and Couscous, among others, were misidentified as Israeli, another of the many unfounded claims of Israelis. This is how The New York Times led its news report (on page 7) on December 3: “Forget Hezbollah and Hamas. The latest chapter in the Israeli-Arab (not Arab-Israeli) conflict is all about hummus, the chickpea dip that is a staple of American college cafeterias.” Well and good. But, this time around, the point of the story was that Palestinian students and their supporters at…more

Weak Links
Dissident Voice: 8 Dec 2010 – The Wikileaks story has been treated by the establishment as a dangerous expose of imperial mind management and led to suppression, damage control and vindictive retribution. Meanwhile much of what passes for an anti establishment has expressed cynical disregard for what seems like old news, or treated the entire episode as another of the products of an all controlling deity-like complex of near invisible forces. These involve theories of manipulative plots and conspiracies to plot conspiratorial manipulations, all of them unknown to any but a chosen sect who seem to understand everything but how to stop the evil conspirators. The most extreme members of this cult are dangerously close to believing sunrise, sunset and the seasons are the result of machinations by a group of Talmudic billionaire Mossad agents sitting in a room in Tel Aviv or New York. In often mentally disabling ways these sources almost make the dangers…more

A Disgrace: British Ministers Who Legislate for War Criminals to Walk Free in London
Dissident Voice: 8 Dec 2010 – Professor Richard Falk put it most eloquently: “The idea of Nuremberg after World War Two was that crimes against the peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes are also offences against the whole of international society…” The law that was applied to surviving German criminals of World War Two would not be respected unless those who sat in judgment upheld it in relation to their own behaviour. The UN Special Rapporteur was speaking in London at a parliamentary briefing on Universal Jurisdiction, the principles of which the British government intends to undermine for the benefit of its Israeli friends. “Universal jurisdiction is part of the struggle against impunity for the Israeli military and the country’s political leaders,” said Falk. “That impunity has been possible both because Israel itself doesn’t impose accountability on those who perpetrate violations of international criminal law and because the US, and to some extent European countries,…more

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