May 27/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 21,20-25. Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, "Master, who is the one who will betray you?" When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus said to him, "What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me."So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just "What if I want him to remain until I come? (What concern is it of yours?)"It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 27/05/07
U.S. forces raid al-Sadr's stronghold-AP
Revised Draft U.N. Resolution Gives Lebanese Until June 10 to Set up Tribunal
Nasrallah Opposes Military Incursion Into Nahr al-Bared-Naharnet
More Military Aid Rushed to Army Amid Attempts to Negotiate End to Clashes-Naharnet
U.N. Request Protection of Palestinian Civilians Stuck in Camp-Naharnet
Alleged Qaida Group Threatens Tourists over Camp Siege-Naharnet
France Backs Army Crackdown on Fatah al-Islam-Naharnet
Sniper Fire Targets Exodus From Nahr al-Bared-Naharnet
Japan Supports Lebanon's Stability-Naharnet
Fatah al-Islam Preparing for Final Showdown With Army-Naharnet
Ahmadinejad Continues to Defy West-Naharnet
Abbas: We Have No Links with Fatah al-Islam-Naharnet

Revised Draft U.N. Resolution Gives Lebanese Until June 10 to Set up Tribunal
A revised draft U.N. resolution to unilaterally establish the international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins would give the Lebanese parliament a grace period until June 10 to ratify it. If the Lebanese parties do not overcome their differences by that date, the agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese government to establish the special the court would enter into force.
The council is scheduled to discuss the new draft on Tuesday, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the current council president, said he expects a vote in the following days. Premier Fouad Saniora asked the U.N. Security Council earlier this month to take binding action to establish the tribunal. He cited the refusal of Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a session to ratify the statutes to create the court that have already been approved by the Lebanese government and the United Nations. The original draft resolution called for the Security Council to create a tribunal outside Lebanon with a majority of international judges and an international prosecutor under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which deals with threats to international peace and can be militarily enforced.
At a council meeting on Friday where the three co-sponsors -- the United States, Britain and France -- formally introduced the draft, Russia and Qatar said they opposed putting the tribunal under Chapter 7.
In an attempt to address their concerns, the revised draft circulated Friday night and obtained by The Associated Press leaves only part of the resolution under Chapter 7 -- the provisions on the grace period until June 10 and the entry into force, on the location of the tribunal, and on its financing.
The provisions on putting the tribunal into operation would not be under Chapter 7. The revised draft states that "the special tribunal shall commence functioning on a date to be determined by the secretary-general in consultation with the government of Lebanon, taking into account the progress of the work of the International Independent Investigation Commission," which is probing Hariri's Feb. 2005 assassination. It asks the secretary-general, "when appropriate" and in coordination with the Lebanese government, to take the necessary measures to establish the tribunal "in a timely manner."
The mandate of the investigation commission, led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz, has been extended until June 2008. It is probing the Hariri murder and assisting in 16 other cases. Whether the revisions will satisfy Russia, Qatar and others remains to be seen.
In order to be adopted, the resolution needs at least nine "yes" votes in the 15-member council and no veto by a permanent member -- the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France. Council diplomats said they don't expect a veto, but they do expect at least five abstentions -- Russia, China, Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin opposed any reference to Chapter 7, stressing that all Security Council resolutions are legally binding and "on legal grounds it's very vulnerable to refer to Chapter 7 in this resolution." Khalilzad said political assassinations and the Hariri case have been dealt with in past council resolutions as threats to international peace and security -- and therefore a reference is needed to Chapter 7. Churkin also proposed a grace period "in the expectation that before that period of time ends, they will be able to ratify it in Lebanon."
Qatar's U.N. Ambassador Nassir al-Nasser also called for additional time, saying efforts are under way -- including by his government -- "to talk to all Lebanese parties to convince them so we can create consensus on establishing this court." But France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the council needs to act now. "We should not be intimidated by what is happening today in Lebanon," he said.
Having the tribunal established now is important because it will help the inquiry commission do its work, because of the council's commitment to justice, and because it could take a year before the tribunal starts operating, de La Sabliere said.(AP-Naharnet)

U.N. Request Protection of Palestinian Civilians Stuck in Camp

The United Nations on Saturday appealed for the protection of some 10,000 civilians trapped in Nahr al-Bared where Lebanese troops are fighting al Qaida-inspired Islamic terrorists holed up inside the Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon.
"An estimated 10,000 civilians remain in the embattled camp with only sporadic humanitarian support during very brief ceasefire periods," the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said. "Children living in Nahr al-Bared have been through unspeakable trauma," it added. "Already living in a refugee situation, they have witnessed their homes being destroyed, loved ones being killed or injured, and were trapped in their homes hearing the terrifying sounds of gunfire around them."
UNICEF said "the safety of children and families still living in the camp and their access to humanitarian aid must become the first priority for all parties."
Since Sunday, the camp has been the scene of gunbattles between the Lebanese army and Islamist guerrillas barricaded inside Nahr al-Bared.
The fighting has left scores of dead, destroyed houses and triggered a mass exodus from the camp, which had a population before the fighting of around 30,000.
UNICEF also expressed concern for the thousands of civilians who managed to flee Nahr al-Bared earlier in the week and were mostly forced to find makeshift shelter in the already crowded Beddawi refugee camp nearby. "Beddawi camp is currently housing approximately 10,000 to 15,000 (displaced) refugees," in addition to its resident population of more than 16,000, the agency said. "Five schools inside Beddawi camp have stopped classes and turned into displacement centers for more than 5,000 refugees, where families are sleeping on mattresses in extremely crowded conditions. UNICEF said it had started to distribute water, medicines, hygiene and obstetrics kits, as well as toys to the displaced civilians.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 26 May 07, 13:29

Israel Hits Hamas Targets in Gaza Amid More West Bank Arrests
Israeli missiles struck near the house of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in a Gaza refugee camp Saturday, and troops in the West Bank arrested a Hamas cabinet minister as part of a 10-day-old offensive against the group. The air strikes and arrests came in response to Hamas rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli border towns. Dozens of targeted missile strikes have killed more than 40 Palestinians and damaged many Hamas installations. Israel said some 220 rockets have landed in Israeli towns since May 15, killing one woman and sending thousands of frightened Israeli residents fleeing. Meanwhile, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was trying to revive a truce with Israel. Under his plan, Gaza militants would halt rocket fire for a month to allow for negotiations on a more comprehensive cease-fire that would include the West Bank. After a meeting late Friday, the factions asked for 48 hours to respond to the proposal. Abbas has been in talks with them since Tuesday. "We discussed halting rockets in return for Israel not to conduct air, sea and land attacks, and then to include the West Bank in the truce," Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, said early Saturday. "There are no Israeli guarantees, which is a problem, because Israel can attack the West Bank during that period, and we don't want a one-sided truce."
Early Saturday, Israel unleashed six airstrikes, including two that hit close to Haniyeh's house in the Shati refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City.
The army confirmed the Shati strikes but said Haniyeh was not a target. However, earlier this week, Israel's deputy defense minister had warned that none of the Hamas leaders are immune. Haniyeh stayed away from public prayers on Friday. He issued a statement after the second strike saying the air strikes in Gaza are a sign of Israel's "political and security crisis." "This campaign will fail because of the steadfastness of the Palestinian people," Haniyeh said.
Palestinian militants fired six rockets toward Israel on Friday, one of which landed directly on a home in the border town of Sderot, lightly injuring three people, the army said. In the West Bank, Israeli troops arrested cabinet minister Wasfi Kabaha, confiscating his computer and many of his documents. The arrest came two days after a sweep in which more than 30 Hamas politicians, legislators and local council members were arrested, including the education minister.(AP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 26 May 07, 09:41

Nasrallah Opposes Military Incursion Into Nahr al-Bared
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has warned that storming the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared where Fatah al-Islam militants are holed up would cause internal discord. "Beware not to go to discord," Nasrallah said in a televised speech that marked his first reaction to the country's deadliest internal fighting since the 1975-90 civil war. "An assault on the camp ... is a mistake," he said. Nasrallah warned that Lebanon risked getting dragged into the United States' war against al-Qaida, which he said would draw more Islamic militants into the country and potentially destabilize it.
"The problem in the north can be solved politically and through the judiciary in a way that protects the Lebanese army, our Palestinian brothers, the state and peace and stability without transforming Lebanon into a battleground in which we fight al-Qaida on behalf of the Americans," he said in a televised address.
Nasrallah said Fatah al-Islam fighters who attacked the military should be brought to justice. "Justice should take its course...and the aggressors should be brought to justice, they should face a fair trial," he said. But he said Hizbullah opposed any military incursion into the camp to crush the militants.
"The Nahr al-Bared camp and Palestinian civilians are a red line. We will not accept or provide cover or be partners in this," he said. "We cannot accept a war in the camps... which would stir new disputes among the Lebanese and with the Palestinians," he said. "Any decision to let the army enter the camp would mean sacrificing the army, Lebanon and the Palestinian people." Nasrallah also called a large airlifting of U.S. military supplies to the Lebanese military "a grave thing."
"We should be aware of American interference," he said. "I wonder why all this care now for the Lebanese army?" he asked, recalling that the U.S. did not act during last year's Israeli offensive when army positions were attacked by the Israelis. "Does it concern us that we start a conflict with al-Qaida in Lebanon and consequently attract members and fighters of al-Qaida from all over the world to Lebanon to conduct their battle with the Lebanese army and the rest of the Lebanese?" he asked.
He stressed his position was not in defense of Fatah al-Islam but to preserve the army, which he described as the last bastion that is keeping the country together.(AP-AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 26 May 07, 07:50

More Military Aid Rushed to Army Amid Attempts to Negotiate End to Clashes
The U.S. and Arab allies rushed military aid to Lebanon, boosting its strength ahead of a possible army assault to crush Fatah al-Islam militants barricaded in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.The aid came as Palestinian factions were scrambling to find a negotiated solution to end the siege and avert what many fear would be a bloody battle in the camp, where thousands of civilians remain in the line of fire.
Defense Minister Elias Murr said he was "leaving room for political negotiations," which he said must lead to the surrender of the fighters."If the political negotiations fail, I leave it to the military command to do what is necessary," he told reporters.Murr did not specify who was brokering the talks, and stressed that he personally was "not involved in the negotiations because it is not within the scope of my duties."The military was gearing up for a fight, rolling more troops into place around the camp near the port city of Tripoli, already ringed by hundreds of soldiers backed by artillery and tanks. At least a dozen more armored carriers and a battle tank were seen headed for the area Friday. In a communique, the military warned the militants: "You have no choice but to surrender."
It said it had detained a "large number" of fighters "in the region of Tripoli and around the camp." It did not specify the date of their arrest.
"There will be no leniency or compromise with the criminal killers," the communique said. "Their only alternative is to abide by the law and surrender to the hand of justice."Sporadic gunfire at Nahr al-Bared kept tensions high, but a truce that has halted three days of heavy artillery and rocket bombardment since Tuesday held.
Between late Thursday and early afternoon Friday, five military transport planes landed at Rafik Hariri international airport, including one from the U.S. Air Force, two from the United Arab Emirates and two from Jordan.The military said it received supplies from Arab countries and the U.S. but gave no details; media reports said they included ammunition, body armor, helmets and night-vision equipment.
"In light of events in Tripoli and urgent requests from the government of Lebanon, we are expediting deliveries of planned U.S. military assistance to the Lebanese armed forces, as well as enlisting the support of international partners to provide additional assistance," State Department spokesman David Foley told Agence France Presse. U.S. military officials said Washington would send eight planes of supplies, part of a package that had been agreed on but that the Lebanese government asked to be expedited."We are expediting deliveries of planned U.S. military assistance to the Lebanese armed forces as well as enlisting the support of international partners to provide additional assistance," said Dave Foley, a State Department spokesman.(AP-AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 26 May 07, 08:24

Alleged Qaida Group Threatens Tourists over Camp Siege
A group claiming to be al-Qaida's wing in the Levant threatened to target tourists in Lebanon unless the army lifts its siege off Nahr al-Bared camp, according to an Internet statement posted on Friday."If you do not stop... we will use bombs to target your trade starting with tourism," said the statement posted in the name of al-Qaida in al-Sham on a website often used by Islamic militants. The Washington-based SITE Institute, which monitors militant trafficking, said Friday it also obtained the 7-minute video allegedly from al-Qaida in al-Sham an Arabic name for the region of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. If the shelling continues, "Christians in Lebanon will suffer and tourism and trade will also suffer," said the obscure group, which is not known to have carried out any attacks. Christians are a large minority in Lebanon. "If you do not stop firing on our family I warn that... after today not one Christian in Lebanon will be safe... Just as you strike, you will be struck," added the statement. The group called on the Lebanese army to pull back from around the northern Palestinian refugee camp where troops are fighting with Fatah al-Islam fighters since Sunday. The statement described the army's campaign as a "crusade under the pretext of fighting terrorism." In an Internet statement posted on Thursday, the Army of Islam in Gaza called on jihadists to rally behind Fatah al-Islam. The group says it is holding BBC journalist Alan Johnston who was kidnapped in Gaza City on March 12.(AFP-AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 25 May 07, 21:52

Abbas: We Have No Links with Fatah al-Islam
The Palestinian authorities have no links with Fatah al-Islam fighters who are locked in a deadly showdown with the Lebanese army, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday."We have nothing at all to do with those called Fatah al-Islam," Abbas told a press conference in Gaza City with visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "We do not approve the actions of this group," he said.Abbas, who heads the secular Fatah party in the Palestinian territories, said the authorities would send humanitarian aid to the refugees of the besieged camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon, where the extremists and the army fought deadly battles this week.
Fatah al-Islam itself has denied any links to "parties and states outside Lebanon."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 24 May 07, 20:39