*** National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was not speaking on behalf of his political ally, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, when he called for the release of jailed Fatah Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, Barak's associates said Tuesday. ... "Fuad [Ben-Eliezer] was not speaking for anyone and does not represent anyone," Ben-Eliezer's spokesman said. "Fuad has known Barghouti for many years, since he was the IDF's coordinator in the territories. He ordered Barghouti's arrest when he was defense minister. They have a history. It's not a trial balloon of Ehud Barak." A source close to Ben-Eliezer and Barak said Ben-Eliezer had informed both Olmert and Barak of his support for releasing Barghouti before he started talking about it in the media. Asked for Barak's opinion on the issue, Barak's associates said they could not say. Mehr zur Barghouti-Freilassung bei Charles Levinson +++++ Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Fuad Ben-Eliezer warned the Council for Peace and Security on Tuesday that the government's continued neglect of Israeli Arabs may lead to an "internal intifada," or uprising. MK Ben-Eliezer added that this neglect may cause the Israeli Arab population to rebel against Israel, despite most the desire of most Israeli Arabs to integrate rather than "stay on the sidelines." At the voluntary body's meeting on Monday, Ben-Eliezer recalled that Yitzhak Rabin's government dealt intensively with issues affecting Israeli Arabs, and while Ehud Barak was prime minister, he implemented a NIS 4 billion plan to advance the Israeli Arab population. Ben Eliezer told the council that even former prime minister Ariel Sharon was open to discussing issues concerning Israeli Arabs, although he never implemented any kind of program to benefit the sector. "There is (currently) no infrastructure plan for the Israeli Arab sector," Ben-Eliezer warned. The infrastructure minister also expressed concern for Israeli Arab representation in the Knesset, as he said calls to boycott elections were gaining strength in the sector. He added that the northern branch of Sheikh Ra'ed Salah's Islamic movement was heading the push.
*** Less than two months before the US-sponsored Middle East peace conference is expected to convene, most of the Arab countries have yet to confirm their participation. As is frequently the case, the Arab world appears to be divided over the event. So far, it seems that besides the Palestinians, the Jordanians and the Egyptians are the only ones who have hinted that they may attend the parley, scheduled for mid-November. Arab diplomats based in Cairo said in phone interviews with The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that the majority of the Arab leaders believe that the conference is just a "waste of time." As one diplomat put it, "This conference is intended to make [US President George W.] Bush and [US Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice look good in the eyes of the Arabs and Muslims. The two are just trying to show some kind of an achievement before they leave office. Why should we, the Arabs, provide them with an excuse by going to such a conference?" Another diplomat said his government was not keen on attending the conference "because Israel has nothing to offer." He explained: "If anyone thinks that Israel is going to offer the Arabs something new, he is totally mistaken. [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert is facing many problems at home, and he's not in a position to make a serious offer." Meanwhile in New York: Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, met with a number of Arab leaders and diplomats in a bid to normalize ties between Israel and some Arab states. Livni met Tuesday in New York with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, stressing to him the importance of strengthening the ties between Arab countries and Israel on the basis of a "staged normalization". The foreign minister met earlier with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and told him that in order for diplomatic efforts to be successful, Egypt must put a stop to weapon smuggling into Gaza from tunnels dug in Sinai. Regarding the West Bank, Livni said that "the latest developments have turned the West Bank into a test which could measure the success of the entire peace process." On Monday, Livni met with the Jordanian and Mauritanian foreign ministers, as well as the deputy foreign minister of Oman, Sayyid Bader, which cut off diplomatic ties with Israel following the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.
*** Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday postponed the Parliament session to elect a new president until Oct. 23, but his "positive" meetings with parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri sparked hope for a deal. Berri told Tele Liban that he waited in his office for the required quorum for the election to be fulfilled, "but when I was told about the number of MPs who attended I decided to adjourn the session."
Kommentar von C. Sydow. Kommentar von Hazem Saghieh, und Erläuterungen von Tony Bey.
*** French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program will only be resolved with a combination of "firmness and dialogue," and that appeasement may only lead to "war." Sarkozy, addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time since becoming president in May, said allowing Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons would be an "unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world." ... Apropos: Israel Seeks Exemption From Atomic Rules ... Democracy Now: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States
*** US President George W. Bush blasted the United Nations Human Rights Council for singling out Israel while ignoring major human rights violators in his speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly Tuesday morning. Und sein Bruder im Geiste: The Iranian president Ahmadinejad launched an expected tirade against Israel, calling it "brutal" and its soldiers "terrorists."
*** Yeshayahu Leibowitz : "The territories do not interest me at all. The only thing that matters to me is the quarter of a million Arabs living there, and not because I care about the Arabs but because I care about the Jewish people and its state. Incorporating these Arabs within our jurisdiction means the destruction of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. Israel will be turned into a country of the Shin Bet, with a devastating outcome for education and the democratic system of government." --- A report from the Israeli peace association, Gush Shalom revealed on Tuesday that thousands of Israeli settlers are ready to evacuate their settlements in the West Bank as soon as financial reimbursement is available from the Israeli government. The report, published on the Independent Israeli news website Inyan Merkazi [hebrew], adds that many of the Israeli settlers who live close to the separation wall would move immediately inside the Green Line (inside Israel) if the Israeli government agrees to compensate them financially. The report indicates that Israeli premier Ehud Olmert's plan to evacuate the settlements is echoed amongst Israeli settlers. The report also highlights that 80,000 Israeli settlers, who live close to the eight metre concrete wall, are ready to leave the West Bank immediately because they are afraid, feel separated from the rest of Israel and feel that their future is insecure.