Bei einer am Samstag Abend durch den Islamic Jihad durchgeführten Attacke mit zwei Qassam-Raketen werden zwei israelische Zivilisten, darunter ein 8-jähriger schwer verletzt. Eine Rakete landete in der Straße in der die beiden liefen. Bei einem Gegenangriff der IAF auf Khan Younis werden ebenso zwei Zivilisten verletzt. In Rafah wird ein Hamas-Mitglied getötet und drei weitere verletzt als die IAF einen Luftangriff gegen "Schmuggler" ansetzt. Bei zwei weiteren Luftangriffen in der Zone soll es noch nicht näher bezifferte Opfer gegeben haben. Nach Angaben des israelischen PM Ehud Olmert ist noch nicht über weiter gehende Maßnahmen der Israelis entschieden. Für heute ist wie üblich eine Kabinettsitzung angesetzt. Angeführt von Public Security minister Avi Dichter wird eine Gruppe Kabinettsmitglieder eine Militäroffensive verlangen. [...] Nach einer halben Ewigkeit ist endlich auch dem Haaretz-editorial etwas aufgefallen: "Open the Rafah Crossing": Following a brief and sporadic hiatus, the cycle of violence recently resumed on both sides in the Gaza Strip. During the past three days, Israel killed at least 16 Palestinians, and heavy barrages of rockets slammed into Sderot and other communities bordering Gaza in response to Israel's retaliation for the suicide bombing in Dimona. The Israel Defense Forces used ground and air forces in the northern and southern Gaza Strip. [...] In Gaza-Stadt wird eine Person bei Clan-Schießereien getötet.
Hezbollah has managed to deploy large numbers of Katyusha rockets and antitank missiles in southern Lebanon, senior Israel Defense Forces officials have told Haaretz. These weapons in Shi'ite villages have been undetected by UN observers, the officials say. They say the weapons have been smuggled south of the Litani River despite the increased presence of the United Nations Forces Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since the end of the Second Lebanon. [Nun, dann müßte ja eigentlich die IDF ein Interesse haben die wieder hergestellten Arsenale der UNIFIL zu melden, damit diese zumindest nachsehen könnte ob an der Geschichte etwas dran ist. Wahrscheinlicher ist jedoch ein politisch motivierter Schachzug nach dem Officers from Israel and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) held talks on Friday to discuss last week's border incident in which one Lebanese man was shot dead and another one wounded by Israeli gunfire, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) said. sich die Israelis mal wieder etwas daneben benahmen.]
The Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem has reached 3.76 million, up from 2.89 million a decade ago, according to census results released Saturday. Only 208,000 Palestinians were counted in east Jerusalem, which is sought by the Palestinians as a future capital, said Luay Shabaneh, head of the Palestinian Central Statistics Bureau. [...] When it comes to civilian affairs, the balance appears to be positive. Israel has cast off the burden of worrying about 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Or as it was phrased with customary delicacy by Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim: "We'll shut off the electricity in Gaza and they can choke inside there." But the dry facts tell a different story. In 2006, for example, total Israeli exports to the 60 million or so residents of France stood at slightly more than $1 billion. Israeli exports to the same amount of people in Italy stood at just below $1 billion. Very fine statistics. But total exports to both of these countries, which rank among the eight richest countries in the world, are equal to Israel's exports to the 3.5 million people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. This is more than 6 percent of all Israeli exports, excluding diamonds.
Head of the Palestinian negotiating team Ahmed Qure'i said on Saturday that a peace deal with Israel may be possible before the end of the year. In a meeting with David Walsh, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Qure'i stressed the daily difficulties faced by the Palestinian population, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He said that the continuing Israeli settlement policy, the construction of the wall, the sieges and incursions and the ongoing assassinations and arrests, were policies of collective punishment carried out to undermine the attempted peace process. Zuvor hatte sich der palästinensische Superminister Fayyad weniger optimistisch geäußert. Derweil dürften sich die Mutmaßungen über das "Versickern" von Hilfsgeldern Fatah-Taschen nach diesem Bericht beschleunigen: American officials estimate billions of dollars needed to train and restructure PA security forces; only $86 million spent so far. None of funds garnered from Palestinian donor conference earmarked for security overhaul. [...] Internal cost estimates for the overhaul, $4.2 billion to $7 billion over five years, were compiled by US security officials and their Palestinian counterparts, and recently shared with Israel and foreign diplomats, who expressed doubts that donors would produce such large sums anytime soon. [Shual 21.01.08: "US$ 1,47 billion -der Paris-Summe- werden hübsch in nette, Defizit erzeugende Haushaltstitel verpackt." - et voila.] [...] The Arab world truly wants the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved urgently, and many Arab leaders back terms for a permanent accord "very close to what Israel is wanting," Quartet peace envoy Tony Blair told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend. "I spend a lot of time talking to the Arabs," said Blair. "I have a genuine belief, and this is not shared by everyone in Israel: The Arabs genuinely want this settled now. There were Arab leaders, I don't want to say which, talking to me recently about the type of settlement, the type of agreement which they would accept. I would say it is very close to what Israel is wanting and on some of the most sensitive questions."
Joshua Landis: ... The likelihood that George W. Bush's freedom agenda would actually bear fruit in the Middle East was practically zero from the beginning. Not only were its neocon architects largely ignorant of Middle East realities, but the hypocrisy and brutal cynicism with which they pursued it doomed it from the beginning. Freedom became a thinly veiled word for imposing US interests on the region. Democracy was used as a weapon to punish enemies and reward friends of Washington. The notion that Lebanon could be pried away from Syria without offering Damascus either security or the return of the Golan was a mirage. Some allowed themselves to dream that regime-change in Syria would bring Lebanon's release and rebirth, but the error of this speculation was revealed as soon as things began to go wrong in Iraq, which was almost immediately. Regime change turned out to be the wrong way to bring progress to the region. No one was going to risk it again in Syria. ... Meanwhile: Arab League chief Amr Moussa said "more time was needed" to resolve Lebanon's political logjam after he brought feuding parties together on Friday in a four-hour-long marathon meeting in Parliament. He added, however, that progress had been made on several issues during the meeting. The meeting chaired by Moussa brought together parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri Saad-Hariri-Profile Sep-07 and former President Amin Gemayel from the ruling March 14 Forces coalition and Change and Reform Bloc leader MP Michel Aoun from the opposition March 8 camp. Sources close to Speaker Nabih Berri told The Daily Star that the February 11 parliamentary session to elect the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), General Michel Suleiman as president still stands in view of "encouraging signs" from Friday's meeting.
Raghida Dergham, "Opportunity in sigth for a peaceful offensive for defiant sides": On the Lebanese and Palestinian fronts surface indicators of a new and beneficial impetus, one that requires responsible assessment of the available opportunities and courage to adopt peaceful offensive strategies. The UN Undersecretary Nicholas Michel spoke about the impossibility of using Lebanon's international tribunal - aimed at punishing the parties involved in political assassinations in Lebanon - in any political tradeoff. These are extremely important words as they coincide with the UN commitment to end the era of impunity. They are equally important, since the Arab states are about to conclude, as France has earlier done, that Syria's objective in Lebanon includes inflicting institutional paralysis, fermenting crises to maintain political and presidential void, and instigating chaos. These two developments alone are sufficient to compel the launch of a new strategy for the Lebanese state, Siniora's cabinet, and the loyalist parliamentary majority. + Undersecretary General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel Nicholas Michel who is in charge of the international tribunal to prosecute the defendants in Lebanon's political assassination, especially the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, considered that the "The process of the establishment of the tribunal is irreversible. And the more we observe the situation the more we are convinced that the mandate we have received from the Security Council is adequate. Justice must be part of a sustainable peace in the country."
The U.S. Energy Department is subsidizing two Russian nuclear institutes that are building key parts of a reactor in Iran that the United States spent years trying to stop, according to a House committee. [...] A senior Russian diplomat on Wednesday voiced concern about Iran's launch of a rocket, Russian news reports said. The statement appeared to indicate that Moscow increasingly shares Western concerns about Tehran's nuclear course.
Free Download of: Wunderle/Briere, "U.S. Foreign Policy and Israel's Qualitative Military Edge: The Need for a Common Vision"