Posted by Joshua on Saturday, September 25th, 2010
Netanyahu’s ability to stare down both the Palestinians and Obama made for another of those “there-goes-Palestine” moments. This is the third time that Obama has been steamrolled by Netanyahu.
Jewish settlers in Kiryat Netafim poured a concrete cornerstone for a kindergarten on Sunday.
By ETHAN BRONNER and MARK LANDLER, September 26, 2010
JERUSALEM — Israel allowed a politically charged freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank to expire on Sunday, but the Palestinians did not carry out a threat to quit peace negotiations, setting the stage for further frantic efforts to keep the talks alive.
By Aluf Benn Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be the winner of the construction-freeze crisis…
Al-Hayat – by Joyce Karam, (from mideastwire.com)
Al Hayat has learned that the meeting between Clinton and Al-Muallem was set up by US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell after his recent visit to Damascus. American sources were quoted in this respect as saying: “The visit made by Mitchell to Damascus was very positive. And upon his return to Washington, he informed Secretary Clinton about the results of his discussions, expressing his belief that there was hope of seeing the resumption of the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. He also informed the American officials about the importance of the Syrian role in the region, especially in regard to the ongoing peace talks.” A prominent American official also told Al-Hayat that the Obama Administration supported the resumption of Syrian-Israeli peace talks from the start.
“The official added saying: “True, the Administration considers that priority should be given to the Israeli-Palestinian track since it is at the core of the problem, but it also supports the resumption of the Syrian-Israeli peace talks. And the fact that the Syrians have said that they were supportive of the resumption of those talks under Turkish auspice is a good thing… Washington expects the Syrian track to be reactivated within the few coming months.” In this respect, Arab diplomatic sources in Washington told Al-Hayat that they expected the Syrian track to become active again within the two coming months, although the American and Arab sources did not expect a solution to be reached on that track any time soon.
“The meeting between Al-Muallem and Clinton will be followed by another meeting held between the Syrian foreign minister and the UN Undersecretary of State William Burns. Both meetings will discuss the role that could be played by Damascus in the peace process and how it could play a helpful role in order to achieve regional stability…” – Al-Hayat, United Kingdom
Enhancing long-term strategic partnership among the four countries through establishing a high-level quartet meeting council.
The ministers stressed that mechanism for regional cooperation will be open to friendly and sisterly countries.
They appreciated the steps made by Turkey and Lebanon to reach a free trade zone agreement which will be a main factor for achieving the participation of the two countries.
“…DAMASCUS, Syria — Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah announced Saturday that they have agreed on steps to end their division and share power and said they will hold more talks before signing a final deal in Cairo.
The two sides have been bitterly divided since Hamas militants violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah in control only of the West Bank…. The agreement came during a four-hour meeting that ended early Saturday between two delegations headed by Hamas’ exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, and senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed. A joint statement issued after the talks said the two sides have reached an understanding on “the majority of points of difference.” It gave no details, but the sides have differed over control of Palestinian security forces and the date for parliamentary and presidential elections.
Hamas official Izzat Rashaq said the next meeting is expected during the first week of October. The two groups will then head to Cairo to sign a reconciliation agreement. That would clear the way for new Palestinian elections.
Egypt has been trying to reconcile the rivals …”
U.S. Secretary of State is scheduled to meet Syrian foreign minister on Monday in New York to discuss possible renewal of Syria-Israel talks.
A senior U.S. official said Friday that the United States saw Syria as an essential component in the path to achieving a comprehensive Middle East peace, ahead of a meeting between the U.S. and Syria, scheduled for Monday.
“A comprehensive peace has to include the Syria-Israel track. It’s absolutely essential that Syria be part of this process,” Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeff Feltman told reporters.
“The fact that the Secretary [of State Hillary Clinton] is seeing [Syrian] Foreign Minister Walid Moallem on Monday, I think speaks for itself in terms of our commitment and our hope that now is the right time to move forward in trying to restart the Syria-Israel track,” Feltman added.
Answering reporters’ questions in New York, where the United Nations annual summit has convened, Feltman said that the upcoming meeting in New York between Clinton and Moallem will take place in that spirit, and stressed that “the Palestinians have told us that they would be very supportive of having a Syria track as well.”
“We have a lot of differences with Syria,” Feltman added. “Those differences aren’t going to disappear overnight. We also recognize that it is certainly in our interest to do what we can to engage the Syrians and the Israelis in a peace process that can lead to a comprehensive peace.”
Meanwhile, Clinton met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday as the Obama administration engaged in furious, last-minute diplomacy to prevent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks from collapsing when the temporary settlement construction freeze ends on Sunday.
The Palestinians have threatened to walk out of the talks if Israel does not extend a slowdown in West Bank settlement activity.
Feltman told reporters the U.S. is urging Israel to extend the moratorium and that both parties need to see the negotiations through to their conclusion.
“Three PKK members were arrested in Beyrout by Lebanon security forces. The operation against so-called Israeli spies still continues.During the last week, Lebanon Military Intelligence Service launched operations against the ‘spies of Israel’ in Jonieh, a coastal city 20 kilometers north of Beyrout. During the operation, 3 PKK members were also caught. Interrogated terrorists were put under arrest for spying for Israel in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, PKK’s acting leader Murat Karayılan’s recent speech is attracting more attention to the PKK-Israel relations. Two days ago he offered cooperation to Israel against Turkey. The PKK leader declared Turkey as a ‘common enemy’ by saying “Our enemies are also the enemies of Israel.”
Government Increases Price of Fuel Oil
The Syrian Government has increased the retail price of fuel oil to SYP 8,500 per ton in line with its target to reach market rates by 2015.
Syria’s inflation rate stood at 2.18 percent on an annual basis at the end of July 2010, according to the Central Bank of Syria.
Nexia International, an international network of audit and consultancy firms, has opened a branch in Syria.
We are proud to be Yehudi-Arabi. It is in our veins’. Many Syria’s Jews who never saw their home country have not lost touch with their roots.
Jews who call Syria home; culturally Syrian, religiously Jew
By Brooke Anderson – DAMASCUS published in forward.com
“You can never forget,” says Joey Allaham, a Syrian Jew who left Damascus with his parents at the age of 18 in 1992, the year a nearly 45-year travel ban was lifted on Jews. “The Syrian customs never left – even for people who left Syria a hundred years ago. We still eat the same things; we’re still Syrian. There’s nothing missing.”
This statement might be truer for the Syrian Jews than for almost any other immigrant community in the world. ….
Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
For three decades, the writer and journalist Gideon Levy has been a lone voice, telling his readers the truth about what goes on in the Occupied Territories.
Interview by Johann Hari
Levy believes the greatest myth – the one hanging over the Middle East like perfume sprayed onto a corpse – is the idea of the current ‘peace talks’ led by the United States. There was a time when he too believed in them. At the height of the Oslo talks in the 1990s, when Yitzhak Rabin negotiated with Yassir Arafat, “at the end of a visit I turned and, in a gesture straight out of the movies, waved Gaza farewell. Goodbye occupied Gaza, farewell! We are never to meet again, at least not in your occupied state. How foolish!”
Now, he says, he is convinced it was “a scam” from the start, doomed to fail. How does he know? “There is a very simple litmus test for any peace talks. A necessity for peace is for Israel to dismantle settlements in the West Bank. So if you are going to dismantle settlements soon, you’d stop building more now, right? They carried on building them all through Oslo. And today, Netanyahu is refusing to freeze construction, the barest of the bare minimum. It tells you all you need.”
He says Netanyahu has – like the supposedly more left-wing alternatives, Ehud Barak and Tzipip Livni – always opposed real peace talks, and even privately bragged about destroying the Oslo process.