Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

On Monday,Barack Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Their main point of discussion was Iran’s nuclear program. Obama, while still pushing for a diplomatic solution to the problem, expressed a growing impatience with Iran’s recalcitrance.  Erdogan, however, maintained his view that the world could only coerce Iran through diplomatic efforts, and called criticism that his country’s close relationship with Iran isolating it away from the West “ridiculous.”

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee passed a same-sex marriage bill Tuesday night. Heading to the floor tomorrow, the bill is not likely to pass. Regardless, this is the first time the NJ legislature passed an equal-marriage bill out of committee.

A Chicago man has been charged with “conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country” because of his involvement in last year’s terrorist attack on Mumbai. David Coleman Headley, from Chicago, went to India to do recon for Laskkar-e-Taiba He, along with former military man Abdur Rehman, are also connected to a plot to bomb the Danish newspaper that ran controversial cartoons negatively depicting Islam. Headley has, fortunately, begun to cooperate with the FBI in their investigation. Chicago business man Tahawwur Rana has also been charged.

It is getting harder and harder to separate truth from hype on the border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Iranian news source Alalam claims that Houthi rebels have pushed Saudi away from the Sa’ada, the Yemeni province where Saudi and Yemeni forced are carrying out“Operation Scorched Earth.” The BBC, however, reports that Yemeni commanders have announced that they will have the city of Sa’ada under their control by the end of today. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has passed a non-binding resolution on the conflict, calling for the global community “to use all appropriate measures to assist the people of Yemen to prevent Yemen from becoming a failed state.”

In an address to an audience of families of those killed during the 1980’s war against Iraq, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahjmadinejad claimed to have documented proof that the U.S. is trying to stop the coming of the Mahdi, the Imam that Muslims believe will save man-kind. “They have devised all these plans to prevent the coming of the Hidden Imam because they know that the Iranian nation is the one that will prepare the grounds for his coming and will be the supporters of his rule.”  He also said that the West was caught in a quagmire in Afghanistan and asked – “Is there not one sane person in your country to tell you these things?”

Russia and India have agreed to work more closely on nuclear power in a round of discussions to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Of the total number of crimes with filed complaints, 15% to 20% are committed by police officers, particularly those involving most violence such as homicide and kidnapping” said the Interior minister during the program “Aló, Presidente” anchored by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In a renewed effort to revive nuclear disarmament talks, President Barack Obama has sent veteran diplomat Stephen Bosworth to North Korea to meet with high level North Korean officials.  “The main question is whether Bosworth will meet with Chairman Kim Jong Il,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul’s Dongguk University. “Such a meeting would demonstrate that both the U.S. and North Korea intend to resolve the nuclear issue.”

Through French President Nikolas Sarkozy, Syria has informed Israel that it is ready to return to peace talks without the precondition that Israel pull completely out of the Golan Heights. Talks may resume with a mediator, the question is who. Israel would like to continue discussion through Sarkozy, but Syrians prefer Turkey. To that, Netanyahu responded that an “honest broker” is needed, and he is “not certain” the Turks fit the bill given their behavior since Israel’s war in Gaza nearly a year ago.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Monday “the time has come” for the government to make a decision on the fate of the Futenma military facility in Okinawa Prefecture and convey it to the United States, but he wouldn’t say what it will be or precisely when it will be.

Google on Tuesday unveiled a new approach to presenting news online by topic, developed with The New York Times and The Washington Post, and said that if the experiment was successful, it would be made available to all publishers.

Also on Tuesday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared greenhouse gas a threat to human health. This “endangerment finding” could lead to the modification of power plants, factories, refineries, and automobiles with new technologies, and caused an almost immediate jump in solar energy holdings & drop in crude oil.

Carbon dioxide output from the U.S. energy sector has already fallen half as much as needed to meet the 2020 emissions reduction target the Obama administration took to the Copenhagen climate-change summit.  Falling U.S. emissions are the result of the “weak economy,” which grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the third quarter after shrinking for a year, and a cleaner fuel mix in the electricity sector, according to a new report.


Over the last week Israeli and Palestinian leaders have spoken of different ways to attain peace, but the rockets still fly. Meanwhile, the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip widens as the Palestinian Authority accuses Hamas of negotiating with Israel and Washington behind its back.

Tensions reached new heights when Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA), announced that Palestine would submit a proposal for its independence to the the United Nations. In the address to members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Algeria, Abbas sounded confident that the world was ready for the end of Israeli occupation. “All the states in favor of freedom, justice and peace support the Palestinian struggle.” Abbas called on those states to  actively support his proposal to “help end the occupation” so that the Palestinian people could have a sovereign state. Reactions all over the world were mixed, but the U.S., with its deciding vote on the UN Security counsel, made its stance on the proposal quite clear. “It would be D.O.A. – dead on arrival,” said Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE). “It’s a waste of time.”

Israel responded with an announcement that such a move would prompt it to annex parts of the West Bank. It followed this threat with action, announcing on Wednesday that it would build 900 new dwellings in Palestinian East Jerusalem. UN Chief Ban-Ki Moon released a statement admonishing Israel. “The secretary-general deplores the government of Israel’s decision today to expand Gilo settlement, built on Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.” Britain and the U.S. followed in suit. “Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations,” said Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Through his lawyer, jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti encouraged Palestinians to begin a popular resistance. Last month he told them that anyone who believed negotiations with the current Israeli government were possible is delusional.

Also on Wednesday, rockets from the Gaza Strip hit their Israeli target. On Thursday Israel responded by bombing Gaza, specifically, two tunnels at the Rafah Crossing (Gaza’s border with Egypt) and a facility said to be occupied by Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qasam Brigades. All of this as media outlets allege that Israel is negotiating the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier that has been held by Hamas for years, through a German mediator.

But are rumors of negotiations just rumors? In an interview, Mahmoud Abbas declared that Hamas was negotiating with Israel behind the PA’s back, claiming they are working with Washington on a two-part deal. In the first part, Israel would establish temporary Palestinian borders and slowly pull out of the territories. In the second part, permanent Palestinian borders would be established in exchange for recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Hamas flatly denied that these plans exist, saying that they “do not negotiate with the occupation.”

Distrust between Palestinian factions has been a major hindrance in the peace process since the brief civil war in 2007 that expelled the Palestinian Authority from Gaza. The split in leadership has lead to crises of legitimacy for Hamas as well as the PA. In the PA-controlled West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to resign and, in an effort to avoid a crises of leadership, pushed back elections to be held this winter. Israel blames Palestinian disunity, in part, for the failure of peace negotiations. Hawkish Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that, “During Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinian Authority pressured us to crush Hamas…Then, a month later, they submitted a complaint against us to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”

On Saturday, Nov. 21, Hamas announced that it had reached an agreement with all militant factions in Gaza to temporarily cease firing rockets at Israel. On Sunday, Israel attacked Palestine, targeting more weapons facilities and tunnels. Now Palestinian factions are saying they never signed a cease-fire agreement, and they will not honor it. Hamas’ political adviser, Ahmed Yusuf, called the attacks “an invitation to escalate the conflict.” As all sides point fingers at the other, the world hopes that some of the rumors of peace are true.

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal talks about Fatah-Hamas reconciliation during a press conference in Cairo on Monday. (Zhang Ning/Newscom photo.)

Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal talks about Fatah-Hamas reconciliation during a press conference in Cairo on Monday. (Zhang Ning/Newscom photo.)

Now that the two Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, have brokered a peace deal, the world can reasonably expect movement on the Israel-Palestine issue. The agreement itself is a major show of civility on the Palestinians’ part, civility that has time and again proven to win the hearts and minds of world leaders. But, Israel must face an incredibly damning U.N. report on its actions during the country’s last conflict with Hamas — a report that Fatah has yet to comment on.

After brutally fighting each other in 2007, when the Bush administration clumsily tried to use Fatah strongman Muhammed Dalan to incite a Palestinian civil war, what has changed to make peace possible between Hamas and its bigger, better financed rival? Fatah elections brought in fresh faces in August, but while the West heralded it as victory for a younger generation, many considered the new group unremarkable and unable to make any strides toward peace.

Then war happened. Not just between Hamas and Israel, but also between Hamas and a more radical faction in the Gaza strip called Jund Ansar Allah, a Salafi-Jihadi group opposed by Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. On August 14th 2009 JAA’s leader, Abdel Latif Moussa swore allegiance to Osama bin Ladin, condemned Hamas for its lack of piety, and declared an Islamic emirate (state) during a sermon. Hamas attacked, leaving 13 dead and 85 wounded. The JAA is one of a handful of groups in Gaza that Hamas finds unsavory.

Perhaps Hamas is joining forces with Fatah in an effort to combat even more radical Palestinian factions. Perhaps Fatah’s new leadership is more amenable to peace than its critics have given it credit for. Most wisely, perhaps both sides recognize that in a war for world support unity goes a long way against its ultimate enemy, Israel.

the Who: Fatah & Hamas.

Pope Benedict warns Africans of "new colonialism" on Tuesday

Pope Benedict warns Africans of "new colonialism" on Tuesday

Pope Benedict warns African bishops of “new colonialism” from the West during the opening of his 3-week meeting with the continent’s clergy. Benny names Africa’s oil “treasures” the “spiritual lung” of the earth, warns that the developed world continues to export dangerous “toxic spiritual rubbish,” irony goes unnoticed, and whatnot. (BBC)

President Obama considers a mix of spending and tax cuts to stem job losses that would amount to a second stimulus — but without carrying such a name. (Bloomberg)

It was the Taliban: the Sunni Islamist group said it carried out Monday’s suicide-bomb attack on the heavily fortified office of the U.N.’s World Food Programme in Islamabad. (AFP)

Palestine delays its vote on the Goldstone Report, the U.N. fact-finding mission which concluded that Israeli forces committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip from Dec. 2008 to Jan. 2009. Many are urging President Mahmoud Abbas to step down for permitting what they deem a major setback. (Al Jazeera)

A BBC timeline of the Nuclear North

A BBC timeline of the Nuclear North

After it’s meeting with China, North Korea might be open to six-nation talks — with the two Koreas, China, the US, Russia and Japan, that is — on its nuclear program, but only if it sees progress in bilateral talks with the U.S. Meanwhile, the South Korea press reports that its secretive neighbor is “close to completing” the restoration of its main nuclear facilities in Yongbyon. (NYT)

Way. Rival Hamas and Fatah factions to sign a reconciliation agreement later this month in Egypt. The deal was brokered by Abul Gheit, Egypt’s foreign minister, and Omar Suleiman, the country’s intelligence chief. (Al Jazeera)

New federal guidelines will force product-reviewing bloggers to divulge the  “financial benefits” — payments, gifts, vacations — associated with such plugs, under new advertising regs in effect Dec. 1. (LAT)

Egypt’s highest Muslim authority says will ban the growing trend of the women’s niqab veil, deeming that the full-face veiling has nothing to do with the Islamic faith. (BBC)

House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank (D-MA) announces he will introduce legislation that will dedicate the $2 billion collected in TARP funds to jobless homeowners poised to default on their mortgages. He has also said that his committee will consider how to create more jobs in January after discussions on financial regulation. (Bloomberg)

The thing to do now would be to withdraw the tens of billions we’re putting into Iraq and reprogram that into job creation efforts in the U.S.

Bloomberg News looks like the front runner in the bidding to buy McGraw Hill’s Business Week. The acquisition would be a major boon to Bloomberg, as it set to expand consumer and media services last year. (Crain’s)


Iran says it has a new nuclear enrichment facility. Whoop-dee-doo. (Al Jazeera)

And to be clear, peep the world’s official nuclear powers: U.S., Russia, France, Britain and China. Then there are those other (self?-) declared ones: North Korea, India, Pakistan. Then the stealthily unofficial: Israel, and Iran. (Reuters)

Hamas has been having problems consolidating its power in Gaza since the most recent Israeli Invasion. What does this mean for Palestinians? (Foreign Affairs)

Somali pirates took another ship off the coast of Mogadishu. (BBC)

India’s first lunar mission data uncovers water in moon soils. For shame, NASA. (Bloomberg)

The Economist is not impressed with world leaders at New York’s climate change meeting. (Economist)

Yesterday, Eric Cantor (R-VA) defended his callous treatment of a constituent with a sick relative. I mean, telling her to find a charity or like, “an existing government program” is totally sympathetic or whatever, right? (TPM)

US Ambasador to Russia says the “heavily edited video” of his second secretary with Russian prostitutes is a fake effort to “smear him in the eyes of his contacts.”  The old Russian editing tactic is nothing new… (Moscow Times)

Thanks Hipsters! Brooklyn’s economy is fairing better than the rest of New York City’s. (Crain’s)