An Israel Air Force aircraft fired missiles at a car laden with explosives in Gaza City after nightfall Monday, killing two militants, among them a senior Islamic Jihad commander. Medical officials said a third militant had been critically wounded in the strike. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman said the target of the airstrike was Majed Harazin, a senior Islamic Jihad militant in charge of rocket squads responsible for incessant barrages of Qassam rockets against southern Israel. According to defense officials, Harazin was the one who determined the timing and the targets of Qassam and mortar shell attacks against Israel. Islamic Jihad spokesman Khaled el-Batch confirmed that Harazin was killed in the attack.
Drei Wochen nach der Wiederbelebung des Nahost-Friedensprozesses hat die Staatengemeinschaft den Palästinensern 7,4 Milliarden Dollar Unterstützung zugesagt. Mit dem Ergebnis, das der französische Aussenminister Bernard Kouchner zum Abschluss einer internationalen Geberkonferenz in Paris bekannt gab, wurden die Erwartungen der Palästinenser weit übertroffen. .. Von dem zugesagten Geld sollen 2,9 Milliarden Dollar im kommenden Jahr in den Haushalt der Autonomiebehörde fliessen, sagte Kouchner. [damit wären neben dem Finanzlochstopfen noch 1.7 Milliarden Dollar für 2008 frei.] .. Das Geld fliesse in konkrete Projekte, wie den Bau von Schulen, Beschäftigungsprogramme und Wasserversorgung, sagte Entwicklungsministerin Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. [Na, da sind wir aber mal gespannt.] Wdh: "Achieving growth rates of 5 percent and higher will depend on the commitment of the international community to fill the total fiscal gap over the next three years, as well as on the revival in the private sector as a result of concrete steps by Israel to remove movement and access restrictions." Da die zur Verfügung stehende Investitionssumme mehr als eine Milliarde US$ höher angesetzt werden kann wären 5% eher als Mißerfolg zu werten. Aufgrund der Erfahrungen mit anderen donor-conferencen für bspw. Afghanistan ist allerdins zu bezweifeln das die Summe wirklich zu Stande kommt. Auf dem diplomatischen Parkett: Int'l donors to call on Israel to remove roadblocks Delegates to the conference are also likely to issue a statement calling on Israel to remove roadblocks in the West Bank, European diplomatic sources said over the weekend. Representatives from the Arab states taking part in the conference are expected to criticize Israel sharply over the issues of roadblocks, the closure of border crossings into Gaza, and the planned construction in the disputed East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa. "We need a clear-cut Israeli decision concerning this issue," said Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the dispute was "ever more reason that it's time to get an agreement" and appealed to both sides not to "consider every bump in the road to be a barrier." ["Nicht jeder der eine weisse Kapuze trägt ist gleich ein Mörder von Schwarzen", oder wie sollen wir das verstehen Rice?]. Representatives from Quartet nations meet alongside Paris donor conference, issue strongly-worded letter demanding Israel ease restrictions on Palestinians, rethink construction project in Jerusalem neighborhood. IHT-Artikel zum Thema. + Info: Investing in Palestinian Economic Reform and Development - Report for the Pledging Conference
Israel will allow construction within built up areas of existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but will not expand beyond those areas, Israeli officials said on Monday. The position could widen the rift in U.S.-backed peace talks launched by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a regional peace summit held in Annapolis, Maryland last month. The Palestinians say the negotiations, the first in seven years, hinged on Israel committing to halt all settlement activity, including "natural growth," as called for under the long-stalled road map peace plan. The Bush administration has likewise urged Israel to stop settlement expansion. A senior Israeli official said "We don't need American approval if we are doing something that we think, as a sovereign state, we should do." [Rice said: "Not every house is to considered an illegal settlement."] Koalition gerettet. Friedensverhandlungspatient tod.
US President George W. Bush said on Monday he supported Russian shipments of nuclear fuel to Iran for civilian power, saying they proved that Teheran has no need to enrich uranium. "If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich. If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there's no need for them to learn how to enrich," Bush said. Iran received the first shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia on Monday for its Bushehr reactor, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported. Russia has been assisting the Iranians in the construction of the nuclear power plant. .. Iran could convert a civilian nuclear program into a military one within months, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday. "Ever since Hitler we have not seen a [man] like Ahmadinejad who wishes to destroy Israel," he stated. "We cannot be calmed by the fact that the Iranians are only pursuing a civilian program at the moment. We are taking the worst case scenario into account."
A lack of confidence in recently renewed peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians has kept Palestinian support for Hamas stable despite worsening conditions in the Gaza Strip, according to a poll released Monday. However, the Islamic militant group's popularity lags far behind that of the rival Fatah movement, said the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, an independent polling agency. Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. (26) By Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR)
Speaker Nabih Berri postponed a parliamentary session to elect a new Lebanese president for the ninth time on Monday, setting Saturday as the next chance to fill the office vacated at midnight on November 23 by Emile Lahoud. In all, 102 MPs came to Parliament Monday, many of them arriving as early as 10 a.m. for the noon session. The speaker's consultations included talks with opposition Reform and Change bloc MPs Ibrahim Kanaan, Neamatallah Abi Nasr and Shamel Mozaya. Berri then met with representatives of the ruling March 14 coalition: first Democratic Gathering leader Walid Jumblatt, then parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. Berri also met MPs of his own Liberation and Development bloc as well as other deputies from both camps. Change and Reform MP Michel Murr said that only "minor obstacles" remain to achieving consensus, specifically agreement on the number of ministers each bloc gets in Cabinet. According to him, the majority has agreed to several points in Change and Reform leader MP Michel Aoun's initiative, while Aoun has dropped two conditions.
Israel's Aman military intelligence does not think Syria or Hizbullah will carry out a large-scale offensive against Israel in 2008, an Israeli daily said on Sunday
Soeben wird ein zweiter Luftangriff im Gazastreifen mit zwei weiteren toten gemeldet. Tagsüber verblieben die Attacken an der Gazafront Mangelware, während in der Westbank 4 Palästinenser durch die IDF und 3 Hamas-Mitglieder durch die Fatah verhaftet wurden. Aus Nablus werden zwei "Vandalen" verhaftet, die in der Woche zuvor eine Polizeipatroullie angegriffen hatten.
Jihad el-Khazen, "Assuring Gulf countries": The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's halt to its military nuclear program embarrassed President Bush who warned two months ago of a WW III triggered by the program. But the report tormented Israel's supporters who were pushing the administration into a war with Iran that destroys the region and kills Americans and others for the sake of Israel's interests and its alleged security.
Jamil Theyabi, "al-Saahra and loosing the compass": Many listened to the statement of Syrian Vice President Farouk Al-Sharaa during the progressive National Front conference in Damascus, but all came out without a realistic conclusion despite their agreement on the increasing arrogance and contradictions in Al-Sharaa's personality. Others were left assure of his inability to maintain diplomatic and political etiquette. His recent speeches and statements were too pale and far from credible, not to mention that they were loaded with latent accusations and attempts to overlook the facts. This could be explained by Al-Sharaa's belief in conspiracy theories since he has long been one of its sponsors.
Issa Khalaf, "The No-State-Solution": For the past four months I stopped thinking and reading about Palestine. Not the Internet, not newspapers, not anything, not even Annapolis, whose grim meaninglessness most of us took for granted. For as long as I can remember, probably beginning in my undergraduate years, I developed a coping mechanism: when the Palestinians faced particularly dark moments in their history, I withdrew from thinking, speaking, and writing about the issue. Far away and safe from the unspeakable oppression that daily confronts Palestinians, and the unchanging political and historical conditions that are unremittingly leading to their dispossession, I afford myself the selfish luxury of avoidance. This would go on for many months until something would trigger my emotional and mental re-involvement.
Sami Awad, "Christmas in Bethlehem, a time for joy and resilience": The colored strings of lights are now decorating its streets. As you drive past homes you now see Christmas trees proudly placed in front of windows so that all may see. Manger Street is full of traffic at night but no one is complaining for everyone is waiting their turn to receive candy from one of the many Santa Clauses dancing with joy in the street. Everywhere you go you hear Christmas songs played from small radios placed in front of stores or on balconies. In Manger Square, the main Christmas tree shines with bright colors and decorations. The joy is doubled in this holy city this year as both the Palestinian Christians and the Muslim communities celebrate. Christmas and Eid Al-Adha (the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice) have come together this year.
Syria: More Activists Arrested Following Opposition Meeting. Syria should immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Ahmad Tohme, Jabr al-Shoufi, Akram al-Bunni, Dr. Fida’ al-Hurani, and `Ali al-Abdallah from detention, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities detained the five political activists following a meeting of opposition groups in Damascus last week.