Russland und der Iran haben heute strittige Fragen zur Fertigstellung des Atomkraftwerks im iranischen Busher geklärt. „Wir und der iranische Auftraggeber verstehen die existierenden Probleme in gleicher Weise und auch die existierenden Fristen. Es gibt eine grundlegende Vereinbarung, dieses Vorhaben erfolgreich zu realisieren“, erklärte der Chef des russischen Staatsunternehmens „AtomStrojExport“ Sergej Schmatko gegenüber der Presse. Die genauen Fristen für die Fertigstellung des Meilers in Busher sollen erst Ende Dezember bekannt gegeben werden. Meanwhile ... U.S. senator to call for new Iran report using same intelligence - Meanwhile, a Republican senator plans to introduce legeslation to create a bipartisan commission to produce an alternative report on the Iranian nuclear issue based on the same intelligence referenced in an estimate released last week. + Henry Kissinger, "Misreading the Iran report": The extraordinary spectacle of the president's national security adviser obliged to defend the president's Iran policy against a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) raises two core issues: How are we now to judge the nuclear threat posed by Iran? How are we to judge the intelligence community's relationship with the White House and the rest of the government?
Reuters: "Restrictions block Palestinian revival-World Bank": Plans to rein in Palestinian government spending and boost foreign aid will not be enough to revive the Palestinian economy if Israeli restrictions stay in place, the World Bank said on Thursday. In a report to be presented at a donors conference in Paris, the bank said Israel's lifting of trade and travel restrictions could make the difference between continued economic stagnation and double-digit growth. Israel has so far balked at removing its hundreds of checkpoints that crisscross the occupied West Bank, citing security concerns. Israel has tightened its military and economic cordon around the Gaza Strip since Hamas Islamists seized control of the territory in June. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will ask donors at the Dec. 17 conference to provide about $5.5 billion in aid over three years to strengthen the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. The aid, to be used for budgetary support and development, is meant to strengthen Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas and revive the Palestinian economy following the restart of formal peace talks with Israel. ... If Palestinian budget savings are realised and donors provide full funding but Israel refuses to remove trade and travel restrictions, the Palestinian economy would continue to contract by about 2 percent annually, the report said. Read: Investing in Palestinian Economic Reform and Development. Meanwhile ... Israeli restrictions have caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank that is growing worse, leaving hospitals unable to treat the sick and keeping farmers off their land, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. In a statement issued on Thursday, the humanitarian agency called on Israel to "lift the retaliatory measures which are paralyzing life in Gaza" and urged Palestinian factions to stop targeting civilian areas and putting lives at risk.
In Sderot wird eine Israeli beim Einschlag einer von 4 Qassam-Raketen die heute abgefeuert wurden in ihr Haus verletzt. Verhaftungen: IDF 17 + Fatah 7. In einem Schmuggeltunnel stirbt ein verschütteter Palästinenser in Rafah. Nabil Sha'ath wird zum "ramallahnsichen Botschafter" in Ägypten ernannt. Sha'ath was qutoted as saying that the new appointment is not meant to replace the Palestinian ambassador to Cairo, Munthir Dajani, or the the Palestinian representative to the Arab League, Hussain Abdul-Khaliq. It is rather meant to be a reference for them. + The IDF said on Thursday that an initial investigation indicated that an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip that injured two Islamic Jihad members was not the result of an IDF strike. The Islamic Jihad had claimed two of its members were wounded in an IDF ground missile strike near the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel. + Palestinians in the Gaza Strip opened fire Thursday at IDF bulldozers engaged in engineering work near the Gaza security fence. + Palestinian gunmen fired at Israeli farmers working near the Gaza border Thursday morning. + Palestinians opened fire at IDF troops on four different occasions during operations in Kabatiya, south of Nablus, overnight Wednesday.
The chairman of the Secondary School Teachers Association Ran Erez on Thursday said "we have achieved the reform we wanted for secondary school education and all the goals of our struggle," shortly after signing a deal ending a 55-day teachers' strike. Erez listed the achievements of the agreement reached with the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry as the reduction of the number of students per class, the restoration of school hours previously cut, wage increases and pay for the 55 strike days, as well as "a long line of work conditions that we didn't make public."
Hours after the security cabinet ruled against a large military operation in the Gaza Strip, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Wednesday that it was impossible to defeat a terrorist group without having control on the ground. ... The security cabinet, which discussed the situation in Gaza at a weekly meeting Wednesday scheduled well in advance of the recent flare-up, did not authorize a widespread incursion into the Strip, instead praising the IDF for the last few months of continuous pinpointed operations. The security cabinet endorsed a continuation of this strategy. [Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said that Israel would not stand for continued attacks and that the IDF would carry out a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if necessary following a Kassam rocket strike on the western Negev on Thursday.]
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak and the Quartet's envoy Tony Blair held a tripartite meeting on Thursday at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The meeting was described as fruitful as several economic projects in the Palestinian territories were discussed including an industrial zone to be established in Jericho, funded by Japan and another in Tarqumia in the southern West Bank, funded by Turkey. Media sources said the meeting was part of preparations for the Paris donors' conference to be held next week. The Voice of Israel radio said that Barak updated Fayyad and Blair on the latest developments in the Gaza Strip, especially the decisions of the Israeli security cabinet. Last night, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni met with Tony Blair and updated him on the results of her talks with Ahmad Qurei', head of the Palestinian negotiating team.
The Jerusalem municipality is discriminating against East Jerusalem students by not providing places of study for everyone, and is thereby contravening its legal obligation, the municipality's own legal counsel says in a letter addressed to the mayor and all senior city hall officials. The letter from attorney Yossi Havilio was sent in connection with a petition to the High Court of Justice against the municipality, demanding that it enable all children in East Jerusalem to attend state schools, in keeping with the requirements of the Compulsory Education Law.
Shlomo Avineri, "On Amerikas strength and weakness": All that the participants in the Annapolis conference agreed upon was to begin negotiations on several parallel channels. It is clear the results will depend, to a large extent, on the United States' ability to navigate these moves. In this context, it is worth trying to recall where in the past the U.S. was successful in its diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, and where it failed.
Haaretz: "From annapolis to Har Homa": U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded explanations from her Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, last week about the plan to build another 300 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Rice did not make do with posing a question to Livni; she hastened to go public with the Bush Administration's objections to the plan.
Yoshua Mitnick, "Key players in MidEast talks may remain unseen": A handshake across a table and a spray of camera flashes will probably serve as starting gun of the first official Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in seven years Wednesday – talks aimed at producing a treaty on Palestinian statehood in 2008. Over the coming months, the talks will break into about a half-dozen subcommittees to tackle such issues as dividing Jerusalem and dealing with Palestinian refugees. But none of those discussions are likely to lead to breakthroughs necessary to clinch a final agreement, analysts say.
Nadim Ruohana, "Israels Palestinians speak out": The Annapolis peace talks regard me as an interloper in my own land. Israel's deputy prime minister, Avigdor Lieberman, argues that I should "take [my] bundles and get lost." Henry Kissinger thinks I ought to be summarily swapped from inside Israel to the would-be Palestinian state. I am a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship--one of 1.4 million.
Daily Star: Wednesday's assassination of General Francois Hajj strikes at the last remaining symbol of unity in this country, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). For years the military has been more successful than other institutions in limiting and even reversing the corrosive effects of sectarianism, so any attack on it is also an assault on national spirit and a blow to progressive policies. In addition, the killing threatens to compromise the LAF's essential role as a bulwark guarding against clashes between supporters of rival political camps. For all these reasons and many more, the murder of Hajj figures to complicate the challenges facing the LAF's commander, General Michel Suleiman, whether or not he eventually emerges as the country's next president.