Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In the news...

First, the EU Observer gives us a story that is highly predictable and right on schedule:

"EU's new foreign relations chief criticises Israel". Now thats a shock isn't it?
In her very first speech regarding the Middle East she takes the opportunity to not only criticize Israel, but she makes the predictable statements - almost on cue:

"The EU's new foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton, criticised Israel in her first speech on the Middle East and unveiled plans to visit the region in the New Year."

"Dubbed recently by one Israeli lobbyist as a "tabula rasa" who will be easy to influence because of her lack of foreign policy experience, Ms Ashton came down hard on the Israeli government in an address to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (15 December)."

"East Jerusalem is occupied territory together with the West Bank. The EU is opposed to the destruction of homes, the eviction of Arab residents and the construction of the separation barrier," she said on Israeli activity in the city, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims."

"Her speech, which fits in with the Arab-friendly British foreign office tradition, was also significant for what it left out: Ms Ashton did not say that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, that it faces a security threat from Palestinian "terrorists" or that Palestinians should immediately return to formal peace talks - the classic tenets of Israeli supporters."


In a second (unrelated) story, we see Copenhagen starting to unravel. Thats a good thing.

"Archbishop Tutu: Rich nations 'condemning Africa to incineration'". Quotes:

"On the eve of the arrival of senior ministers and the first few heads of state at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, pessimism was rife that divisions amongst the major parties were so wide that talks may end in collapse."

"Adding to developed countries' woes as talks chugged away well into the night, anti-apartheid veteran Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote to the president of the talks and future EU environment commissioner Connie Hedegaard charging that the position of wealthy nations would "condemn Africa to incineration."

"Talks have all but ground to a halt in particular over the issue of the continuance of the Kyoto Protocol, which focuses on the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of the developed world."


In a third (unrelated) story, under the category of "It can't be a news day without a story relating to Iran":

"Iran says it successfully tested upgraded Sajjil-2 missile". Quotes:

"British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quoted by AFP as saying that Teheran's missile test announcement was a matter of "serious concern to the international community and it does make the case for moving further on sanctions."

"Iran successfully test-fired an improved version of its Sajjil-2 medium-range missile which it says can reach targets inside Israel, state television announced."

"The Sajjil is a solid fuel, high-speed missile with a range of about 1,930 kilometers, placing Israel well within range and reaching as far away as southeastern Europe with greater precision than earlier models."

The implications of this development coming out of Iran are obvious.


Last but not least, is an interesting article from the Jerusalem Post. This may mean nothing, but it could also blow up into a big conflict at the Temple Mount, as it has in the past:

"Activists planning Temple Mount ascent". Quotes:

"A group of activists dedicated to bringing Jews to the Temple Mount told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that they were hoping to see hundreds of participants take part in a planned "mass pilgrimage" to the mount scheduled for Thursday morning in honor of Hanukka, which celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple after it was recovered from Hellenist Greeks more than 2,000 years ago."

"The pilgrimage, which will include guided tours of the area throughout the morning, will also be a litmus test for the shaky calm that has prevailed in Jerusalem's Old City since October, when rumors of a "Jewish takeover" of the mount sparked fierce clashes between Arab rioters and security forces in and around the sensitive holy site and in various neighborhoods of east Jerusalem."

As seen, this ascent is planned for Thursday. One never knows what the result of such action will be, but this has led to conflict - sometimes prolonged - as a result. We shall see.

As directed by Jesus, we need to pray for peace in Jerusalem.

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