Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak made welcoming sounds about Syria’s possible presence at the conference, as though they had come up with the plan after careful consideration. In fact, DEBKAfile’s Middle East and intelligence sources report, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice presented them with a fait accompli.
The invitation she handed to Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem on Nov. 3 came from President George W. Bush, after he accepted Damascus’ condition that future negotiations on the Golan be mentioned in the conference’s final paper, as well as the Palestinian issue.
Rice and Mualem initially agreed that the Golan talks between Israel and Syria would be delayed for a while so as not to interfere with the Palestinian track. It will also be necessary to prepare Israeli opinion for the step. But Tuesday, after winning one point, Damascus raised the ante.
Syrian deputy prime minister Abdullah Dardari announced that if the restoration of the Golan to Syrian hands is not laid out at the peace conference, Syria will not attend. His statement aimed at pinning Rice down to making Israel go along with the deal, or risk being accused of derailing the conference.
The Syrians are demanding furthermore that their delegate, possibly vice president Farouk a-Shara, or Moualem, be given the floor for a speech calling for the handover of the Golan which Israel has controlled since Syria was defeated in the 1967 War. And if president Bashar Assad decides to attend, Damascus wants him to be formally received by his opposite number in rank, namely Vice President Dick Cheney.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Hamas Militiamen Beat Gaza Protesters
By IBRAHIM BARZAK
The Associated Press
Monday, August 13, 2007; 9:44 AM
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Hamas militiamen beat protesters with clubs and rifle butts to try to stop a demonstration by political opponents in the Gaza Strip on Monday, but hundreds chanting "We want freedom" defied the ban.
Hamas routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement in five days of savage fighting in Gaza in June. The Islamic militant group has tolerated no dissent since taking over the coastal strip.
After Fatah and other allied groups announced plans to stage a rally Monday, Hamas banned "all demonstrations and public gatherings" that did not have special permission.
Buses arriving at the demonstration site in a main square were halted by Hamas guards who beat protesters, driving them away and confiscating Fatah flags.
Nevertheless, about 300 protesters got past the militia cordon and demonstrated for about 20 minutes, shouting "We want to raise our voice," before dispersing.
Hamas men arrested several demonstrators and confiscated equipment from news photographers and cameramen seeking to cover the arrests, including an Associated Press camera.
The Palestinian journalists' union called on members to observe a three-day boycott of any events organized by the Hamas force to protest the treatment of the media.
Saleh Nasser, of the small, leftist, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was at the protest and condemned Hamas' response.
"Treating people in this way when they came to raise their voice in a peaceful demonstration is something that is condemned, rejected and cannot be accepted," he said. "We are astonished by the decision to ban demonstrations."
Following the protest, Hamas squads raided Gaza offices of media organizations seeking material from the rally, eyewitnesses said. Staff at Gulf-based satellite broadcaster Al-Arabiyya said the Hamas men seized a camera, videotape and tripod from their premises.
The June infighting in Gaza, which killed about 100 people, deepened the already bitter political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah.
Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Abbas expelled Hamas from the Palestinian coalition government and formed a West Bank-based administration of moderates in its place.
Undeterred, deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh pledged to impose law and order on the formerly anarchic Gaza Strip. But his heavily armed police, known as the Executive Force, is gaining a reputation for being heavy-handed at best, particularly when dealing with Fatah supporters.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Prejudice against or hatred of Jews - known as antisemitism - has plagued the world for more than 2,000 years. The Holocaust, the state-sponsored persecution and murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945, is history's most extreme example of antisemitism. Yet even in the aftermath of the Holocaust, antisemitism remains a continuing threat.
Today, there are signs of increasing antisemitism across Europe and the Islamic world, including hate speech, violence targeting Jews and Jewish institutions, and denial of the Holocaust. Militant Islamic groups with political power use language suggestive of genocide regarding the State of Israel. The president of Iran recently declared the Holocaust a "myth" and called Israel "a disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the map." The Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas pledges in its founding covenant to "obliterate" Israel.
Many moral failures led to the Holocaust. In the aftermath of those failures, we must remain alert to the continuing threat of antisemitism and to the ultimate consequences of unchecked hatred.
Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel
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