LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?
Mark 10, 32-41/: "They were on the road,
going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were
amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again
and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going
up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him
over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him,
and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’ James and John, the
sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you
to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What is it you
want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your
right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them,
‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I
drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They
replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you
will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be
baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant,
but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’ When the ten heard this,
they began to be angry with James and John."
Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
Who among us can presume to be free of sin? No one. Let us ask God to forgive our sins.
Qui de nous peut prétendre ne pas être pécheur ? Personne. Demandons pardon à Dieu pour nos péchés.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For April 30/14
Secret US-Hizballah talks. Washington plans to include Lebanon, Syria deals in Iran nuclear pact/DEBKAfile/April 30/14
Saudi Arabia's Missile Messaging/Simon Henderson/Washington Institute/April 30/14
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For April 30/14
Lebanese Related News
Lebanon's Presidential Game: It’s me or bust
March 8 boycott to foil second vote session
Relations warming up between Lebanese Future movement, Hezbollah despite civil war
Amin Gemayel: We May Need an Alternative Candidate, Resistance's Achievements Cannot be Ignored
Khalil pledges full support to salary scale
Clooney fiancee worked for STL prosecution
More strikes as unions stick to their guns
Hariri Meets Bassil in Paris Ahead of 2nd Round of Presidential Elections
FPM MPs to Miss Wednesday's 'Folkloric' Parliamentary Session
No more Mr. Nice Guy: Drug dealer detained
Attacks raise tensions on eve of Iraq polls
Thousands march on Parliament for wage hike
Future: Hezbollah politically exploiting STL row
Libya vows more action on Sadr case
Experts call for media freedom in Arab world
Saqr charges 10 more over Tripoli fighting
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Saudis parade nuclear missiles for the first time in defiance of US-Iranian nuclear accord
As talks' deadline expires, Bennett declares Oslo era over
Opinion: What “Destruction of Israel”?
Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations end with a whimper
Zahar: Palestinian unity deal will not make Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist
To avoid the 'blame game' Israel delays advancing settlement plans
Talks’ deadline passes with sides trading blame, Kerry clarifying apartheid remark
Erekat: Israel actively sabotaged peace talks, trying to consolidate apartheid
Israel Air Force pilots practice shooting down enemy drones in massive drill
Erdogan: Deal with Israel imminent
Egypt's key anti-Mubarak revolt group to appeal ban
Attacks in Damascus, Homs kill at least 54
Jihadists execute seven in Syria, two by crucifixion
Attacks raise tensions on eve of Iraq polls
Lebanon's Presidential Game: It’s me
April 30, 2014/The Daily Star
Wednesday’s second round of voting in Parliament looks set to fail to elect a new president and will likely constitute little more than further evidence, if it were needed, that the concept of “democracy” in Lebanon is but a sham. Last week, no candidate secured two-thirds of the vote, with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea winning 48 votes to 52 blank ballots. It seems unlikely a quorum will even be reached Wednesday, with parties in the March 8 bloc looking to scupper the vote to pressure March 14 groups to compromise.
But despite the insistence that this will be a homemade election, it is clear that external factors are still as influential as ever. Various groups are awaiting approval or support from their allies outside of the country, whether that’s Tehran, Riyadh, Paris or Washington.
The entire system of electing a new president is itself flawed, with candidates not even having to formally announce that they are standing. It’s a strange and haphazard affair, somewhat resembling a large-scale poker game. Different players wait in the shadows, watching their opponents carefully, to see what next move they will play and what cards they have in their hand.
Indeed, Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, has basically indicated that he will not stand unless guaranteed to win. Is this the election of a president or a schoolyard game, where the rules are “it’s me or no elections?” Also, a flurry of recent protests and strikes, while inspired by a deserving cause, are being used by the March 8 bloc as a political tool.
The Lebanese deserve a sovereign and independent president, one willing and able to bring this country back to what it once was. It’s not clear that person yet exists.
March 8 boycott to foil second vote
April 30, 2014/By Wassim Mroueh, Hasan Lakkis/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil agreed during a meeting Tuesday to work on ensuring that presidential elections are held on time and to continue bilateral contacts, Future Movement sources told The Daily Star.
The meeting came on the eve of a Parliament session that is expected to be unable to elect a president Wednesday, with most March 8 lawmakers scheduled to not attend.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said that Bassil – from Future rival the Free Patriotic Movement party – had lunch at Hariri’s residence in Paris.
“They had a general overview of the political situation in Lebanon most important of which is the presidential election,” one source said. “Their points of view converged on the importance of holding the elections on time and avoiding any vacuum.”
The sources said that Bassil, the son-in-law of FPM leader Michel Aoun, and the Future Movement leader agreed to hold wider and continued contacts to ensure presidential polls took place on time.
The meeting also involved a positive review of the dialogue between the parties that has occurred so far this year, especially the government’s work, which shows such cooperation has borne fruit for the country.Ties between the FPM and the Future Movement have thawed in recent months, with Aoun himself meeting Hariri in Paris in January.
FPM sources told The Daily Star that the meeting was positive in the sense that it kept the door open for both parties to exchange information until regional and international negotiations over Lebanon’s presidential election concludes.
The same sources said the FPM expected a final decision to be made before May 25, the date when President Michel Sleiman’s term expires.
Meanwhile, a senior March 8 source said that most of the coalition’s MPs – who number around 57 – would not attend a Parliament session called by Speaker Nabih Berri Wednesday to elect a president.
“Berri will wait for a while [during tomorrow’s session] before calling for a new session due to the lack of quorum,” the source said. He expected the date for the next vote to be soon.Sources who visited the speaker Tuesday quoted him as saying that there would not be a quorum as long as there was no consensus among rival parties on a presidential candidate.
According to them, Berri said he would wait for 30 minutes for a quorum to be achieved Wednesday and would call for another session if it was not met. “But my bloc will attend the session. We will be the first MPs to attend and the last to leave,” the speaker was reported to say.
The speaker said he was worried about Parliament’s continuous failure to achieve a quorum. “With May 25 nearing, I will not just keep calling for sessions, but I will take further action,” Berri said.
Political sources expect that the speaker will call for near daily sessions starting mid-May in a bid to secure the election of a president.
The speaker said U.S. officials had informed him during recent meetings that the country had no feelings on any candidates but strongly supported holding the election on time: “All Western ambassadors want a ‘made in Lebanon’ president.”Last week, the speaker chaired the first round of voting in Parliament. None of the candidates emerged victorious. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the March 14-backed candidate, won 48 votes against 52 blank ballots cast by lawmakers from Aoun’s bloc and March 8 parties. Some 16 lawmakers voted for MP Henry Helou from Walid Jumblatt’s bloc.
At least 86 votes were needed to win in the first round, but candidates in the second round only need 65 – an absolute majority. Berri adjourned the second round of last week’s session after most March 8 lawmakers walked out of Parliament, causing a loss of quorum. “I personally believe a president will not be elected tomorrow,” Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said during a news conference at his ministry. A political aide to Berri, Khalil said the presence of Tammam Salam’s national unity government would partially compensate for presidential vacuum in case it occurred. Regardless, he said he hoped it would not happen. Hariri’s Future parliamentary bloc has said that its MPs will attend Wednesday and have called on its lawmakers to vote for Geagea again.
“Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is the candidate unanimously backed by the March 14 coalition,” the bloc said in a statement after its weekly meeting under former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. “The electoral platform he announced and explained represents the aspirations of the majority of the Lebanese to a sovereign, free and independent state.”
Secret US-Hizballah talks. Washington plans to include Lebanon, Syria deals in Iran nuclear pact
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 29, 2014
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' initiation of a unity pact with the Hamas extremists last week did not come out of the blue. It was prompted by the direct contacts the Obama administration has secretly established with the Lebanese Hizballah. Abbas reasoned that if Washington can start a dialogue with a terrorist organization, so too can his own PLO and Fatah.
debkafile’s Washington sources report that the Obama administration appears to have carried over to Lebanon the doctrine set out by the late Richard Holbrooke for Afghanistan, whereby dialogue with Taliban should be made the centerpiece of Washington's strategy for US troop withdrawal. Holbrooke’s influence on Secretary of State John Kerry dated back to his run for the presidency in 2004.
In Lebanese terms, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah has become the equivalent of Taliban’s Mullah Mohammad. Hizballah has scored high in the Syrian war. Its military intervention on the side of Bashar Assad in the last year is credited with turning the Syrian army’s fortunes around from near defeat in 2013 to partial triumph in key areas of Syria this year. Nasrallah is able to boast that his movement’s commitment to the Syrian conflict is its central mission and will remain so until rebel and al Qaeda forces are finally vanquished.
What the Hizballah leader is trying to put across, in terms of the Holbrooke doctrine, is that like Mullah Omar in Afghanistan, he, Nasrallah, holds the key to resolving the Syrian civil war.
The Obama administration bought this premise and decided to apply it to broadening the rapidly progressing dialogue with Tehran to related areas. The plan developed in Washington was to seize the momentum of the nuclear track and ride it to a broad US-Iranian understanding that embraces a comprehensive nuclear accord with Tehran as well as understandings for resolving the Syrian and Lebanese questions.
Administration officials figure that Nasrallah heeds no one but the ayatollahs in Tehran. He may talk big but he knows that his fate is in the hands of his Iranian masters. If Iran decides it is time for him to go, it will be curtains for him. His involvement in the Syrian war is considered to be contingent on the strategic decisions of Iran’s leaders. (He was a lot less confident in the winter of 2013 when Hizballah’s home bases were being smashed in lethal suicide bombings.)
Iran also determines which weapons are supplied to the Hizballah units fighting in Syria, in which sectors they fight and how to respond to his pleas for reinforcements.
In Washington’s view, Hizballah’s involvement in the Syrian war has increased its leader’s dependence on Tehran. He accordingly has little room for maneuver in contacts with US representatives and if he turns difficult, they are sure they can turn to Tehran to force him in line.
It is also believed in administration circles that the secret Saudi exchanges with Tehran (first revealed by DEBKA Weekly) will eventually produce Riyadh’s acceptance of Hizballah as a dominant factor in Syria and Lebanon.
However, many Middle East experts find the US take on Hizballah to be naïve and simplistic and strongly doubt that the path it has chosen will bring Nasrallah – or Tehran - around to serving America's will or purposes. They draw a parallel with the underlying US assumptions which ultimately led the Palestinians-Israeli talks off track.
But expectations of the Hizballah track are high and strongly guide the actions of President Obama, John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and CIA Director John Brennan. And so, in early March, the first secret rendezvous took place in Cyprus between CIA officers and Hizballah intelligence and security operatives.
According to a number of Mid East intelligence sources, two such meetings have since been conducted and initial US-Hizballah understandings reached relating to the volatile situations in Syria and Lebanon.
Our intelligence sources add that US Ambassador to Beirut David Hale has been in charge of preparing these meetings and implementing the understandings reached.
Future: Hezbollah politically
exploiting row over journalists
April 30, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The Future Movement lashed out Tuesday at Hezbollah for exploiting the controversy over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s summoning of Lebanese journalists over allegations of contempt. In a statement read out by MP Ammar Houry after its weekly meeting, the bloc said that freedom of expression in Lebanon was a core value but that it was not absolute and could not be used to threaten the freedom or lives of others. The party acknowledged that the court had a responsibility to protect witnesses.
Last week, the STL accused editors from Al-Akhbar newspaper and Al-Jadeed TV of obstructing justice and contempt after the two outlets published a list of alleged STL witnesses.
The court, which is in the process of trying five Hezbollah suspects for involvement in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, issued a summons for Ibrahim al-Amin, the editor-in-chief of the pro- Hezbollah daily Al-Akhbar, and Karma al-Khayyat, the deputy head of news at Al-Jadeed TV. The Future Movement said the STL was responsible for prosecuting those who leaked the details of supposed court witnesses and acknowledged the right of news outlets to criticize the court. But the bloc said the issue under debate was not the right to criticize the tribunal, but the threats to the lives of potential witnesses, accusing the media outlets that published their details of encouraging impunity and condemning attacks on the court. It accused Hezbollah of exploiting the controversy, noting that the five suspects accused by the court belong to the party and that it had refused to hand them over. “It is a cause of great surprise ... that the protectors of the accused and the enemies of the tribunal join to allegedly defend freedoms while they support the tyrants in Syria and they supported them before in Lebanon,” the bloc said. Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi also defended the STL Tuesday, saying that while freedom of expression was protected by the Lebanese Constitution, journalists, under Lebanese law, are “prohibited from breaching the confidentiality of the judicial investigation and publishing witnesses’ names, which could have a negative impact on the course of justice.”
Rifi reaffirmed Lebanon’s commitment to cooperate with the STL.
Relations warming up between Lebanese
Future movement, Hezbollah despite civil war
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON /J.Post
Former prime minister Saad Hariri, who leads the Future
Movement, is aligned regionally with Saudi Arabia against the
Relations appear to be thawing in Lebanon between the Sunni-dominated Future movement and Shi’ite Hezbollah, despite the sharp rise in sectarian tensions in the region. Tensions between Sunnis and Shi’ites have increased in Lebanon over the past few years because of the civil war next door in Syria. “Direct contact between the two parties started around 12 days ago,” and has consisted of “serious dialogue and contact which may lead to some sort of an understanding,” sources close to Hezbollah told Asharq al-Awsat, in a report published on Tuesday. There was security cooperation between the two sides, such as the participation of a senior member of Hezbollah’s Coordination and Liaison Unit, Wafiq Safa, in a meeting with commanders of security departments led by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, the sources said. Former prime minister Saad Hariri, who leads the Future Movement, is aligned regionally with Saudi Arabia against the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria axis.
Many members were upset with the new contacts, believing Hezbollah should have been barred from the country’s governing coalition until it withdraws its fighters from Syria.
“The dialogue with the party, if it takes place, will happen indirectly and not at high level, and it will be limited to guaranteeing stability in Lebanon,” Future Movement MP Mustafa Alloush said. The discussions seek “to reach understandings to bring it [Hezbollah] in line with the state’s policies and end involvement in international conflicts, and to stop allowing Lebanon to be used as a pawn by regional parties,” he added, according to the newspaper. This comes after reports of a thaw in relations between the two main powers in the region – Saudi Arabia and Iran. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, in a meeting last week with Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador to Iran, Abdul Rahman al-Shehri, called for warmer relations between Tehran and Riyadh.
“The development of bilateral relations at all levels will serve interests of the two countries, and encourage other Islamic countries to improve relations among them,” Rafsanjani said, according to the Kuwait News Agency. Shehri said, “The enemies of Islam are pleased to seek Muslims killing each other because of unfounded beliefs.”
Abdullah Hamidaddin, writing on the Saudi backed Al-Arabiya website, said the closer cooperation between Iran and the US has led to more cooperation between Tehran and the Saudis.
Despite the uproar caused in the kingdom by a photo of the Saudi ambassador kissing Rafsanjani on the forehead during their meeting, the Iranian power- broker has always sought to improve relations between the two countries, Hamidaddin wrote. “This of course does not mean that their differences will evaporate,” he observed. Still, signs of better Saudi-Iran relations could be only superficial as there are indications that the Saudis and their Gulf allies continue to be seriously worried about Iran’s rising power. A senior member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family said last week that Gulf states should work on acquiring nuclear know-how to balance any threat from Iran.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intel ligence chief, told a security conference in the Bahraini capital, Manama, that the Gulf states should be prepared for any possible outcome from Tehran’s nuclear talks with world powers.“We do not hold any hostility to Iran and do not wish any harm to it or to its people, who are Muslim neighbors,” he said in a speech. “But preserving our regional security requires that we, as a Gulf grouping, work to create a real balance of forces with it, including in nuclear know-how, and to be ready for any possibility in relation to the Iranian nuclear file. Any violation of this balance will allow the Iranian leadership to exploit all holes to do harm to us,” the prince said. Reuters contributed to this report.
Amin Gemayel: We May Need an
Alternative Candidate, Resistance's Achievements Cannot be Ignored
Naharnet /Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel revealed on Tuesday that the March 14 alliance might reach a stage in which it will start “considering alternatives in the presidential race.” "There is an ongoing electoral game, but we will reach a point when we will have to consider alternatives for presidency,” Gemayel said in an interview with al-Manar television.He explained: “March 14's plan involves either succeeding in the voting rounds, or to start thinking about an alternative.”The former president said his candidacy is “natural” if the Kataeb political bureau decided to nominate him for office."I will be a nominee if conditions were favorable and my election would serve all national principles (of the March 14 coalition),” he added. On coordinating with the March 14 forces on the presidential vote, he said: “We have met together and we agreed on taking part in the elections, one round after another. And then, we will meet to evaluate the voting rounds and take a decision accordingly.”“We are keen on electing a president,” he noted. Answering a question on al-Mustaqbal Movement's role in the presidential elections, Gemayel acknowledged that the party has an important presence on the political scene in Lebanon, but stressed that the elections “is a Maronite and Christian matter.”"This is what the National Pact said and we are not at all in favor of imposing a president on Christians who does not have a strong representation among the people,” he explained. Gemayel expressed that he cannot ignore the achievements of Hizbullah's resistance, which include the South's liberation in 2000.
"The people in Lebanon have resisted and the Kataeb party has paid an costly price, and so did other parties, among them Hizbullah,” he told al-Manar reporter when asked about his stance on the resistance in comparison to that of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. He considered that the solution would be in dialogue, to reach an agreement on how to "protect the country against ongoing Israeli aggressions." The Kataeb party's political bureau voted last week in favor of endorsing Geagea's candidacy in the first round of voting in the presidential race, but Gemayel ended up with one vote in his favor.
MPs failed on Wednesday to elect a new head of state as no nominee was able to garner the required two-thirds of votes. Also on Tuesday, Gemayel evaluated the outcome of the first round of presidential vote with United States Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale. The U.S. diplomat reiterated during the talks his country's keenness on holding the elections within the constitutional time-frame, and on avoiding vacuum and strengthening stability amid the current critical phase in the region.
Hariri Meets Bassil in Paris Ahead of 2nd Round of Presidential Elections
Naharnet /A meeting was held on Tuesday in Paris between former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on the eve of the second round of the presidential elections.
The meeting comes as the French capital is witnessing a flurry of political activity as the Free Patriotic Movement is awaiting the support of al-Mustaqbal movement for FPM leader MP Michel Aoun's presidential bid. MTV reported in the afternoon that the Hariri-Bassil meeting started at lunch, while LBCI television said the talks lasted for five hours. "Minister of Education Elias Bou Saab also took part in the meeting," LBCI added. The same source remarked that the talks were positive, and that both men agreed on rejecting vacuum in the presidency. They also stressed that the vote must have a Christian flavor, it added. Sources close to al-Mustaqbal Movement told the Central News Agency that Hariri was keen on not holding the talks in Saudi Arabia, “so that it won't be explained in other terms and given other explanations.”Former al-Mustaqbal MP Antoine Andraos told the CNA that the the Hariri bloc will not endorse the nomination of Aoun "because the Sunni community will not accept this, as it has not forgotten what the FPM chief has done to it."Aoun, meanwhile, is ready to open files that harm al-Mustaqbal because the party will not support his candidacy, Andraos added. "We reiterate our support for Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in the presidential race, and we call on Aoun to convince Christians of his candidacy, before trying to convince Muslims.”
Al-Mustaqbal bloc confirmed Andraos' statement after the MPs' weekly meeting at the Center House on Tuesday evening. "Samir Geagea is the candidate who gained March 14's support and the bloc calls on the MPs to vote for him in tomorrow's session," the lawmakers said in a released statement. Earlier in the day, there were conflicting reports on the meeting between Hariri and Bassil. Al-Liwaa daily said that the FM headed from Rome to Paris to meet with the al-Mustaqbal Movement chief on Tuesday. But according to An Nahar newspaper, the meeting between them took place on Monday night despite a lack of information on Hariri's final stance from Aoun's candidacy. The FPM chief has repeatedly said that he would not announce his candidacy if there was no consensus on him. If Aoun does not win Hariri's support for his presidential bid, then the second round of the presidential elections this Wednesday will meet the same fate of its predecessor. The Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance is expected not to attend the session, resulting in a lack of quorum. Last Wednesday, lawmakers failed to elect a president after no candidate was able to garner the needed two-thirds of votes. March 8 MPs withdrew from the parliament after voting, resulting in a lack of a two-thirds quorum of the 128-member legislature. Also Tuesday, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi is expected to visit Paris on his way to the Roman Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes amid reports that he would hold talks with Hariri. Al-Rahi has been calling on MPs to elect a new head of state before President Michel Suleiman's six-year term expires at midnight May 24. The patriarch and Suleiman, who would leave Baabda Palace on May 25, have warned that the failure to elect a new president would lead to vacuum in the country's top Christian post.
According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, who is from the March 8 camp, is in the French capital for talks on the presidential elections. Hariri's adviser ex-MP Ghattas Khoury also traveled to Paris to brief the former prime minister on the results of his talks with Geagea and Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel. Geagea is the only politician who has officially announced his candidacy for the presidency. But he only garnered 48 votes in the first round of the elections. Deputy Speaker Farid Makari, who is backing Geagea, is also in the French capital. He already met with Hariri in Saudi Arabia several days ago.
FPM MPs to Miss Wednesday's 'Folkloric' Parliamentary Session
Naharnet /The Change and Reform bloc on Tuesday hinted that the Free Patriotic Movement MPs will not attend the parliamentary session dedicated for electing a new president on Wednesday.
"We do not believe in vacuum (in the presidency), and it is not in our considerations,” MP Ibrahim Kanaan said after the bloc's weekly meeting. "But we are also against folkloric parliamentary sessions,” he added. Kanaan said the bloc wants a president who is “strong in their community, but who is also capable of uniting the Lebanese people.” "It is our duty to preserve this choice,” he stated. The second round of presidential elections is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, after MPs failed last week to elect a new head of state as no candidate was able to garner the needed two-thirds of votes. On the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's summons of two Lebanese journalists, Kanaan said the FPM has always supported press freedom. "We regret attacks against freedom of the press, and this is our stance regardless of which media institution is involved,” he said. The STL announced on Thursday that it has summoned al-Akhbar newspaper's Ibrahim al-Amin and al-Jadeed television's Karma al-Khayat on charges of “content and obstruction of justice.” The accused may choose whether to appear at the court in person or by video-link. The initial appearances of the accused are scheduled for May 13, 2014.
In a separate matter, Kanaan said that issuing the new wage scale is a “right,” but noted that the economy and social security should be taken into consideration. "This issue must be not about ignoring these rights, but should be dealt with according to rights, potentials, and reforms,” he explained. "It is a matter that concerns the safety of the state and its institutions,” he said. “We hope we will reach the positive outcome we desire.”
Erekat: Israel actively sabotaged
peace talks, trying to consolidate apartheid regime
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH/J.Post
As the nine-month deadline for the peace talks expired on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority held Israel responsible for the current crisis but said it would be prepared to extend the negotiations if Israel accepted three conditions.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas outlined those conditions to reporters in Ramallah: the release of the fourth and final batch of prisoners; a full cessation of settlement construction; and Israeli agreement to negotiate over drawing the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Abbas said the biggest problem facing the negotiations was the issue of the borders.
“No one knows where Israel’s borders are,” he said. “We are determined to know where our borders and their borders are, otherwise there will be no peace. The Israelis need to abandon the principle according to which their borders lie where their soldiers set foot.”
He reiterated his demand that Jerusalem become the future capital of a Palestinian state, and accused Israel of “cleansing” Jerusalem of its Arab residents.
“Until now, Israel does not want to admit that east Jerusalem is an occupied city,” he said, adding that “on November 29, 2012, we got an international resolution that unequivocally states that east Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine, and that the land of the Palestinian state is on the 1967 border.”
Abbas said Jerusalem was not only a Palestinian city, but also an Islamic, Christian and international city.
“Jerusalem is our capital, and we don’t want to build a fence between east Jerusalem and west Jerusalem,” he stated.
“We want it to be open to all faiths.”
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, accused Israel of sabotaging the peace process and the twostate solution.
“The government of Israel, a ruling coalition representing the most extremist sectors of Israeli society, including the settlement movement, never prioritized peace as a strategic objective,” Erekat said in a statement published hours before the expiration of the deadline. “We believe that the international community must now do what is needed in order to make clear to Israel that choosing settlements and apartheid over peace has a political, legal and economic cost.”He stressed that the Palestinians remained fully committed to the nine-month negotiations, “despite an escalation of oppressive Israeli policies.”
Erekat said Israel should understand that negotiations were a “peaceful tool toward achieving peace, rather than a smokescreen behind which it can continue its violations of human rights, further its settlement enterprise and make the two-state solution increasingly impossible.”He claimed that Israel had never given the negotiations a chance to succeed. “Everything Israel did during the past nine months was aimed at sabotaging Palestinian and international efforts to achieve the two-state solution,” he said.
Opinion: What “Destruction of Israel”?
John V. Whitbeck /Asharq Alawsat
Wednesday, 30 Apr, 2014
When, in response to the threat of potential Palestinian reconciliation and unity, the Israeli government suspended “negotiations” with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on April 24 (five days before they were due to terminate in any event), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement asserting: “Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.”
In a series of related media appearances, Netanyahu hammered on repeatedly about the “destruction of Israel” as a way of blaming Palestine for the predictable failure of the latest round of the seemingly perpetual “peace process.”It is increasingly understood that the word “terrorist,” which has no agreed definition, is so subjective as to be devoid of any inherent meaning. As such, it is commonly abused by governments and others who apply it to whomever or whatever they hate in the hope of demonizing their adversaries, thereby discouraging and avoiding rational thought and discussion and, frequently, excusing their own illegal and immoral behavior.
Netanyahu’s assertion that Hamas “calls for the destruction of Israel” requires rational analysis as well.
He is not the only guilty party in this regard. The mainstream media in the West habitually attaches the phrase “pledged to the destruction of Israel” to each first mention of Hamas, almost as though it were part of Hamas’s name.
But in the real world, what does the “destruction of Israel” actually mean? The land? The people? The ethno–religious–supremacist regime?
There can be no doubt that virtually all Palestinians, much like any group with a history of colonization, wish that foreign colonists had never arrived in their homelands to ethnically cleanse them and take away their land. There are doubtlessly some who even lay awake at night dreaming that they might, somehow, be able to turn back the clock or reverse history.
However, in the real world, Hamas is not remotely close to being in a position to cause Israel’s territory to sink beneath the Mediterranean, to wipe out its population or even to compel the Israeli regime to transform itself into a fully democratic state dedicated to equal rights and dignity for all who live there. It is presumably the latter threat—the dreaded “bi-national state”—that Netanyahu has in mind when he speaks of the “destruction of Israel.”
For propaganda purposes, “destruction” sounds much less reasonable and desirable than “democracy,” even when one is speaking about the same thing.
In the real world, Hamas has long made clear that it does not object to the PLO trying to reach a two-state agreement with Israel, notwithstanding its view that continuing negotiations within the framework of the US-monopolized “peace process” are pointless and a waste of time. Provided only that to be accepted and respected by Hamas, any agreement reached would need to be submitted to and approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum.
In the real world, the Hamas vision (like the Fatah vision) of peaceful coexistence in Israel/Palestine is much closer to the “international consensus” on what a permanent peace should look like—as well as closer to international law and relevant UN resolutions—than the Israeli vision. It’s even very difficult to discern the Israeli vision, since no Israeli government has ever seen fit to publicly reveal what vision, if any, exists beyond maintaining and managing the status quo indefinitely.
As the Fatah and Hamas visions have converged in recent years, the principal divergence has become Hamas’s insistence—entirely consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions—that Israel must withdraw from the entire territory of the State of Palestine. That state is defined in the UN General Assembly resolution of November 29, 2012, recognizing Palestine’s state status as “the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” that includes, significantly, the definite article “the” missing from “withdraw from territories” in the arguably ambiguous UN Security Council Resolution 242. In contrast, Fatah is more flexible willingness to consider agreed land swaps equal in size and value.
After winning the last Palestinian elections, and after seven years of responsibility for governing Gaza under exceptionally difficult circumstances, Hamas has become a relatively “moderate” establishment party. It has been struggling to rein in more radical groups and prevent them from firing rockets into southern Israel, a counterproductive symbolic gesture which Israeli governments publicly condemn but secretly welcome (and often seek to incite in response to their own, more lethal violence) as evidence of Palestinian belligerence, justifying their own intransigence.
Netanyahu’s “destruction of Israel” mantra should not be taken seriously, either by Western governments or by any thinking person. It is long overdue for the Western mainstream media to cease recycling mindless—and genuinely destructive—propaganda and to adapt their reporting to reality, and it is long overdue for Western governments to cease demonizing Hamas as an excuse for doing nothing constructive to end a brutal occupation which has now endured for almost 47 years.
Saudi Arabia's Missile Messaging
Simon Henderson/Washington Institute
April 29, 2014
The inclusion of long-range Chinese-made missiles in a
Saudi military parade is likely a diplomatic signal to Iran and the United
Earlier today, at Saudi Arabia's northeastern military base of Hafr al-Batin, the kingdom's armed forces held a massive military parade to mark the conclusion of a major exercise codenamed "Abdullah's Sword." A surprise feature of the parade was the inclusion of two Chinese DF-3 missiles, known as the CSS-2 in NATO nomenclature. These missiles were supplied to Saudi Arabia in 1987 and have long been based in the mountainous desert well south of Riyadh, from where they can target Iran. Today is the first time they have been seen in public.
The main guest at the parade was Crown Prince Salman, the Saudi defense minister; other top guests included King Hamad of Bahrain and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the lead emirate of the UAE. Also present was Pakistani army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, who sat next to Prince Mitab, the minister of the Saudi National Guard and senior son of the king.
Amid the Persian Gulf's prevailing diplomatic atmosphere -- dominated by concern that ongoing international negotiations will leave Iran as a threshold nuclear weapon state -- the missile display signals Saudi Arabia's determination to counter Tehran's growing strength, as well as its readiness to act independently of the United States. In particular, the presence of Pakistan's top military commander will reawaken speculation that Riyadh may seek to acquire nuclear warheads from Islamabad to match Iran's potential.
Apart from reflecting Saudi suspicions of Iran, the parade and guest list offer still more evidence of Riyadh's lack of confidence in U.S. foreign policy. Reports from last month's summit between President Obama and King Abdullah indicate it was a difficult meeting. Prince Muqrin, the newly appointed deputy crown prince, later told an American visitor that Obama's trip provided "the opportunity to clarify a number of important issues," a formulation that suggests there was little agreement.
When the liquid-fueled DF-3s were delivered in 1987, Riyadh assured Washington that the relatively inaccurate missiles were not equipped with nuclear warheads. Last year, reports emerged that the kingdom had bolstered its strategic missile force with more modern Chinese solid-fueled DF-21s; Washington agreed to allow the deal so long as various components enabling the missiles to carry nuclear warheads were removed. Today's parade did not include DF-21s, though some of the support vehicles trailing the DF-3s may have been more suited to the newer missiles. Both Saudi missile systems could probably be adapted relatively easily to carry Pakistani nuclear warheads.
Using military displays to send diplomatic messages can spur responses in kind from other states. But for Iran, any counter-display could prompt more pressure to include the regime's much larger missile force in the nuclear negotiations. For Washington, the Saudi display is a reminder that Riyadh remains profoundly concerned about the course of events in the region. As the dominance of U.S.-supplied equipment in the parade indicated, Washington is still the kingdom's preferred security partner, but the relationship continues to show signs of being frayed.
Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.
Saudis parade nuclear missiles for the first time in defiance of US-Iranian nuclear accord
DEBKAfile Special Report April 29, 2014/Saudi Arabia became the first Middle East nation to publicly exhibit its nuclear-capable missiles. The long-range, liquid propellant DF-3 ballistic missile (NATO designated CSS-2), purchased from China 27 years ago, was displayed for the first time at a Saudi military parade Tuesday, April 29, in the eastern military town of Hafar Al-Batin, at the junction of the Saudi-Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders. The DF-3 has a range of 2,650 km and carries a payload of 2,150 kg. It is equipped with a single nuclear warhead with a 1-3 MT yield.
Watched by a wide array of Saudi defense and military dignitaries, headed by Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Salman bin Abdulaziz, the parade marked the end of the large-scale “Abdullah’s Sword” military war game. Conspicuous on the saluting stand was the Pakistani Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif alongside eminent visitors, including King Hamad of Bahrain and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report the event was deliberately loaded with highly-significant messages, the foremost of which was that the Middle East is in the throes of a nuclear arms race in the wake of the Iranian program.
1. The oil kingdom was saying loud and clear that it has obtained nuclear missiles and is ready to use them in the event of an armed conflict with Iran.
2. The message for Washington was that Riyadh adheres to its adamant objections to the comprehensive accord for resolving the Iranian nuclear question which is racing toward its finale with the six world powers led by the US. The Saudis share Israel’s conviction that this pact - far from dismantling Iran’s nuclear capacity - will seal the Islamic Republic's elevation to the status of pre-nuclear power. The result will be a Middle East war in which the Saudis will take part.
3. The participation of the nuclear DF-3 missiles in the “Abdullah’s Sword” exercise signified Riyadh’s estimate that the coming conflict will see the use of nuclear weapons.
4. By showing off their ageing Chinese missiles, the Saudis intimated that they had acquired the more advanced generation of this weapon, which they are keeping under wraps. debkafile’s intelligence sources report that in recent visits to Beijing, high-ranking Saudi officials negotiated the purchase of Dong-Feng 21 (DF-21), whose range is shorter, 1,700 km, but more precise and effective in view of its terminal radar guidance system. The West has no information about when the new Chinese missiles were delivered to Saudi Arabia.
5. The presence of the top Pakistani soldier at the parade of military and nuclear hardware was meant as corroboration of Islamabad’s active role as the source of the Saudi nuclear arsenal.
6. The Saudis no longer rely on the American nuclear umbrella. They are developing their own nuclear strike force with the help of China and Pakistan.