April 18/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 3,7-15. Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."Nicodemus answered and said to him, "How can this happen?" Jesus answered and said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

Free Opinions
Moderate Muslims must help discredit Al-Qaeda's ideology.By Hussein Solomon. April 18.07
The options are limited in trying to inhibit Tehran.By Paul Sullivan. April 18.07
Nuclear Iran between war and acceptance.By Ian Bremmer. April 18.07

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources for April 18/07
U.N., Russia on High Stakes Missions to Clear Way for Tribunal-Naharnet
Future Movement, Geagea Attack Opposition, Berri. Naharnet
Hizbullah Opposes the Arab Peace Plan and its Lebanese Backers. Naharnet
Berri Will Call Parliament to Elect New President. Naharnet
Gates Discusses in Jordan 'Persian Hegemony,' Lebanon's Peace. Naharnet
Beirut Journalists Call for Release of Kidnapped BBC Reporter.Naharnet
Sarkozy Pledges Support for Lebanon's Independence.Naharnet
Israel and Lebanon want Germans to stay.United Press International
UN & Russian envoys in Lebanon to tackle Hariri tribunal.Ya Libnan
Assad: Syria "Not Ruling Out Possibility" Of War With Israel. MEMRI
Learning investigative journalism in Syria through film.Ya Libnan
Russian and UN envoys in Beirut to help in political deadlock.Monsters and
Russian envoy in Lebanon.PRESS TV
Syria Has a New Plan-AINA

Chirac with UN Action Over Court if no Lebanon-Made Solution.Naharnet
Envoys Tackle Hariri Impasse-Washington Post

We can sell, but you can't-Ha'aretz
Hezbollah claims ability to defend all Lebanon-World Peace Herald
Israel tells Syria to quit “ultimatums”.Khaleej Times
Iraqi refugees flee to Syria-France24
Lebanon to seek war reparations for damages from Israel.Ya Libnan
As an example of democracy, Lebanon makes Israel look bad-Ya Libnan
Chinese peacekeeping hospital opens in Lebanon.People's Daily Online
Iran behind every problem in ME including Lebanon.Ya Libnan

Latest News Reports From The Daily Star for April 17/07
Fate of BBC reporter abducted in Gaza remains a mystery
Russian, UN envoys will try to break Lebanese logjam
Reform and Change bloc backs Hariri court - with conditions
Hizbullah 'has enough' arms to defend country
UK journalists boycott Israeli goods over war
Berri sends teams of MPs to various events
French MP: 'Lebanon bothers Israel' by providing 'example of democracy'
Sabaa meets Sfeir to wish him happy Easter
UAE project clears 10 villages of ordnance
Detainee group appeals to UN on generals' behalf
Opposition wins Beirut elections for engineers
Local group holds first conference on road safety awareness
New, high-tech parking meters will soon 'civilize' streets of Beirut

Chirac with U.N. Action Over Court if no Lebanon-Made Solution
Naharnet: French President Jacques Chirac said Monday the U.N. Security Council will have to "take responsibility" for setting up the international tribunal if the Lebanese parliament failed to ratify it. "Setting up the court is necessary and urgent for reasons related to justice and deterrence," Chirac was quoted by Elysee spokesman Jerome Bonafont as stressing after a meeting between the French President and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak.
He said Chirac stressed to Mubarak the need for U.N. action on the letter sent by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora to U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon.
Last week, Saniora sent a referendum along with a copy of a petition signed by 70 majority lawmakers to Ban asking him to move on the tribunal, which is the core of Lebanon's deepest crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990. An Nahar daily quoted informed sources at the Elysee as saying France is giving priority to a Lebanon-made solution to the court. Bonafont quoted Chirac as saying that in the event the Lebanese parliament failed to ratify the tribunal, "the Security Council will bear responsibility."The Elysee spokesman said that Chirac and Mubarak also discussed the situation in the Middle East. The Egyptian president said after the meeting that his country is making efforts to solve the Lebanese crisis. Beirut, 17 Apr 07, 08:08

Hizbullah Opposes the Arab Peace Plan and its Lebanese Backers
Naharnet: Hizbullah on Tuesday accused moderate Arab states and the Lebanese March 14 majority coalition of selling out Palestine, seeking to "normalize" relations with Israel and backing an alleged scheme to create a U.S.-controlled Middle East. The Hizbullah stand was announced by Mohammed Raad, leader of the party's parliamentary bloc, in a statement to reporters at Parliament headquarters in downtown Beirut, a few meters from the makeshift tent city erected by the opposition since Dec. 1 with the declared objective of toppling Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government. Raad was responding to a statement released late Monday by the Moustaqbal movement of MP Saad Hariri, a leader of the March 14 majority which criticized Hizbullah's weapons as "illegitimate." Raad said the Moustaqbal parliamentary bloc "by describing the resistance weapons as illegitimate went too far with a scheme to reconcile with the Zionists and the Americans who want to create a new Middle East."
Such a new Middle East, according to Raad, "is based on recognizing the Zionist entity's (right to exist), normalizing relations with it and abolishing any opposition to or resistance of Israeli aggressions." He charged that "most Arab regimes seek to normalize relations with the Zionist entity."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had vowed that "a new Middle East would be created, but not the one that America wants."
Raad noted that the Arab peace plan, reactivated by the recent summit held at the Saudi capital of Riyadh in March is based on the original blueprint adopted in Beirut in 2002.
"The original text involved concessions that are a precedent in recognizing the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of the 1948 lands and reflected a decision to negotiate over the lands occupied in 1967," Raad said. "We will not discuss this Arab viewpoint, but describing the resistance weapons as illegitimate falls in line with the Israeli stand and the American stand. This requires explanation not just by this bloc (Moustaqbal) but by its higher authorities and masters and its masses," Raad added.
The Moustaqbal bloc's stand, according to Raad, is "very serious at the strategic level and casts doubt about the feasibility of any dialogue."
He also charged the parliamentary majority of pushing the international tribunal's law to the U.N. Security Council to be approved under chapter seven of the international organization's charter. "Chapter seven will not solve the Lebanese people's problem. The tribunal is not the problem. The problem is in the government," Raad said in reference to demands by the Hizbullah-led opposition to control veto powers in any new government.
The opposition does not control majority of parliament's 128-seats. The Hizbullah MP said approving the international tribunal by the U.N. Security Council under chapter seven is tantamount to "placing Lebanon under an international mandate." He vowed that Hizbullah will declare its position regarding such an international resolution on time. However, he asked the Lebanese people: "where would our sovereignty be if Lebanon becomes open to all intelligence agencies of the world?" Beirut, 17 Apr 07, 14:48

Future Movement, Geagea Attack Opposition, Berri
Naharnet: MP Saad Hariri's Future movement has launched a vehement attack on the Hizbullah-led opposition, accusing it of trying to "torpedo" the international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri. A statement issued at the end of a meeting in Qoraitem Monday also charged that the opposition's stance on the tribunal match that of the Syrian regime. The statement said that the opposition's so-called "observations" on the court were "intended to torpedo the tribunal from the start." "What we are hearing is the most awful attempt yet to outflank the crime and acquit those who have a hand in it," the statement added. Meanwhile, an announcement by House Speaker Nabih Berri of convening parliament Sept. 25 to elect a new President based on a quorum of two-thirds of MPs drew sharp criticism from Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
In remarks published in the Lebanese media on Tuesday, Geagea said Berri "was not authorized to set the quorum for the (presidential election) parliament session." "The righteous authority is Parliament," Geagea stressed. Responding to recent remarks by Berri in which he said both sides of the political divide will have to elect a "compromise president" who will not represent either March 14 or March 8, Geagea said: "If they want a compromise president, then we will demand a compromise Parliament Speaker and the same applies to the rest of the government institutions." Beirut, 17 Apr 07, 07:22

Berri Will Call Parliament to Elect New President
Naharnet: House Speaker Nabih Berri will convene Parliament on September 25 to elect a new president for Lebanon.
MP Ali Bazzi, who made the announcement on Sunday during a rally in south Lebanon to commemorate the 12th anniversary of al-Mansouri massacre in Tyre, stressed that no political stability or decisions can be reached in Lebanon without the "essential role … of the resistance," a reference to Hizbullah.
Bazzi said the legislative will convene based on a quorum of two-thirds of MPs to elect a new head of state to replace President Emile Lahoud without the presence of the "unconstitutional" government, adding that only MP-ministers will be allowed to attend the September session.
"No way will Speaker Berri allow it (government) to be represented in parliament," he said.
Bazzi, who is also an official in the Amal movement which is headed by Berri, criticized some leaders in the March 14 coalition "for not possessing the intention nor the will nor a national plan to work together in order to salvage the country from its current political crisis."
He assured that the political stalemate that has gripped Lebanon since the resignation of six pro-Syrian cabinet ministers in November was not over the international tribunal, but over Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government "which has lost its legitimacy."
Lahoud's term, which was extended for three years in a Syrian-inspired controversial constitutional amendment in September 2004, expires in November 2007. The presidential election and the creation of the U.N.-backed international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 murder of former Premier Rafik Hariri are at the heart of Lebanon's domestic disputes. Beirut, 16 Apr 07, 07:20

U.N., Russia on High Stakes Missions to Clear Way for Tribunal
U.N. legal adviser Nicolas Michel is due in Beirut on Tuesday for talks aimed at helping Lebanon break the impasse on setting up an international court to try suspects in ex-premier Rafik Hariri's murder and related crimes. "We are going there to succeed and for this we need the cooperation of all Lebanese parties," Michel said in New York last week. The U.N. official is due to hold talks with the government of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and the opposition to encourage the two parties to renew dialogue and accept ratification of a Lebanon-U.N. agreement to set up the court.
But Hizbullah has cautioned the United Nations to remain impartial in the political deadlock. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council should not meddle in the crisis and take sides, it said.Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech earlier this month that the way to resolve Lebanon's domestic and constitutional problems was "not to resort to foreign parties but to the people." He slammed a call by 70 majority MPs for the Security Council to step in and use its power to set up the international court. The U.N. and the Lebanese government have signed a deal to set up the tribunal, but it must be ratified by the country's divided parliament which is headed by opposition Speaker Nabih Berri.
Michel said that while "the functioning of the tribunal will come at a later stage ... at least now there is a need for certainty as to the establishment of the legal basis for the tribunal."Asked whether his mission was a last-ditch attempt to secure an agreement in Beirut before the Security Council takes over the issue, Michel said: "Everybody understands that there is an element of time here."
The official is to brief the Security Council, which will then have to rule on the issue, on his return to New York.
Alongside the efforts of the United Nations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov was also due to hold talks in Beirut on Tuesday aimed at resolving the crisis."The Lebanese themselves have to find common grounds (over the court)," Sultanov said upon arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport late Monday."We do not want to impose anything on the Lebanese. Russia will contribute to closing the gap between the different points of view," he said.(AFP-Naharnet) (An Nahar photo shows Sultanov at the airport) Beirut, 17 Apr 07, 07:14 Naharnet:

Assad: Syria "Not Ruling Out Possibility" Of War With Israel This Summer
During a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the former editor of the London daily Al-Hayat, Jihad Al-Khazen, asked about the news that Syria had positioned new missiles at the front against Israel and whether Assad was expecting a war with Israel next summer.
Assad said that Syria was acting every day to improve its defenses and that it was always preparing itself, and added, "We don't know whether there will be a war, but we must not rule out this possibility. Israel can't be trusted."Source: Al-Hayat, London, April 17, 2007

Syria Threatens To Take Golan Heights By Force
4-17-2007 -Jerusalem (AHN) -- Syria's information minister on Monday said his nation would like to reach a negotiated settlement with Israel, but will resort to armed force to regain the Golan Heights if it feels there is no alternative.Speaking at a Damascus press conference, Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said that if Israel rejects the newly re-adopted Arab League regional peace proposal, "resistance will be the only way to liberate the Golan Heights."Israel captured the Golan from Syrian in the 1967 Six Day War, after it had been used over the previous 19 years as a launching pad for invasions of and frequent low-level attacks on the Jewish state.The Saudi-authored Arab League peace initiative calls for Israel's full withdrawal from the Golan, as well as from the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he is ready to negotiate with the Arab world with the proposal serving as the basis for talks, but will not accept the deal in its current form, which fails to take into account Israeli security concerns.
Analysts cited by The Jerusalem Post said Syria could resort either to full scale conventional war against Israel, or a campaign of guerilla warfare and localized terrorism in the Golan Heights similar to what Lebanon's Hezbollah practiced against Israel prior to last summer's war.

UN & Russian envoys in Lebanon to tackle Hariri tribunal
Tuesday, 17 April, 2007 @ 3:07 PM
Beirut- A Russian and a U.N. envoy were involved Tuesday in what may be a last-ditch attempt to win approval from Lebanon's opposing camps for an international tribunal in the killing of a former prime minister, a divisive issue that has threatened the country's stability.
The issue of an international tribunal that would prosecute suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri has sharply polarized Lebanon.The parliament has stalled approving a draft agreement with the United Nations on the tribunal, paralyzed by a political crisis between the government, which demands the tribunal be set up, and the Hezbollah-led opposition, which wants to discuss the terms of setting up the court first. The crisis turned violent earlier this year, killing nine people.
Russia's deputy foreign minister, Alexander Sultanov ( L) , said upon arriving in Beirut late Monday that Russia was eager to help find a compromise, not impose a solution. "This matter is for the Lebanese to decide," Sultanov said.
The Lebanese should find common ground, Sultanov told reporters at the airport, adding, "We don't want to force the Lebanese" (to decide).
Along with Sultanov, the top U.N. legal chief Nicolas Michel was flying in later Tuesday to help overcome the impasse.
The Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the parliamentary majority have asked the United Nations to impose the Hariri tribunal, a step by which the world body would bypass the Lebanese legislature.
But the pro- Syrian Hezbollah-led opposition has warned that such intervention could spell more trouble for the country.
Russia is a veto-wielding member of the Syria as well its allies in the Lebanese opposition.
After talks with Siniora and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a key opposition leader, Sultanov was scheduled to travel Wednesday to Syria, which remains an important player despite last year's withdrawal of its army from Lebanon in the wake of Hariri's assassination.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also was scheduled to visit Syria next week. During a March visit to Lebanon, he urged the Lebanese to compromise on the tribunal. Michel, the U.N. undersecretary-general for legal affairs who helped draft the treaty on the tribunal, will try to break an impasse between Lebanese political leaders and "clarify all concerns or apprehensions," Ban told reporters last week after discussing the issue with U.N. Security Council members.
Michel has said he would stay in Lebanon as long as needed, but stressed that the United Nations had no intention of getting involved in Lebanon's "internal controversy." The opposition claims it does not object to the tribunal itself but insists the parliament majority accede to its demand for a greater share in government and a veto power over key decisions.
Opposition campaigners have been camping outside Siniora's downtown office since Dec. 1, paralyzing large parts of the capital's commercial downtown to demand his resignation. Siniora has refused to step down.
The anti-Syrian majority in Parliament blames Damascus for killing Hariri, an accusation Syria vehemently denies, and say the Syrians were using its Lebanese allies to undermine the formation of the tribunal. Sources: AP, Ya Libnan

Sarkozy Pledges Support for Lebanon's Independence

French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday and pledged continued French support for Lebanon's independence if elected. "There will be continuity in this policy, which is a balanced policy," Sarkozy, the candidate of the governing party, said following the 40-minute meeting in Paris. "I told President Mubarak that if I am elected president of the Republic, I would like to have the same relationship of trust that he enjoyed with President Chirac," said Sarkozy.
Sarkozy, the former interior minister, is slightly ahead of Socialist rival Segolene Royal in the polls for the first round of voting on Sunday and is expected to win a spot in the runoff on May 6. While he is seen as a stronger supporter of Israel than President Jacques Chirac, who has been a longtime advocate of an independent state of Palestine, Sarkozy said he wanted "a relationship of trust" with Arab governments, if elected.
"I would guarantee the security of Israel but I also want a homeland for the Palestinians, a state for the Palestinians. I want independence for Lebanon and I want to have relations of trust with the various Arab governments," he said. Sarkozy praised Mubarak, describing him as a "man of great experience and of very great wisdom" and said it was "an honor" for him to "meet with one of the great Arab leaders."
Egypt's top-selling state-owned daily Al-Ahram had reported that Mubarak had planned to meet with Sarkozy, Royal and centrist Francois Bayrou who are the frontrunners in the election.
But in the end, Mubarak held one meeting with Sarkozy at the official guest residence for visiting heads of state.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 17 Apr 07, 16:39