Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is annoyed. Before meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday in Jerusalem, Netanyahu complained about a recent European Union decision to stop EU grants, prizes and loans from going to Israeli entities located in the occupied territories or that conduct activities there. “I have to say,” Netanyahu declared, “on a sad note, that I think Europe, the European guidelines (on the settlements) have actually undermined peace.”
In the topsy-turvy world of Israeli politics, it’s not the existence of the settlements, or their constant expansion, that undermines peace. It’s the attempts to curb their growth. This is like somebody blaming life-saving chemo treatments for making him sick.
President Barack Obama may have believed he had at least until his inauguration next month to renew efforts to forge a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but events since he won re-election have put fresh demands on the president.
Since the U.S. election, we have witnessed another mini-war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the upgrading of the status of the Palestinians to a non-member state at the United Nations General Assembly; and most recently a series of retaliatory moves by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These included a decision to build thousands of housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and holding back some tax receipts that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
Optimism that this week’s talks in Baghdad about Iran’s nuclear weapons program could produce a deal should be tempered with extreme skepticism and caution in light of the Islamic Republic’s long record of lies and deception.
The international media is awash with speculation that some kind of agreement is in the offing between the six nations that make up the so-called P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Iranians.
On Monday, unless the Palestinians can be persuaded to back down, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will vote to accept Palestine as a full member state, triggering an automatic cutoff of U.S. funding and wreaking havoc with many of the agency’s programs.
Under legislation adopted by Congress over 15 years ago, the United States is mandated to withdraw from any U.N. agency that accepts Palestine as a full member state in the absence of a peace treaty with Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seems firmly embarked on an attempt to win recognition of Palestinian statehood in the United Nations General Assembly this September but his strategy will only further delay real independence for his people.
Abbas himself outlined his strategy in an oped in The New York Times on May 16, which made it clear that achieving a state through negotiations with Israel was not his immediate aim. Instead, he intends to try to mobilize the international community to impose a peace on Palestinian terms by hounding Israel in every international forum — to isolate and weaken the Jewish state so it will be forced to settle.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Accused September 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried and convicted and is likely to be executed, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Sunday.
Interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” show, Gibbs said: “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he’s going to meet his maker. He will be brought to justice and he’s likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed.”
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is not yet commander in chief of the armed forces, but he appears to be warming up to the role as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20 and begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and sending more to Afghanistan.
First, he used his Christmas message to pay tribute to the “selfless sacrifice” of the men and women in uniform, and then on Christmas Day, in his only public outing, he visited a Marine Corps base in Hawaii, where he is holidaying, to thank the Marines and sailors stationed there for their service.
He spent 75 minutes shaking hands, chatting with the servicemen and posing for photographs at their cafeteria, where they had been enjoying a traditional Christmas dinner before his surprise arrival.
Obama is no stranger to the base. He has been visiting it every day since his arrival to work out at the gym there. He broke that routine on Christmas Day, resetting the clock on the seven-day-a-week workout regimen that he religiously follows when at home in Chicago.
Some of the servicemen appeared bemused to see him, while others whipped out their camera phones to snap pictures after he walked into the cafeteria with a bellowed “Hi everybody, Merry Christmas.”
Local media reported that a Marine stationed at the base, Corporal Thomas Reilly Jr, 19, had been killed in an attack in Iraq’s western Anbar province on Sunday.