Isabel Kershner: Meeting here on Monday after a break of almost two months, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed that peace talks would continue from now on without interruption, despite concerns on both sides about the situation on the ground, an Israeli official said. The goal, said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, was to reach a "historic agreement" by the end of the year. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and other Palestinian officials say they are aiming for the same goal and have described the negotiations as "serious." But there are clearly emerging differences in approach. Israel now prefers to leave tricky on-the-ground issues to the end of the process and to focus on the political talks, which it believes hold the best chance for a breakthrough. There are Palestinian demands for a dramatic improvement in the reality of life in the West Bank, including the removal major checkpoints, and for a complete freeze in settlement activity as called for in the American-backed peace plan known as the road map. [...] During his visit to the region in May, US President George W. Bush wants to hold a peace summit in Sharm e-Sheikh as a follow-up to November's Annapolis conference, MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) told reporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Palestinian Authority officials confirmed that Washington was trying to set up a meeting among Bush, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah. Senior PA officials said the meeting would be held on May 17 or 18. [The ghost of Sharm summits past] Israel's largest peace group marked what it called a bittersweet milestone Tuesday, 30 years since its foundation. Peace Now's call for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel has largely been embraced by the Israeli mainstream, but peace itself remains painfully elusive, representatives of the movement said. ... JPost-editorial hierzu.
Während es in der Westbank zu siebzehn Verhaftungen in mehreren Distrikten kommt wird bei einem "Artilleriegefecht" vor Jabalia ein Palästinenser [wohl zivilperson] durch eine israelische Panzergranate getötet. Eine Flottille von dreißig Fahrzeugen hatte sich vor dem Lager aufgepflanzt aus dem Gewehrfeuer und nach Hamasangaben 19 Mörsergranaten auf die IDFler gefeuert wurden, die zuerst oder zurück schossen. Eine militärisch äußerst sinnreiche Aktion. Desweiteren werden zwei Qassam-Raketen und drei Mörsergranaten auf israelisches Gebiet geschossen [PFLP und PRC]. Am Montag eröffnen IDFler das Feuer auf eine Gruppe Zivilisten. verletzen dabei einen 65-jährigen und verhaften ihn anschließend wegen unerlaubten israelsichen Munitionsbesitz. [...] Gazans will storm into Egypt and Israel if they don't lift their embargo of the territory, leading Hamas official Khalil al-Haya said Tuesday. [...] Palestinian security forces in pursuit of 13 members of the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades – the military wing of Fatah - came under fire in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday afternoon after the fugitives ambushed them in the Kasbah area of the Old City. The men, who escaped from a Palestinian Authority prison facility last week, denied they had opened fire first and said they were attacked by the security troops. Latest reports tally the casualties from the exchange of fire at eight – five of which are PA security officers, one an al-Aqsa gunman and the remaining two were civilians, a mother and son who were caught in the crossfire.
Disgusting: Nach der Reinigung seines blogs von unliebsamen Palästinensern verkauft sich die ehemalige Antisemitusmuscloake DKOS den Kadimagrößen: A group of influential bloggers from the left of the US Democratic party's spectrum will land in Israel on Thursday for a six-day visit. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has long since been exerting considerable efforts to bring the prominent writers for an extensive tour of the country, in recognizing the influence many of the writers wield and the fact some of them represent websites that are less-than-friendly towards the Israel. [...] Isabel Kershner, "Cynicism trumps pride for Israel's birthday party": When the government of Israel budgeted about $28 million to mark the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the state, it was probably hoping that its fractious citizens would set aside their troubles and come together in an outpouring of national pride. But a month before Independence Day, Israelis are wrangling over how flamboyantly the country should celebrate, and at what cost. [...] Das Land hat zwar kein Geld vernünftige Kulturveranstaltungen im Ausland zu bezahlen, aber eine Horde "progressiver" Wendehälse können durchgeschleust werden. Disgusting.
The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it will not allow the United Nations official appointed to investigate Israeli-Palestinian human rights to enter the country, after he stood by comments comparing Israelis to Nazis. Richard Falk is scheduled to take up his post with the UN Human Rights Council in May, but the Foreign Ministry said it will deny Falk a visa to enter Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, at least until a September meeting of the council. + In a rare move defined by Israeli authorities as a 'humanitarian gesture', officials decided to permit two members of the Palestinian Olympic team to cross the borders from Gaza and the West Bank in order to train in Jericho and Jerusalem, so that they can prepare themselves for the 2008 events in Beijing.
Iran announced Tuesday that it would significantly expand its program to enrich uranium despite the UN Security Council's demand that it halt the program. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a visit to Iran's main enrichment complex at Natanz that it had started installing 6,000 centrifuges at the facility, in addition to the 3,000 centrifuges already operating there. [...] The Munich-based energy and electrical giant Siemens has with "high likelihood" delivered sophisticated data surveillance systems to Iran, an Austrian investigative journalist disclosed in a public broadcast ORF report on Monday. Speaking from Vienna, journalist Erich Moechel told The Jerusalem Post that he was "99 percent certain" that "Monitoring Centers," used to track mobile and land-line phone conversations, had been sent to Iran. These systems could enable the Iranian intelligence service to document conversations between Israel and Iran and "build a communication profile." [...] Mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit werden von Siemens München entwickelte Überwachungssysteme in Ländern wie China, dem Iran und anderen totalitären Staaten zur Verfolgung von Dissidenten, ethnischen und religiösen Minderheiten eingesetzt. Das deutsche Recht legt der Entwicklung und dem Export solcher Güter offenbar keine Schranken in den Weg. [...] Lebanese security sources told As-Safir newspaper that the Israeli Army has been jamming some land lines and cellular networks in the South since Monday afternoon, the second day of Israel's nation-wide security drill. Lebanon is expected to raise the matter as an Israeli violation of Lebanon's sovereignty, according to the newspaper.
All 450 homes in Ofra, the "mother of settlements" in Samaria, were built on privately owned Palestinian land, Vice Premier Haim Ramon said during a session at the Knesset State Control Committee two months ago. This is the first time such a senior government source has admitted in an official forum that the first settlement in Samaria was built on private Palestinian land. Ich habe dazu schon bei Lirun einen Kommentar geschrieben. [...] Moshe Arens, "Palestine .....": What makes the removal of the outposts in Judea and Samaria seem like a mission impossible for Israel's defense minister? Most will agree that they were put up illegally, and like all illegal structures in a country in which the rule of law is supposed to prevail, they should never have been put up in the first place, and they should be removed. But behind the government's intention to remove them lurks a ghost. It is the ghost of the uprooting of the settlers in Gush Katif. The Gush Katif settlers were there for many years and their settlements were perfectly legal - no one will contest that. And yet they were forcibly removed from their homes by orders of the Israeli government. [...] Marian Houk reports von der Aktion gegen RAM-FM.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Tuesday that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri "lacks freedom of movement," accusing him of "closing down Lebanon's Parliament." "Why doesn't Berri open Parliament for dialogue? Why should national dialogue take place outside Parliament?" Kouchner asked reporters during a news conference in Paris. "The reason behind that is that Berri lacks freedom of movement," he added. ... Meanwhile, in efforts to secure Arab backing for his proposal to hold an Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss the strained relations between Lebanon and Syria, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora met Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Tuesday. Siniora discussed with Abdullah and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal the latest developments in Lebanon in the aftermath of the Damascus Arab summit. Also on Tuesday, Siniora met United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi. The prime minister's Arab tour is also expected to include Qatar and Bahrain. Also on Tuesday, former President Amin Gemayel hailed Berri and Siniora's Arab tours, but said that their efforts should be more focused on how to bring Lebanese parties together. ... Meanwhile, in efforts to secure Arab backing for his proposal to hold an Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss the strained relations between Lebanon and Syria, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora met Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on Tuesday. ... Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Gheit warned Syria against boycotting a possible Arab foreign ministers' meeting to address the strained ties between Beirut and Damascus. Gheit told Future News television late Monday Syria must shoulder its responsibilities as it resides over the Arab summit. He said no date has been set for the meeting called by Siniora. [...] Syria has arrested a Saudi official in connection with the assassination of top Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported Tuesday. The agency quoted an Iranian source as saying a high-ranking defense official in Saudi Arabia's embassy in Damascus was arrested by Syrian security forces. [...] French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has asserted that the key witness in the murder case of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri disappeared, in the first official reaction to press reports saying the Syrian man has gone underground.