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« on: July 20, 2006, 11:57:47 AM »

Iran 'will make atomic fuel'
From: Reuters
From correspondents in Tehran

July 20, 2006


IRAN said today it was determined to produce nuclear fuel on its territory in defiance of international calls to halt the work.
Iran also accused the US of trying to prevent a negotiated solution to its dispute with the West.

"Based on law, Iran has planned to produce 20,000MW of nuclear electricity in the next 20 years and needs to produce nuclear fuel inside the country for those reactors," chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said in a statement on state television.

He said Iran was still reviewing nuclear proposals backed by six nations and wanted talks to solve the dispute.

But Mr Larijani said the US had been trying to "create obstacles in the way of talks and a diplomatic solution to this issue".

Iran 'will make atomic fuel'
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2006, 12:00:34 PM »

Somali Islamists vow holy war on Ethiopia troops

By Guled Mohamed 19 minutes ago

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's Islamists vowed a "holy war" on Thursday against Ethiopian troops crossing into the Horn of Africa nation, while Addis Ababa threatened to "crush" any attack on the interim government it supports.

The aggressive rhetoric -- combined with this week's military moves on both sides -- have heightened fears of a new war in Somalia, plagued by violence and without central rule since the 1991 ouster of a military dictator.

"The risk of full scale war increases by the day," said John Prendergast, of the International Crisis Group think-tank.

Islamists took the capital Mogadishu from U.S.-backed warlords last month and are threatening the authority of a transitional administration formed in Kenya in 2004 and intended to steer the nation from anarchy to peace.

Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a senior Islamist in charge of defense, said around 20 military vehicles from Ethiopia had crossed into Somalia at Dollow on Wednesday.

That added to previous Islamist accusations Ethiopia was pouring in troops to support Somalia's government against them.

"God willing, we will remove the Ethiopians in our country and wage a jihadi war against them," he told reporters.

Analysts believe Addis Ababa has sent up to 5,000 troops into Somalia, and is massing more on the border, to deter any more Islamist advances.

The regional power, Ethiopia backs the interim government of President Abdullahi Yusuf, which is based in the provincial town of Baidoa because it lacks the strength to move to Mogadishu.

Addis Ababa termed the jihad call "foolish and cheap propaganda" aimed at winning support from Muslim states.

"The Islamists' agenda is to topple the legally constituted Federal Transitional Government of Somalia and destabilise Ethiopia," added Information Ministry spokesman Zemedhun Tekle.

Ethiopia denied incursions into Somalia but threatened to "crush" any Islamist bid to take Baidoa or cross the border.

STALLED TALKS

Analysts and Somali sources say the interim government has little military strength in its own right, beyond a small force loyal to Yusuf, which was boosted by the recent arrival in Baidoa of several hundred fighters from defeated warlords.

In a war, the government would rely on Ethiopian support.

"Yusuf is using the Ethiopians as a threat. He doesn't really want a battle -- yet," said one Somalia expert.

"The Islamists have vastly superior military capacity at the moment, especially with the help they're getting from Eritrea."

Nominally Christian-led Ethiopia, which condemns the Islamist leaders as "terrorists," is fearful of having a hardline Muslim state on its doorstep.

It is also anxious about possible Islamist aspirations to establish a "Greater Somalia" which would incorporate Ethiopia's southeastern Ogaden region inhabited by ethnic Somalis.

Ethiopia sounded the alarm after Islamist militia moved from Mogadishu to Buur Hakaba -- just 60 km (37 miles) from Baidoa -- on Wednesday. The Islamists returned in the evening, saying they went to collect 150 soldiers switching sides from Yusuf's force.

The commander of those soldiers said they were disgruntled at lack of pay. "We met him (Yusuf) on Sunday and told him we will be leaving since his government failed to honor its promises," Garad Fiidow Gabow told Reuters in Mogadishu at a former government building where his troops were resting.

The soldiers carried new AK-47 rifles.

Interim government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari, however, said soldiers had left due to indiscipline.

Islamist defense chief Robow said he could have gone on to Baidoa, but drew back to avoid confrontation and harming Arab-League brokered talks with the government.

The government pulled out of the last round, saying the Islamists broke an accord to stop military advances.

Somali Islamists vow holy war on Ethiopia troops
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2006, 12:03:12 PM »

Turkey Moves Forward on Push Into Iraq

By LOUIS MEIXLER
Associated Press Writer
   
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- The Turkish military is moving forward with plans to send forces into northern Iraq to clear out Turkish Kurdish guerrilla bases, the prime minister said Wednesday.

But Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said officials were holding talks with the United States and Iraq in an attempt to defuse tensions.

Diplomats and officials have said repeatedly that Turkey's threats to send troops into Iraq were largely aimed at pressing the United States and Iraq to take action against guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, whose fighters have killed 15 Turks in the southeast in the past week.

Any Turkish cross-border operation is likely to inflame tensions with the United States and destabilize one of the only calm regions of Iraq. A push into northern Iraq could also threaten ties with EU countries, which have been pressing Turkey to improve minority Kurdish rights as a step toward reducing tensions in the largely Kurdish southeast.
   
And there is the possibility that Kurds in largely autonomous northern Iraq could fight the Turks if they enter the country. The guerrillas are mostly based in the Qandil mountains that straddle Iraq's border with Iran, about 50 miles from the Turkish border. They infiltrate southeastern Turkey from those bases to attack.

"Any unilateral cross-border moves would be a great mistake," said Qubad Talabani, representative in Washington of the Kurdistan regional government, which controls northern Iraq.

"There is no military solution to the PKK problem," Talabani, the son of the Iraqi president, told The Associated Press. "I think Turkey only sees a military solution."

Erdogan said Wednesday Turkish "security forces are proceeding with their work. Whatever step needs to be taken will be taken."

But he added that "we have started negotiations with the United States and Iraq concerning the issue by inviting their ambassadors to the Foreign Ministry. We will see what the results are and take steps accordingly."

U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson said Monday and again Tuesday that Turkey should work with Washington and Baghdad and should not take unilateral action in Iraq.

"It is not up to the ambassador or ambassadors to make such a decision," Erdogan shot back. "It is up to the officials of the government of the Republic of Turkey. We make the decision and implement it."

The main opposition party in Turkey's parliament said it supports any cross-border operation.

Turkey Moves Forward on Push Into Iraq
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2006, 12:07:45 PM »

Israeli army takes casualties in fighting

By HUSSEIN DAKROUB, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - Heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas broke out Thursday evening on the Lebanese side of the border, the Israeli army said, with Israel suffering several casualties.
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The Israeli force crossed the border as part of ongoing operations to clear out Hezbollah infrastructure along a small band on the Lebanese side, the army said. The army did not provide numbers or conditions of the casualties.

Meanwhile, Israel hinted at a full-scale invasion, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council that "hostilities must stop" but acknowledged there were "serious obstacles to reaching a cease-fire."

Annan said Hezbollah's actions in launching rockets into Israel and abducting Israeli soldiers "hold an entire nation hostage" and set back prospects for Middle East peace.

But he also condemned Israel's "excessive use of force" and collective punishment of the Lebanese people, saying it had triggered a humanitarian crisis.

"There are serious obstacles to reaching a cease-fire or even to diminishing the violence quickly," Annan said.

Israeli warplanes launched new airstrikes on Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, shortly after daybreak, followed by strikes in the guerrillas' heartland in the south and eastern Bekaa Valley.

The strikes followed bombings Wednesday that killed as many as 70 people, according to Lebanese television, making it the deadliest day since the fighting began July 12.

Russia sharply criticized Israel over its onslaught against Lebanon, now in its ninth day, sparked when Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Israel's actions have gone "far beyond the boundaries of an anti-terrorist operation" and repeating calls for an immediate cease-fire.

At least 306 people have been killed in Lebanon since the Israeli campaign began, according to the security forces control room that collates casualties. In Israel, 29 people have been killed, including 14 soldiers. The U.N. has said at least a half- million people have been displaced in Lebanon.

About 40 U.S. Marines landed in Beirut to help Americans onto the USS Nashville, which will carry 1,200 evacuees bound for Cyprus in the second mass U.S. exodus from Lebanon. Thousands of Europeans also fled on ships continuing one of the largest evacuation operations since World War II. An estimated 13,000 foreign nationals have been evacuated.

Israel's series of small ground forays across the border have aimed to push back Hezbollah guerrillas who have continued firing rockets into northern Israel despite more than a week of massive bombardment raising the question of whether air power alone can suppress them. Guerrillas fired 25 rockets into Israel on Thursday, which caused no casualties.

But the guerrillas have been fighting back hard on the ground, wounding three Israeli soldiers Thursday, a day after killing two. An Israeli unit sent in to ambush Hezbollah guerrillas also had a fierce gunbattle with a cell of militants.

In another clash, just across the border from the Israeli town of Avivim, guerrillas fired a missile at an Israeli tank, seriously wounding one soldier. Hezbollah said its guerrillas destroyed two tanks trying to enter the Lebanese border village of Maroun al-Ras, across from Avivim.

Israel has mainly limited itself to attacks from the air and sea, reluctant to send in ground troops on terrain dominated by Hezbollah.

But an Israeli army spokesman refused to rule out the possibility of a full-scale invasion. Israel broadcast warnings Wednesday into south Lebanon, telling civilians to leave the region a possible prelude to a larger Israeli ground operation.

"There is a possibility all our options are open. At the moment, it's a very limited, specific incursion but all options remain open," Capt. Jacob Dallal, an Israeli army spokesman, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Leaflets dropped Wednesday night warned the population that any trucks traveling in Lebanese towns south of the Litani River would be suspected of carrying weapons and rockets and could be targeted by Israeli forces.

The Lebanese government is under international pressure to deploy troops in the south to rein in Hezbollah guerrillas but even before the fighting, many considered it too weak to do so without deeply fracturing the country.

An Italian newspaper quoted Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora on Thursday as making his strongest statement yet against the Shiite militant group. But Saniora's office quickly said he was misquoted.

The Milan-based Corriere della Sera quoted him as saying in an interview that Hezbollah has created a "state within a state," adding: "The entire world must help us disarm Hezbollah. But first we need to reach a cease-fire."

Saniora later issued a statement denying the remarks. He said he told the paper the international community must help press Israel from Chebaa Farms, a small border area that Lebanon claims and Hezbollah points to as proof of the continued need for armed resistance.

Saniora told the paper that "the continued presence of Israeli occupation of Lebanese lands in the Chebaa Farms region is what contributes to the presence of Hezbollah weapons. The international community must help us in (getting) an Israeli withdrawal from Chebaa Farms so we can solve the problem of Hezbollah's arms," the statement said. There was no immediate comment from the newspaper.

On Wednesday, Saniora appealed for a cease-fire, saying Lebanon "has been torn to shreds." Warplanes pounded southern areas where Hezbollah operates, but civilian residential neighborhoods bore the brunt, with dozens of houses destroyed.

Dallal said Israel had hit "1,000 targets in the last eight days 20 percent were missile-launching sites and the rest were control and command centers, missiles and so forth."

Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan insisted the Israeli army never targets civilians but has no way of knowing whether they are in an area it is striking. "Civilians might be in the area because Hezbollah is operating from civilian territory," Nehushtan said.

He said that Hezbollah has fired more than 1,100 rockets at civilian areas in Israel since the fighting began and that 12 percent or about 750,000 people of Israel's population lives in areas that can be targeted by the guerrillas.

Israel said its airstrikes so far have destroyed about half of Hezbollah's arsenal and it has been trying to take out its top leaders.

The Israeli military said aircraft dropped 23 tons of explosives on what it believed was a bunker for senior Hezbollah leaders in the Bourj al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Hezbollah said none of its members was hurt and denied a leadership bunker was in the area, saying a mosque under construction was hit. It has a headquarters compound in Bourj al-Barajneh that is off limits to Lebanese police and army, so security officials could not confirm the strike.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman told CNN his country would not comment about the attack until it is sure of all the facts. But he added, "I can assure you that we know exactly what we hit. ... This was no religious site. This was indeed the headquarters of the Hezbollah leadership."

On Thursday, Israeli jets struck houses believed used by Hezbollah officials in the town of Hermel in the western Bekaa Valley, wounding at least three.

Israeli warplanes also destroyed a five-story residential and commercial building that reportedly once held a Hezbollah office in the Bekaa Valley city of Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold, witnesses said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Two civilians were killed late Wednesday in strikes on bridges in Lebanon's far north, near Tripoli, the National News Agency said.

Israeli jets also raided a detention center in the southern town of Khiam Thursday, witnesses and local TV said. The notorious Khiam prison, formerly run by Israel's Lebanese militia allies during its occupation, was destroyed in four bombing runs, they said.

International pressure mounted on Israel and the United States to agree to a cease-fire. The destruction and rising death toll deepened a rift between the U.S. and Europe.

The Bush administration is giving Israel a tacit green light to take the time it needs to neutralize Hezbollah, but the Europeans fear mounting civilian casualties will play into the hands of militants and weaken Lebanon's democratically elected government.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour criticized the rising toll, saying the shelling was invariably killing innocent civilians.

"International law demands accountability," she said in Geneva. "The scale of the killings in the region, and their predictability, could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly those in a position of command and control."

Israeli army takes casualties in fighting
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2006, 12:18:54 PM »

Professional associations call on gov’t to revoke peace treaty
   

By Mahmoud Habboush

AMMAN — The country’s Professional Associations responded to the Israeli attacks on Lebanon yesterday by calling on the government to revoke Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel and expel its ambassador.

“We call upon the Jordanian and other Arab governments to revoke all treaties with the Zionist enemy and cease all forms of normalisation,” said the associations in a statement distributed to journalists during a press conference.

“We cannot have peaceful relations with an entity that is committing massacres and maiming our people in Gaza and Lebanon,” read the strongly worded statement.

The Jordan-Israel peace treaty was signed on October 26, 1994, leading to Israel’s pullout from Jordanian territories seized during the 1967 war and to a normalisation of relations.

Chairman of the Professional Associations Council Hisham Abu Hassan described the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon as an act of “state terrorism.”

“The killing, besiegement and displacement of the Lebanese people is a ferocious act of state terrorism,” he said, adding that the real terror in the world is being carried out by the occupation forces in Palestine and Iraq.

Abu Hassan condemned the United Nations’ “negative position” on the conflicts plaguing the region, describing the world body as little more than a department of the American government.

“The UN only implements resolutions that serve the interests of Israel and the US,” a furious Abu Hassan said.

The official was referring to recent calls by the international community for the immediate implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarmament of the Lebanese militia Hizbullah, but its lack of commitment in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 242, calling on the Jewish state to return territories occupied in the 1967 war.

The latest crisis began on July 12 after Hizbullah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack.

Israel responded by launching ground, sea and air attacks on Lebanon, pummelling the airport in Beirut and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure. The civilian casualty rate among Lebanese has reached at least 239, with 29 Israelis killed.

During the press conference, Abu Hassan said the associations would send an “aid caravan” next week of vital food and medical supplies to the Lebanese people.

“We have met with officials at the Lebanese embassy to identify their humanitarian needs,” he said, adding that the associations will dispatch doctors, nurses, pharmacists and engineers as volunteers, as and when required.

Meanwhile, the associations commenced their “activities of sympathy” with Lebanon yesterday evening with a protest by the Jordan Engineers Association outside Madaba Governorate headquarters.

The country’s 14 professional associations also announced their intention to hold Friday prayers at their complex in Shmesani, and called on the government not to interfere.

“We ask the government not to stop any of our activities. There are no articles in the Constitution or laws that prohibit holding Friday prayers,” said Chairman of the Bar Association Salah Armouti.

Jordanian Womens’ Union will today stage a protest in support of the Lebanese people outside the United Nations offices in Amman.

Professional associations call on gov’t to revoke peace treaty
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2006, 12:35:02 PM »

 Arab parliament to do all in its power to help Lebanon, Palestinians

CAIRO, July 20 (KUNA) -- The outgoing President of the Arab Parliament, Mohammad Jassem Al-Saqr said Thursday he was deploying significant efforts and will stop at nothing to help the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples against Israeli aggression.

"There is no doubt in the world that the Lebanese and Palestinian people are facing catastrophic conditions and it is our duty as Arab Parliament, representing the Arab peoples, to come to their help," Al-Saqr told the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on the sidelines of an Arab Parliament emergency meeting. He added that the Arab Parliament did not have many resources to do so, except at political level.

"They will get the most significant support from the Arab Parliament," he said.

He added that he would take part in the emergency meeting of the League of Arab Parliamentarians, which is due to convene in Cairo on Tuesday to provide Arab support to the Lebanese cause.

"We are now at war with a fierce enemy and this war could widen in scope to engulf all Arab states," he said.

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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2006, 12:37:37 PM »

Arab oil windfall must benefit Lebanese: Libya
(Reuters)

20 July 2006

TRIPOLI - Arab leaders must divert windfall revenues from record high oil prices to help Lebanese and Palestinian people weathering Israeli attacks, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Thursday.

Saif al-Islam, his father’s most influential envoy abroad, said any future Arab summit on the latest wave of Middle East violence would be a big embarrassment if it failed to shift extra oil profits to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

“The oil windfall is a result of the rise of oil prices stemming from the shedding of Lebanese and Palestinian blood,” he said in a statement faxed to Reuters, referring to the latest increase in world crude oil prices, which has been attributed partly to the latest Middle East conflict.

Islam, who heads the Gaddafi Foundation, said his charity would fly planes carrying humanitarian relief to Lebanon in defiance of Israel’s air, sea and road blockade of the country.

The nine-day-old war in Lebanon was triggered by Israel’s retaliation against Hezbollah’s July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border operation.

Eight Arab governments had so far backed a call for an Arab summit on the violence pitting Israel against Hezbollah and the Palestinians.

That backing however remains short of the necessary two-thirds majority of the 22 Arab League members for the meeting to take place.

Arab oil windfall must benefit Lebanese: Libya
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2006, 08:30:22 PM »

U.S. says cease-fire with Hezbollah impractical
By ANNE GEARAN / The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States held the line Thursday against a quick cease-fire deal in the Middle East, increasingly isolated as world powers and the United Nations demanded an immediate end to fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was meeting Thursday night with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who earlier in the day denounced both Israel and Hezbollah and called for both sides to stop fighting immediately.

“He was talking about a cessation of violence in the context of a lasting, durable solution, which is exactly what we have been talking about,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The Bush administration is playing down expectations for Rice’s upcoming trip to the Mideast, saying she will not shuttle among capitals to broker a deal.

“You’re not going to see a return to the kind of diplomacy, I think, that we’ve seen before where you try to negotiate an end to the violence that leaves the parties in place and where you have status quo ante,” McCormack said.

Administration officials also questioned whether a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah is even feasible.

“We’d love to have a cease-fire,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said. “But Hezbollah has to be part of it. And at this point, there’s no indication that Hezbollah intends to lay down arms.”

John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said it was time for the Security Council to start considering a response, but he, too, ruled out a cease-fire.

“I think it’s a very fundamental question how a terrorist group agrees to a cease-fire,” Bolton said. “How do you hold a terrorist group accountable? Who runs the terrorist group? Who makes the commitments that the terrorist group will abide by a cease-fire? What does a terrorist group think a cease-fire is?”

Hezbollah is an Islamic militant group that does not recognize Israel as a state. It holds effective military and political control over southern Lebanon, and is the most potent political force on Lebanon’s fractured political landscape.

The Bush administration has repeatedly said that a temporary or quickly negotiated cease-fire would leave Hezbollah able to regroup and rearm after more than a week of Israeli missile attacks.

Israel, and Washington as its closest ally, insist that any settlement must deal with the underlying threat posed to Israel by Hezbollah’s control of southern Lebanon. The Bush administration is trying to hold off international pressure for as long as possible, while also asking Israel to consider the consequences of its actions for civilians.

More than 300 people have died in Lebanon, most of them civilians, since Israel began retaliatory rocket attacks after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers last week.

The House voted 410-8 on Thursday to support Israel in its confrontation with Hezbollah guerrillas. The resolution also condemns enemies of the Jewish state.

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, cited Israel’s “unique relationship” with the United States as a reason for his colleagues to go on record swiftly supporting Israel in the latest flare-up of violence in the Mideast.

Little of the political divisiveness in Congress on other national security issues was evident as lawmakers embraced the Bush administration’s position.

So strong was the momentum for the resolution that it was steamrolling efforts by a small group of House members who argued that Congress’s pro-Israel stance goes too far.

The nonbinding resolution is similar to one the Senate passed Tuesday. It harshly condemns Israel’s enemies and says Syria and Iran should be held accountable for providing Hezbollah with money and missile technology used to attack Israel.

U.S. says cease-fire with Hezbollah impractical
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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2006, 08:32:04 PM »


Call for Mid-East role for Clinton
From correspondents in Washington
21-07-2006
From: Agence France-Presse
 

A TOP Democratic lawmaker has called on US President George W. Bush to enlist his presidential father George Bush and predecessor Bill Clinton to help resolve an escalating Middle East crisis.
Senator Dianne Feinstein said she welcomed a US plan to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East as early as next week to weigh in on the growing conflict between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia.

But Senator Feinstein told MSNBC television: "I do not believe that junior people can handle this situation. I don't believe they have the clout".

"That's why I have suggested that this president would be well served if he would take two former presidents - one of whom, namely Bill Clinton, knows more about what it takes to settle this crisis than virtually anybody else - and ask them to go there for a substantial period of time," she said.

By comparison, Senator Feinstein said, Ms Rice would not spend more than two or three days in the region before returning to Washington, without the necessary "clout" to resolve the tensions.

At the State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed that Ms Rice "does intend to travel to the region. She intends to travel to the region as early as next week".

But he declined to provide a precise itinerary.

Former presidents Bush and Clinton teamed up at George W. Bush's behest to rally international help following the 2004 Asian tsunami, and again to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina in the southeastern United States.

Call for Mid-East role for Clinton
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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2006, 08:38:14 PM »

Don't mess with us
By Benny Ziffer

The memory of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, which ended this Monday, will probably bring a smile to our lips for some time to come, thanks to that filmed final meal in which the world leaders were seen grabbing and chewing the last leftovers on the table, while conducting an intimate conversation about earthshaking problems. It will especially be recalled how U.S. President George W. Bush, with his mouth full of bread, made the famous comment about "that ****" to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was standing beside him.

What is the meaning of "that ****"? The literal explanation, of course, is the Hezbollah attack on Israel. But according to the deeper meaning of the verse that emerged from the mouth of the leader of the Western world, "that ****" could definitely refer as well to Israel's attack on Hezbollah and on Lebanon, and in short - the entire mess that is taking place in this godforsaken part of the Middle East, which on the globe is the size of fly feces, but makes as much noise as an entire herd of elephants. And the famous medieval commentator Rashi would have said: "That ****" - this is an expression of the desire of the world's landlord for the home improvement that he ordered in the Middle East to be completed already, damn it, and for the sound of drills and hammers to end. And woe betide the handyman if he forgets to clean up the mess he made.

In other words, more than all the semantic interpretations, "this ****" indicates the impatience prevalent at the top echelons of world politics. And also, and particularly, the fact that he is tired of the moral nuances that differentiate between those who are more in the right and those who are less so, and the fact that they are all ostensibly the same "****."

From that point of view, it is not impossible that Bush planned to make us aware by his private remarks about "that ****" as a warning that more than he is annoyed with Hezbollah and Syria and Iran, he is annoyed that the Middle East is presented as a place more complicated than it is. And that he's sick and tired of the complexities. And that they should decide already, finally who the good guys are in this game, and who the bad guys are, so that the issue can be concluded once and for all.

Another proof of Bush's completely primitive, if not cynical, way of thinking was provided by the first meeting after his return to Washington, which was broadcast by the American Fox channel (Tuesday, 11 P.M.). It seemed as though the American president had learned a Benjamin Netanyahu speech by heart - one of those patriotic speeches that the head of the Likud party has delivered in recent days on all the international television channels, regarding Israel's right to defend itself from terror, and regarding the fact that "any sovereign state would behave like us."

And that "imagine if Canada were to land missiles on Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, like Haifa in Israel." Bush repeated almost word for word this argument regarding the right of a country to defend itself, including the claim of "what can we do if civilians are killed along the way." However, a sharp-eyed observer should have understood from Bush's declamatory and impatient tone (he agreed to answer only two questions, and then he ended the press conference), that at some other time it is quite possible that "that ****" of Israel-Lebanon will really get on his nerves, and then we, his loyal servants, will be in trouble.

That will probably happen after Israel, the subcontractor of the United States in the region, finishes the job it was given by Washington: to weaken Hezbollah. Then Bush will raise his hand and yell "Enough," and Israel will lock its weapons, because without the United States it is no more than an unemployed homeless person, and all the talk about a "sovereign state" is nothing more than phraseology.

A sharp-eyed observer could have seen that as well when he watched television on Sunday at 5 P.M., during a speech delivered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the Knesset plenum, and heard him accusing Hezbollah of being a "subcontractor" for Syria and Iran in our region.

Our sages said that everyone accuses others of his own faults. Had he not feared that people would notice that he himself serves in the role of a pathetic handyman who pretends to be a top designer of the Middle Eastern reality, he would have had no reason to accuse Hezbollah of that.

In general, if there is anything the 10 days of fighting have contributed to the awareness of the television viewer it is that nothing is any longer what it seems, and that we should cast doubt on everything, and on everything that has been affected by the days of fighting.

The myth about the "fortitude of the home front" is one of them. Had the Israeli home front been crushed like the Lebanese home front, we can assume it would have looked just as panicked and helpless, and would have crowded in panic at the port, waiting for a French or British ship, or any means of transportation that would take it away from here. But that is one of the false tricks of the continual television broadcasts of recent days: to present the situation of the Israelis in the line of fire as a humanitarian catastrophe equal to the suffering of the citizens of Lebanon, which is not the case at all. But as we have said: Nuances are not in fashion these days.

We can place in the category of the deceptive myth called "the fortitude of the home front" the random Israeli who was filmed on Monday morning in front of the entrance of a hotel in Eilat in an undershirt and a hairy chest, complaining about the exorbitant prices of the rooms; or the tots playing ball in the lobby of a Tel Aviv hotel and saying that it was more fun here than at home. When the time comes, these deluxe refugees will also demand compensation from the government for the emotional damage caused by the stay in the hotel, and will tell their grandchildren about the terrible trials they endured.

Another side of the deceptive myth about "the fortitude of the home front" was brought by the resident of Kiryat Shmona, an employee of the Yesod Hama'ale regional council, who was invited on Tuesday night by Menachem Horowitz, the northern reporter for Israel TV's Channel 2, for a discussion in the improvised studio, with the noise of shelling in the background. The poor man told of months when he did not receive a salary, about the bank that refuses to give him more credit. He was supposed to be the example of the courageous resident who remained in his community and did not leave. Forget about being courageous; he simply does not have the money to leave his house.

And in fact, as University of Haifa sociologist Danny Gottwein tried to warn several days earlier during one of the special afternoon broadcasts, the Katyushas of Hezbollah have only sharpened the problem of the longstanding social and economic neglect of the north, but they are not the reason for it. In other words, not only for Bush is "that ****" - this region the size of fly feces between Haifa and Beirut - causing an unnecessary headache. This region definitely is - and was, and probably will continue to be - "****" for Israel as well, "****" covered with rustling cellophane paper called "the fortitude of the home front."

**** censored my me.

Don't mess with us
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2006, 08:40:00 PM »

India condemns arrests of Palestinian ministers by Israel

India Thursday condemned arrests of ministers of the Palestinian National Authority and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council by Israel, terming it as " wholly unjustified."

New Delhi also called upon Israel to release the Palestinians ministers and parliamentarians immediately and underlined a resolution of the present crisis through peaceful means.

"We call upon Israel to release them immediately. We also reiterate our call for all parties to renounce violence and resolve their differences through peaceful means," the Indo-Asian News Service quoted Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna as saying.

India condemns the wholly unjustified arrest and continuing incarceration of ministers of the Palestinian National Authority and members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Navtej Sarna said.

There can be no justification whatsoever for taking such action against the duly elected representatives of the Palestinian people, he added.

He also expressed India's "deep concern" about large-scale operation mounted in West Bank and Gaza by the Israeli armed forces in "disproportionate retaliation for the abduction of an Israeli soldier."

Israeli troops had arrested dozens of ministers and legislators from the ruling Hamas party of Palestine towards the end of last month as it stepped up a military campaign in Gaza to win the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas gunmen.

India condemns arrests of Palestinian ministers by Israel
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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2006, 08:42:10 PM »

Russia says Israel is using excessive force in offensive on Hezbollah

Russia on Thursday accused Israel of using excessive force in its offensive against Hezbollah militants, saying the operations "went far beyond an anti-terrorist operation."

The unprecedented scale of destruction and victims in the Middle East proved the actions "went far beyond an anti-terrorist operation," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"In compliance with the norms of international law, the delivery of strikes should be limited to military facilities," the ministry said.

Israel continues to wage massive air raids and has imposed a sea blockade on Lebanon in response to rocket attacks by Hezbollah militants, who kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others last week, sparking the latest crisis in the Middle East.

Israeli warplanes shelled a purported Hezbollah leadership bunker in south Beirut on Thursday as thousands more foreigners fled war-ravaged Lebanon.

Russia demands the immediate and unconditional release of all the abducted Israeli servicemen, the statement said, adding that it is ready to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the Lebanese people.

Russia says Israel is using excessive force in offensive on Hezbollah
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« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2006, 09:51:49 PM »

'We'll attack Israel's international airport'
Terrorist details plan for '3rd front' if campaign against Hezbollah steps up
Posted: July 20, 2006
11:28 a.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport
JERUSALEM – If the Jewish state significantly increases its campaign against Hezbollah, such as sending ground troops into Lebanon, Palestinian terror groups will open a "third front" against Israel by carrying out large-scale attacks inside the country "much bigger" than suicide bombings, Abu Nasser, second-in-command of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview today.

Abu Nasser said his group has been working for more than a year on contingency plans to escalate violence in Israel should the Jewish state attack Iran, Syria or Lebanon. He hinted the Al Aqsa Brigades obtained anti-aircraft missiles, which the group could use to target Tel Aviv International Airport.

"For the moment we see that Hezbollah is winning, but if – Allah forbid – there is a turnover in the war, we will not hesitate to carry out the plans we have been working on since [the cease-fire signed last February]. We will use rockets. We will target Tel Aviv airport. We will not abandon our brothers," said Abu Nasser, speaking to WND from Nablus in northern Samaria.

The Judea and Samaria territories also are commonly referred to as the West Bank.

The Al Aqsa Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, is responsible for scores of rocket and shooting attacks, and – together with Islamic Jihad – for every suicide bombing since last February's cease-fire. Security officials say Al Aqsa regularly coordinates attacks with Hezbollah officials, who funnel money to group leaders.

Abu Nasser indicated his group works closely with Hezbollah.

"We do not forget that Hezbollah was the first to help us in this Intifada," said Abu Nasser. "It is normal that they expect us to act here inside Palestine in order to help them in the ugly war the Nazi-Zionist enemy is carrying out against them. We do not need to receive instructions from Hezbollah but we understand from our connections with them that carrying attacks inside Palestine can be very helpful for them. As Muslims we need and we must help our brothers."

The terror leader said his group is "following the fights [in Lebanon] and we are taking all the necessary measures in order to strike [Israel] when the convenient moment comes."

Asked to detail the kinds of attacks the Al Aqsa Brigades and other Palestinian groups will carry out if they feel Hezbollah is "losing" in Lebanon, Abu Nasser replied, "Tel Aviv airport can be targeted. I will not say what rockets and missiles we have, but I can say that we have all that is necessary."

Abu Nasser's terror cell is mostly concentrated in northern Samaria, which, at points, runs alongside the international airport here. While Israeli defense officials have confirmed Palestinian groups smuggled anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip on the other side of the country, security sources here say officially Palestinian groups in Judea and Samaria don't possess such missiles.

There have been reports, however, terror groups in northern Samaria obtained some advanced missiles. WND has learned of at least one security alert last year that involved a possible Palestinian attack using an anti-aircraft missile from northern Samaria.

Israel's Maariv daily reported last April the country's Shin Bet Security Services revealed at a high-level security meeting Bedouins from Egypt and Israel's Negev desert have succeeded in smuggling anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to Judea and Samaria terrorists. The Egypt-Negev border is a known soft spot in security here. Israel regularly catches weapons smugglers and illegal immigrants attempting to infiltrate the country.

A senior Israeli intelligence source said, at the moment, he estimates the Al Aqsa Brigades and other terror groups will attempt to strike inside Israel with suicide bombings. He said while there is a fear of escalated attacks in the country if Israel sends ground troops into Lebanon, he doesn't think Palestinian groups will be ordered to carry out larger-scale attacks during this confrontation.

Israel has nabbed two suicide bombers in recent days on their way to carry out attacks in central Israel, including a bomber from the Al Aqsa Brigades yesterday on his way to the Sharon region of the country.

Abu Nasser said of yesterday's bombing attempt, "The Israelis arrested one of our brothers who was supposed to present a gift to our brothers in Lebanon, a suicide attack with big numbers of Israelis killed. Yesterday's attempt failed, but we swear we will keep trying."

Officials today hinted the Jewish state might send large numbers of ground troops into Lebanon.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said "Hezbollah must not think that we would recoil from using all kinds of military measures against it. We have no intention of occupying Lebanon, but we also have no intention of retreating from any military measures needed."

While Abu Nasser warned today against a ground invasion of Lebanon, he told WND his group's fiercest response may be reserved for any future confrontation between Israel and Iran or Syria.

"[If Israel attacks Iran or Syria] we will hit with all the weapons and tools we have," the terrorist leader said. "Since the creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the 60s, one of our goals has been to turn this conflict into a real Arab-Israeli confrontation. We believe that this moment in becoming very close."
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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2006, 09:53:34 PM »

German party: Israeli acts are barbarism in Lebanon and Gaza
Lebanon-Israel-Germany, Politics, 7/20/2006

Germany's opposition Left Party (Linke) strongly criticized Israel's military onslaught in Lebanon and Gaza, branding it an "act of barbarism," DPA quoted the parliamentary general manager of the Left Party, Ulrich Maurer as saying yesterday.

The leftist party official said the civilian population was suffering from Israel's indiscriminate bombings of food supply facilities and escape routes.

Maurer labeled Israel's military attacks in Lebanon and Gaza as disproportionate.

He also urged the German government to put more pressure on Israel in the Near East conflict.

Maurer accused Berlin of "ducking itself away" from the conflict.

The lawmaker called on German government to call for an immediate and unconditional truce.

The Left Party earlier in the week lashed out at Berlin's continued inaction on halting Israel's ongoing bombing of civilian targets in Lebanon.

Israel has faced worldwide condemnation and outrage over its brutal military strikes in Gaza and Lebanon.
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2006, 09:59:49 PM »

The shocking silence from No 10
Mary Ann Sieghart
Blair’s tacit support for Israel’s grossly disproportionate actions sends the wrong message
IT IS A CASE of the Blair that didn’t bark. Why hasn’t the Prime Minister publicly condemned the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza? Most British — and many Israeli — citizens are horrified when they see the devastation wreaked by Israeli bombings. There were 80 such raids in the early hours of yesterday alone. By late afternoon, some 327 civilians had died in Lebanon, compared with 34 Israelis. Go figure, as they say.

If this is a proportionate response, I’m a satsuma. Even the most hardline supporters of Israel, who justifiably point to the country’s right to defend itself against attacks from Hezbollah, must by now have come to realise that the “overkill” will have the opposite of its desired effect. For every member of Hezbollah who dies, another ten will be recruited to its cause. The world will be full of sympathy for the benighted residents of Lebanon who had thought, at last, that their country had secured itself a stable, peaceful democratic future. Half a million of them have been forced from their homes because two Israeli soldiers were taken hostage. That hardly looks like justice.

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Meanwhile, a forgotten war is taking place in Gaza, overshadowed by the bigger one in Lebanon. Since Israel began its hostilities there, three weeks ago, some 110 Palestinians have lost their lives and countless more have been injured, while just one Israeli has died. The civilian infrastructure has been trashed. And all this just as the Hamas Government and the Fatah party had at last agreed on a formula for peace negotiations. What chance of peace now?

Mr Blair, by his silence, seems to be endorsing the US line: allow Israel at least another week to take action against Hezbollah before any calls for a ceasefire are made. He would doubtless argue that, unless he is supportive of the Israelis publicly, he will have no traction with them privately. Yet there are two big problems with this approach.

First, the UK has little traction with Israel anyway. Mr Blair had a frank private conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, when he visited Britain last month. It doesn’t seem to have done much good.

Secondly, and more importantly, Mr Blair’s silence is sending a strong message to the world’s — and particularly Britain’s — Muslim community. By failing to condemn Israel’s overreaction, he is allying himself with those acts. What more powerful ammunition could there be for the radicalisers of Britain’s young Muslims? “Your Government doesn’t care about you and your fellow believers. You need to take action to defend them in this noble cause.”

It is a terrifying prospect. Mr Blair is endangering our nation’s internal security by his reluctance to move a millimetre from the US stance. Even if he is engaging in private diplomacy with Israel, it is not without serious costs to the rest of us. Long after he leaves government, we may be paying the price.

At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, there was some disquiet about the official line. Some ministers are wondering whether it was wise to move Jack Straw from the Foreign Office at the reshuffle. For, had he stayed, the British response to the Middle East crisis might have been more nuanced.

Mr Blair and Mr Straw used to play a clever triangulating game. The Prime Minister would sound more pro-Israeli, the Foreign Secretary more pro-Arab. They used the same tactic with Iran. This positively suited the US sometimes, as it allowed Mr Straw to follow avenues that were not open to Condoleezza Rice.

Margaret Beckett, though, is not experienced enough either to make her voice heard internationally or to strike out on her own, as Mr Straw used to. It is a great lost opportunity. Instead, yesterday, she just parroted the US line, refusing to condemn Israel despite being urged to do so by members on all sides of the House.

The danger of the current situation is that Gaza and southern Lebanon risk becoming another Iraq, with their populations radicalised and their governments unable to restrain the terrorists even if they wanted to. The conflict could even bring together Hamas and Hezbollah, who currently have little in common apart from their opposition to Israel. Hamas is made up of Sunni Muslims; Hezbollah of Shias. But united, they would make a formidably dangerous grouping on Israel’s doorstep.

Mr Blair should be saying all this to Mr Olmert, on the record. Britain could be acting as Israel’s critical friend, representing not just the outside world’s fears for the region, but also the half of Israel’s population who believe that their country has been going too far.

He could point out that the “eye for an eye” doctrine of the Old Testament was not a vengeful prescription but was designed precisely to restrict vengeance to that which was proportionate. The verse did not ordain ten eyes for one eye, which is the ratio the Israelis are currently pursuing.

The War on Terror is too easy a pretext for Israel to hide behind. It does not give free licence for a state to bombard the innocent citizens of another in the hope that a few terrorists might be killed in the process. Imagine if we had bombed Dublin in the same way, with more than 300 deaths in a week and half a million people displaced. That would surely have been seen as a war crime.

Mr Blair has moved too swiftly from defending Israel’s right to exist to supporting Israel right or wrong. It is bad for the Middle East and it is dangerous for Britain. He ought to know better.

The shocking silence from No 10
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