Monday, October 4, 2010

In the news

There are several interesting articles today:

"Asian activists to send aid convoy to Gaza, says IHH"

An Islamic organization that sponsored the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara flotilla that Israeli commandos boarded about four months ago says activists from Asia plan to send an aid convoy to Gaza in an effort to break Israel's naval blockade.
The Turkish group IHH said Monday that 500 activists from a dozen countries will take part in the new convoy that hopes to reach Gaza by Dec. 27.

"Israel, U.S. working quietly to resolve peace talks deadlock"

Israel and the United States are holding behind-the-scenes talks geared at resolving a recent deadlock in Mideast peace talks with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, adding that peace was Israel's vital interest.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that Israel was "in the midst of sensitive diplomatic contacts with the U.S. administration in order to find a solution that will allow the continuation of the talks."

"Tehran, Damascus plot Hizballah grab of Beirut"

The presidents of Iran and Syria agreed in Tehran Saturday, Oct. 2, to support a Hizballah military takeover of Lebanon's power centers, including the capital Beirut, right after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ends his controversial two-day visit to the country on October 13-14.

Ahmadinejad and Assad also decided to continue to harass Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri by de-legitimization of his government, intimidation and humiliation to force him to dissolve the Special Tribunal for Lebanon-STL which has brought charges against Hizballlah officials for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

If this campaign disables the Hariri government, so much the better, because then Hizballah will be able to walk in and set up a transitional administration together with it allies, the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and the Christian ex-general Michel Aoun. This administration will rule the regions dominated by Hizballah gunmen and proclaim its legality as a viable alternative to the failed Hariri government.

"Lebanese See Ahmadinejad's Visit as Jab at 'Peace' Talks"

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to make his first official visit to Lebanon as Iranian President on Wednesday, October 13, and local politicians see the visit as a message to Israel, the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority

Official Iranian news agency IRNA reported that Lebanese politician Wiam Wahab had expressed hope that the timing of Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon would "encourage the regional countries to support the resistance against the Zionist regime, especially at the present time when the Palestinian Authority and Israel are going back to direct talks."

This next paragraph deserves a separate bolded section:

According to a report in CNN, Lebanon's National News Agency quoted Fares Souaid, Secretary-General of Lebanon's "March 14 Alliance," as saying that Ahmadinejad's visit sends "a message that means to say that Iran is at the border of Israel! ... While the Palestinians and Israelis are negotiating, the Iranian president wants to stress that Lebanon is a land where resistance is exercised and war against Israel is possible. He wants to remind the international community that Israel's security is in the hands of Iran through its relations with Hamas and Hizbullah – and hence, he says to the world, you must negotiate with us."

"Dutch politician on trial on hate speech charges"

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders appealed for freedom of expression Monday as he went on trial for alleged hate speech at a time when his popularity and influence in the Netherlands are near all-time highs.

Prosecutors say Wilders has incited hate against Muslims, pointing to a litany of quotes and remarks he has made in recent years. In one opinion piece he wrote "I've had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; let not one more Muslim immigrate," adding "I've had enough of the Quran in the Netherlands: Forbid that fascist book."

Wilders argues he has a right to freedom of speech and that his remarks were within the bounds of the law.

"I am a suspect here because I have expressed my opinion as a representative of the people," Wilders told judges at the start of the trial.

If convicted he could face up to a year in jail

"Muslim Journalist: Jerusalem Arabs Prefer Israeli Sovereignty"

Jerusalem’s Arab population prefers Israeli sovereignty to the prospect of living under Palestinian Authority rule, according to a column written by popular Arab writer Khaled Abu Toameh.

In a hard-hitting piece published last week in Hudson New York, he contends that any talk of dividing Jerusalem, a “very small city where Jews and Arabs live across the street from each other and on top of each other,” is “completely unrealistic.”

Abu Toameh, a Muslim Arab journalist for nearly three decades, says the PA’s insistence on taking half of Jerusalem for the capital of the new country it wants to create, would turn the city into “a nightmare” of traffic snarls surrounded by security barriers, checkpoints and border crossings.

It is interesting that someone would raise the logistical considerations involved with the division of Jerusalem as proposed. Additionally, this article brings out some considerations not typically discussed:

But Abu Toameh contends it is only fair to ask the 200,000 Arab residents of Jerusalem whether they actually want to live in a divided city “under the rule of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.” A majority would likely prefer the status quo to other options, he says, for a number of reasons.

“First, because as holders of Israeli ID cards, they are entitled to many rights and privileges that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip don’t enjoy. They include freedom of movement and social, economic, health and education services that Israeli citizens are entitled to.”

Abu Toameh adds that re-dividing Jerusalem would mean the entry of the PA, or of Hamas, into the city. “The Arab residents of Jerusalem have seen what happened in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past 16 years and are not keen to live under a corrupt authority or a radical Islamist entity,” he says pointedly.

Many, he says, ran away from Judea and Samaria because they did not want to live in areas controlled by “militiamen, armed gangs and corrupt leaders and institutions.”

Those who believe that Jerusalem can realistically be split are “living in an illusion and clearly do not know what they are talking about,” Abu Toameh says.

Instead of talking about tearing the city apart, he suggests, “it would be better if the negotiators started thinking of ways that enable Jews and Arabs to share, and not divide, the city.”

Very interesting indeed. I wonder if the various government officials - those who are engaged in such discussions - take these logistical aspects into consideration?

No comments: