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« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2006, 06:29:20 PM »

Israel Cages Palestinian Dy PM with Several MPs
'Pakistan Times' Foreign Desk

GAZA: Amid the Gaza scenario fast escalating, Israeli forces rounded up dozens of Palestinian Cabinet ministers and lawmakers including Deputy Prime Minister Nasser al-Shaher of the Hamas-led government in an overnight raid, Palestinian security officials said Thursday.

Hamas accused Israel Thursday of launching an "open war" to destroy the Palestinian government after arresting a number of its ministers and lawmakers in the West Bank.

Witnesses said tanks moved into northern Gaza, widening Israel's largest military operation in the year since Israel pulled out of the seaside territory.

Palestinian officials said altogether, seven Cabinet ministers and 20 lawmakers were arrested.

Palestinian security officials said Israeli forces detained three Cabinet ministers, as well as four lawmakers in Ramallah.. Several others were arrested in the town of Jenin, they said.

Israeli media reported a roundup of Hamas lawmakers in Jerusalem and other locations. Also, the Hamas mayor of the West Bank town of Qalqiliya and his deputy were detained, security officials said.

Before daybreak on Thursday, witnesses said Israeli tanks and bulldozers moved into northern Gaza, stopping about 200 meters (yards) inside Palestinian territory across from the Jebaliya refugee camp.

No clashes were reported. However, the military denied its forces had moved into northern Gaza.

A body recovered overnight by Israeli troops in the West Bank belonged to an 18-year-old Jewish settler kidnapped by Palestinian militants, Israeli military sources said.

Troops on Red Alert

Israeli forces were put on red alert at Lebanon border after taking same measures at Syria border fearing possible retaliation from Lebanese militia Hezbollah as Israel had threatened to kill Hamas militants and flew warplanes over Syria's presidential palace.

The army said it was bracing for any strikes by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

"This measure has been taken due to concerns that the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah or other organizations will try to trigger an escalation of hostilities by launching border attacks," said the Israel’s military spokeswoman.

A meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has also been postponed.

The Israeli army has detained 20 lawmakers including more than 10 ministers of the Hamas-led Palestinian government in an overnight raid.

Meanwhile, the Arab league has called an emergency meeting today due to escalating Middle East crisis.

Missiles hit Gaza

An earlier report said that Israeli aircraft fired missiles at the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, with the military saying it aimed at open areas, and Palestinian medical officials saying a car was hit.

No injuries were reported. The strike took place near the town of Khan Younis.

'Total Collapse'

And in Jerusalem, the chief Palestinian negotiator Thursday urged the international community to help win the release of Hamas ministers and MPs arrested by Israel, warning of "total collapse" in the situation.

"We call upon the internatonal community to help us to obtain the immediate release of the MPs and ministers arrested by Israel early today," Saeb Erakat told media by telephone.

"I made contacts with the EU and United States and we warned against considering these ministers and MPs as hostages who are being used to obtain the release of the soldier because such a thing would lead to a total collapse," he added.

A teenage Israeli soldier was kidnapped on Sunday by Palestinian militants, including militants loyal to governing Islamist movement Hamas who infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli troops overnight arrested 64 members of governing Palestinian party Hamas, including eight ministers, 20 lawmakers, regional officials and city mayors in a massive operation in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has stepped up a military offensive in the Gaza Strip, seeking to tighten pressure against Palestinians to return the kidnapped soldier.

US on Scenario

A report from Washington says that Secretary of State Ms Condoleezza Rice spoke to Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni , as Washington said it was using "moral authority" to help defuse a showdown in Gaza over a kidnapped Israeli soldier.

The United States was working hard behind the scenes to bring about the "release of the captured soldier immediately and put an end to this crisis which has been provoked by terrorist hostage-taking," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.

He declined to say whether the United States was aware in advance of Israel's military strategy in Gaza, or had advised the Israeli government not to take certain actions.

"We want to resolve that hostage-taking. That's what we all want to do and we want to protect innocent life in doing that," he said.

"I think the United States obviously has influence and moral authority on this and we are using that to try to do what we can to help bring this to a peaceful resolution."

Annan for Restraint

Reacting to the situation, the Secretary-General Annan spoke by telephone Wednesday with Israel's prime minister and the presidents of Syria and the Palestinian Authority to express concern about escalating Middle East tensions.

He said he Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had assured him that Israel would use maximum restraint as it attempts to free an Israeli soldier taken hostage by armed Palestinians.

"The Israeli government has a responsibility to protect its citizens, but it has to do so with restraint and, of course, it is understandable that they would want to go after those who [had] kidnapped the soldier," said Kofi Annan.

"But it has to be done in such a way that civilian populations are not made to suffer. I spoke to the prime minister, who indicated to me that he is exercising maximum restraint, but I think it is important that the two leaders work together to calm the situation."

Mr. Annan said he had urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to halt the recent spate of Katyusha rocket attacks on Israel.

"In my discussions with Abbas, he's working with all the Palestinian factions to bring the violence under control and ensure that these Katyusha attacks do not continue," he said.

"And I think it is important that we work very actively on this to get it done. But I hope they would also allow time for, what you described as diplomatic initiative, or to find a solution to the capture of the soldier."

When he heard about the Israeli warplanes flying low over Syria's presidential palace, Mr. Annan said "we need to be careful, not only not to escalate, but not to expand the area of conflict".

Syria described the flyover as "an aggressive act", and said its air defenses had fired on the planes.

Israel Cages Palestinian Dy PM with Several MPs
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« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2006, 06:32:30 PM »

Hamas demands end to Gaza raids
Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:09 PM BST

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday demanded Israel halt a Gaza offensive if it wanted to free a captured soldier and said the Hamas-led government would not give way to force.

Late on Friday, Israel launched airstrikes against training camps for militants. Earlier, it pounded Gaza with missiles, setting ablaze the Interior Ministry offices in the operation aimed at bringing home Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Two militants were killed in attacks the army said were aimed at squads firing rockets into Israel.

The crisis has sent Israeli-Palestinian relations to new lows and piled more pressure on the Hamas Islamist government, already straining under a U.S.-led aid embargo to get it to renounce violence and drop its vow to destroy Israel.

Haniyeh, addressing the public for the first time since the abduction of Shalit, said at prayers in a Gaza mosque that Hamas would not be pressured by raids or the detention or killing of its leaders.

"The aggression must stop in order not to make the situation more complicated," he said, while adding that he was working with Egyptian mediators and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end the hostage crisis.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Hamas had given "conditional approval" for Shalit's release, without specifying the terms. Mohammed Dahlan, an aide to Abbas, said he hoped an agreement would be reached in the coming days.

Troops have massed near northern Gaza, but diplomatic sources said Israel had stood down an offensive into the territory to allow for mediation efforts to continue. The army has not commented on this.

European Union envoy Marc Otte said after a meeting with Abbas that they hoped "developments over the next few hours and days will allow for the lifting of the (Israeli) siege."

ISRAEL SAYS WON'T NEGOTIATE

Israeli officials said the Jewish state was not involved in mediation and would not bargain for Shalit.

"Make no mistake, we are not going to negotiate on the release of our soldier," said cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit.

The Jewish state has also rejected demands by militants to free Palestinians jailed by Israel for information on Shalit. The groups have not said whether he is dead or alive.

Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrilla group, which has swapped kidnapped Israelis for Arab prisoners in the past, urged militants to free Shalit only as part of a prisoner exchange.

Israel is under international pressure to avoid civilian casualties that could result from a larger assault into densely populated Gaza, home to 1.4 million Palestinians. Attacks against gunmen in early June killed more than a dozen civilians.

Air attacks late on Friday hit two empty militant training camps, causing no casualties.

Hamas cabinet ministers have been keeping under cover after Israeli threats of assassination. Hamas's armed wing was among the groups that grabbed Shalit, although the government said it had no foreknowledge of the raid.

Missile attacks earlier in the week knocked out bridges, water systems and a power substation, causing blackouts. Palestinian officials say a shortage in supplies and food may worsen conditions in already-impoverished Gaza.

A senior Israeli security source said the Jewish state, which supplies electricity to Gaza, had increased the flow of power into remaining lines and that Israel may open a border crossing next week to allow for supplies to be brought in.

Hamas demands end to Gaza raids
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« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2006, 06:34:50 PM »

Murderer Israel, Get out of Palestine, Chanted Thousands of Turks in Istanbul Friday

AP Headline: Thousands of Turks Protest Israeli Actions

By BENJAMIN HARVEY Associated Press Writer

Jun 30, 2006, 7:26 AM EDT

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) --

Thousands of angry Turks burned an Israeli flag Friday and chanted "Murderer Israel, Get out of Palestine!" to protest Israel's offensive into the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of women, wearing black chadors or covering their heads with Islamic-style head scarves, carried Palestinian flags and banners which read: "Israel is burning Palestine."

Police said about 5,000 people participated in the protest outside Istanbul's Bayazid Mosque.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has contacted Palestinian authorities in an effort to help end the crisis over Israel's offensive, which was launched following the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier on Sunday. Turkey has friendly ties with both fellow Muslim Palestinians and Israel.

Israeli occupation terrorist air force has struck more than 30 targets in Gaza - including the Palestinian Interior Ministry - while thousands of Israeli soldiers backed by tanks have taken up positions in the southern part of the strip.

Murderer Israel, Get out of Palestine, Chanted Thousands of Turks in Istanbul Friday
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« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2006, 06:41:28 PM »

With everything happening right now, it won't be long I pray.  Y'all notice that this is just todays news. 

Theres more, but I need to restart my computer.  Undecided
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« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2006, 07:03:55 PM »

Hamas demands Israel ends raids
Jun. 30 - Palestinian ministers call for a halt to Israel's Gaza offensive, but say ''no concessions will be made.''

The call for an end to Israel's military action came from the prime minister of the Palestinians' Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, who said the violence must stop in order ''not to make the situation more complicated.''

For its part, Israel appears to be holding off a threatened ground offensive in Gaza to give time to Egypt's attempt to secure the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, whose abduction triggered the current crisis. However, Israel has also warned that it will not negotiate terms for the release of the soldier.

David Pollard reports.

SOUNDBITE: Israeli Cabinet Minister Me'ir Sheetrit Saying (English)

''We are not going to negotiate. If the Egyptians expect that we are going to pay any price for giving back our soldier that had been kidnapped by invading into the territory of Israel, they can forget it, we are not going to pay any price.''

Hamas demands Israel ends raids
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« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2006, 07:18:16 PM »

UN Schedules Emergency Debate On Israeli Gaza Offensive

UNITED NATIONS (AP)--The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency debate Friday afternoon on the Israeli offensive in Gaza and the Palestinians said they will press for adoption of a resolution condemning Israel's aggression and demanding a halt to all military operations.

The Palestinian U.N. Observer Riyad Mansour said a resolution would also demand the release of Palestinian Cabinet ministers and Hamas officials arrested by Israel on Thursday following the abduction of an Israeli soldier, which sparked the current crisis.

The council agreed to the open meeting after receiving a request from Algeria, the current head of the Arab Group at the United Nations. It was presented by Qatar, the only Arab member of the council.

Mansour accused Israel of trying to reoccupy parts of Gaza, bombarding it with artillery from the sea, dropping bombs from fighter jets, and preparing for additional ground attacks. The destruction of bridges and damage to water pipes has left many Palestinians without food or water, he said.

"The (Gaza) strip is completely besieged. Nobody is in, nobody is out," Mansour said. "It is a huge crime against humanity endangering 1.3 million Palestinians."

Mansour strongly criticized Israel for launching the Gaza offensive instead of allowing the Palestinian leadership under President Mahmoud Abbas to continue its efforts to find a political solution.

"The council has to send the correct signal to Israel by condemning this action and calling for cessation of Israeli aggression and immediate withdrawal to where they came from, and also immediate release of all elected officials," he said.

Mansour expressed hope that "the council would rise up to this occasion and adopt an appropriate resolution that does not allow aggression to take place."

But U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said he expected only a debate on the five- day-old crisis, noting that a resolution has not been circulated to council members. "It's not at all clear that anybody's prepared to present a draft text today," he said.

"At this particularly sensitive time, I don't think a resolution would be advisable," Bolton added.

The United States has vetoed many resolutions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, arguing in most cases that they are not balanced and would not promote peace efforts.

Asked whether a resolution condemning Israel's offensive in Gaza would also call for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier and demand an end to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, Mansour said there would be negotiations and he did not know what would be in the final text.

He also insisted the Israeli soldier was not kidnapped.

"There was a battle and a soldier was taken prisoner," Mansour said. "There is no kidnapping."

UN Schedules Emergency Debate On Israeli Gaza Offensive
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« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2006, 07:22:05 PM »

Egypt warns Israel not to take peace treaty for granted


Compiled by Daily Star staff
Friday, June 30, 2006

An Israeli "war on all fronts" drew a rare warning from Egypt on Thursday that the military escalation jeopardizes a peace treaty with Israel as the Arab League held an emergency session to discuss the crisis. The threat of a regional conflagration rose Wednesday after Israeli warplanes overflew a palace of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose country is host to several Palestinian militant groups. A defiant Syria on Thursday vowed to defend itself against Israeli attacks.

While Cairo has remained mum since the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier in Gaza, the head of the Egyptian Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said Israel should not think the "peace reached with an Arab country can be guaranteed while it continues to perpetrate its crimes and aggressions."

Mustafa al-Fekki, a senior member of President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party, was referring to the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979.

Fekki also voiced fears the flare-up could spill over into Egypt and threaten the country's security.

"The Egyptian Parliament has expressed its concern for Egypt's borders and its peace deal. We respect it but the threats are coming from Israel," said Fekki.

Mufid Shehab, secretary of state for parliamentary affairs, openly accused Israel on Wednesday of having threatened Egypt's stability.

Following an emergency meeting, Arab League ambassadors roundly condemned the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip as "state terrorism," but failed to come up with an immediate diplomatic solution for the conflict.

Hoping to prevent the crisis from spinning out of control, Egyptian officials have been talking directly with Hamas' political leader, Khaled Meshaal, who is based in Damascus, to push him to facilitate the soldier's release.

An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said both Abbas and Egyptian officials called Assad to ask him to persuade Meshaal to release the soldier, with no results so far. Mubarak also spoke with Abbas and Assad on Thursday, the Egyptian state news agency said.

In talks with Arab leaders Thursday, Meshaal asked them to help put a stop to Israel's "massacres," a statement from his office said, according the Al-Jazeera news network.

"This situation demands Arab officials and the international community take a tough stance," Meshaal's top aide, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Al-Jazeera. "They should pressure Israel to withdraw from the middle of cities and stop shelling civilians."

Israel has threatened to assassinate the exiled officials, including Meshaal, unless the abducted soldier is freed.

Syrian Premier Mohammad Naji Otri warned that "Syria is capable of defending itself against any aggression."

He also voiced "surprise at the silence of the international community toward all these Israeli acts and daily aggressions ... This is the result of the weakness of the Arabs."

He added that the Damascus-based Hamas leadership could not have had a hand in an abduction that took place in Gaza. Meshaal also denied any role.

"This aggression [the over-flight] represents Israeli piracy that aims at covering up the savage crimes the Israeli occupation forces are committing in the Gaza Strip and occupied Palestinian lands," Otri said.

Russia also criticized the overflight. "Violations of the borders and airspace of other states, in this case Syria, are completely unacceptable," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement.

Israel maintained its pressure on Syria Thursday, with Defense Minister Amir Peretz saying: "Regimes that support terrorism are the ones playing with the Palestinian people's destiny."

Egypt warns Israel not to take peace treaty for granted
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« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2006, 07:27:28 PM »

Israel's military offensive sparks outrage

By Mira Borji
Daily Star staff
Saturday, July 01, 2006

Israel's military offensive sparks outrage

BEIRUT: Israel's military offensive in the Palestinian Territories sparked outrage in Lebanon, where politicians and religious figures issued statements strongly condemning the Israeli incursion and calling on the international community to intervene.

Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri warned against military escalation, saying Israel was using oppressive means to prevent the Palestinian Authority from assuming its responsibilities and undermining all peaceful attempts to establish an independent Palestinian state.

"Denouncing the attacks is no longer enough," Hariri said. "The situation requires an Arab move to halt Israel's assaults and prevent it from executing its expansionist plans."

He added that the "insane" offensive "threatens the entire region," and requires an "effective and quick" initiative from the international community.

The Allied Palestinian Forces held a march on Friday in Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp to protest against Israeli attacks on the Palestinians, while refugees in North Lebanon's camps held a sit-in in front of UNRWA headquarters in Tripoli.

The sit-in was organized by Palestinian resistance factions in the North and attended by Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements, as well as national parties and Islamic committees.

"It seems that the United Nations is taking sides," said Hizbullah's political official in the North, Mohammad Salej.

Abu Rabih Bassem, Hamas representative, insisted on Palestinians' right to resist the occupation "by all means," until they reclaim their land.

Protesters released a statement urging UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to force Israel to halt its attacks on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and to exert pressure on it to withdraw from the Palestinian territory.

Dozens of Lebanese and Palestinians demonstrated in Sidon's Martyrs' Square calling on Palestinian resistance leaders to keep the Israeli detainee until those detained in Israeli prisons are released.

Religious and political figures, as well as representatives of Lebanese and Palestinian parties took part in the sit-in.

One of the banners criticized the fact that the detention of one Israeli soldier has stimulated the whole world, while the international community remains tight-lipped about the thousands of Palestinians jailed in Israel.

The Third Force Party praised the Palestinian resistance, saying Israel's offensive "indicates that the United States is trying to quell the resistance as part of its project to dominate the region."

It also released a statement calling on Lebanese leaders to agree over a national unity government to face dangers that threaten the country.

"Let our political leaders act as true government officials. Are we asking too much?" it asked.

Omar Zein, the assistant secretary general of the Arab Lawyers Union, said the union called for an urgent meeting to discuss ways to face the "Zionist attacks."

The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) "strongly condemned" Israel's offensive.

"Israel's assaults affect human beings, destroy material possessions and increase the Palestinians' suffering, preventing them from living in dignity and freedom like others," the council said in a statement.

"The MECC calls on Israel to immediately stop this operation as it calls on the international community to take immediate measures to protect civilians."

Israel's military offensive sparks outrage
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« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2006, 07:30:34 PM »

Haniyya: 'We are working to end this crisis'
Mubarak says deal near on soldier's conditional release as israel continues to pound gaza


Compiled by Daily Star staff
Saturday, July 01, 2006

Haniyya: 'We are working to end this crisis'

The Egyptian and Palestinian governments tried Friday to mediate a deal for the conditional release of an abducted Israeli soldier amid media reports that the corporal is alive and was visited by a doctor who treated his injuries. Amid back-channel talks, Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza, setting ablaze the Interior Ministry offices, on the third day of Israel's military operation.

A Palestinian doctor visited the 19-year-old conscript, Gilad Shalit, at his bedside in an undisclosed location in the Gaza Strip, Israeli public television's military correspondent said late Friday. An Israeli Army spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

In his first public address since the start of the offensive, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya said his government was working toward the soldier's release but said that Israel's "barbaric aggression" must be halted.

"We are working to end this crisis but the aggression must stop and the siege has to be lifted," Haniyya said.

Voicing hope for mediation, President Hosni Mubarak said Hamas had agreed to secure the release of the soldier, but that Israel had not agreed to the so-far unspecified conditions.

In an interview published Friday with Al-Ahram, Mubarak said "Egyptian contacts with several Hamas leaders resulted in preliminary, positive results in the shape of a conditional agreement to hand over the Israeli soldier as soon as possible to avoid an escalation ... But agreement on this has not yet been reached with the Israeli side," Mubarak said.

The Arab daily Al-Hayat reported Friday that Egypt was pressing a compromise by which Palestinian militants would release Shalit in return for an Egyptian commitment that Israel would release Palestinian prisoners at a later date.

Israel has already rejected a demand by militants to free Palestinian prisoners for information on Shalit's fate.

"Make no mistake, we are not going to negotiate on the release of our soldier," said Cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit.

Mohammad Nazzal, a Damascus-based Hamas leader, said he personally did not have details of any Egyptian proposal.

"I believe he was referring to the original proposal whereby the prisoner would be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners," Nazzal told The Associated Press.

Nazzal also dismissed as rumors reports that said Hamas is sending a representative to Egypt soon.

"Israel is negotiating with fire," he said. "They're buying time until they can locate the soldier through intelligence and then try to free him."

Mubarak said Egypt "warned Hamas leaders of the dire consequences of adopting of tough positions."

In a sermon at a Gaza mosque, Haniyya implied his government would not trade the soldier for eight Palestinian Cabinet ministers arrested Thursday.

"When they abducted the ministers they meant to hijack the government's position, but we say no positions will be hijacked, no governments will fall," he said.

He also accused Israel of using the abduction as a pretext for launching a major offensive with the real aim of bringing down his government. "This total war is proof of a premeditated plan," he said.

The UN Security Council held an emergency session, in which the Palestinians were pressing for adoption of a resolution demanding a halt to all military operations.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, in a letter read to the Council by envoy Boutros Asaker, slammed the  operation as "state terrorism."

He called for "swift UN intervention to put an end to the attacks ... and hold Israel responsible for the safety of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails and call for the release of the Palestinian cabinet ministers and MPs." Siniora called for calm and urged an immediate resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

With negotiations appearing to bear no fruit, Israel continued its air assault in Gaza during the day Friday.

Israeli planes struck over 20 targets in the Gaza Strip. They included the office of the Hamas interior minister, a building used by Al-Aqsa Brigades militants, roads and zones used for firing rockets.

An Islamic Jihad militant was killed in what the army said was a strike on a rocket squad. One militant was hurt in a later attack. Troops killed two gunmen in a clash that erupted during an arrest raid in the West Bank.

Israel held back on an assault into northern Gaza, partly under diplomatic pressure to allow for further mediation. The White House said it saw reason for hope.

"We are encouraged by the fact that the Israelis are standing down in Gaza and that Hamas is talking openly about repatriating the soldier," spokesman Tony Snow said.

Mubarak said that Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert had promised him not to rush into the military offensive.

Haniyya: 'We are working to end this crisis'
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« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2006, 08:10:48 PM »

Hamas leader out of hiding to accuse Israel of hindering deal

Chris McGreal in Gaza City
Saturday July 1, 2006
The Guardian

The Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, emerged from hiding yesterday to accuse Israel of hindering efforts to win the release of a captive teenage soldier by arresting his cabinet ministers, blowing up important infrastructure and threatening a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Mr Haniyeh, who went to ground after eight of his fellow Hamas ministers and 20 MPs were detained by the army in the West Bank on Thursday, told supporters at a Gaza City mosque he was working to free 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit who was captured a week ago and is being held by Palestinian militias including Hamas.

Article continues
"This Israeli military escalation complicates matters and makes it more difficult," he said. "The aggression must stop in order not to make the situation more complicated." Mr Haniyeh says he does not have direct control over the members of Hamas's armed wing or other groups who are holding Cpl Shalit. He also said the arrest of a third of his cabinet would not bring down his administration.

"When they kidnapped the ministers they meant to hijack the government's position, but we say no positions will be hijacked, no governments will fall," he said. "There is an unholy alliance against the Palestinian people which wants to humiliate them and destroy the government. No concessions will be made.

"We believe the aggression on our people goes beyond the issue of the captured soldier," he said.

Earlier yesterday, an Israeli missile destroyed the offices of the Hamas interior minister in Gaza City, the latest of a series of targets that have included power plants, bridges and roads. The military described the ministry as "a meeting place to plan and direct terror activity". The army has fired hundreds of artillery shells into northern Gaza, some of them on the edge of towns such as Beit Hanoun.

Israel delayed a planned ground assault after appeals from the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, to allow more time for diplomatic efforts to be mounted to free the abducted corporal.

"Israeli leaders promised, and I hope they will stick to it, not to shed the blood of innocent Palestinian civilians in any hurried military operation," Mr Mubarak told a Cairo newspaper.

"At the same time, Egypt warned Hamas leaders of the dire consequences of adopting of tough positions and urged them to shoulder their responsibilities in view of the dangers and difficulties faced by the Palestinian people."

Tzahi Hanegbi, head of the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, said the government was prepared to give diplomatic efforts a short breathing space.

"The prime minister is managing the campaign while seeing all the balances, including the diplomatic one. He needs to see the big picture, and the big picture is that there is a meaning to sometimes waiting a half a day, or a day. You need to exhaust all options," she said.

But tanks and troops remain inside the south of the Gaza Strip, next to the Rafah and Khan Yunis refugee camps where Cpl Shalit is believed to be being held, and next to the border fence in the north of Gaza, ready for a ground offensive if the diplomatic efforts fail.

The United Nations has warned of a potential humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip if electricity is not rapidly restored following an Israeli strike against the plant that produces 60% of the territory's power. Among other things, the fresh water supply is expected to be badly affected.

Hamas leader out of hiding to accuse Israel of hindering deal
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« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2006, 08:14:02 PM »

June 30, 2006

Israel AG says arrested Hamas leaders won't be held as unlawful combatants
Joshua Pantesco at 11:44 AM ET

Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has said that a group of two dozen Hamas MPs and ministers who were detained Thursday will not be held in administrative detention under the Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law. Mazuz said he will instead use standard criminal warrants under the Prevention of Terror Ordinance. Mazuz said they will likely be charged with membership in or leadership of a terrorist organization. By using normal criminal procedures rather than the much-maligned Unlawful Combatants Law, any Hamas official arrested will be summoned before a judge within 96 hours of arrest, will be tried before a military tribunal, and will enjoy all normal criminal legal protections.

Meanwhile Israeli officials on Friday stripped a Hamas cabinet minister and three Hamas MPs of their East Jerusalem residency rights, saying the four were ordered to sever their alliance with Hamas in May. AP reports that lawyers for the four men, who were among those arrested Thursday, will appeal their detentions to Israel's Supreme Court. Also Friday, as protesters marched against the Israeli offensive into the Gaza strip, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said the arrests were "meant to hijack the government's position, but we say no positions will be hijacked, no governments will fall."

Responding to the worsening Middle East situation, the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States all urged Israel and the Palestinians to step back and use diplomacy instead.

Israel AG says arrested Hamas leaders won't be held as unlawful combatants
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« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2006, 08:16:32 PM »

Muslim nations urged to create own world court
Habib Shaikh (From our correspondent)

29 June 2006


JEDDAH — Muslim nations have been urged to create their own world court under the auspices of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) that can try and condemn all those nations and individuals who have instigated or committed crimes against the Muslims.

"Since its creation, the United Nations (UN) has been nothing but a Western tool, which has harmed Muslims more than it has benefited them," wrote Reem Al Faisal, a Jeddah-based Saudi photographer, in yesterday’s issue of Arab News.

"(The UN has) given our enemies and all who wish to destroy us a legal cover to pillage and kill in Muslim lands at will from Palestine to Somalia to Afghanistan — the latest masquerade of boycotting the legally elected government of Hamas by the West and preventing all other nations from helping them is more proof that we can no longer get our rights from a Western organisation disguised as an international body built to protect the rights of all nations," she added.

Al Faisal said that it was time to liberate Muslim nations from the tyranny of Western institutions like the UN, the World Bank, and the IMF, "which have brought nothing but misery and pain to all of us."

"If we want our rights to be respected we have to impose them through our own international institutions and not look for justice from a source that only works to protect its national interests and which rarely conforms to our desires and even less to ideals as human rights or justice since justice is served only to those who demand it with strength," she added.

Al Faisal said that the West, which has conquered and destroyed two nations that have never attacked it, sees itself as the guardian of world peace. "Those who this very minute are directing or condoning some form of destructive behaviour towards innocent civilians either in Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine have the effrontery to question Iran’s intentions," she said.

"One is in constant amazement when Western nations lecture on democracy and human rights and the desire for peace while right in front of our eyes Palestinians are mowed down like weeds on a beach. We hear no condemnation from the defenders of peace or see no action from the United Nations. Worse, they stop us from saving our own people from starvation in the name of peace," she stressed.

Muslim nations urged to create own world court
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« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2006, 08:19:36 PM »

Presiding Abbas Receives EU Special Envoy to Middle East

 
GAZA, June 30, 2006 (WAFA) -President Mahmoud Abbas received Friday the EU Special Envoy to the Middle East Marc Otté in Gaza.

During the meeting, they discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian territories in light of the Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people.

PLC member Mohammed Dahlan told a joint a press conference with Otté that meeting comes in follow up of the President Abbas' efforts made to end the crisis faced by the Palestinian people.

He added that the meeting also discussed a bunch of political issues as well as daily life issues regarding the control of the Palestinian National Authority, specially in the education and health sectors and the lack of food aid in Gaza and the West Bank.

Dalhan pointed out that Mr. Otté will reveal the messages to the EU, hoping that the EU's promises will be made.

He said that President Abbas' priorities are lifting the siege imposed on the Palestinian people and sparing them the aggressions of the Israeli occupation, which could be practiced during the next days.

Dahlan asserted that President Abbas has succeeded to convince the international community to press Israel not to attack the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, expressing hope that the Egyptian will reach a solution in the coming days.

For his part, Otté said "we are working together with friends to make sure that the crisis is solved as peaceful as possible and that we can work again to positive developments."

He added that he is working jointly to resuming a political fact where the parties can negotiate.

"We are concerned to help the Palestinian people to realise their ambitions," he said expressing hope for a climb down and that the language of weapons will stop and language of negotiations and mutual respect will resume.

Presiding Abbas Receives EU Special Envoy to Middle East
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« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2006, 08:20:45 PM »

With everything happening right now, it won't be long I pray.  

  ummm what ya hinting at Brother?
                                                 
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« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2006, 08:22:16 PM »

Lieberman: Hamas talks are harmful
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST    Jun. 30, 2006

Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman accused Israel on Friday of negotiating with Hamas, including the organization's leader in Damascus Khaled Mashaal. Lieberman said that the talks were critically harming the Israel's ability to deter, as well as the security establishment's morale.

He stated that the security forces must stop firing at sand dunes and start doing what should be done. "They know better than me and all the ministers [what should be done]," Lieberman asserted

He said that the forces were ready and willing to operate, but that they were prevented from doing so.

In an interview to Israel Radio, the right-wing party leader asserted that there was no order or guiding hand in Israel's decision-making process.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) responded that Lieberman's accusations amounted to demagoguery and excessive politics.

He reminded that this week, the IDF engaged in unprecedented steps against the Palestinians, including the continuing incursion into the Gaza Strip that began on Tuesday night, strikes against electrical infrastructure, and arrests of over 60 senior Hamas officials on Thursday morning.

He told Israel Radio that steps are being taken, but are done gradually so that kidnapped soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit could be returned without further escalation, should the opportunity arise.

Hanegbi asserted that Israel must act with determination but also with restraint.

Lieberman: Hamas talks are harmful
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