While no invitations have been set, a joint declaration has not yet been finalized and it is not clear which countries will in the end send representatives, the Prime Minister's Office is gearing up for the long-discussed meeting in Annapolis a week from Tuesday. ... Senior government officials said Saturday night that negotiations themselves would not take place at Annapolis, but rather that the negotiating process would begin "immediately" afterward.
Less than two weeks before the planned US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Palestinian Authority representatives are increasingly skeptical about the prospects of reaching a declaration of principles with Israel before the gathering. The Israeli Arab Higher Monitoring Committee will draft a document expressing its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the group decided on Saturday.
The Arab lobby at the United Nations, backed by Russia, foiled a Palestinian Authority initiative to include a condemnation of Hamas' seizure of the Gaza Strip in a UN resolution against Israel. PA observer Riad Mansour sought to include a clause "expressing concern about the takeover by illegal militias of Palestinian Authority institutions in June 2007" and calling for the reversal of this situation, but moderated the wording under Arab pressure. Russia had made it clear to the Arab delegates that it supported their opposition to a UN resolution including any condemnation of Hamas.
Brigadier General Gal Hirsch, who commanded the Israel Defense Forces' Galilee Division during the Second Lebanon War, once again lashed out at army management on Friday during a real estate conference in Dead Sea development. [Pensions for former Russians to increase by 40 percent]