Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
PLO Raises Flag over Washington
by Maayana Miskin
The PLO flag flew in Washington, DC for the first time Tuesday, with PLO officials hoisting their banner over their United States mission.
Chief of Mission Maen Areikat praised U.S. officials for allowing the flag to go up. “I think it indicates the willingness of the American administration to deal with the realities on the ground,” he said.
It's about time that this flag that symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood be raised in the United States,” Areikat stated.
The Obama administration's willingness to allow the flag to go up was met with criticism from Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leadership’s scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state while refusing to directly negotiate with Israel or accept the existence of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state,” she said.
The PA has been working to convince the international community to recognize a new Arab state in all the territory between the 1948 armistice line and Jordan, in an attempt to circumvent talks with Israel. Israeli leaders have repeatedly rejected the PA's demand for all land east of the armistice line, saying that Israel plans to keep control of Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria, and of Jerusalem, Israel's capital.
Abbas calls on Quartet to pressure Israel
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND HERB KEINON
Medvedev stops short of saying border of future Palestinian state should be 1967 lines; PA president praises Russians for support of Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday urged the Quartet members, who are scheduled to meet in Munich next month, to issue decisions that would oblige Israel to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians.
Abbas, who was speaking during a joint press conference in Jericho with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said there were only two options: Negotiations or violence and terrorism.
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“We won’t choose violence and terrorism,” he declared. “Therefore, we tell the Israelis that they must choose the path of peace for their own interest and for the interests of their generations.”
Medvedev was originally scheduled to come first to Israel before going to the PA, but his trip to Israel was canceled because of the Foreign Ministry workers’ sanctions. A senior ministry official said that once the work sanctions ended, Jerusalem would contact Moscow to try and reschedule a visit to Israel.
Abbas reiterated his demand for a full cessation of settlement construction so as to pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks and the implementation of the road map for peace, the Arab peace initiative and UN resolutions.
He hailed the Russians for their longtime support for the Palestinians, noting that he had once headed the Palestinian- Russian Friendship Association.
Abbas said he had briefed Medvedev on the ongoing construction in the settlements and Israeli measures in east Jerusalem that, he claimed, were designed to change the city’s character, identity and history.
The two men also discussed the impasse in the peace talks and the possibility that Russia, as a member of the Quartet, would play an active role in the peace process, Abbas said. The Quartet, which is made up of the US, EU, Russia and UN, is scheduled to meet next on February 5 in Munich.
Abbas also praised Latin American countries that had recently recognized a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders.
Medvedev said at the press conference that the Russian position toward the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state hadn’t changed.
He pointed out that the Soviet Union had recognized the PLO declaration of statehood in 1988.
“The Russian position hasn’t changed, as I’ve told the president,” he said. “Russia has made its choice long ago, at the end of the ’80s. We supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to create its own state, which is independent, territorially integral and with a capital in east Jerusalem.”
Israeli officials pointed out that the Russian president stepped back from explicitly calling for a state along the 1967 lines, a recognition the Palestinians are seeking. The officials said that Foreign Ministry officials were in touch with the Russian delegation before it went to Jericho to ensure there would be no change in the Russian position.
Israeli government officials said they regretted that the PA was investing so much energy in trying to get “meaningless declarations” from various countries around the world.
“In 1988, Yasser Arafat declared an independent state and more than 100 counties recognized it,” one official said. “The question is whether that changed anything for the Palestinians, did it change anything in the West Bank? It changed nothing.”
The official said the Palestinian leadership needed to chose between “the path of empty rhetoric and meaningless declarations” and “direct engagement with Israel.” Only through negotiations with Israel “can realities be changed,” the official said.
National Security Adviser Uzi Arad was in Moscow last week and President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet with Medvedev later this month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Medvedev said he discussed with Abbas ways of reviving the peace talks with Israel. He called on both parties to exercise self-restraint and avoid unilateral actions. He also called for a halt of Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
He said all parties would benefit from the creation of a Palestinian state, especially Israelis and Palestinians. “This is what we have to work to achieve,” Medvedev said.
He also expressed readiness to host a peace conference in Moscow and warned that the current stalemate would have a negative impact on the situation in the Middle East.
Medvedev and Abbas inaugurated the Russian Museum in Jericho. Abbas described the project as a “symbol of Russian civilization in Palestine.”
Medvedev said that the existence of the museum in the Palestinian territories was a symbol of Russian presence in the Holy Land and the strong ties between Palestinians and Russians.
Lebanon as state open to UN sanctions if Beirut flouts Hariri tribunal
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 18, 2011, 6:49 PM (GMT+02:00)
Special Lebanon Tribunal, The Hague
The Special Lebanon Court registrar Herman von Hebel announced Tuesday, Jan. 18 that if things go well, "we may see the start of the trial toward September/October … with or without an accused." A day earlier, the STL prosecutor Daniel Bellemare submitted his draft indictment to the pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen in The Hague, thereby establishing three facts in the case of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
1. An approximate date has been set for the trial to begin, irrespective of the extreme upsets in Lebanon over the case.
2. The prosecution file includes names of accused individuals, members of Hizballah, who will be summoned to appear before the UN court. Bellemare stated in a video clip Tuesday that the accused he cited are presumed innocent even after they are confirmed by the judge – until the prosecution proves their guilt beyond reasonable doubt in court.
3. Any of the accused defying the court summons will be tried in absentia as debkafile reportedly exclusively first in its weekly edition on Dec. 24, 2010 and again in daily debkafile on Jan. 13.
(Click here for second report.)
The registrar also stated Tuesday: "The pretrial judge is very keen to move the process forward as fast as possible."
This means that Fransen will make an effort to hand down his decision on the indictments within 6-10 weeks, much earlier than the several months originally reported, according to debkafile's sources. The court realizes that the longer the court process, the deeper Lebanon will sink into crisis.
Von Hebel also referred to the joint effort Syrian president Bashar Assad, Turkish premier Recep Erdogan and the Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani were making in Beirut for a compromise that would free the Lebanese government of its commitment to honor the international tribunal's warrants and contribute to its funding. The registrar said: "We know for sure it is not easy to get accused persons arrested. The problem with international tribunals is that they do not have a police force. We are dependent on the cooperation of states."
He then remarked: "The tribunal's budget is $65.7 million for 2011 should not be affected by the collapse of the Lebanese government which is obliged to pay 49 percent. The obligation is for the state, not a government."
That comment is the key to the dispute – both over the tribunal's funding and its legitimacy which Hizballah challenges by refusing to hand over its officials for trial.
Von Hebel, the tribunal's registrar. made it clear that the Lebanese state, not its government, will be held accountable for upholding the UN court's decrees. In other words, the effort engineered from Tehran and Damascus to replace the Hariri government with an alternative will not get Hizballah off the hook. Indeed any administration in Beirut that defies the court lays Lebanon open to a complaint to the UN Security Council by the UN tribunal's judges and a demand for sanctions pending compliance.
Intel Hangs Out ‘Help Wanted’ Sign in Israel
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Unemployed? No future in Silicon Valley? Intel again has hung out the “help wanted” sign in Israel, where it is recruiting 1,000 new workers this year for nanometer technology that produces semiconductors.
The giant chip maker also announced it is investing $2.7 billion over the next two years at its Kiryat Gat facility, located between Be’er Sheva and metropolitan Tel Aviv.
During the introduction of the nanometer technology, “There will be an exchange of machinery that will lower the pace of production while we are bringing in the machinery with new technology at the same time,” according to Intel’s general manager in Israel, Maxine Fassberg.
Intel already is one of Israel’s largest private employers, with more than 7,000 employees. Fassberg claims that the company indirectly provided jobs for an additional 20,000 people.
Intel has been operating in Israel for 25 years ago, and Israeli computer engineers in Haifa have been overseeing the development of personal computers for the next generation. Intel unveiled the architecture of the project, dubbed Sandy Bridge, earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Shlomit Weiss, the architect of Sandy Bridge, told Globes that the project included more than 1,000 software engineers and that work continued for four years.
US-Born Wanted Terrorist Sentenced In Absentia by Yemen
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Yemen has sentenced in absentia US-born terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki to 10 years in prison for inciting to murder, while at the same time his latest posting for Al-Qaeda states it is permissible to steal from ”non-believers” – especially Americans – for the sake of jihad. Awlaki is "wanted dead or alive" by the United States.
He was convicted of helping Nigerian terrorist Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab to try to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas in 2009. The bomb did not explode. He also released a video in which he praised the actions of Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who murdered 13 people at the Fort Hood army base in Texas , and is said to have inspired him to commit the massacre.
Al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico, is believed to be hiding in Yemen, where he is thought to be the head of Al-Qaeda’s local branch, which took responsibility for the mail bombs last year that were intercepted by American authorities several minutes before they were scheduled to explode. Explosive experts said they were powerful enough to bring down several planes.
A second terrorist, a cousin of Al-Awlaki, was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison. The Yemeni court also handed down a death sentence for a 19-year-old terrorist who Al-Awlaki was said to have incited to kill a French citizen last October.
The same day the sentences were handed down, Al-Qaeda published on its Inspire online magazine published in English an article by Al-Awlaki that donations are not enough to finance jihad, according to the Long War Journal.
"Rather than the Muslims financing their jihad from their own pockets, they should finance it from the pockets of their enemies," Awlaki wrote. He advised followers to "avoid targeting citizens of countries where the public opinion is supportive of some of the Muslim causes." Instead, they should target government-owned property, banks, global corporations and "wealth belonging to disbelievers with known animosity towards Muslims."
"In the case of the United States, both the government and private citizens should be targeted.
“It is about time that we take serious steps towards securing a strong financial backing for our work rather than depending on donations," Awlaki argues.
The United States has led efforts to interrupt fundraising for jihad, which may have prompted Al-Al-Awlaki to write, “Our enemies are following the money trail.”
Controversy-ridden Greek Orthodox Church marks 'the Epiphany'
The Greek Orthodox and other Eastern Orthodox Christian churches marked the Feast of the Epiphany on Tuesday, the annual commemoration of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist at the Jordan River.
The Epiphany is one of the most important dates on the calendar for the Orthodox Church, as it launched Jesus’ earthly ministry, and signaled the beginning of “Christian” faith and the doctrine of “the Trinity.”
Israeli Ministry of Tourism officials estimated that 20,000 people showed up for the event. Many were Arab Christians from the land, but at least half traveled from Ethiopia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Russia and many other nations to participate in the holy convocation.
The ceremony itself was brief, with Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos III saying a few brief prayers and then conducted a ritual at the water’s edge that included releasing three doves into the air.
The Feast of the Epiphany takes place at a site along the Jordan River known for centuries as Qasr al-Yahud. It is a telling name, as it literally means “the crossing of the Jews” - the place where the Jews crossed the Jordan into the Land of Israel. Just one more acknowledgement from the Muslim world that this land does indeed belong to Israel, a fact that today’s Muslims are trying to cover up and reverse in service to the “Palestinian cause.”
Epiphany 2010 was also a bit marred by the recent revelation that Theofilos is keeping his predecessor, Irineos I, prisoner in Jerusalem.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Irineos has been confined to his personal quarters in Jerusalem’s Old City for the past three years. AP reporters had to hide a microphone in Irineos’ daily grocery delivery in order to receive his remarks.
“They allow nobody out and nobody in to visit me,” said Irineos. “They are afraid of the people because I’m loved by the people, and I love the people.”
Irineos was deposed following accusations that he had sold some of the Greek Orthodox Churches extensive property holdings in the Holy Land to the Israeli government. Irineos later insisted he had been framed, but Theofilos had set himself up as the new patriarch by that time.
For more pictures and information from the Feast of the Epiphany 2010, make sure you receive next month’s copy of Israel Today.