May 2/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 10,22-30. The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 2/07
Hizbullah Wants Next Lebanese President Adopt 'Understanding ...Naharnet
Hezbollah adds Lebanon presidency to its demands.Ya Libnan
Rice ready for ‘firm’ dialogue with Iran, Syria.Khaleej Times
Iran tops list of state terror sponsors. Ap
State Department Targets Iran, Syria, Hizbullah in Global Survey ...Naharnet
Assad: Syria 'at Heart of Events' in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian ...Naharnet
Security forces conclude that suspects in 2 killings have fled Lebanon.Daily Star
Lebanese PM: End anti-Syrian attacks.United Press International
Unnecessary friction.Ha'aretz

Our World: What commissions cannot do.Jerusalem Post
In Lebanon, it is the question of choice.Gulf News
Key players in Israeli war inquiry.Houston Chronicle

Hizbullah Wants Next President Adopt 'Understanding' Agreement with Aoun
Hizbullah has said it wants the next Lebanese President to adopt the so-called "memorandum of understanding" signed by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and General Michel Aoun."Hizbullah agrees on a president who is committed to the memorandum of understanding between it (Hizbullah) and Gen. Aoun," Hizbullah MP Mohammed Raad said in remarks published by the daily An Nahar on Tuesday. "The national Opposition will deem any president who has not been elected by a two-thirds quorum as unconstitutional," Raad said. "Any unconstitutional act will mean total paralysis for six years," Raad warned. He did not rule out the emergence of two governments if a President was not elected by a two-thirds majority.He accused Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea of dominating Christian representation inside the government although he represents a "limited portion" of Christians. He also accused Geagea of acting as if he were a presidential candidate or as if he is the main player in naming the next president. Meanwhile, Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement called for popular presidential elections. In a statement published in An Nahar on Tuesday, FPM said the new head of state that would replace President Emile Lahoud should be "directly" elected by the people "through a referendum or early parliamentary elections." Beirut, 01 May 07, 09:01

Hizbullah Ridicules Israel's Leaders
Shiite militants of Hizbullah erected giant posters of Israel's embattled leadership at the Lebanese border on Tuesday, taunting it over the resignation calls resulting from last year's war. The images of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz were erected on a large hoarding only one kilometer (just over half a mile) from the Israeli border town of Metulla. The picture of Peretz was an Israeli press photograph from February that showed him watching war games at the Lebanese border through binoculars that still had their black lens caps on.
"Is Peretz blind or using inadequate equipment?" asked the legend. Israeli newspapers carried similarly mocking captions when they ran the photograph on February 22, ridiculing the defense minister, a former trade union boss, for his lack of military experience. "The outlook is dark for Peretz," joked top-selling daily Yediot Aharonot.
The poster of Olmert showed him holding a gravedigger's spade alongside pictures of an Israeli naval vessel and tanks that were destroyed by Hizbullah during last summer's conflict. Hizbullah has been lapping up the political difficulties of the Israeli leadership in the face of an interim report by a government commission of inquiry released on Monday into Israel's failings in the July-August war. The report was an "admission of Israel's historic defeat in the face of the fighters of Hizbullah", the militant group's south Lebanon chief Nabil Qaouk told reporters. The report accused Olmert of "serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence," of acting "hastily" and personally contributing to "over-ambitious" and unfeasible war aims. A cabinet minister resigned from Olmert's ruling coalition on Tuesday calling on the premier and Peretz to follow suit.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 01 May 07, 15:29

First Israel Minister Resigns Over Lebanon War Report
Israeli cabinet minister without portfolio Eitan Cabel on Tuesday announced his resignation from the government after the administration was lambasted for its handling of last year's war in Lebanon. "Following the publication of this report, I cannot remain in a government led by Ehud Olmert," Cabel told a news conference. The prime minister "has lost the trust of the people and should resign immediately," he added.
Army radio speculated that his departure could have a "domino effect" on other ministers, with opinion polls, commentators and opposition politicians across the board demanding that Olmert and Defence Minister Amir Peretz resign. The government commission appointed by Olmert seven months ago accused him of "serious failure in exercising judgement, responsibility and prudence" during last year's war against Hezbollah.
The report was equally withering about Peretz and then chief of staff Dan Halutz concluding that they failed in fulfilling their functions.(AFP)
Beirut, 01 May 07, 14:31

State Department Targets Iran, Syria, Hizbullah in Global Survey of Terrorism
The U.S. State Department has identified Iran as the "most active state sponsor" of terror and accused Syria of providing "material support" to Hizbullah.
"Its (Iran's) Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) were directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups, especially Palestinian groups with leadership cadres in Syria and Lebanese Hizbullah, to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals," the department said Monday.
The IRGC has been "linked to armor-piercing explosives that resulted in the deaths of coalition forces" and has helped, along with Hizbullah, train Iraqi extremists to build bombs, it said in its annual global survey of terrorism. As for Syria, it drew charges of providing "political and material support to Hizbullah and political support to Palestinian terrorist groups."The annual "Country Reports on Terrorism" asserted a "strong likelihood" that Damascus was involved in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
It also said that Syria "still maintained a covert intelligence presence" despite the April 2005 withdrawal of its army from Lebanon in the aftermath of Hariri's murder. About Hizbullah, it said the party, which "remains the most prominent terrorist group" in Lebanon, "retained significant influence over parts of the country" in the aftermath of the July-August war in the summer of 2006.
Although Hizbullah was keeping a low-profile on the Lebanon-Israel border, the report said Israeli security experts suggested that the group had by the end of 2006 "recovered much of its manpower and equipment losses through recruitment and re-supply from Syria and Iran."
It also expressed "concern" about the Lebanese government's ability to combat terrorism despite gradual steps such as the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south to prevent terrorist activities. The report said that political instability "contributed to enabling suspected foreign terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaida and Fatah-Islam, to infiltrate Lebanon and set up operational cells within the Palestinian refugee camps."
As for worldwide terrorist attacks, the report said that they shot up more than 25 percent last year, killing 40 percent more people than in 2005, particularly in Iraq. According to figures provided by the National Counterterrorism Center which groups data from 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, 14,338 attacks took place in 2006, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, 3,185 more than in 2005 representing a 28.5 percent increase.
These strikes claimed a total of 20,498 lives, 13,340 of them in Iraq, 5,800 more, or a 40.2 percent increase, than last year, the department said.
Despite the grim figures, State Department officials pointed to some successes in the war on terror, including improved counterterrorism cooperation with various nations and the thwarting of numerous plots, notably plans to down trans-Atlantic airliners.
"Serious challenges do remain, there's no question about that," said acting counterterrorism coordinator Frank Urbancic. "This is not the kind of war where you can measure success with conventional numbers. We cannot aspire to a single decisive battle that will break the enemy's back, nor can we hope for a signed peace accord to mark victory."(Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 01 May 07, 08:09

Assad: Syria 'at Heart of Events' in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories
Syria is "at the heart of events" in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, President Bashar Assad said on Monday, hailing the Iraqi "resistance" days ahead of a conference on security in the war-torn country. "To the east there is the resistance in Iraq, to the west there is the resistance in Lebanon and to the south there is the resistance of the Palestinian people," Syria's official news agency SANA quoted Assad as saying.
"We, in Syria, are at the heart of all these events," he said during a speech in eastern Syria. Washington accuses Damascus of allowing anti-U.S. insurgents to cross from Syria into Iraq and of supporting Hizbullah and Palestinian militants. But the Assad regime denies the accusations.
"Syria, the Arab region and the Middle East are going through a dangerous period. Destructive colonial projects are seeking to divide and reshape our region," Assad said. He predicted that the U.S. vision for a "new Middle East" would fail as the region's conflicts escalate. He was referring to Washington's call last year for a "new Middle East" of healthy, elected governments and enduring peace. Nevertheless, Assad said, "we should not underestimate our enemies" who are seeking to create divisions."Every Syrian citizen supports the Iraqi people who are resisting" the American occupation, he said.The U.S. withdrew its ambassador from Damascus after accusing Syria of being involved in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri.
Assad's comments came a day after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said he was ready to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the sidelines of the Iraq security conference "if she wishes.""The Americans have not made such a request, but if Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wishes, then we can meet," Muallem said in an interview aired late Sunday on ANB television.
Egypt is hosting the meeting which kicks off in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Thursday with the aim of uniting countries behind a plan to stabilize Iraq. Muallem also reiterated criticism of the U.N.-backed international tribunal due to be established to try Hariri's suspected assassins.
The statutes, which "are unprecedented in the history of international tribunals... will make the general prosecutor a high commissioner not only over Lebanon but also in the entire region. "Such a court could lead to divisions in Lebanon," he warned. "We hope that the Lebanese agree among themselves" on the tribunal which has yet to be established because of deep divisions between the government and the opposition. Damascus refuses to allow any Syrian suspect to appear before the proposed court.(AFP-Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 01 May 07, 09:05

Lebanon War Falls on Olmert, Peretz and Halutz
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former army chief Dan Halutz are to blame for failures of the Lebanon war, according to a government inquiry released Monday. "The responsibility is on the prime minister, the defense minister and chief of staff," retired judge Eliahu Winograd said upon presenting the interim findings of the inquiry into the handling of the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah.
"Severe mistakes" were made, he said.
Whether Olmert can hang on to his job will depend on how the Israeli people respond to the panel's report, which blamed him for "hastily" rushing into a war the army was not prepared to wage — and that many Israelis think emboldened the Jewish state's enemies.
An expressionless Olmert stared straight ahead and slumped against the back of his chair as the panel's chairman read the report, which cited "a severe failure in the lack of judgment, responsibility and caution."
However, Olmert vowed to remain in office despite calls for his resignation from coalition partners as well as opponents. He also promised that failures "will be remedied.""It would not be correct to resign," he said in a brief televised statement from his office, "and I have no intention of resigning." Instead, he said he would convene a special session of his cabinet on Wednesday to begin implementing the report.
The report capped a six-month investigation into the war, which erupted July 12 when Hizbullah fighters captured two soldiers in a deadly cross-border raid. In 34 days of fighting, Israel failed to secure the return of the soldiers or to prevent Hizbullah from firing thousands of rockets into Israel.
Soldiers returning from the battle front complained of poor preparations, conflicting orders and shortages of food and supplies.
The report also criticized Defense Minister Amir Peretz for his inexperience and said wartime military chief Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz "acted impulsively," misrepresented the army's readiness and suppressed dissenting opinions. "If any one of them had acted better ... the outcome of the campaign would have been different and better," said Winograd. You can download the Winograd report here (AFP-AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 30 Apr 07, 17:28