January 15/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 2,1-11. On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." (And) Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come."His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim.  Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Latest News Reports from The Daily Star For 15/01/07
Nasrallah details objections to reform proposal
Hariri declares Paris III open to 'all Lebanese' as Siniora garners support in Egypt, Gulf
Jouzou calls Berri claim 'dangerous declaration'
Moulawi calls for transformation of Hizbullah
Jumblatt says army should be 'generously funded'
Moulawi calls for transformation of Hizbullah
Hotel Dieu medics renew humanitarian work
Yazbeck: 'US strategy in Lebanon will fail'
Sfeir urges Lebanese to put national interests ahead of personal ones
Conference on parliaments calls for new legal formulas
Raad rails against attempt to bypass Berri
Petition for Parliament session has yet to reach Lahoud
Nasrallah chafes at approval of reform plan 'without discussion'

March 14 rips rivals for demanding 'truth' about assassinations
Army promises to lift Taamir siege once Jund al-Sham hands over suspects

Latest News Reports from Miscellaneous Sources For 15/01/07
March 14 Vehemently Criticizes Hizbullah-led Protestors-Naharnet
Opposition Stages Demonstration Outside Justice Ministry-Naharnet

Siniora meets Sultan Qaboos, discusses Lebanese Standoff-Kuwait News Agency
Hizbullah Warns of 'Bigger Crisis' in Lebanon-Arutz Sheva - Israel
The good soldier of Syria-Ha'aretz
Saudi FM: We are a friend to Lebanon & all its segments-Ya Libnan
'Hizbullah's settling Beirut'-Ynetnews
Halutz rules out war with Syria-Ynetnews
Iraq president on landmark Syria visit-Middle East Times
Abbas opposes 'temporary' Palestinian state-AP

United Nations Denies Israeli Violations Into Lebanon-All Headline News
Lebanon's parliament majority decries Hezbollah-led Protests-Ya Libnan
Lebanon's Opposition Says Climax Coming-All Headline News

March 14 Vehemently Criticizes Hizbullah-led Protestors
The March 14 coalition accused Hizbullah-led protestors who rallied on Saturday outside the Justice Ministry as part of ongoing sit-ins against the Fouad Saniora government, of resorting to such demonstrations after failing to hamper an international tribunal and a donors' conference for Lebanon.  "How can the Lebanese take that scene in front of the Justice Ministry seriously?" when some of the parties participating in the sit-in are known for "serving the tutelage Syrian regime, while others are still under interrogation on charges of involvement in activities linked to these crimes and assassinations," said a statement by the March 14 Follow-up committee."The Lebanese have recovered their freedom and they are determined to preserve it," added the statement. Meanwhile, the Phalange party criticized protestors from the Syrian Social National Party for brandishing SSNP flags together with posters of slain Industry Minsiter Pierre Gemayel during Saturday's sit-in. A statement released by the Phalange Party said such an act "triggers hatred and discontent among the Lebanese and makes the Phalangists wonder whether this is some kind of blackout of the truth." Gemayel's family was also quick to denounce Saturday's sit-in as "shameful exploitation of the killing of Pierre Gemayel, martyr for Lebanese independence."The gathering near the Justice Palace on Saturday drew several hundred people and came as Hizbullah vowed to intensify the street campaign to topple the government. "We are not going to leave the street and we are not going to stop the sit-ins. We are going to intensify them," Hizbullah legislator Hussein Haj Hassan said in a televised interview Saturday. Beirut, 14 Jan 07, 08:45

Hizbullah Warns of 'Bigger Crisis' in Lebanon
08:23 Jan 14, '07 / 24 Tevet 5767
( Hizbullah terrorist party leaders in Lebanon have warned they will accelerate national protests and strikes by next week and that if their demands are not accepted, the current crisis will "get bigger and much worse."
Parliament Spear Nabih Berri said that if the anti-Syrian majority does not accept the pro-Syrian demands for more Cabinet representation, a "storm" will hit. Hizbullah Member of Parliament Hussein Al Hajj Hassan told labor union members, "Soon we will only be satisfied with early parliamentary elections, come what may."

Opposition Stages Demonstration Outside Justice Ministry
Hizbullah-led protestors rallied outside the Justice Ministry in Beirut on Saturday, as part of ongoing sit-ins and demonstrations against the Fouad Saniora government. The gathering near the Justice Palace drew several hundred people and came as Hizbullah vowed to intensify the street campaign to topple the government. "We are not going to leave the street and we are not going to stop the sit-ins. We are going to intensify them," Hizbullah legislator Hussein Haj Hassan said in a televised interview Saturday. Saturday's rally was called on by the opposition in a "symbolic" effort to demand the truth about a series of bombings and political assassinations in the country in the past two years, including the February 2005 bombing that killed ex-premier Rafik Hariri.
The last such assassination was the Nov. 21 killing of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, who was shot dead in his car in Jdeideh, north of Beirut.
In a statement earlier this week, the opposition accused the government of failing to provide security for the country's citizens and officials, and of "blatant shortcomings" in the investigations into attacks on several Lebanese politicians and journalists. Protesters on Saturday carried pictures of Gemayel and other victims, inscribed with the words: "Where is the investigation?" Lebanon's General Federation of Labor Union has also staged protests this week against tax increases proposed by the government. Small protests have been held outside the Value Added Tax building and energy ministry, calling on the government to resign.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 13 Jan 07, 14:02

Halutz rules out war with Syria
IDF chief of staff tells cabinet ministers that military intelligence information contradicts reports that Syria is preparing for war with Israel next summer; adds that presence of peacekeepers in southern Lebanon impinges on Hizbullah activities
War in summer? Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lit.-Gen. Dan Halutz ruled out the possibility of a war erupting over summer with Syria , but added that the military is always prepared for the worst.
"Also the Syrians heard these remarks. Sometimes a speculation can lead to results than no body wants," he told cabinet ministers.
Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin spoke of the ongoing showdown between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip. "The confrontations between Hamas and Fatah reached unprecedented levels," he said.
Diskin said the more intense the fighting the more likely it is that Fatah and Hamas would reach an agreement on the formation of a national unity government because Hamas is wary that ongoing violence could deflate the popular support it enjoys among the Palestinians.
Diskin labeled as "aftershock" threats by Palestinian security prisoners to go on a hunger strike should the fighting continue.
He warned that Hizbullah intensified attempts to assist terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza and to recruit Arab Israelis.
Livni: Rice understands Israel position
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told ministers that Israel's interest is to extend support for
moderate forces in the Palestinian Authority without jeopardizing its security interests.
"Israel needs to stick to two principles for political progress: strengthening the moderates and preserving the security interests. These principles are also clear for the American Secretary of State," she said referring to her meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem on Saturday.
"In addition to military operations, the Israeli interest is to establish direct talks with Palestinian officials," she said. She said Rice came to the region to explore ways to advance peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Turning her attention to Lebanon, Livni said that Israel should urge European countries who sent troops to southern Lebanon part of a UN-backed peacekeeping mission to impose an arms embargo on Hizbullah.
About Iran, she said most countries in the Middle East are aware of the dangers of Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons.
She rejected attempts by some Arab state to link Iran's pursuit of nuclear arms to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She added that the situation created an opportunity for talks with moderate Arab states. "An opportunity to identify a common interest has been created," she said.

Siniora meets Sultan Qaboos, discusses Lebanese Standoff
MUSCAT, Jan 14 (KUNA) -- Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Al-Siniora met Sultan Qaboos Bin-Said of Oman here Sunday and discussed bilateral ties and other issues of mutual interest. The two leaders discussed the situation in Lebanon and the efforts to defuse the political standoff between the Lebanese government and the opposition, the Omani News Agency reported. The meeting was also attended by Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin-Alawi bin-Abdallah and Minister of National Economy Ahmad bin Abdul-Nabi Al-Maki as well as Lebanese Minister of Culture Tareq Mitri, Minister of Economy and Trade Sami Haddad, Minister of Finance Jihad Azour, and Political and Economic Adviser Mohammad Shatah. Al-Siniora arrived here at midday from Egypt as part of tour of Arab countries ahead of the Paris III conference on support for Lebanon set for January 25. The conference is expected to probe a mechanism for Arab and foreign assistance to Lebanon as well as the heated issues of the Middle East. During his tour, Al-Siniora would try to lobby Arab support for his government's economic reform program and find a way out of the Lebanese political crisis at a time when the opposition is escalating action to topple the government. Al-Siniora and his senior-level delegation were received at the airport by Omani Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs Fahd bin-Mahmud Al-Said and a number of Omani military and civilian figures.(end) ahr.nbs.

The good soldier of Syria
By Zvi Bar'el -Haaretz
he inhabitants of Bint Jbail and the surrounding villages already know the new clients' tastes. The French, for example, like to buy perfumes and discs, and they are also the ones who come to the local restaurants. Watches are also a popular gift among the Western soldiers. Those who come from the poorer countries make do with purchasing inexpensive souvenirs, but they, too, are contributing to the local economy when they buy new uniforms or mend the old ones. The soldiers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), who arrived there under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, are not only a supervision and separation force but also a significant economic factor in southern Lebanon. Thus, for example, after a round of "appearances" by the commanders of the forces in the village and after making the acquaintance of mukhtars and the mayors of the towns, the headquarters also began to hire local workers for service jobs like driving, translating and maintenance.
Though this is not a huge economic boom, a gap is already developing between the owners of shops close to UNIFIL headquarters and those that are farther away. The extent of the sales at the nearby shops is now growing by a factor of three or four relative to their previous level, and the owners of these shops can up rents higher by tens of percentage points.
The ability of small villages or isolated shops to overcome the huge damages suffered during war cannot return the economy of Lebanon to its pre-war trajectory. To this end, all eyes are on the third Paris conference, the meeting of the donor countries, which began to help Lebanon after Israel's withdrawal in 2000, which is to be held in Paris in two weeks. This oxygen pipeline, the government hopes, will bring in $1 billion in direct donations, as well as guarantees and investments that will join donations Lebanon has received from Arab countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, totaling about $2.5 billion. Though these are very large sums, as the direct damage from the war is estimated at more than $3 billion, and the national debt stands at about $41 billion, both the donor countries and the government know that Lebanon will find it hard to raise the funds without a demonstration of political stability and control of the country's systems. This, therefore, is the playing field of Hezbollah's power game, and indeed the game has started up again.
This week Nasrallah stopped "the sacred recess" that was aimed at giving the Lebanese a time-out from the political fracas in honor of the Muslim and Christian holidays. The mass demonstrations that had shrunk during the holiday period to a symbolic presence in the large city squares of Beirut expanded last week. Civil servants who are opposed to the economic reform that the prime minister is proposing in advance of the third Paris conference have gone out on strike. Predictably, Hezbollah has announced its support for the strikers and has called for an escalation of protest until "the government is brought down." Ostensibly, Arab intermediaries have an opportunity to try to untangle the Lebanese knot. Thus, for example, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has twice done the rounds in Beirut, holding well-publicized meetings and even exuding "cautious optimism" that had no basis at all. The smiles he won from Nasrallah and the honor with which he was greeted at the bureaus of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Speaker of the Lebanese National Assembly Nabih Beri turned out to be nothing more than traditional hospitality.
The best proof of the Arab League's impotence in face of "the Lebanese problem," as this crisis is defined, was in Saudi Arabia's mustering to try and squeeze out a solution. Last week King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia met with Na'im Kassem, Nasrallah's deputy (Nasrallah himself could not come because of clear security reasons) and with Mahmoud Fanish, the Hezbollah minister who resigned in November together with five other ministers. The Saudi king has a personal and royal interest in what is happening in Lebanon. His close friendship with Rafik Hariri and his commitment to help with respect to the investigation of his assassination have created a crisis between Saudi Arabia and Syria. Beyond that, Saudi Arabia is one of the most important donor countries for Lebanon; in addition to the $2 billion Saudi Arabia contributed to Lebanon during the war, it is preparing to continue its contributions in the framework of the Paris conference.
But even the "friendly conversation" that was held in Riyadh a short time before the pilgrimage to Mecca did not especially impress Hassan Nasrallah. Apparently the greater the pressure on his organization to reconcile with the government, the more Nasrallah realizes the power of the political lever he has in his hands. This was best described by his rival, Sa'ad Hariri, Rafik Hariri's son and the head of the Al Mustaqbal group, which constitutes a majority in the parliament. In a public statement issued in Beirut, Sa'ad Hariri said that "Lebanon is facing a new wave of political and ideological terror ... by means of a timed and financed campaign aimed at spreading chaos in public life, paralyzing the constitutional institutions and isolating areas in Lebanon from the rule of law, while exploiting some of the media to promulgate sectarian and ethnic policy and promote the killing of those whose names appear on the lists of traitors and plotters."
This aggregate of expressions has been formulated in recent weeks to counter Hezbollah's accusations that the government is guilty of treason and plotting against it. For the benefit of anyone who does not comprehend this lexicon, Hariri made it bluntly clear that "Hezbollah, with its leadership and the many means at its disposal, is the spearhead of an attack against the Paris conference."
However, Hariri, too, knows that the conference is only a means, and not Nasrallah's main target. The target is the Lebanese government, and the aim is to prevent the establishment of an international tribunal to judge those responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, with "those responsible" standing for "the Syrians." This is Nasrallah's big debt to the Syrians. After he did not succeed in preventing their retreat from Lebanon, and on the backdrop of the large amount of aid he received from them throughout the years and is continuing to receive, Nasrallah feels a profound obligation to prevent embarrassment of Syria, of the sort that could be caused by an international trial. After all, no one is accusing Hezbollah of the assassination, and everyone knows about Rafik Hariri's close relations with the organization. This is the crux of the collision between Nasrallah and Fuad Siniora. Bringing to trial those responsible for the murder of Hariri, his close friend and his boss for decades, is the main and perhaps the only impetus that is keeping Siniora in the high political position that can determine the judicial move. Giving in to Nasrallah would mean, as far as Siniora is concerned, the collapse of the justification for his political existence. This is the cause of the war that is going on now in Lebanon, into which Hezbollah wants to drag the important economic conference, as he feels its failure might result in the Siniora government's losing a significant share of its popularity and perhaps might thus fall.
Within this intra-Lebanese struggle, the name of Israel is not absent. Thus, for example, the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al Diar has published that Russia is now asking to add another assassination to the international investigation. This is the assassination in Sidon last May of the brothers Nadal and Mahmoud Majzoub from Islamic Jihad. The Hezbollah and Palestinian elements in Lebanon claimed at the time that Israel was behind this assassination. Israel denied the charge. This report, coming at this time, is aimed, in fact, at casting further doubt as to the identities of murderers who are moving around freely in Lebanon, since perhaps the Majzoubs' assassins are also the ones who assassinated Hariri, and what about the espionage cell that was "exposed" in Lebanon a month later? But the larger matter is that elements in Hezbollah are attributing specifically to Russia the intention to add this incident to the international investigation committee's wealth of investigations. It appears that in this publication there is even a suggestion to Russia, whose role until now in the investigations was an attempt to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to cooperate, to take a more active role and to try to create balance in the investigation committee: the investigation of Syrian elements alongside the investigation of Israeli elements. There has been no official confirmation from Russia this is indeed its intention, but in the Lebanese dynamic, in this matter, too, Israel is liable to find its name winding its way through the streets of Beirut.

Saudi FM: We are a friend to Lebanon & all its segments
Saturday, 13 January, 2007 @ 6:51 PM
Beirut & Riyadh- Following a meeting in Riyadh with his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy, Saudi Arabia's Foreign minister declared " Saudi Arabia is a friend to Lebanon and all its segments. Prince Saud al-Faisal was responding to question by one of the reporters about the meeting between the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz and a delegation of Hezbollah of Lebanon.
Prince Saud said "the meeting was held upon the request of the Lebanese party and the acceptance of the kingdom. It is not surprising that the monarch meets Hezbollah to discuss a Lebanese matter as the kingdom is neutral and never sides with a Lebanese party at the expense of the others", he said, adding that "it would have been surprising if the kingdom had rejected the meeting to take place". Prince Saud denied that the meeting of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah with Hezbollah officials meant the Kingdom was taking sides in the issue.
"The meeting came following a request from Hezbollah," he said. "Saudi Arabia is a friend to Lebanon and all of its segments."
Answering a question about Saudi mediation to resolve the Lebanese impasse, Prince Saud said the Lebanese would be better off solving their own differences. We wish that Lebanon is again stable through dialogue and rejection of violence, he said in response to a question on whether there are signs of a breakthrough in the offing for the Lebanese crisis. He said the kingdom welcomes Paris 3 conference on Lebanon, but reserves that it is important to pave the way for the Lebanese factions to reach a conciliatory draft for national unity. In this regard, "we consider the Arab League's recent initiative an appropriate solution to the Lebanese crisis" he said .The French minister said "we discussed the best ways to help Lebanon to overcome the current difficulties". "Both our countries are interested in making Paris 3 conference on Lebanon a success", he said. Commenting on a conference held recently in Paris for the rebuilding of Lebanon, the French minister said his government supports Lebanese sovereignty.
"France stresses the importance of a sovereign Lebanon and the non-interference of outsiders," he said. "We fully support (Prime Minister) Fouad Siniora and his work and his government's work... We are encouraging the Lebanese government to implement economic reforms." He added
He said his government was closely following efforts by the Arab League to end a standoff between the government and the opposition in Lebanon.
Picture: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (R) and his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy attended a joint news conference in Riyadh last week Sources: Ain-al-yaqeen , Ya Libnan

Nasrallah's settlers
Y.Net: Mt. Lebanon mufti attacks Hizbullah leader, organization policies; says group using funds meant for state rehabilitation for political purposes, buying out Beirut in move that may change city demographic makeup in predominantly Christian areas Without drawing any front-page headlines in Israel, Hizbullah loyalists renewed their protests against Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. While the official causes have been stated to be the financial conduct of the government and its corruption, but the raison d'être is clear: changing the election law in a manner that will allow Hizbullah to expand their numbers in parliament.And on the Border Estimation: Hizbullah planned another kidnapping / Ahiya Raved
Golani commander says newly discovered Hizbullah post may have been manned since summer; emphasizes army will continue to prevent Hizbullah return to border outposts at all costs However, alongside the 'usual' slogans, Lebanon also seems to be following the Mideast trend and witnessing an Iran backed strengthening Shiite movement against an uncomfortable Sunni movement.
Mount Lebanon Mufti Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Jozo voices these tensions and has long since spoken out openly against Syria and Hizbullah. Al-Jozo ridicules the 'divine victory' Nasrallah claims to have achieved during the last war and scorns the political crisis he has caused. Al-Jozo has called the attempt an actual coup. This week al-Jozo referred to Hizbullah as 'occupiers' in Beirut and its surroundings: "They occupied different areas like the Beirut airport, built mosques, hospitals, gas stations and tourist sites alongside the way. Recently they have taken the Riad El-Solh square (where Hizbullah loyalists gathered). Maybe they thought to build a resort village there. There are the 'divine victories' achieved by Hizbullah."
"Allah gave Hizbullah what he has given no man. He has given them this land which was forcibly taken during the civil war and the last war, land that has become private property of Hizbullah, its supporters and its allies." Al-Jozo said.
Addressing the massive crowd Hizbullah draws to its functions al-Jozo said: "Today Hizbullah gives USD 20 to anyone who participates in a rally. The money comes from funds collected by the organization to rebuild the villages and bridges destroyed by the aggressive Zionist state. Even the tents (which were erected during the Hizbullah rallies) are from Arab and Turkish donations, meant to house the evicted residents of the south. Even the food mean for the refugees was taken to the Riad El-Solh square to feed participants." Al-Jozo again blamed Syria for the death of Rafik al-Hariri.
Four days earlier al-Jozo blamed Hizbullah for leading an 'ethnic revolt' against Saniora's government. In his statements he asked Hizbullah leaders to "have mercy on Lebanon and rescue it from their destructive ambitions which the Lebanese people can't take anymore, ambitions which have wiped out all of Lebanon politically and economically."
"We do not believe many of Hizbullah's religious scholars," said al-Jozo, "the old ones or the new ones, because from the beginning they have operated in an ethnic-oriented manner, racially-based and racist. All their statements support overturning the government and holding elections that will allow Hizbullah to control the entire country, as well as pick a president who will be a puppet of Hizbullah and Syria."
'Hizbullah using mob tactics' This is not the first time that al-Jozo elects to air dirty laundry in public. Just last week he accused Hizbullah or employing mafia tactics to impose their will on the Lebanese people. "Save Lebanon from the Mafia!" al-Jozo urged the international community, "Rescue Lebanon from those who work to hijack her and place her under Iranian-Syrian control. Save Lebanon from those who serve America and Israel from spreading chaos throughout the country. Since the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers, Lebanon has been abducted by Iranian-Syrian interests who have spread destruction, ruin, and economic, social, political and moral collapse. The Syrian influence is represented by the state's president who disrupts the activity of its institutions. Is this not the leadership of a mafia?!" He called on the Lebanese army to stand against Hizbullah and prevent the organization from taking control of the country. Al-Jozo is not the only one attacking Hizbullah though. Lebanon mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, the supreme Sunni authority in the country, shares al-Jozo's sentiments. "There is an attempt to overthrow the Lebanese regime by spreading a general chaos throughout the country and an attempt to overturn the Taif Agreement," Qabbani told Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba. "If the current government falls, there will not be a new government… We stand by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, for the national interest," Qabbani said.
The Hizbullah settlements
Back to real estate affairs: After al-Jozo accused Hizbullah of taking over extensive grounds in Lebanon the London-based 'al-Quda al-Arabi daily' backed up his claim. The paper reported that, with the help of Iranian funding, Hizbullah is aggressively purchasing land in an attempt to change the demographic reality and strengthen their influence. According to 'al-Quds al-Arabi' Hizbullah is leading a real estate assault on Beirut. The report joins statements made by Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt who spoke of an Iranian settlement through Hizbullah. Sources within Jumblatt's organization said that there is an alarming increase in purchases of property in predominantly Christian sections of the city by Hizbullah in a 'construction Jihad' that may change the face of the region's demographic makeup.