Montag, 24. Dezember 2007

IDF kills Two

In der Nähe des al-Bureij-Lagers werden zwei Hamas-Angehörige wegen verdächtiger Bewegung im Grenzstreifen getötet. Ein weiterer Hamsnik wird schwer verletzt. Die Hamas spricht von einer regulären Grenzpatroullie.

Derweil sind die bislang friedlich und mit mäßigem Touristen-Besuch ausgestatteten Feierlichkeiten in Bethlehem und Jerusalem angelaufen. Die IDF hat ihre Truppenpräsenz und Operationen im Raum Bethlehem eingestellt. Es wird mit etwa 60 000 Touristen gerechnet was etwa nur ein Viertel des eigentlichen Potentials ausmachen dürfte. Trotzdem veröffentlichte heute das ramallahnische Tourismus-Ministerium das die Anzahl von Touristen die Bethlehem 2007 besuchten gegenüber dem Vorjahr sich verdoppeln wird. Die Stadt selbst ist dieses Jahr wohl besser herausgeputzt als zuvor und viele palästinensische Verteiler von Süßigkeiten und Willkommensbriefen sind auf den Straßen. Die Zusammenarbeit zwischen palästinensischen und israelischen Sicherheitsorganisationen scheint zu funktionieren.

In der Westbank verhaftet die Hamas einen regionalen Fatah-Führer, läßt aber den Direktor der Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDC) Suleiman Abu Samhadana frei, der im Juli festgenommen wurde. Ob dahinter eine ägyptische Forderung steht wird sich zeigen: Abu Samhadana darf als Architekt eines nie ersthaft umgesetzen deals in Sachen Energielieferungen seitens Ägyptens in den Gaza-Streifen gelten. Die Fatah verhaftet nach langer Abstinenz zwei Hamasniks in Hebron und Jenin.

Husam At-Tawil, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) urged the European Union (EU) to stop Israel's aggression against the Gaza Strip on Saturday. In a letter to European Parliament Vice President Luisa Morgantini, At-Tawil expressed his "deep shock" at the international community's silence regarding Israel's ongoing bombardment of the costal Strip. In the face of the world's relative silence regarding Gaza, At-Tawil, an independent representing Gaza City, wondered "if the world has grown accustomed to the smell of Palestinian blood." In Sachen "Hudna" nur die üblichen Zeitungsenten: Hamas wants the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit to be part of a package that would include, among other things, a mutual cease-fire with Israel and guarantees that Israel will not target Hamas leaders, sources close to Hamas said Sunday. The sources said Hamas also wanted the package to include the reopening of the border crossings in the Gaza Strip and an end to international sanctions that have been in effect since Hamas came to power in January 2006.

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are set to meet on Monday for the second time since the regional peace conference held last month in Annapolis, Maryland. The talks on Monday will focus on Israel's plans to build close to 1,000 new apartment units in East Jerusalem and another environ east of the Green Line, Army Radio reported. The plans have raised the ire of Palestinians, who said Israel has sabotaged the positive relations established between the two sides in Annapolis. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised on Sunday to do everything possible to make the negotiations successful. "The cabinet is maximizing its efforts to reignite the political process to bring an ultimate end to the peace process with the Palestinians," he said. Nevertheless, Army Radio reported on Monday that associates of the prime minister have said they are pessimistic about the chances of reaching a permanent settlement with the Palestinians by the end of 2008 - a goal set by U.S. President George Bush at the summit last month. +++ Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (FADC) members late Monday morning to discuss the government's current position on possible future prisoner releases. FADC members stepping out of the meeting quoted Livni as saying the government was reevaluating what the classifications for prisoners were and how Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians. "By being so flexible and pragmatic, the government is helping increase terrorism and foils the international fight against it," Israel Radio quoted FADC member and Likud MK Yuval Steinitz as saying. ... Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i said that the release of imprisoned Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti should also be considered, if a future deal signed with the Palestinians "would be a proper one." According to Vilna'i, Barghouti "may be a leader of murderers, but he never committed murder with his own hands. He is a leader, and should be treated accordingly." Barghouti had been frequently mentioned in Israel in recent years as a possible alternative to unpopular Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He is currently serving five life sentences for masterminding the murder of Israeli civilians.

Participants at the International Conference on Contemporary Reform Judaism, opening in Jerusalem Monday, will tackle such issues as the concept of homosexuality in Reform halakha (Jewish law), changes in synagogue ritual and the difficulties of integrating Reform Judaism into Israel.

If a nuclear war between Israel and Iran were to break out 16-20 million Iranians would lose their lives - as opposed to 200,000-800,000 Israelis, according to a report recently published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is headed by Anthony H. Cordesman, formerly an analyst for the US Department of Defense. The document, which is largely theoretical due to the lack of verified knowledge in some areas - specifically in terms of Israel's nuclear capability - paints various scenarios and attempts to predict the strategies of regional powers, as well as the US. +++ Tehran will soon announce an international tender for building 19 nuclear power plants, an Iranian MP was quoted as saying on Monday, a week after Russia said it had begun fuel deliveries to the Islamic state's first such facility. [Zu teuer. So viel Geld hat der Iran nicht.]

U.S. President George W. Bush's remarks last week that he has lost patience with the Syrian leader are "arrogant and bode ill" for the region, a Syrian newspaper said Monday, adding that the U.S. administration was attempting to push Lebanon into a crisis like in Iraq and Afghanistan. An editorial in the state Tishrin daily, which reflects government thinking, said Bush's statements demonstrate that his administration is determined to end its term as it started, with "aggression, occupation and power."

Akiva eldar, "Where are Labor and Meretz?": On the eve of the trip to the Annapolis summit, a penetrating debate was held at the Muqata on the question of whether Mahmoud Abbas should participate in the George W. Bush and Ehud Olmert show. At the last moment the Palestinians discovered that the Israeli prime minister had retracted his promise that the conference document would address at least one of the core issues specifically, and in a binding manner. The opponents said that they were tired of the Israelis' empty promises to dismantle roadblocks, evacuate outposts and be more generous about freeing prisoners. They warned that another fruitless peace gathering would be a disappointment that the Palestinian public would not be able to tolerate, and spoke about how Hamas would celebrate the farce in Annapolis. The argument that tipped the balance in the end was that without the conference in Maryland, there would be no donors conference in Paris. Economic distress overcame political distress. ...

Gideon Levy, "Meanwhile in the Westbank": Don't let the quiet fool you: It is imaginary. While all eyes are on Gaza, the impression has been created, under the aegis of a media turning a blind eye, that the West Bank is quiet. That's where the "good guys" are in charge, those with whom we went to Annapolis, those who will be getting the money from the donor nations, and life there is great, so it seems. Well, that is not the case. The lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank are also intolerable, blood is being shed there too. For the Israel Defense Forces it is business as usual, with a frighteningly quick finger on the trigger. The spirit of Annapolis and the lofty words of the prime minister do not prevail there.

Robert F. Worth, "Home on holiday, the Lebanese say, what turmoil?": Lebanon may seem an unlikely holiday spot: the government has collapsed, car bombs go off periodically and foreign envoys warn of an impending civil war. And yet, so many people have been streaming into this tiny, embattled country in recent days that the flights are all overbooked, and some well-heeled travelers are driving 18 hours from the Persian Gulf. Beirut's restaurants, bars and malls are all packed with revelers. Why? The answer is that the Lebanese diaspora reverses itself on holidays, as the migrants who sustain the war-shattered Lebanese economy all year return from jobs across the globe to spend time with their families. Nothing will deter them — not bad weather, not interminable flights and certainly not the Grinch-like mood of Lebanon's endlessly feuding politicians.

Und natürlich.... After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over how the money was spent, and that the strategy to improve the Pakistani military needs to be completely revamped. Da wirds Zeit an den hier zu erinnern.

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