January 12/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 1,40-45. A leper came to him (and kneeling down) begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean."Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Latest news from Miscellaneous sources for January 12/07
Maronite Church Seeking 'Common Ground' Agreement by Politicians-Naharnet
Human Rights Watch Condemns Israel-Hizbullah-Naharnet

Lebanese army, militants clash in south Lebanon-Jerusalem Post
Lebanon unions halt protests, Hezbollah plans

Saniora to Kuwait Next Week for Talks on Political Crisis, Aid Conference-Naharnet
Sayyed Calls for His 'Immediate' Release-Naharnet
Poll: 40% Israelis Think Israel Not Ready to Fight Hizbullah Again-Naharnet
China Hopes for Trust Building Measures between Israel, Syria and Lebanon-Naharnet
Saniora to Meet Mubarak and Moussa in Cairo Saturday
March 14 Alliance Urges 'More Productivity' to Counter Protests
Hizbullah Criticizes Economic Reform Plan
Labor Union Protests Economic Plan for Second Day
German Embassy Fears Attacks on Citizens in Lebanon
U.S. Forces Raid Iranian Consulate in Northern Iraq-Naharnet
Bush Takes Blame on Iraq, Adds U.S. troops to Quell Violence
Syria Bans Rights Activist from Leaving for EU Meeting in Brussels
Putin to Visit Saudi Arabia Feb. 11
Gulf Needs 523 Billion Dollars to Boost Oil Production
China Tells Olmert 'No' to Nuclear Iran
Egyptian Minister to Visit Turkey Thursday
Fatah Escalates Verbal Attack on Hamas
Sudan Accepts U.N. Presence in Darfour

CIA gets go-ahead to take on Hezbollah-Gulf News, United Arab Emirates 
Israel, Hezbollah, Egypt criticized in Human Rights Watch report-
Combined Jewish Philantropies, MA 
Lebanon's parliament majority bloc urges for countering Hezbollah ...People's Daily Online,
Lebanon's history textbooks are politicized-
Ya Libnan,
Lebanon Army Will Protect Public & Private Institutions-
Weapons and Shoes Found Hidden Near Lebanon Border (update)Arutz Sheva
US official: No al-Qaeda suspects killed in Somalia airstrikes-USA Today
Iran, Syria denounce Bush's Iraq plan-
San Jose Mercury News
Report: US Troops Raid Iranian Consulate in Iraq-Washington Post 
Canadian mom offered chance to leave Lebanon - without, Canada
Russia wants names of those impeding Lebanon probe-Zaman Online
Hamas official accepts Israel but stops short of recognition-Guardian Unlimited, UK

SOLIDA – Lebanese Center for Human Rights -Naharnet
Mar Youssef Center – 12th Floor Tel: (+961) 3 887 108 or (+961) 70 950 780
The SOLIDA movement (Support of Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) has for years fought for the principles of Human Rights and the Rule of Law for Lebanon and its people. We have catalogued the files of hundreds of Lebanese prisoners in Syria and Israel and have lobbied international institutions and governments to address this tragedy as a basis to help the Lebanese people undergo the psychological healing towards a genuine National Reconciliation. After operating for nearly 10 years from France, SOLIDA has moved to Beirut in May 2006. SOLIDA is a registered, independent, non-profit Lebanese organization that is not affiliated with any political party or religious denomination in Lebanon. Its work transcends political and sectarian differences in promoting the international principles of human rights and the rule of law.
At present, a small team of 10 volunteers is involved in:
- Monitoring human rights conditions on the ground in Lebanon.
- Supporting twelve victims of arbitrary detention.
- Tracking the missing and detained Lebanese in Syria and Israel.
- Pursuing a platform of National Reconciliation that can only be achieved by recognizing and healing the past, which should begin by accounting for those of us who remain missing.
- Laying the ground for a Rehabilitation Center in Beirut for all victims of torture and arbitrary detention to help them find jobs, re-learn to live with their families and reintegrate society. This is the most difficult, but important, challenge: To help those among us who suffered the most, physically and psychologically, from the past decades of conflict and pain.
SOLIDA recently received sponsorship from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network Foundation, for the hiring of a Director who assumes functions this January 2007. Beyond this, the financial burden for the volunteers’ considerable efforts and the assistance we give to former prisoners is assumed by the volunteers themselves. Recently, two local benefactors contributed to replacing the computer equipment that was stolen from our premises this past October 2006.
We need your support. We are issuing this CALL FOR ASSISTANCE because we believe that you, the Lebanese Diaspora, will support and nurture meaningful work that translates the success stories and accomplishments of Lebanese emigrants into real action in their homeland. We call on people who feel deeply about our work to make their financial contribution in small but regular amounts. To this effect, we have created a Paypal account which you can access online on
Thank you for answering this call and for making your contribution today. We know it resonates with your aspirations for a humane and compassionate Lebanon. Our struggle will never cease until we achieve the objectives of human rights and the rule of law, a true national reconciliation based on Truth and Justice, the uncovering of the fate of each one of the disappeared and missing, the review of all unfair trials, and the reparations owed to each victim of human rights violations.

Lebanese army, militants clash in south Lebanon
SIDON, Lebanon Armed Islamic militants and Lebanese troops clashed Thursday in south Lebanon, forcing hundreds of residents to flee for safety, security officials said. Officials said two soldiers were injured in the exchange that was triggered when gunmen belonging to the Jund al-Sham militant group opened fire on the soldiers for searching a van full of veiled schoolgirls. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The clashes also were sparked by the army's search of a wanted militant in the Taamir neighborhood of the southern city of Sidon, close to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, the officials said. Several hundred residents fled the neighborhood, some taking refuge in nearby mosques. The security officials said the schoolgirls' van had stopped at an army checkpoint, and the girls were asked to lift their face veils during a security search.

Saniora to Kuwait Next Week for Talks on Political Crisis, Aid Conference
Naharnet: Premier Fouad Saniora will visit Kuwait next week for talks on an international donors' conference and efforts to settle the ongoing political crisis with the Hizbullah-led opposition, Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed al-Sabah said. "Talks will focus on the important aid conference, Paris III, and the mediation efforts" to resolve the critical political impasse in Lebanon, Sabah told reporters in Kuwait on Wednesday.
Saniora's trip to oil-rich Kuwait will come ahead of the international aid conference for Lebanon to be held in Paris on January 25.
He will be preceded by Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol who will deliver a message from President Omar el-Beshir "on the Arab initiative for Lebanon", Sheikh Mohammad said, referring to Arab League efforts to resolve the standoff between Saniora's government and the opposition.
Lebanese newspapers said Thursday Saniora's trip was part of an Arab tour the premier will launch next Saturday that would include apart from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Kuwait offered generous aid to Lebanon following the devastation caused by the Israeli war on Hizbullah in the summer after the Shiite group seized two of Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. In July, Kuwait agreed to deposit 500 million dollars with Lebanon's central bank and granted Beirut 300 million dollars in reconstruction aid. The emirate also sent millions of dollars in relief to devastated areas of south Lebanon. The Kuwaiti contribution was the second largest after that of oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia, which pledged a 1.5-billion-dollar package.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 08:17

Maronite Church Seeking 'Common Ground' Agreement by Politicians
A delegation of Maronite Bishops on Thursday held talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michael Aoun and ex-Minister Suleiman Franjieh in an effort to work out an agreement on joint principles that could unite Christian ranks. Bishop Samir Mazloum, who headed the tripartite delegation assigned by Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, said the separate talks were aimed at brokering agreement among Christian leaders on the principles of the Maronite church announced last December. He said the separate talks with Aoun and Franjieh were "positive. We hope to achieve similar results from our talks with other political leaders."He said the first phase of the talks would include Christian leaders from the opposition and pro-government ranks.
Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 19:31

Human Rights Watch Condemns Israel-Hizbullah
Israel and Hizbullah violated the laws of war during their 34-day battle last summer, Human Rights Watch said in its annual report Thursday. The group also criticized what it said were repressive government policies in Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
In Iraq, the report said, the human rights situation worsened significantly in 2006 with the continuing armed conflict becoming increasingly sectarian in nature. Human Rights Watch said on the July-August war between Israel and Hizbullah that "in its conduct of hostilities, the Israeli Defense Forces repeatedly violated the laws of war by failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians." The report noted Israeli claims that the high proportion of civilian deaths was due to Hizbullah hiding its rockets and fighters in villages and towns in south Lebanon. But it said Israeli attacks responsible for most of the civilian deaths took place when there was no evidence that Hizbullah fighters or weapons were in the vicinity. The 34-day war left more than 1,200 Lebanese dead, most of them civilians, and more than 4,000 people injured. An estimated 1 million people were displaced, Human Rights Watch said.
The report said Israel's extensive use of cluster bombs in the war continues to be a pressing concern. "The U.N. has estimated that Israel fired cluster munitions containing 2.6 (million) to 4 million submunitions into Lebanon, leaving behind as many as 1 million hazardous duds" that have resulted in many deaths and serious injuries, the report said.
Hizbullah, for its part, "launched thousands of rockets on cities, towns and villages in northern Israel, using a variety of unguided surface-to surface rockets," the report said, killing 39 Israeli civilians and injuring hundreds more. Many of the civilian casualties were the result of ball bearings that were packed into rockets and shot out upon impact, the report said. It said these attacks were "at best, indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas, and, at worst, deliberate attacks against civilians" and that they violated the rules of war. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Human Rights Watch said Egypt displayed a heavy hand against political dissent in 2006. "After a period of relative tolerance of political opposition in early 2005, the government reversed course starting in late 2005," the report said. "In November 2005, the government responded to the Muslim Brotherhood's strong showing in the first round of national elections with extensive irregularities and violence by police and ruling party vigilantes in the subsequent two rounds." The crackdown, the report said, highlighted the continuing limits of freedom of expression in the Middle East's most populous country. The group said human rights organizations also continued to receive credible reports that security services and police routinely torture and mistreat detainees, particularly during interrogation. In Syria, the report said, the country's "poor human situation deteriorated further in 2006." "Thousands of political prisoners, many of them members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and Communist Party, remain in detention," the report said. "Syrian Kurds, the country's second largest ethnic minority, continue to protest their treatment as second-class citizens." The report said overall human rights conditions remain poor in Saudi Arabia.
"Despite international and domestic pressure to implement reforms, King Abdullah has not met expectations of improvements following his succession to the throne in August 2005," the report said. "The government undertook no major human rights reforms in 2006 and there were signs of backsliding on issues of human rights defenders, freedom of association and freedom of expression." The report said Saudi women continue to face serious obstacles to their participation in society and many foreign workers, especially women, face exploitative working conditions that can include violence.(AP) Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 18:42

Brief Fire Fight between Army and Jund al-Sham in Ein el-Hilweh
A brief fire fight broke out between Lebanese soldiers and Palestinian Islamists in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp Thursday. A soldier was wounded.
Witnesses told Naharnet the 10-minute exchange broke out when a member of the Jund al-Sham Islamist faction opened fire from an assault rifle at a Lebanese army checkpoint on the northern entrance to the camp.Soldiers manning the checkpoint responded in kind, and the exchange stopped after 10 minutes without developing into an all-out clash, they said. The Islamist gunman, whose identity remains anonymous, was "protesting" against a Lebanese soldier's behavior who had ordered veiled girl students returning home in a bus to unveil their faces so he could check their identity cards, one witness said.
"It happened that gunman's sister was one of the veiled girls," the witness added without further elaboration. The army command, in a statement, said one soldier was wounded in the fire fight. Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 16:28

China Hopes for Trust Building Measures between Israel, Syria and Lebanon
China on Thursday expressed hope that Israel, Syria and Lebanon would take "substantive measures to build mutual trust and create conditions for the restart of peace talks."The state-run China Daily newspaper said Premier Wen Jiabao made the remark to his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert.
An Israeli official said Olmert urged China to back tougher sanctions to halt Iran's nuclear program. Olmert told Chinese leaders that "although the solution is of a diplomatic nature, at a certain moment we will have to apply economic sanctions against Iran," if it flouts the international community's demands, the senior Israeli official said. "Israel will do anything in its power to prevent the Iranian nuclear nightmare from becoming a reality," the official quoted Olmert as saying. Olmert met Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday after saying that he was surprised and encouraged by the position expressed by China on Iran's nuclear programme during his stay. Olmert had headed into the meeting in an upbeat mood after receiving assurances from Wen a day earlier that China, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, opposed a nuclear-armed Iran. In his meeting with Hu, Olmert said "the bond between our two peoples is a major consideration in the strategy in the state of Israel in our international affairs".
He also expressed hope of expanding trade between the two countries and announced the creation of a third consulate in southern China's Guangdong province, one of the country's wealthiest trading zones. Hu said Olmert's visit "is going to play a very important facilitating role in enhancing the growth of the China-Israel relationship in the 21st century." However, the two leaders made no reference to the Iranian question in their public statements.
Earlier, Olmert said Wednesday's talks with Wen were "surprising and encouraging ... and certainly beyond expectations" on the subject of Iran.
"The discussions on the diplomatic questions were encouraging, and I am specifically referring to the Iranian question and the Iranian bomb," he said Thursday morning. After the meeting on Wednesday, Olmert told reporters that "China made it absolutely clear that it opposed an Iran with a nuclear bomb," but refused to give further details. Olmert and Wen discussed implementation of the December 23 resolution by the Security Council -- supported by China -- that imposed limited sanctions on Iran, an Israeli official told AFP.
The Israeli leader stressed to Wen that the international community "must prepare for the next round of sanctions against Iran in the coming months," the official added. Israeli officials had been expecting a cool response from China to their call for tough sanctions to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China is a pivotal player. But many observers suspect its need for Iranian oil and gas to power its booming economy could soften its position. Iran insists that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, and has refused to bow to a UN demand to halt uranium enrichment work. Chinese officials said Thursday that Wen had reassured Olmert of his nation's support for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and the December resolution, but no other details were released. "Premier Wen Jiabao elaborated clearly our position on the issue," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. "China is opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and supports the non-proliferation system."
The state-run China Daily newspaper said Olmert and Wen had also discussed Israel's troubles with the Palestinians and its other neighbors in the Middle East, particularly Syria and Lebanon. "Wen said China supports the peaceful co-existence of Israel and Palestine and sees the Palestinian issue as the core of the Middle East issue," the China Daily reported. "It hopes Israel, Syria and Lebanon take substantive measures to build mutual trust and create conditions for the restart of peace talks," the report added.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 16:08

Saniora to Meet Mubarak and Moussa in Cairo Saturday
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Saniora is expected in Cairo Saturday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, officials said Thursday. Mubarak will meet with Saniora on Saturday over the situation in Lebanon and the region," said the Egyptian government press center, which gave no other details.  Saniora will also meet Moussa whilst in Cairo, where the Arab League has its headquarters, Moussa's spokesman Alaa Rushdie said. "Saniora will follow up with Moussa their discussions on Arab mediation in Lebanon and he will inform him of the latest developments in Lebanon and preparations for the Paris III conference," he said. With a political crisis in Lebanon escalating, Moussa tried last month to mediate between the parliamentary majority, which rejects Syrian involvement and the Syrian- and Iranian-backed opposition.
The crisis persisted, however, with the Shiite group Hizbullah leading a sit-in protest aimed at toppling the Saniora majority government.
The Paris III conference, on January 25, is to discuss international economic assistance as Saniora tries to slash Lebanon's crushing foreign debt, which exceeds 41 billion dollars. During a visit to Cairo last Saturday, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy invited his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit to attend the donor conference. (AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 15:26

Sayyed Calls for His 'Immediate' Release
Former head of Lebanon's General Security Department Brig. Gen. Jamil Sayyed has called on judicial authorities to release him "immediately," saying he was being held without "concrete evidence or charges" against him. Sayyed was arrested in August 2005 along with three other generals on charges of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and were all remanded in permanent custody.
Sayyed said in a letter addressed to Examining Magistrate Elias Eid and Prosecutor General Saeed Mirza that his detention was only based on recommendations of international investigators. However, the letter, sent through Sayyed's defense attorney Akram Azouri on Wednesday, said that the international committee probing Hariri's murder has given the Lebanese judiciary "exclusive power" to make its own decision concerning Sayyed's detention.Chief U.N. investigator Serge Brammertz' latest report was largely technical, absent of sweeping theories or speculation and did not offer conclusions on who ordered Hariri's assassination. Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 11:57

Poll: 40% Israelis Think Israel Not Ready to Fight Hizbullah Again
No more than 22 percent of Israelis think their country is ready to fight Hizbullah again, according to an opinion poll by Israeli television.
Only 40 percent of respondents felt that Israel was not ready to go up against Hizbullah once more. Twenty-five percent thought Israel was only partially prepared, while 13 percent had no opinion. For 37 percent, Israel had come out the loser in the month-long summer war with Hizbullah. Sixteen percent thought it had won, and 39 percent said there was no winner or loser. Fifty percent thought Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should resign on account of the war, against 38 percent who disagreed and 12 percent who had no view. Regarding General Dan Haloutz, head of Israel's armed forces, 53 percent believed he should step down. The opinion poll -- part of a special program six months after the Israel-Hizbullah war broke out -- was conducted by the Geocartographica Institute. Details of its methodology were not disclosed.(AFP) (Naharnet file photo shows Katyusha rockets being fired by Hizbullah from south Lebanon into northern Israel) Beirut, 11 Jan 07, 09:37

March 14 Alliance Urges 'More Productivity' to Counter Protests
Naharnet: The March 14 majority alliance on Wednesday called on the Lebanese to counter the Hizbullah-sponsored serial protests by "more productivity" in the various economic and services sectors. The alliance, which backs Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government, said the Hizbullah-led protests to topple the majority administration have reached "a dead end because the Lebanese have not responded to them."Such protests, the statement added, became "shuttling and boring daily folklore that does not provide solutions to the nation's problems."The protests, which started as a sit-in in downtown Beirut on Dec. 1, and expanded to serial demonstrations at public offices as of Tuesday, "impoverish the Lebanese people, block their prosperity and the possibility of their economic recovery on the verge of the Paris III conference (of donors) which is the only chance available to deal with the root economic problems," it added. The majority government adopted last week a six-point socio-economic recovery and reform plan which would be the basis for discussion at the Paris III conference of donors scheduled for Jan. 25. The Saniora government hopes the conferees would provide it with badly needed assistance to cope with the nation's 40.5-billion dollar foreign debt and help compensate for the 6.3-billion dollar losses sustained during Hizbullah's 34-day war with Israel last summer. Hizbullah, in a statement released earlier in the day, criticized the economic plan and said it needed further expanded discussion. Beirut, 10 Jan 07, 19:22