US and Israel to sign Memorandum of Understanding Friday to call for international effort to cut Hamas off from Iranian weapons

US and Israel to sign Memorandum of Understanding Friday to call for international effort to cut Hamas off from Iranian weapons

Included in the proposed agreement is Israel’s demand that the U.S. call on the international community to stop Iranian weapons’ transfer into Gaza. As part of the international effort, Israel is calling for a joint international maritime effort to seize ships carrying weapons.

US, Israel Mull Intel Pact On Gaza Tunnels

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January 15, 2009 6:43 a.m. EST


The Media Line Staff

Jerusalem, Israel (THE MEDIA LINE) – Israel and the United States are considering signing a memorandum of understanding concerning the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip, an informed source in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) told The Media Line.

The bilateral agreement will attempt to give solutions to the trafficking of weapons from Iran via Sudan, Egypt and other countries, into the hands of Hamas in Gaza.

A report about the agreement was first published in the Israeli daily Haaretz on Thursday morning.

Aiming at reaching a quick signing on the bilateral agreement, Israel’s MFA dispatched its Director General, Aharon Abramowitz, to meet on Thursday with State Department and White House officials, The Media Line has learned from its source at the MFA.

Included in the proposed agreement is Israel’s demand that the U.S. call on the international community to stop Iranian weapons’ transfer into Gaza. As part of the international effort, Israel is calling for a joint international maritime effort to seize ships carrying weapons.

Israel also aims to establish intelligence cooperation with the U.S. that would identify the sources of weapons.

If reached, the agreement will also contain a clause calling for American and European commitments to the transfer of technologies to Egypt that would help it uncover tunnels emanating from its territory.

The Israeli move comes only few days before the swearing in of Sen. Barack Obama as the next U.S. president. Addressing the conflict in Gaza, Obama told CBS on Wednesday night he would act “from day one” to stop the violence between Israel and Hamas.

“We are going to take a regional approach; we are going to have to involve Syria…[and] Iran,” said Obama.

If Israel and the U.S. sign the agreement, it will bind the next administration.

Europeans souring on Ukraine, Georgia

Europeans souring on Ukraine, Georgia

Paul Taylor

Europeans souring on Ukraine, Georgia Paul Taylor, Reuters columnist

Feted just a couple of years ago as heroes of democratic revolutions, the leaders of Ukraine and Georgia have fallen from grace among European policymakers.
While there is scant sympathy in Europe for Russia’s rough treatment of the two former Soviet republics, European Union officials have been exasperated by the behaviour of the governments in Kiev and Tbilisi.

In private, many EU policymakers blame Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for igniting last August’s disastrous war with Russia by launching an attack on rebels in breakaway South Ossetia that gave Moscow a pretext to send in the tanks.

And they accuse Ukraine’s feuding leaders of exacerbating the current gas crisis with Moscow by undermining each other’s negotiations, breaking undertakings to the EU on the smooth transit of gas and dealing with murky intermediaries.

Some charge neo-conservatives in the United States, who have campaigned actively to get both countries into the NATO military alliance, with goading them into conflict with the Kremlin.

“The neo-con agenda in that region has been a disaster for Europe,” said an EU foreign policy official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

EU officials have been loath to fault either government in public, partly because they enjoy support among ex-communist east European member states, but also because Brussels remains sympathetic to the goals of their democratic revolutions.

However, the crisis over the cut-off of Russian gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine in a dispute over pricing and debt has crystallised European disenchantment with the leaders of Kiev’s “Orange Revolution”.

European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering told Reuters on Tuesday: “If the gas is blocked in Ukraine, then this will seriously damage relations between Ukraine and the EU. It is not in Ukraine’s interests to do this.”

WORST ENEMIES

An EU energy official close to the negotiations said of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko: “They are their own worst enemies.”

The crisis could have been averted, he said, if Yushchenko had not vetoed a New Year’s Eve deal negotiated by Tymoshenko with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on gas prices for 2009 and getting rid of a Swiss-based intermediary company, RosUkrEnergo, which sells all Russian gas to Ukraine.

Yushchenko denied that version of events on Tuesday and insisted he had no links to any gas supply intermediaries.

The rival Ukrainian leaders often seem unaware of how their feuding looks to investors, international financial institutions and the rest of Europe.

They conducted some of their most vicious public exchanges just as an International Monetary Fund delegation was in Kiev last October to negotiate a $16.4 billion emergency loan to Ukraine in the financial crisis as the hryvnia currency tumbled.

The European Commission would like to draw Ukraine and Georgia closer to the EU through European Neighbourhood Policy agreements on trade, economic aid, energy cooperation, institution building and the rule of law, while leaving aside the long-term question of possible membership of the bloc.

But EU officials are dismayed that Ukraine has done so little in economic reform, tackling corruption and improving transparency and the rule of law to qualify for more assistance.

“Instead of fighting corruption, they spend their time fighting each other,” the energy official said.

It was politically inconvenient that both states voiced enthusiasm for joining the EU just as the bloc was suffering enlargement fatigue after taking in 10 new members in 2004.

European states led by Germany and France blocked a drive by U.S. President George W. Bush at a NATO summit last year to grant Ukraine and Georgia a roadmap to membership. That prompted some supporters of Bush’s “democracy agenda” to accuse the Europeans of appeasing Russia, which vehemently opposes NATO expansion up to its southern border.

The allies declared instead that both countries would eventually join the Western military alliance, but set no date.

NATO foreign ministers shelved the issue in December after Washington recognised its campaign was splitting the alliance.

Now the Europeans are hoping incoming President Barack Obama will not resurrect the issue at NATO’s 60th anniversary summit in April. Neither country’s behaviour since the last NATO summit has made it a more attractive candidate for membership.

Energy Commissioner Says Ukraine Will Not Restart Gas to Europe Yet

Presidential commissioner: Ukraine won’t

restart transit unless technological deal signed

with Russia

Ukraine won't restart transit unless technological deal signed with Russia Ukraine’s presidential international
energy security commissioner Bohdan
Sokolovsky

Ukraine will not restart gas transit to Europe unless a technological agreement is signed with Russia, Ukraine’s presidential international energy security commissioner Bohdan Sokolovsky has said.

“A technological agreement, or a technological contract must be signed to define at what point which amounts of gas of what quality must be delivered into Ukraine’s gas transportation system,” Sokolovskiy said at a press briefing in Kyiv on Thursday.

Exclusively technical terms of the dealings between the Ukrainian and Russian gas systems are involved here, he said. The agreement would not cover the financial side – the price for the transit, or technical gas, Sokolovsky said.

“The national company Naftogaz Ukrainy two days ago provided two drafts to the Russian side. But Russia has yet to respond,” he said.

“Such an agreement is extremely important for transiting Russian gas to Europe,” he also said.

“In the absence of an agreement defining in what amounts and at which points gas will be received, and in what amounts and where it would be shipped, Ukraine will be physically unable to transit gas,” said Sokolovsky.

Two injured as Israeli warplanes attack media compound in Gaza

Two injured as Israeli warplanes attack media

compound in Gaza

Gaza – A journalist and a cameraman working for Abu Dhabi TV were injured when Israeli shells hit the Ash-Shuruq Tower on Umar Al-Mukhtar Street in dowtown Gaza City on Thursday.

The building contains several news agencies and networks, including Reuters, NBC, and Al-Arabiya.

An Israeli airstrike caused a fire to break out in the building. Journalists have reportedly fled the compound fearing continued Israeli strikes.

The injured journalists were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital. They were identified as Muhammad As-Susi, who was wounded in the head, and Ayman Ar-Rezi who was injured “all over his body. “

Reuters journalists working there at the time said an Israeli missile or shell appeared to have struck the southern side of the 13th floor of the Tower.

Reuters said it evacuated the bureau, though a live camera feed that has been providing images from Gaza throughout the war continued to function. Live television images from another site showed smoke pouring from the upper floors of the 16-story building.

The One Real God Will Make You Pay For This.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Israeli army masses along Lebanon border

Israeli army masses along Lebanon border
Wed, 14 Jan 2009 17:55:06 GMT

Southern Lebanon is witnessing the build-up of Israeli armored vehicles – tanks, military vessels and Apache helicopters – along the border.

Israel deploys military units along the border with Lebanon amid growing concerns that the assault on Gaza was the onset of a multi-front war.

Nineteen days after the start of the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, the Lebanese daily Al Safir reported Wednesday that southern Lebanon had witnessed the build-up of Israeli armored vehicles – tanks, military vessels and Apache helicopters – along the border.

“The Israeli army has mobilized its troops along the border from the western Lebanese village of Naqurah to the southern border village of Al Wazzani.”

Citing military officials from Lebanon, the daily added that Israeli forces had also fired flares into the Lebanese territory.

While the report adds that the Lebanese army is on high alert, informed sources told Press TV’s correspondent in Beirut that Hezbollah has also put its members on red alert.

Wednesday saw at least three rockets fired from the area of Habaniyeh in southern Lebanon into Israel. No casualties among the Israelis have been reported. Within minutes of the attack, Israel responded by firing eight rockets into southern Lebanon.

Following the rocket exchange, Israel sent telephone warnings to residents of southern Lebanon threatening to start a second front.

“People of Lebanon, launching rockets from southern Lebanon against innocents in northern Israel harms your own interests,” one of the warnings said, according to AFP.

Israel’s prime minister warned last week that no one in the region should “get the wrong impression” over Israel’s determination “on any front.”

“We are not afraid of any confrontation or threat. We truly hope that no one will put us to the test,” Ehud Olmert said in a speech broadcast on army radio.

On the opening days of the war on Gaza, Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the Israeli offensive would ignite a multi-front war which could lead to a US attack on Iran.

“So while our focus obviously is on Gaza right now, this could turn out to be a much larger conflict,” the hawkish US official told FOXNews, adding, “We’re looking at potentially a multi-front war.”

Amid widespread speculation that the conflict in the Palestinian territory could spill over to other parts of the Middle East, Bolton added that there is “the possibility of the use of military force possibly by the United States, possibly by Israel,” on Iran after the current war.

However, after Israel launched the ground phase of its operation last Saturday, Nadim Shehadi, a Lebanese political analyst said “It looks like Israel has enough trouble as it is, and there is no way (Israel) can come out of this saying it was a success.”

On December 25, two days before the start of the Israeli offensive against Gaza, Lebanese soldiers found and dismantled eight Katyusha rockets equipped with timers pointed south toward Israel.

Ever since the rocket incident, there has been an escalation of tensions on the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Lebanese president Michel Suleiman suggested Israel was responsible for the eight rockets found in southern Lebanon, saying that he fears “it is an Israeli attack to implicate Lebanon,” according to the NOW Lebanon news website.

As the Palestinian casualties from Israel’s Operation Cast Lead have topped 1,000 on day 19, Israel refuses to respond to international calls for a ceasefire.

Israeli Defense Minister ruled out the possibility of halting the ongoing offensive against the impoverished Strip on Tuesday.

Ehud Barak said “We heard yesterday, and respect, UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s appeal, and we are closely following the progress on the Egyptian truce initiative, but the fighting goes on and the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] continues to operate our troops.”

The Israeli War on the Gaza Strip: “The Birth Pangs of a New Palestine/Middle East”

The Israeli War on the Gaza Strip: “The Birth Pangs of a New Palestine/Middle East”

To truly understand the specific you must understand the general and to master knowledge of the general you must understand the specific.

What is taking place in the Palestinian Territories is related to what is taking place across the Middle East and Central Asia, from Lebanon to Iraq and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, as part of a broader geo-strategic objective. All the events in the Middle East are part of a mammoth geo-political jigsaw puzzle; each piece only shows you one picture or a portion of the picture, but when you put all these pieces together you see the grand picture of things.

For these reasons at times more than one event must be discussed to gain greater understanding of another event, but this at times comes at a risk of diverging or extending one’s focus in different directions.

The following text is based on several key sections of an earlier and broader text; this text is brief in form but comprehensive in its scope and more focused on the events in the Palestinian Territories and their role in the broader chain of regional events in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East.


The photograph above: Mahmoud Abbas (PA and PLO head) introducing Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, to Ehud Barak, the defence minister of Israel.

Operation Cast Lead: The “Birth Pangs of a New Palestine”

The Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip against the Palestinians are part of a larger geo-strategic project. They are part of the “birth pangs of a new Palestine and Middle East” in the eyes of the U.S. and Israel. but this project will not proceed as envisaged by the U.S. and Israel. There is a wind of change and revolt throughout the Middle East and the Arab World. This process is unleashing a new wave of popular resistance directed against the U.S. and Israel, both within and beyond the Arab World.

“Operation Cast Lead” has been planned for almost a year. The “Shoah” (Hebrew word for holocaust) that Matan Vilnai, an Israeli official, promised the Palestinians has been exposed even though many media sources have attempted to whitewash it.

Israeli officials had warned that they would enter the Gaza Strip since the election of Hamas. The underlying rationale for a campaign against Gaza was that Fatah fighters (supported by the U.S. and Israel) had failed to oust the Hamas-led Palestinian government through coup d’etat. The idea of a coup directed against Hamas was endorsed by the U.S., Britain, Israel, and several Arab dictatorships including Saudi Arabia, Jordon, and Egypt.

The publication NATO and Israel: Instruments of America’s Wars in the Middle East clearly documents Tel Aviv’s strategic objective to invade Gaza and overthrow the democratic political system of the Palestinians in favour Palestinian clients.

The Israeli objective is also to “internationalize” the Gaza Strip on the model of  Southern Lebanon, requiring  the involvement of NATO and other foreign military forces as so-called peacekeepers.[1] This modus operandi is very similar to that of Anglo-American occupied Iraq and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan. The former Yugoslavia is also a relevant example, where a political and economic restructuring process (including a privatization program) was implemented under the surveillance of U.S. and NATO troops. The difference with Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories is that political figures, such as Mahmoud Abbas, willing to implement these agendas are already in place.

From the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative to the Annapolis Conference

The events at issue start with the 2002 Arab Initiative that was proposed by Saudi Arabia in Beirut during an Arab League conference in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia’s initiative was in effect handed over to the Riyad by London and Washington in 2002 as part of an Anglo-American military-political roadmap for the Middle East and as part of the Project for the “New Middle East.”

The Hamas-Fatah split, the calculated deceit behind Saudi Arabia’s role in the Mecca Accord, and the long-term objectives of America and its allies in the Middle East and the Mediterranean littoral have been in the backdrop of the fighting in the Palestinian Territories.

The struggle in Palestine, like in Iraq and Lebanon, does not solely pertain to sovereignty and “self-determination.” What is at stake is the imposition of a global neo-liberal economic agenda through force. The latter constututes a modern form of debt-ridden slavery and privatization, imposed by military force in the Middle East and around worldwide.

What it is not always understood, is that the Palestinian struggle is being waged on behalf of people everywhere. The Palestinians are in the forefront in the battle against, speaking in a political and economic sense, the “New World Order.”

To understand where the path advertised at Annapolis is intended to lead the Palestinians and the entire Levant one must also understand what has been happening in Palestine since the onslaught of the “Global War on Terror” in 2001.

Act I: Dividing the Palestinians through a Hamas-Fatah Split

America and the E.U. have come to realize that Fatah does not represent the popular will of the Palestinian Nation and that representative power will eventually be taken away from Fatah.

This is a central issue for Israel, the E.U., and America, which require a corrupt proxy Fatah leadership to carry out their long-term objectives in the Palestinian Territories and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as in the broader Middle East region.

In 2005, Washington and Tel Aviv started preparing for a Hamas victory in the Palestinian general elections. Thus, a strategy was created before the political victory of Hamas to neutralize not only Hamas but all legitimate forms of resistance to the foreign agendas that the Palestinians have been held hostages to since the “Nakba.”

Israel, America, and their allies, which includes the E.U., were well aware that Hamas would never be a party to what Washington foresaw for the Palestinians and the Middle East. Simply stated, Hamas would oppose the Project for the “New Middle East.” This geo-political restructuring of the Middle East required in the Levant, the concurrent implementation of the Mediterranean Union. All along, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative was a gateway for the materialization of both the “New Middle East” and its implementation through the Mediterranean Union.

While the Saudis played their part in America’s “New Middle East” venture, Fatah was manipulated into confronting and fighting Hamas. This was also done with the knowledge that Hamas’ first reaction as the governing party in the Palestinian Territories would be to try to maintain the integrity of Palestinian unity. This is where Saudi Arabia comes into the picture again through its role in arranging the Mecca Accord. It is also worth noting that Saudi Arabia did not give Hamas any diplomatic recognition before the Mecca Accord.

Act II: Entrapping the Palestinians in Mecca and via a Gaza-West Bank Divide

The Mecca Accord was a setup and a means to entrap Hamas. The Hamas-Fatah truce and the subsequent Palestinian unity government that was established, was not meant to prevail. It was doomed from the outset, when Hamas was deceived into signing the agreement in Mecca. The Mecca Accord had set the stage, it was meant to “legitimize” what would happen next: a Palestinian mini-civil war in Gaza.

It is after the signing of the Mecca Accord that elements within Fatah led by Mohammed Dahlan (supervised by U.S. Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton) were ordered to overthrow the Hamas-led Palestinian government by the U.S. and Israel. There probably existed two contingency plans, one for Fatah’s possible success and the other contingency plan (and more probable of the two) made in the case of Fatah’s failure. The latter plan was a preparation for two parallel Palestinian governments, one in Gaza led by Prime Minister Haniyah and Hamas and the other in the West Bank controlled by Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah.

The objective of Israel and the U.S. was to divide the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into two political entities under two very different administrations. With the ending of the Hamas-Fatah fighting in the Gaza Strip, the Israelis started talking about a “three nation solution.”

As a result of the Gaza-West Bank split, Mahmoud Abbas and his associates have also called for the creation of a parallel Palestinian parliament in the West Bank, a rubber stamp all but in name. [2] Other plans for this so-called “three nation solution” included handing over the Gaza Strip to Egypt and dividing up the Israeli-occupied West Bank between between Israel and Jordon.

Furthermore, the Mecca Accord effectively allowed Fatah to rule the West Bank in two strokes. Since a unity government was formed as a result of the Mecca Accord, a Fatah withdrawal from the government was used to depict the Hamas-led government as illegitimate by Fatah. This was while the renewed fighting in Gaza made new Palestinian elections unworkable.

Mahmoud Abbas was also put in a position where he could claim “legitimacy” in the process of forming his own administration in the West Bank, that would otherwise have been seen, by international public opinion, for what it really was: an illegitimate regime, without a parliamentary base. It is also no coincidence that the man picked to leed Mahmoud Abbas’ government, Dr. Salam Fayyad, is a former World Bank official.

With Hamas effectively neutralized and cut off from power in the West Bank, the stage was set for two things; proposals for an international military force in the Palestinian Territories and the Annapolis Conference. [3]

Act III: The Israeli-Palestinian Agreement of Principles and the Annapolis Peace Conference

Prior to the Annapolis Conference, “agreements of principles” were drafted by Mahmoud Abbas and Israel which guaranteed that the Palestinians would not have a military force, if the West Bank were to be given some form of political self-determination.

The agreements also called for the integration of the economies of the Arab World with Israel and the positioning of an international force, similar to those stationed by NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, to supervise the enforcement of these agreements in the Palestinian Territories. The objective was to neutralize Hamas and legitimize Mahmoud Abbas.

The visit of the Secretary-General of NATO, Jakob (Jaap) de Hoop Scheffer to U.A.E. , shortly after the visits of George W. Bush Jr. and Nicholas Sarkozy, were conducive to the signing of military agreements between the U.A.E., and the U.S., as well as with France.

While in the U.A.E., Secretary-General de Hoop Scheffer stated, in substance that it is only a matter of time before NATO gets involved in the Arab-Israeli Conflict.[4] The Secretary-General of NATO also mentioned that this would happen once a viable Palestinian state was formed. What de Hoop Scheffer really meant was that NATO would become involved in the Palestinian Territories once a Palestinian proxy state under Mahmoud Abbas would be formed. He also mentioned that there would be no recognition of Hamas by NATO.

Once Hamas has outlived its usefulness to Israel and its partners, Fatah could be used to attack the Gaza Strip. Already reports are being made in the Israeli media of a joint Israeli-Fatah plan to militarily oust the Hamas-led Palestinian government in Gaza.[5]

When the Annapolis Conference was hosted by the U.S. government, pundits and analysts worldwide termed the summit as without substance and as a move to undue everything that it owed to the Palestinians, including the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands. The Annapolis Conference was only an extravagant do over of the carefully crafted 2002 Saudi-proposed Arab Peace Initiative tabled to the Arab League.

Act IV: Coming Full Circle, back to the Saudi Arabian 2002 Arab Peace Initiative

The people of the Middle East must open their eyes to what has been planned for their lands. The Agreement of Principles, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, and the Annapolis Conference are all a means to the same end. All three, like Israel, have their roots in establishing economic hegemony in the Middle East.

This is where France and Germany converge with Anglo-American foreign policy. For years, even before the “Global War on Terror,” Paris had been calling for a troop contingent from either the E.U. or NATO to be deployed to Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.

In February 2004, France’s then Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin stated that once the Israelis left the Gaza Strip foreign troops could be sent there and an international conference could legitimize their presence as part of the second phase of the Israeli-Palestinian Roadmap and as part of an initiative for the Greater Middle East or the “New Middle East.” [6] This statment was made before Hamas came to the scene and before Mahmoud Abbas’ Agreement of Principles. However, it did follow the 2002 Saudi-proposed Arab Initiative.

It is clear that the events unfolding in the Middle East are part of a military roadmap drawn before the “Global War on Terror.”

It is now time to study Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposals for a Mediterranean Union. The economic integration of the Israeli economy with the economies of the Arab World will further the web of global relationships being tightened by the global agents of the Washington Consensus. The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, the Agreement of Principles, and Annapolis are all phases for establishing the economic integration of the Arab World with Israel through the Project for the “New Middle East” and the integration of the entire Mediterranean with the European Union through the Mediterranean Union. The presence of troops from both NATO and E.U. members in Lebanon is also a part of this goal.

Towards Establishing a Palestinian Dictatorship: More Plans to Oust Hamas underway?

The Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian people are an attack against democracy and freedom of choice. Israel, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and their allies have wasted no time in recognizing Mahmoud Abbas as the legitimate leader of the Palestinians even though his term of office has finished.

Despite claims of supporting democracy and self-determination throughout the Middle East, the foreign policies of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and the E.U. are opposed to any genuine self-determination or democracy in the Middle East because any freedom of choice for the populations of the Middle East would act as a barrier and spoiler to the economic interests of these powers. This is exactly why dictatorships are the ideal form of government in the Middle East in regards to Anglo-American and Franco-German foreign policy interests.

The Palestinian Territories are not an exception to this. The U.S., Israel, their allies, and the corrupt oligarchs of the upper circle of power within Fatah are set on establishing autocratic rule in the Palestinian Territories. To the satisfaction of planners in Israel and the U.S. the Hamas-Fatah split has helped push back the democratic path that the Palestinians were following through the election of their own leadership and has cleared the way for attempts to establish dictatorial Palestinian proxy administrations in the future. The process has already started in the West Bank.

By late-2008 Hamas had clarified that it intended to field its own candidate for the the post of Palestinian Authority president in the Palestinian election that was supposed to be held in January, 2009. This is a direct challenge to the power that Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of Fatah hold through control of the office of Palestinian Authority president. Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah have rebuffed Hamas by declaring that such an election will not take place until Hamas surrenders its authority to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian prime minister and government in the West Bank that Mahmoud Abbas has handpicked outside the democratic process.

In retalation the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip declared that it will refer to the Palestinian legal code. Palestinian law which stipulates that in such situations the role and post of president would be transfered to the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the parliament of the Palestinians, for an interim period. Ahmed Bahar, a member of Hamas, is currently in the position of speaker of the PLC.

Crushing Palestinian Democracy: Middle Eastern Geo-Politics and Palestinian Governance

In link to this move to oust Hamas are the broader geo-political and strategic initiatives for encircling and confronting Syria and Iran. [7] Israel with the help of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has been trying to negotiate a one-sided truce with the Hamas-led Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip for months. This move was launched simultanously with Israeli initiatives linked towards Hezbollah, Lebanon, and Syria.

These Israeli initiatives are a means to dismantle and dissolve the Resistance Bloc, a coalition of nation-states and non-state actors againts foreign control and occupation within the Middle East. This grouping includes, amongst others, the Arab resistance movements in Anglo-American occupied Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, and Lebanon. It has challenged the Washington Consensus and the economic reconfiguration of the Middle East that is being implemented through such actions as the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Tel Aviv was going nowhere in its negotations with Hamas and now appears to favours the establishment of an autocratic Fatah administration in the Gaza Strip that will readily comply to Israeli edicts. This would also free Tel Aviv for any confrontations with Lebanon, Syria, or/and Iran.

The Final Act: The Power of the People: The Act yet to be Played Out

The breaches of the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip were a sign of the crumbling of tyranny, but there is still a long way to go. [8] The mass protests worldwide from Egypt and the Arab World to Europe and Asia are a sign that the “Second Superpower” — the power of the people — is rearing its head.

In end it will be the people who will decide, against the interest of the politicians and their economic power brokers.

The people see beyond the issues of nationality, ethnic division and man-made boundaries. They believe in justice and equity for all and they feel a pain in their hearts when they see the suffering of others, no matter the differences.

Worldwide, those that are just and honorable are a nation to themselves — whether they are Israelis or Arabs or Americans — and it will be their choices that will decide the direction of the future.

The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which includes a diverse spectrum of groups from Hamas to Communists (e.g., the Marxist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and Christians, have done what the military foces of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq could not do.

The Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip will prove to be a historic turning point and the catalyst behind change.

The political and strategic map of the Middle East and the Arab World will be changed, but not in favor of Israel, the House of Saud and the dictators of the Arab World.

Change is coming.

NOTES

[1] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, NATO and Israel: Instruments of America’s Wars in the Middle East, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), January 28, 2008.

[2] Khaled Abu Toameh, PLO to form separate W. Bank parliament, The Jerusalem Post, January 14, 2008.

[3] Emine Kart, Ankara cool towards Palestine troops, Today’s Zaman, July 3, 2007.

[4] Jamal Al-Majaida, NATO chief discusses alliance’s role in Gulf, Khaleej Times, January 27, 2008.

[5] Avi Isaacharoff, PA chief of staff: We must be ready to use force against Hamas to tahe control of Gaza, Haaretz, September 22, 2008.

[6] Dominique René de Villepin, Déclarations de Dominique de Villepin à propos du Grand Moyen-Orient, interview with Pierre Rousselin, Le Figaro, February 19, 2004.

[7] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Beating the Drums of a Broader Middle East War, Centre for Reseach on Globalization (CRG), May 6, 2008.

[8] Days after the Rafah Crossing was opened to free movement Mahmoud Abbas, the Israel government, and the Egyptian government all pushed for Fatah to take armed control of the Rafah Crossing and close it the Palestinian people. Not only is this a sign that none of these players care about the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip it also illustrates that Mahmoud Abbas has no interest in the welfare of Palestinians. The Rafah Crossing also has an E.U. monitoring security force that implicates the E.U. as an accomplice in the oppression of the Palestinians.

124 arrested in Pakistan as part of Mumbai attacks probe

ANY CONNECTION? Saudi intelligence chief meets Zardari, Gilani

pakistan-arrest-cp-6091746Pakistani police officers escort men arrested in Karachi on Thursday morning. (Fareed Khan/Associated Press)

124 arrested in Pakistan as part of Mumbai

attacks probe

More than 100 people have been arrested in Pakistan as part of a crackdown on groups accused of having connections to last year’s attacks in Mumbai, a Pakistani official said Thursday.

Most of those arrested are alleged members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant organization suspected of being behind the deadly attacks.

“We have arrested a total 124 mid-level and top leaders,” Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said during a press conference on Thursday, according to a Reuters report.

Pakistani authorities also closed several suspected militant training camps run by Lashkar-e-Taiba as part of the crackdown, which began in December after the United Nations Security Council declared that Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a Pakistani charity, was acting as a front for the banned militant group.

Authorities also took steps against 20 offices, 87 schools, two libraries, seven religious schools and a handful of other organizations and websites linked to the charity.

It was not immediately clear how many people remained in custody Thursday, as Malik suggested many may now just be under surveillance.

Among those in detention or under house arrest are Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the head of the charity, who helped establish the militant group, and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, two men India alleges planned the Mumbai attacks.

Intelligence officials, cited in Indian media, have said Shah is Lashkar’s communications chief and created a system that allowed the group’s leaders to stay in touch with the gunmen during the siege on India’s financial capital last November, which killed 171 people, including two Canadians.

U.S. officials have said Lakhvi has also directed Lashkar-e-Taiba operations in Chechnya, Bosnia and Southeast Asia, where he allegedly trained members to carry out suicide bombings.

Saeed has denied his organization was involved in terrorist activity and decried the accusation as an attack on religious groups.

More evidence needed for prosecution

While Pakistan has received some information from India, authorities will need to obtain more evidence if Pakistan hopes to prosecute any of those arrested, Malik said.

Investigators in Pakistan will “have to inquire into this information to try to transform it to evidence, evidence which can stand the test of any court in the world and of course our own court of law,” Malik said.

He did not provide details, and avoided a question as to whether the Pakistani government was admitting the attack was staged by militants from its own country.

“We have to prove to the world that India and Pakistan stand together against terrorists because they are the common enemies,” Malik said.

The Mumbai attacks have increased tensions between the two nuclear rivals, as India has demanded that Pakistan take action against the militants.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this month said evidence suggested the attack must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan.

India has called on Pakistan to hand over any suspects to New Delhi, but the country has said it will try any people involved in the attacks in its own courts.

Malik also appeared to rule out the possibility of extradition on Thursday, saying Pakistani laws allowed for the prosecution of citizens who committed crimes elsewhere.

UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israeli ‘white phosphorus’ shells – Times Online

more about “ UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israe…“, posted with vodpod

UN headquarters in Gaza hit by Israeli ‘white

phosphorus’ shells

The main UN compound in Gaza was in flames today after being struck by Israeli artillery fire, and a spokesman said that the building had been hit by shells containing the incendiary agent white phosphorus.

The attack on the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) came as Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, arrived in Israel on a peace mission and plunged Israel’s relations with the world body to a new low.

Mr Ban told reporters in Tel Aviv that he had expressed “strong protest and outrage” to the Israeli Government over the shelling of the compound and was demanding an investigation. He said that Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, had told him that it was “a grave mistake”.

UNWRA, which looks after around four million Palestinian refugees in the region, suspended its operations in Gaza after the attack, in which it said that three of its employees had been injured.

Chris Gunness, a UNRWA spokesman, said that the building had been used to shelter hundreds of people fleeing Israel’s 20-day offensive in Gaza. He said that pallets with supplies desperately needed by Palestinians in Gaza were on fire.

“What more stark symbolism do you need?” he said. “You can’t put out white phosphorus with traditional methods such as fire extinguishers. You need sand, we don’t have sand.”

The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus shells in the Gaza offensive, although an investigation by The Times has revealed that dozens of Palestinians in Gaza have sustained serious injuries from the substance, which burns at extremely high temperatures.

The Geneva Convention of 1980 proscribes the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war in civilian areas, although it can be used to create a smokescreen. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said today that all weapons used in Gaza were “within the scope of international law”.

The attack on the UN compound came as Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza City and unleashed their heaviest shelling on its crowded neighbourhoods in three weeks of war. At least 15 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attacks, medical officials said, pushing the death toll up towards 1,100 — a level that Mr Ban described as “unbearable”.

It was not clear whether the escalation signalled a new phase in the conflict. Israel has held back from all-out urban warfare in the narrow alleyways of Gaza’s cities, where Hamas militants are more familiar with the lay of the land.

Black smoke billowed over Gaza City, terrifying civilians who said that they had “nowhere left to hide” from the relentless shelling.

Next Page

N Waziristan tribe fined Rs 5m for deaths of govt officials

N Waziristan tribe fined Rs 5m for deaths of govt officials

MIRANSHAH: The political administration in North Waziristan Agency on Tuesday imposed a fine of Rs 5 million on the Asad Khel tribe for failing to meet legal obligations under the FCR. The fine followed the death of two government employees – senior official Amanullah Khan and Levies sepoy Farmanullah Daur – who were killed in an ambush in Dossali area of Asadkhel on January 8. “Keeping in view the lethargic attitude of qoum (tribe) Asad Khel, I order and impose a fine of Rs 5 million for not fulfilling their territorial responsibility,” North Waziristan Political Agent Mutahir Zeb said in an office order. He also fined Khasadars of Company 16-A for not fulfilling their protective responsibility. “The fine should be deducted from the Khasadars’ monthly salaries starting from February 2009,” the office order read. The order said Rs 2 million of the fine would be paid to Amanullah’s family and Rs 500,000 would be given to Farmanullah’s family. The order said all privileges of the fined tribe and salaries of the Khasadars would be restored when the fine was recovered. haji mujtaba

500 Citizens of Sderot Contradict the Israeli Government

500 Citizens of Sderot Contradict the Israeli Government

The removed Israeli government graph: ‘Monthly distribution of rockets hits.’
By Janine Roberts

Much has been made of Hamas’ reported failure to honour last year’s truce. But, an extraordinary correspondence between Jewish residents of the much-rocketed town of Sderot, nearby kibbutz, and the Palestinians living within sight in the Gaza strip paints a very different picture of that truce from that repeatedly given by the Israeli government.

Barrack Obama was taken to Sderot last year to show him the effects of rocketing. He remarked on how Israeli towns looked like American from the air and offered his full support to the town’s citizens, promising to invite its representatives to the White House soon after taking office. At the time in mid-July Sderot was safe to visit. There had been no casualties from rockets since the ceasefire started 4 weeks earlier.

On July 12th 2008, a Gaza resident, using the pseudonym of “Peaceman,” emailed friends in Sderot to say. “The situation is calm … and this make people happy a lot, because there are no dead and wounded [but] the border is still closed… I myself have been waiting two years to go to Europe to study.’ Nevertheless ‘we have now a golden opportunity to try to build a new world without violence.’

His friends replied to say how much better it was now the rockets had stopped. They told how they cycled along the Gaza borders and were greeted with waves by Gaza residents. They revelled in the freedom from danger. A joint children’s holiday was planned and greetings cards exchanged. (See samples at end)

One such message read “I live with my family in Kibbutz Beeri, close enough to Gaza to see the houses and the sea. On weekends I ride my bike with my husband through the fields along the border … I hope the violence will come to an end and the Palestinian State will be established with peace between our peoples and peace within each of our countries between the extremists on each side. ”

Sderot is built on the lands of Najd, a Palestinian village ethnically cleansed by Jewish militia in 1948. Its residents probably fled into the Gaza strip. Most of Gaza’s population is descended from such refugees. However, this history was not allowed to prevent this growing friendship – nor were the deaths of people from both towns in the months preceding the ceasefire.

The ceasefire was still intact months after Obama’s visit. In October 2008 an Israeli in Sderot, using the pseudonym “Hopeman,” emailed his friend in Gaza to say: “We have lived for almost 5 months in a ceasefire situation. On my side of the border, things returned to normal and we once again felt safe. Kids played freely outdoors, streets filled once again with people, and the constant fear of the rocket alerts disappeared. My kids went to sleep in their room again, instead of the safe room, and I could walk out to the fields surrounding the town without the fear of being out in the open with nowhere to hide.”

On October 9th an Israeli newspaper, the Star, headlined: ‘Israeli town celebrates end to daily rocket fire. It reported: “Besieged residents of Sderot were relieved by the quiet start to Yom Kippur, thanks to the ceasefire with Hamas …Young boys horsed around on their bicycles, families hurried to make last-minute purchases at the downtown supermarket, and food stands did a steady business in shawarma and beer.”

“Everything is different,” exulted Jasmine Aboukrat, 25, sales clerk at the Cochovit Dress Shop near Hagofer St, “People go out more.” “Now you see all the children outdoors, playing,” said David Coyne, 38, who owns a candy shop in the centre of town. “It’s secure.”

The paper explained: “For seven years, local residents barely went out at all. But, late last June, under Egyptian mediation, the Israeli government reached a ceasefire agreement with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Since then, with only a few violations, the rocket salvoes from Gaza have stopped.”

Sderot is “a rambling community of boxy bungalows and low-rise apartment blocks. interspersed by palm, cypress and eucalyptus trees” with a library with nearly as many books in Russian as Hebrew, reflecting its recent arrivals. Its people “say they are hugely pleased with the new air of tranquillity that now permeates their town.”

The newspaper also reported that there were no more “punitive Israeli military incursions into the neighbouring strip – attacks that had been a frequent and deadly feature of Palestinian existence prior to the laying down of arms in June.”

But Hopeman emailed from Sderok: “During this time I have been in touch with many friends of mine in Gaza, and from them I heard a very dark and troubling reality…The siege Israel had imposed on them continues. They have many power shortages and very little fuel and cooking gas.”

On the 4th November, the day when Americans were watching the results of the Presidential election, the Israeli army broke the ceasefire by raiding the strip. Six Palestinians were killed. Next day the Palestinians reacted as could be expected by sending a shower of rockets and Israel immediately slashed supplies of medicine, fuel, food, cooking gas for the 1.5 million people of Gaza. The number of truckloads fell from October’s daily average of 123 trucks to less than 5 trucks. Some families were reduced to easting bread made from animal feed. Others were reduced to eating grass.

An email was sent: “Peace Man and I talk every day. We support each other and worry for each other’s well being. I am in contact with others in Gaza and share my situation while hearing of theirs. Much fear and pain on both sides. Once again we should all call to end the violence, open the siege, start talking and bring back hope to us, civilians on both sides, pawns in the unbearable senseless political game.”

Then Hamas told Israel that a renewed ceasefire must be accompanied by an end to the increasingly cruel siege, but Israel refused to accept this.

The friends “realized that the situation was about to deteriorate into total chaos” said Arik Yalin, 43, of Sderot, the spokesman for this Israeli-Arab group. They put up a website that stated: “Up until now we have cried, called, demonstrated, and asked our leaders to do something about this insane reality in which we live. The leaders have tried every possible idea that involves violence and military force – with no success at all.

“We shoot at them and they shoot at us. We retaliate and they strike back.

“This is an endless and vicious cycle.

“Today we say: ENOUGH! It is our turn to take our destiny into our own hands and to ACT to stop the cycle of bloodshed.”

They sent a petition to the Israeli Government in the name of their group;  ‘Kol Acher’ (The Other Voice). Five hundred citizens of Sderot signed it as well as another 1300 Israeli and Palestinian citizens. It read:

“Kol Acher from Sderot and the communities around Gaza calls on the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister to act urgently to restore calm in the area.

“The ceasefire changed the lives of the people of Sderot, Ashkelon and the region beyond recognition, allowing all of us to experience again a life that is more normal and sane. The continuation of this calm is essential and critical to the residents of the region from every possible aspect: physical, mental, spiritual and economic.

“Another round of escalation may break our already brittle spirit, and take us all to another round of self-destruction and pointless bloodshed. It is not certain that we will survive. And you must be aware of that, if you indeed care about the residents of this area. We’ve been through this movie too many years–and results speak for themselves: feeling trapped, abandonment, and hopelessness for our children and us!

“On the other side of the border live a million and a half Palestinians under unbearable conditions, and most of them want, like we do, calm and the opportunity of a future for themselves and their families.

“We live in the feeling that you have wasted that period of calm, instead of using it to advance understandings and begin negotiations, as well as for fortifying the houses of residents as promised.

“We call on the Prime Minister and the Defence minister not to listen to the voices of incitement and do everything they can to avoid another round of escalation, to secure the continuation of the calm and to work…towards direct or indirect negotiations with the Palestinian leadership in Gaza in order to reach long term understandings.

“We prefer a cold war without a single rocket to a hot war with dozens of victims and innocent fatalities on both sides.

“We ask you to offer us the possibility of political arrangement and hope and not an endless cycle of blood.”

Their petition had no effect. On December 27th, while politicians in the West were on holiday and the US had a lame duck President in his final weeks of office, Israel launched a savage assault.

That same day the Israeli Foreign Ministry changed its website, removing charts giving the numbers of rockets and mortars fired every month from the Gaza strip, perhaps because they revealed the near-total cessation of fire during the truce. These charts were based on statistics supplied by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and provide striking evidence of Hamas’ good faith. Contrary to government statements made repeatedly since then, Israeli government statistics show Hamas kept the ceasefire.

Together with a similar graph for mortar fire, these reveal that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks launched from Gaza fell from over a hundred a month to just 12 in all from the start of July to the end of October. The Ministry has replaced these graphs with one that is harder to interpret. It claims ‘227 rockets were fired during the lull in the fighting’ but notes that 203 of these were fired after November 4th, the date when Israel broke the ceasefire. This is still on the Government website.

Credit for the 12 rockets fired during the ceasefire were reportedly claimed by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad or the “Badr Forces.’ Hamas condemned them.

It is worth going back to what else Obama said in Sderot: “I will not wait until a few years into my term or my second term if I’m elected, in order to get the process moving. I think we have a window right now that needs to be taken advantage of. I think you’ve got a set of moderate Palestinian leaders who are interested. I think the Israeli people are interested in moving this process along. But I also think there’s a population on both sides that is becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress. And where there’s hopelessness and despair that can often turn in a bad direction.”

Obama on January 11th said he would be ready to do all he can to bring peace from the day he takes office. But – has Obama heard these voices of Sderot? I doubt he did when he went to their town, but, if he did, then he will know that the Israeli government is wrong to claim that the only way they can stop the rockets is by physically destroying Hamas with all the slaughter this entails.

Perhaps Obama should also take advice, not already doing so, from the former UK Ambassador to Israel, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. January 9, 2009 he unhesitatingly said during a BBC interview: “Hamas is not a terrorist organisation,” adding he knows from talking to them that they are focussed on ending the decades of military occupation. He also affirmed; “Israel broke the truce by its actions on 4th November.”’

Perhaps Obama should also listen to the Catholic priest, Fr. Latham, who preached in Bethlehem on Sunday 4th January, saying the Palestinians are being “crucified everyday.”

Note:

Find two examples of the post cards sent from Sderot to Gaza Strip. Click here.

- Janine Roberts has written for many major Australian newspapers and both the Independent and Financial Times in the UK. Her investigative films have appeared on the PBS network in the USA and on the BBC and Australian television. She was invited to testify at a US Congressional Hearing on Human rights in Africa and the blood diamond trade. Her latest investigative books are “Glitter and Greed” and the “Fear of the Invisible.” She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact her at: jan@janineroberts.com, or visit her blog: www.speakingloudly.blogspot.com.