Langsam klärt sich die Frage nach den konkreten Ergebnissen in Sana: Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah reached a Yemeni-brokered deal overnight to open their first direct talks since the Islamists' bloody seizure of the Gaza Strip nine months ago. Yemeni President President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he was ready to host the dialogue from early next month but warned that negotiations to reach a detailed reconciliation accord would be difficult. The so-called Sanaa Declaration was signed by Fatah parliamentary leader Azzam al-Ahmed and Hamas number two Mussa Abu Marzuk. ... Despite the fact that Sunday's development reflects a failure of the Yemen-brokered meetings held over the last five days, it is still a small step forward in getting rival Palestinians to start talking to each other. ... The Yemen gathering's chief achievement was that the Palestinian factions met for the first time in signing the statement Sunday after holding proxy talks with Yemeni officials. Many previous attempts by several Arab mediators to bring the Palestinians together failed. Abbas insisted Hamas should apologize first for its military takeover of Gaza. The Yemeni initiative calls for the creation of a national unity government and the rebuilding of security forces loyal to a common government rather than to factions. It also calls for Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Jordan, to form a council to oversee the implementation of the Yemeni plan. Interessant erscheint die Frage weshalb Anschlußgespäche erst in zwei Wichen statt finden sollen. Wohl eher eine Frage der Verhandlungen Fatah-Israel, wobei Israel kaum fähig sein wird urplötzliche aus dem totalen Stillstand den es selbst kreirt hat heraus zu kommen. Der Text der Vereinbarung Hamas-Fatah ist enorm übersichtlich: "We, the representatives of Fatah and Hamas, agree to the Yemeni initiative as a framework to resume dialogue between the two movements to return the Palestinian situation to what it was before the Gaza incidents, as affirming on the unity of the Palestinian people, territory and authority." [Besser als nichts.] Die Lage der Verhandlungen in Rafah zwischen Islamic Jihad und Hamas: An official in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's bureau on Sunday denied a report that Israel has offered Hamas and Islamic Jihad a year-long cease-fire in return for an end to Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on its southern communities. "There are no direct or indirect contacts with Hamas. Our position is that if they don't shoot at us from Gaza, we won't shoot back," the source said. Earlier Sunday, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported that Egyptian intermediaries on Saturday told representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad that Israel would agree to a year-long truce if they would halt the rocket attacks from Gaza. [Technischer Fehler: Eigentlich sollte das Schicksal des entführten Soldaten Shalit den gleichen Rang wie Attacken auf Sderot haben.] Die ägyptische Seite übermittelt "keine positiven Signale" an die Verhandlungsgruppe in Rafah, läßt aber 34 inhaftierte Gazans als nette Geste frei. Wie zu erwarten wird derweil Mahmoud Abbas von den amerikanischen hawks in leibhaftiger Form des Vizepräsidenten die Hölle wegen Sana ordentlich heiß gemacht: U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday said an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will require "painful concessions" by both sides, but added that with hard work, success will be achieved. Speaking in the West Bank on Sunday after meeting the moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, Cheney also had tough criticism for the Islamic militant group Hamas. "The U.S. remains strongly committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state," Cheney said. "Achieving that will require tremendous effort at the negotiating table and painful concessions on both sides. It will also require a determination to defeat those who are committed to violence and who refuse to accept the basic right of the other side to exist." [Interessanter, neuer roadmap-Punkt, kenne ich noch gar nicht, dick.] Earlier Sunday, President Shimon Peres dismissed recent Syrian calls for peace talks, telling Cheney that Israel would not consider ceding the Golan Heights to Syria only to have Damascus and Tehran increase their dominance in Lebanon. During a meeting between the two leaders in Jerusalem, Peres said "Israel is not willing to return the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for Iranian-Syrian control of Lebanon," referring in part to the Damascus and Tehran's support for the Lebanese guerilla group Hezbollah. Last week, Peres made similar remarks to visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov , when he said "talk of peace from Syria arouses distrust within Israel." The president added that while Israel is always ready to negotiate toward peace with Syria, the duplicitous game that Assad is playing in Syria cannot be ignored. He noted that a tremendous amount of Iranian-funded weapons are transferred to Hezbollah every day through Syria. [Der arme Friedensnobelpreisträger ist wohl mit dem vielen Frieden schließen eeeetwas überfordert.] ... Kommentar: Despite the frequent meetings, at all levels of the indirect talks, it is still not possible to say there is a done deal between Israel, Egypt and Hamas, which details a cease-fire agreement in the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, too, Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives met with members of the Egyptian intelligence at El Arish. Major General (res.) Amos Gilad has been making frequent visits Cairo on behalf of the Defense Ministry's political-security bureau. Even if the sides do not reach a full agreement, and even if they do not decide to reopen the border crossings of the Strip, the situation on the ground is fairly clear: a complete lull, for now, in the fighting between Israel and Hamas and brief exchanges between Israel and Jihad.
Die Westbank meldet einen schwer verletzten da durch Marodierer die sich als israelische Freiheitskämpfer verkleideten angeschossen. SiedlerSchlägertrupps malträtieren zwei palästinensische Jugendliche in der Gegen von Nablus. Fünf Palästinenser werden durch die Israelis und sechs Hamasniks durch die Fatah verhaftet. In Beita, südlich von Nablus kommt es zu einem Affront gegen die Familie eines palästinensischen Sicherheitsoffiziers. Am Ostersamstag Morgen werden fünf Jugendliche von der IDF aufgegriffen, darunter der Sohn des Offiziers. Daraufhin stürmen nach seinen Angaben etwa 50 Israelis die Nachbarschaft, looten das Haus, stehlen zudem Bargeld und Papiere, hetzen eine halbe Stunde Polizeihunde auf tweilsweise minderjährige Familienangehörige. Ob solche Mißhandlungsopfer auch versogt werden?: The Palestinian Authority is launching a new socioeconomic network meant to counter the Hamas welfare system, the Dawa, which has been successful in assisting poor Palestinians for two decades. The program is being backed by both Israel and the Quartet - the U.S., UN, EU and Russia - including its Middle East envoy Tony Blair. On the Israeli side, the officials coordinating activities in the territories - under Major General Yosef Mishlav and Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog - are involved in supporting the PA. Eher nicht: According to PA Social Affairs Minister Mahmoud Habash, nearly 160,000 needy families are supported by the government, and 50,000 are receiving monthly stipends. Some 110,000 more receive food assistance. The PA budget for these purposes is a mere NIS 7 million per year, according to Habash. A total of 1,400 social workers are employed by the PA - 1,000 as advisers and the rest as administrative staff. [Nach Abzug der Korruptionskosten bleibt kaum was für die "needy" übrig.]
Daniel Levy, "Netanjahus horrible 2008 - so far": This was supposed to be the year in which Benjamin Netanyahu was re-crowned King of Israel—he looked untouchable in the polls and sitting PM Ehud Olmert’s days looked numbered. That might still happen, but an inauspicious start to 2008 turned downright ugly this past weekend for Netanyahu when a new political scandal broke—with him at its epicenter. Israel TV Channel 10’s Raviv Druker broke the story—not only of profligacy and embarrassing personal indulgence—but also a violation of the parliamentary ethical code and perhaps the illegal receipt of gifts. + "Netanjahu seeks to contain image damage": This time it truly does smell very bad, and it's clear that the damage to Benjamin Netanyahu's image is considerable, senior Likud officials said on Saturday in response to a report in Friday's Yedioth Ahronoth alleging that the party chairman "arranged" two trips to France in the past several years via Israel Bonds. [...] Bibi to dick: "I spoke to him about the need to remove the Iranian threat before (the Islamic republic) arms itself with a nuclear bomb. There are additional Iranian issues which must be prevented, including the need to prevent Iran from building its main bases in the region, from Gaza to Lebanon, and particularly in Jerusalem," he noted.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed the defense establishment to prevent the infiltration of African refugees across the Egyptian border into Israel. Olmert further called on the Defense, Foreign and Public Security Ministries to increase their activities on the matter. "We must take every measure necessary to prevent such infiltrations, even if it means increasing deployment across the border," he said. [...] Hezbollah's deputy secretary general Naim Qassem has again accused Israel of responsibility for the assassination of the organization's senior military figure Imad Mughniyah. In a speech Friday to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, Qassem said "we have clear proof, of 100 percent that cannot be doubted, that Israel is the head of the assassination."
Editorial: Two of the most prominent personages today in the global arena, who visited Israel last week, spoke clearly and lucidly against the Iranian danger. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential frontrunner, agree that the Islamic Republic in Tehran is a genuine threat to the security of Israel, the Middle East and even beyond. Through its attempts to procure nuclear weapons and its declared ambition to destroy Israel, its active support of Hezbollah and Hamas and its incitement of American forces in Iraq, Iran has proved to be a power that is actively undermining worldwide stability. The international community is obligated to work to stop Iran before it causes a major conflagration. [...] Gideon Levy, "With friends like this": The amount of support being shown for Israel these days is almost embarrassing. The parade of highly-placed foreign guests and the warm reception received by Israeli statesmen abroad have not been seen for quite some time. Who hasn't come to visit lately? From the German chancellor to the leading frontrunner for the American presidency. And the secretary-general of the United Nations is on his way. A visit to Israel has become de rigueur for foreign pols. If you haven't been here, you're nowhere.
Amir Oren, "Between Gaza and Mars": Mark Brilakis, a brigadier general in the U.S. Marine Corps, visited Israel this week at the head of a team of U.S. officers. They spent their time at the army base in Ramat Aviv, where the Israel Defense Forces orchestra and the liaison office with foreign armies are peacefully dwelling. Brilakis, an operations officer at the U.S. Army European Command (EUCOM), was there to conduct Juniper Falcon, a desk and computer exercise for the emergency provision of weapons and equipment to Israel. (In Hebrew, the exercise is known as "harish amok" - literally, deep furrow.) Opposite Brilakis, at the head of the Israeli team, sat officers from the planning and logistics divisions of the General Staff. At the same time as Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak were landing in front of the cameras in Sderot, Brilakis was preparing to return to his offices in Stuttgart.