Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekend News Wrapup- 7/15/07

A Summary of Interesting Stories throughout the Middle East

Israel and the Palestinian Territories
THE Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Jordan have postponed their trip to Israel until July 25th. The ministers had planned to visit Israel this past week to discuss the Saudi Peace Initiative, which envisions full Arab recognition of Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from all of Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem; the implementation of a Palestinian Right to Return; and the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel has accepted the Saudi initiative with reservations: 1) it will not grant a Right of Return to Israel itself, as that would lead to the demographic destruction of Israel as a Jewish State (though it supports a Right of Return to a future Palestinian State in the West Bank & Gaza); and 2) all of Jerusalem is Israel's eternal and undivided capital.

The postponement of the trip comes as Israel and the Arab League publicly voice their disagreement over the nature of the delegation. The Arab League had appointed Egypt and Jordan to discuss the Saudi Peace Initiative with Israel. Egypt and Jordan then announced that their Foreign Ministers would visit Israel to discuss the plan. Israel subsequently heralded the ministers' trip as the first time that the Arab League would send an official mission to the Jewish State. But the Secretary General of the Arab League balked at that description, stating that the ministers were only representing the governments of Egypt and Jordan. He further remarked, "The Arab League has no relation with Israel."

PALESTINIAN Authority ("PA") Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has confirmed PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of a care-taker government. Fayyad had been serving as leader of an emergency government since Abbas dismissed Hamas ministers following their bloody coup in Gaza. Hamas spokesmen have deemed Fayyad's government "illegal" because, according to the PA constitution, the government must be confirmed by the PA parliament. The parliament, however, has been paralyzed due to Hamas' refusal to stand down in Gaza, Israel's imprisonment of half of Hamas members of parliament, and Abbas' refusal to allow his Fatah party to meet with members of Hamas.

ELDER statesman Shimon Peres has been sworn in as Israel's ninth president. Shimon Peres has been associated with each stage of Israel's history: he has served in almost every ministry since the founding of the state, including as prime minister; he was the architect of Israel's nuclear program and policy; and he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for his work in attempting to bring peace between Israel and its neighbors. Though the presidency is largely ceremonial (somewhat akin to the monarchy in Britain), Peres is an internationally respected figure and will bring much-needed positive attention to the Jewish State.

REPRESENTATIVES from 14 Lebanese parties have met in France in an attempt to ease political deadlock within the Arab state. Included in the meeting are delegates from Hezbollah, an organization that many Western and Arab countries view as perpetuating terrorism and instability.

Following the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Shi'ite organization briefly had a wide following among Lebanese for its perceived victory over Israel. But it has since been widely criticized for starting the conflict when it kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Hundreds of Lebanese citizens died, and there were millions of dollars worth of damage because Hezbollah based its military operations in civilian areas.

Furthermore, Hezbollah is criticized for attempting to block the international tribunal investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri; for walking out of the Lebanese government and helping to block the convening of sessions of parliament; and for holding the interests of Syria and Iran above those of Lebanon.

AN Iranian article claiming that the Arab Kingdom of Bahrain is Iranian territory has caused fury around the Arab world (Click here for a regional map of Bahrain). Hossein Shariatmadari, a close confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, wrote that "public demand in Bahrain is the reunification of this province with its motherland, the Islamic Iran." The foreign minister of Iran has since traveled to Bahrain in order to quell tensions.

Historically there has been friction between Iran, a Farsi-speaking majority Shi'ite state, and Bahrain, an Arabic-speaking Sunni-led country. In the 1970's Iran laid claim to Bahrain, but the then British protectorate instead voted for independence. In recent times, Arab states of the Persian Gulf and throughout the Mideast have looked at Iran's growing influence and nuclear program with suspicion.

Citizens of Bahrain have gathered in front of the Iranian embassy in protest. Furthermore Egypt, the most populous Arab state, has railed against Shariatmadari's statements. So has the chief of the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Bahrain is a member along with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.


News Service said...

Dear Adam,
Regarding link exchange with Israel News, please contact me at info (at)
You do not have to post this comment - but as you give no contact information that I could find, and ask me to contact you, I have done so.

Ami Isseroff

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