April 21/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 6,1-15. After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (of Tiberias).
A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?"He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little (bit)."
One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many? Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Free Opinions
Cautious optimism after the fall of an illegitimate Iraqi order.By Fouad Ajami. April 21/07
America and Israel are asking the impossible of Arab diplomacy. Daily Star. April 21/07
Analysis: Olmert tries to calm Syria.United Press International. April 21/07
Sharia Coming to Canadian Universities.Jawa Report. April 21/07
Can Syria and Israel make peace?Gulf News. April 21/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for April 21/07
Hezbollah: UN reports of smuggling arms to Lebanon ‘inaccurate’.Ya Libnan
Russia will not use 'Veto' against Lebanon tribunal at UN.Ya Libnan
UN Security Council statement on Lebanon.Daily Star
UN's Roed-Larsen To Join Ban on Syria Trip.New York Sun
US: Syria, Iran Continue to Provide Hizbullah with Weapons.Naharnet
Belgian Crown Prince in Lebanon to Visit his Country's Troops.Naharnet
Syrian President Meets Russian Envoy Over Lebanon Crisis.MOSNEWS
Syria’s opposition calls for election boycott.Middle East Online
Barak: The Second Lebanon War was a failure.Jerusalem Post
Release of Lebanon war testimony delayed.Peninsula On-line
US Prepared To Boost Reconstruction Aid for Lebanon.AINA
Exodus From Iraq --- a Region in Crisis.AINA

Latest News Reports From The Daily Star for April 20/07
UN plays down delay of latest report on 1559
Ruling coalition signals readiness to create Hariri court under Chapter 7
Loyalty to the Resistance pokes holes in Siniora's compensation figures
Qassem: Don't mix local, Palestinian issues
UN Security Council statement on Lebanon
Bodies of army members killed in 1990 identified
Democratic Gathering MPs honor Fuleihan
Rival camps agree to cancel two LU elections
AUB Medical Center harnesses technology to spread expertise
The sound of dialogue in Gemmayzeh
Mangled cars serve as visual warning against unsafe driving

UN Security Council statement on Lebanon
Friday, April 20, 2007
At the 5,664th meeting of the Security Council, held on April 17, 2007, in connection with the Council's consideration of the item entitled "The situation in the Middle East," the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:
"The Security Council recalls all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 1701 (2006), 425 and 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), as well as the statements of its president on the situation in Lebanon, in particular its statement of December 12, 2006 (S/PRST/2006/52).
"The Security Council reiterates its full support for the legitimate and democratically elected government of Lebanon, calls for full respect of the democratic institutions of the country, in conformity with its Constitution, and condemns any effort to destabilize Lebanon. The Security Council calls upon all Lebanese political parties to show responsibility with a view to preventing, through dialogue, further deterioration of the situation in Lebanon. It reaffirms its strong support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders and under the sole and exclusive authority of the government of Lebanon.
"The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary General of March 14, 2007 (S/2007/147), on the implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006).
It notes with appreciation the indication by the Secretary General that further progress has been made toward the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006).
It reiterates its attachment to the full implementation of all provisions of this resolution and urges all concerned parties to cooperate fully with the Security Council and the Secretary General to achieve a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution as envisioned in the resolution.
"The Security Council welcomes the completion of the second phase of the deployment of UNIFIL, expresses its strong appreciation to Member States that contribute to UNIFIL and commends the active role of the force, notably of its Commander, as well as of the Special Coordinator of the United Nations for Lebanon.
"The Security Council, taking note of the Secretary General's observation that more can be done to consolidate the cessation of hostilities, urges the Israeli and Lebanese Governments to approve the temporary security arrangements for the northern part of the village of Ghajar and to further close liaison and coordination arrangements with UNIFIL, notably through tripartite meetings. It also encourages the parties to cooperate with UNIFIL to visibly mark the Blue Line, notably in sensitive areas, in order to prevent inadvertent violations.
"The Security Council welcomes the measures taken by the government of Lebanon, with the assistance of UNIFIL, to establish between the Blue Line and the Litani river an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL, and encourages the government of Lebanon to strengthen its efforts to this end.
"The Security Council reiterates its deep concern at the continuing Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, appeals to all parties concerned to respect the cessation of hostilities and the Blue Line in its entirety, to refrain from any act of provocation, and to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of the UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel, including by avoiding any course of action which endangers United Nations personnel and by ensuring UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement throughout its area of operation.
"The Security Council, in this context, expresses its serious concern at mounting information by Israel and another State of illegal movements of arms across the Lebanese-Syrian border in violation of resolution 1701 (2006). It welcomes the determination expressed and the measures taken by the government of Lebanon to prevent such movements in conformity with relevant resolutions, notes that the government of Syria has stated that it has taken measures and reiterates its call on that government to take further measures to reinforce controls at the border.
"The Security Council, taking note of the letter of the Secretary-General to the president of the Council of April 13, 2007 (S/2007/207), welcomes the Secretary General's intention to evaluate the situation along the entire border and invites him to dispatch at the earliest, in close liaison with the Lebanese Government, an independent mission to fully assess the monitoring of the border and to keep the Council informed on his contacts with the Lebanese government, and to report back to the Council, before his next report, on its findings and recommendations in this regard. The Security Council urges all parties to cooperate fully with this mission.
"The Council urges again all Member States, in particular in the region, to take all necessary measures to implement in full paragraph 15 of Resolution 1701 (2006) to enforce the arms embargo, and expresses its intention, upon reception of the Secretary General's recommendations, to take further concrete steps to achieve the goals set out in this paragraph.
"The Council welcomes any request by the government of Lebanon for assistance to enhance Lebanon's border security capacities, including by supplying equipment and training. It welcomes in this regard the ongoing assistance provided by the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Arab Emirates and others, and encourages Member States, as suggested by the Secretary General, to consider further assistance.
"The Council, while commending the steps taken by the government of Lebanon to exercise its monopoly of the use of force throughout its territory, takes note with concern of reported activities of unauthorized armed elements outside of UNIFIL's area of operations and reiterates its call for disbanding and disarmament of all militias and armed groups in Lebanon. It expresses its deep concern at the report of recent statements made in this regard by the Hizbullah Secretary General, notably with regard to the seizure by the Lebanese authorities of a truckload of arms on February 8, 2007, and underscores that these statements are an open admission of activities that would constitute a violation of resolution 1701 (2006). It expresses concern at any allegation of rearming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese armed groups and militias and reiterates that there should be no sale or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government.
"The Security Council expresses deepest worry at the presence in very high numbers of unexploded ordnance in south Lebanon, including cluster munitions. It deplores the death and injury of dozens of civilians, as well as of several de-miners, caused by those munitions since the cessation of hostilities.
It supports in this context the Secretary General's request to Israel to provide to the United Nations detailed data on its use of cluster munitions in southern Lebanon.
"The Security Council notes with profound concern that there has been no progress on the issue of the return of the two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hizbullah on July 12, 2006, despite further intense efforts by the Secretary General and his facilitator, and reiterates its call for their immediate and unconditional release.
"The Security Council further encourages efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.
"The Security Council commends the efforts of the Secretary-General and his facilitator towards an early resolution of those issues and reiterates its call upon all parties concerned to fully cooperate with the Secretary General to this end.
"Bearing in mind the relevant provisions of resolutions 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006) and 1701 (2006), in particular paragraph 10 of Resolution 1701, on the delineation of the Syrian-Lebanese border, the Security Council notes in this context the progress recently made by the senior cartographer appointed by the Secretary General in reviewing relevant material and developing an accurate territorial definition of the disputed Sheba'a Farms area. Noting the Secretary General's expectation that the technical work will be completed by mid-June and his intention to report more fully at that time, the Security Council invites all parties to cooperate with the cartographer by providing any relevant material in their possession.
"The Security Council also reiterates its appreciation for the process launched by the Secretary General to investigate the implications of the interim proposal contained in the seven-point plan of the government of Lebanon regarding the Sheba'a farms area. It looks forward to the early completion of this task in liaison with relevant parties and to further recommendations by the Secretary General on this key issue.
"The Security Council reaffirms its full support to the Secretary General in his efforts and dedication to facilitate and assist in the fulfillment of all provisions of resolution 1701 (2006).
"The Security Council stresses the importance of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967) of November 22, 1967, and 338 (1973) of October 22, 1973."

Lebanese Christians on Israeli Border Ignored By UN, Threatened By Hezbollah
GMT 4-19-2007 19:51:47
Assyrian International News Agency
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(AINA) -- During my stay in Lebanon in April I visited some Christian families living in South Lebanon in village called Ein Ebel. The reason for my visit there was to meet people connected with the South Lebanon Army (SLA) to conduct interviews for my documentary entitled "This is my Holy Land", a story about SLA families.
Ein Ebel, where predominantly Christians live, is a small village picturesquely situated in the border zone with Israel, and unfortunately, in the Muslim neighborhood where Muslims cooperate with Hezbollah. The location of the village caused serious problems for Christian families during the recent war in August 2006, as the majority of them are the SLA soldiers who used to cooperate with Israel before 2000. To take revenge on them Hezbollah used their homes to store weapons and attack the Israeli army.
As those families were given no support from the Lebanese government, they were not able to oppose Hezbollah terrorists. As a result their workplaces and homes were bombed by the Israeli army. They stress that they did not regret leaving their homes and shops because they believed that the Israeli army would defeat Hezbollah and they would be able to return to Israel or start a new life in a completely different Lebanon.
Unfortunately, the situation in Lebanon has become even worse. Hezbollah has grown in power and is extremely popular in South Lebanon. UNIFIL forces give work to Hezbollah members only, and the Lebanese government has limited the rights of all those who were connected with SLA.
While talking to young people from Christian families connected with SLA I heard bitterness and resentment in their voices about the present situation. They do not think there are any opportunities for them in the future. Although they are well educated, they cannot hope for work in the public sector. They cannot leave for abroad because they do not have passports. UNIFIL forces do not want to engage them because they are afraid of conflict with Hezbollah. They often asked me why international aid organizations do not care for them and the funds are given to others.
By Anna Walczyk

Hizbullah Criticizes as 'Inaccurate' U.N. Reports of Arms Smuggling
Hizbullah lashed out at the U.N. Security Council, saying reports of illegal arms smuggling from Syria to Lebanon were "inaccurate," and assuring that the group has enough weapons that it need not be re-supplied. Resigned Hizbullah Energy Minister Mohammed Fneish said the U.N. report was "definitely inaccurate and unrealistic … for merely political desires to distort the truth in favor of some states." "The Resistance arms' supplies are enough to carry out required missions," Fneish said in remarks published by Lebanese newspapers on Friday. "Hence, it (resistance) is in no need for smuggled arms," Fneish added. He said Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has declared that "we have more than 12,000 rockets or maybe 20,000 or even a million, no one knows." The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to send an independent mission to investigate reports of illegal arms transfers from Syria to Lebanon.
The council "expresses its serious concern at mounting information by Israel and another state" of arms smuggling across the border in violation of U.N. resolution 1701, it said. The statement, which was unanimously adopted by its 15 members, called on Ban "to dispatch at the earliest, in close liaison with the Lebanese government, an independent mission to fully assess the monitoring of the border."
Nasrallah's political adviser, Hussein Khalil, had earlier said that Hizbullah "strongly objects to the supervision of the Syrian-Lebanese border."
Khalil, nevertheless, emphasized that in the event of any such monitoring, Hizbullah would not stop "short of weapons."
Syria has denied that weapons are making their way over the border into Lebanon and warned against any moves to station international troops along the frontier. Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah last August, called for the prevention of illegal arms sales and smuggling operations in Lebanon. It also called for the disarming of all militias, in a reference to Hizbullah as well as Palestinian militant groups. Beirut, 20 Apr 07, 07:25

U.N. Urges Lebanese to Ratify International Tribunal
The United Nations top legal adviser on Friday called for a return to dialogue in divided Lebanon and for the prompt creation of the tribunal to resolve the 2005 murder of former Premier Rafik Hariri. "The establishment of this tribunal will be a victory... for all the Lebanese," Nicolas Michel said after meeting Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a leading opposition figure. "I hope our efforts will bear fruit" in helping Lebanese leaders return to dialogue for the "earliest establishment" possible of the international court to try suspects in Hariri's murder by a Beirut car bomb, he said.
Michel said he hoped that his efforts to bridge the gap among the divided Lebanese politicians would see results "in the next few days." He did not elaborate. Since he arrived in Beirut on Tuesday, Michel has met all prominent Lebanese leaders in a bid to unblock months of political paralysis preventing the court from being established.
Hariri was killed by a massive bomb widely blamed on Syria, which was then forced to end nearly 30 years of military and political domination in Lebanon. Syria denied involvement in the killing. The United Nations and Lebanon's government have signed a deal to set up the tribunal, but this must be ratified by the country's divided parliament. Berri, a key figure in the opposition, refuses to convene parliament. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the main opposition party Hizbullah, said the court in its current proposed form was meant to announce "ready-made" verdicts. Hizbullah officials who met Michel refused to give him the proposed changes they wanted made to the court, saying they would only present them to a "legitimate" Lebanese government. The opposition deems the Saniora government illegitimate since all five representatives of the Shiite community resigned last November.
The anti-Syrian Lebanese cabinet accuses pro-Damascus ministers of quitting to sabotage the court plans at the behest of Syrian officials, some of whom have been implicated in Hariri's murder by a U.N. probe commission. The Beirut government has called for the U.N. Security Council to impose the setting up of the tribunal if the opposition continues to block it. Michel said he was leaving Lebanon Saturday and would brief the Security Council in New York, which will then rule on the issue. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to visit Damascus on April 24.(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 20 Apr 07, 19:28

Homsi Calls from Lebanon for a Boycott of Syrian Elections
Naharnet: Syrian dissident and former MP Maamoun Homsi, who fled into exile in Lebanon earlier this year, Friday, urged fellow Syrians to boycott this weekend's parliamentary elections which he dubbed "illegitimate". "It's the security services that have been out campaigning... while intellectuals, politicians and law-abiding citizens languish in jail," Homsi said in a statement sent to Agence France Presse in Beirut ahead of Sunday's poll.
"I add my voice to those of my brothers in the opposition in calling on you not to take part in these elections so as to show the whole world that they are illegitimate. "The regime... has thrown the independent MPs in prison ... as a lesson to all their colleagues and anyone else inclined to criticize it."
Homsi was among a dozen dissidents detained in the summer of 2001 when the authorities brought an end to the so-called Damascus spring, the brief political opening that followed Bashar Assad's succession to the presidency after the death of his father Hafez the previous year.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for seeking to "illegally change the constitution" and was eventually released on January 18 this year with four other dissidents. He fled to neighboring Lebanon following the detention of another fellow dissident -- Michel Kilo.
The ruling Baath party has dominated Syrian politics since a 1963 coup which imposed a state of emergency that remains in force.(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 20 Apr 07, 18:24

Moscow Will Not Use 'Veto' to Block Tribunal

Russia will not use its U.N. Security Council veto to block a U.N. decision to create the international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri. The daily As Safir, citing high-ranking Syrian sources, said on Friday that Moscow will only refrain from voting on the resolution that would allow establishment of the court under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Security Council. The sources were commenting on a meeting Thursday between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
As Safir said Assad and Sultanov discussed, in addition to the political stalemate in Lebanon, the "perils" of allowing establishment of the court under Chapter 7. The sources quoted Sultanov as warning the Lebanese ruling majority before heading for talks with Assad that a U.N. endorsement of the tribunal would threaten Lebanon's "stability."As Safir also said that U.N.'s top legal adviser Nicolas Michel, whose visit to Lebanon will end on Saturday, has asked Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government to present a new letter to the U.N. Security Council requesting U.N. action on the tribunal.
It said the U.N. demand came after "some member states" claimed that the latest memorandum by Saniora's government was considered "insufficient."
Beirut, 20 Apr 07, 09:57

Belgian Crown Prince Visits Peacekeepers
Belgian Crown Prince Philippe visited Friday his country's battalion serving with U.N. peacekeepers monitoring the Lebanese-Israeli border, officials said.
He met Italian Major General Claudio Graziano, commander of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), at its headquarters in the coastal border town of Naqura. He then flew by helicopter to the headquarters of the Belgian contingent of 375 peacekeepers serving with UNIFIL in the town of Tebnin, where he oversaw mine clearing operations. The crown prince also unveiled a memorial stone in Tebnin to honor three Belgian peacekeepers that died last month in a car accident in the village of Kfarshuba, further to the northeast.
The families of the three soldiers were present at the ceremony. The crown prince had met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora on his arrival in Beirut Thursday. He was due to leave Lebanon later Friday.
On Thursday, visiting Belgian Defense Minister Andre Flahaut and the families of the three Belgian soldiers also unveiled a memorial stone in Kfarshuba to honor the peacekeepers. Four Belgian peacekeepers have also been wounded during mine clearing in south Lebanon.
UNIFIL monitors the ceasefire that ended last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 20 Apr 07, 07:29

Sultanov Discusses Lebanon with Assad
A Russian envoy held talks Thursday with Syrian President Bashar Assad on the political stalemate in neighboring Lebanon, official media reported.
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov also discussed the rampant insecurity in Syria's eastern neighbor Iraq and the Middle East peace process, the official SANA news agency said. The two men agreed that it was "necessary for all sides in Lebanon to thrash out a national consensus and settle their differences on the range of issues," the news agency said. Lebanese politics have been paralyzed since last November by an escalating dispute between pro and anti-Syrian factions. The Lebanese parliament and government have been controlled by an anti-Syrian majority since Damascus pulled out its troops from Lebanon in April 2005, nearly two months after the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri.
However, Syrian ally Nabih Berri remains speaker of parliament, a position which has enabled him to block the cabinet's legislative program, including flagship plans for an international court to try suspects in the Hariri murder and related crimes.
Sultanov arrived in Damascus on Wednesday evening from Beirut where he called on Lebanon's bickering factions to reach agreement on the proposed international tribunal. "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 on his arrival at Beirut on Monday evening. The anti-Syrian cabinet accuses pro-Damascus ministers of resigning to sabotage the court plans at the behest of Syrian officials, some of whom have been implicated in Hariri's murder by a U.N. commission of inquiry.
But the pro-Syrian factions insist that they have no issue with the court plan in principle and merely want to be consulted on its drawing up.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 19 Apr 07, 18:30

Gates Discusses Iran, Lebanon with Olmert
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert discussed Thursday the Iranian nuclear program, officials said, pushing forward efforts to halt what they say is Tehran's pursuit of atomic weapons. Iran was high on the agenda of Gates' 24-hour stop in Israel. Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said the issue came up again during the one-hour meeting Thursday, along with talks about Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians."It was a fine positive conversation. They talked about regional aspects, strengthening defense cooperation with the United States," she said. She declined to elaborate.
But earlier, Gates said diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff with Iran are working and should get a chance to succeed. At a news conference Wednesday, Gates said many nations are "united in telling Iran what it needs to do with respect to its nuclear program."
Both the U.S. and Israel accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies. "We agreed it was important to deal with the Iranian nuclear problem through diplomacy, which appears to be working," Gates said at Wednesday's news conference with Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
"These things don't work overnight, but it seems to me clearly the preferable course to keep our focus on the diplomatic initiatives, and particularly because of the united front of the international community at this point," Gates said.
At the same time, Gates confirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel, noting that he is the first Pentagon chief to visit the country in eight years.
"I think the fact that I have come here in the end of my fourth month as secretary illustrates the importance that I attach to our relationship with Israel," he said. Gates said that Washington had diplomatic relations with Syria but "that doesn't mean that we approve of much of anything that they do."
"Frankly Syrian activities, both in allowing suicide bombers to cross their border into Iraq, where they kill both Iraqis and coalition partners, their allowing of a re-supply of Hizbullah in Lebanon and a variety of other activities, are of great concern to us," he said.(AP-AFP)
Beirut, 19 Apr 07, 13:53