Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) have agreed to hold another round of talks in Moscow on June 18-19, Press TV reports.
Iran and the P5+1 group (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States plus Germany) wrapped up their plenary meeting in Baghdad on Thursday evening after two sessions of negotiations earlier on Thursday and on Wednesday.
Sources close to the Iranian delegation say Iran maintains that its demands, including the lifting of the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic, must be met.
The Iranian negotiating delegation was headed by Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili, and the delegations of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany were headed by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
On the first day of the negotiations, Iran offered a comprehensive package to the P5+1, while a European Union spokesman, Michael Mann, told Press TV that the group’s representatives put forward a set of new proposals to Tehran.
The previous round of the talks between Iran and the P5+1 was held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on April 14.
Iran and the P5+1 had previously held two rounds of talks, one in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2010, and another in Istanbul, Turkey, in January 2011.
The new Syrian parliament has begun work under a new constitution approved by a majority of voters in a February referendum.
According to the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the first session of the new parliament began on Thursday.
The parliament speaker is scheduled to be elected by secret ballot and the lawmakers will be sworn in during the Thursday meeting, SANA said.
On May 7, Syria held the first parliamentary elections under the new constitution that paved the way for a multiparty system in the country.
More than half of the eligible voters participated in the parliamentary elections.
About 7,195 candidates, including independent and opposition figures, contested for the parliamentary seats.
The May 7 elections were part of the reforms promised by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The 250-seat Syrian parliament is elected every four years and 172 of the lawmakers represent the workers and farmers sector.
The new parliament began work a few days after SANA said President Assad issued a decree on May 13, ordering the formation of a “Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).”
According to the presidential decree, the SCC will consist of seven members, who will serve for a period of four years, which could be renewed. However, SANA did not clarify how many renewals of the serving period would be allowed.
The SCC is an independent judicial body and will be based in Damascus, SANA said.
An Israeli “peacenik” comes out of the cold
On May 17, 2012, the Washington based Woodrow Wilson Center featured Amihai Ayalon in a book presentation: Peace Without Partners: Can Israeli Unilateralism Lead to a Two-State Solution?. The controversial topic provoked questions − did the book contain a genuine proposal for achieving peace or, was it only another distraction for those who desire a just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis? Because hope is eternal, are Ami Ayalon’s words designed to keep it that way?
Ami Ayalon arrived with credentials; a former Labor Party member in the Israeli Knesset, he gains attention by having previously been commander-in-chief of the navy and head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service. The former intelligence agent also arrived with publicity. His Blue White Future organization “that seeks to help achieve a two-state solution, and has developed a radical new unilateral approach to achieve this goal,” so as to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel and keep its blue/white Star of David flag, received space in a New York Times article: Peace Without Partners, By Ami Ayalon, Orni Petruschka and Gilead Sher, April 23, 2012
Add suspicion to the agenda. Note that other Labor party figures, identified with the “peace process,” fired up many and disillusioned all. Recall President Shimon Peres, “father” of the settlements, General and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, originator of “:break the bones of Palestinians” during the 1990 Intifada, and former Knesset member Yosef Beilin’s Geneva Initiative, “a permanent status agreement based on previous official negotiations, international resolutions, the Quartet Roadmap, the Clinton Parameters, and the Arab Peace Initiative,” whose program had no accomplishments. All were members of a Labor Party that, despite its calls for “peace initiatives,” promoted the settlements, the major obstacle to negotiations.
Ayalon’s Peace Without Partners approach maintains that the “greatest threat to the nation is disappearance of the Zionist entity. Israel needs to be a Jewish democracy with a majority of Jews. The children who have been raised with a narrative of 5000 years of Jewish history cannot be betrayed.” From these propositions, Blue White Future concludes that “peace requires two states.” Continuing the thoughts, he suggests that Palestinian leader “Abu Mazen cannot deliver what he promises because he lacks support from Arab heads of state. Nor can Israel promise what former Prime Minister Olmert proposed. Negotiations no longer exist. Only coordinated unilateralism, based on former United States President Clinton’s peace proposals, can resolve the crisis.”
The details of a six point plan
(1) Israel must take constructive steps to advance the two states based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps − regardless of whether Palestinian leaders agree to accept it.
(2) Israel should declare willingness to return to negotiations anytime and state that it has no claims to sovereignty on areas east of the existing security barrier. It should end all settlement construction east of the security barrier and in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
(3) Israel should also enact a voluntary evacuation, compensation and absorption law for settlers east of the fence, so that those who wish can begin relocating before there is an agreement with the Palestinians.
(4) Israel should develop a strategic plan to help 100,000 settlers who live east of the barrier to relocate within Israel’s recognized border.
(5) The IDF will remain in the West Bank until the conflict is officially resolved by a final-status agreement
(6) A Law of National referendum will decide the Israeli population acceptance of the plan.
Coordinated Palestinian acceptance will complete the process – two nations for two peoples and all disputes mutually resolved.
Another benefit − from this approach “the international community will see Israel as an honest player.”
A disingenuous plan, with built in obstacles
The “show stoppers” are so definitive that success with the plan is dubious.
Will any Israeli leader want to have his/her name recorded in history as acquiescing to the halt of the Israeli initiative to control all of Biblical Israel and having relinquished land to the Palestinians?
Ami Ayalon calmly states that “right of return” of any Palestinian refugee to Israel will not be permitted; refugees will return to the new Palestine nation. Will any Palestinian leader agree to that proposal? To them, the Palestinians outside of borderless Israel are not refugees; they are displaced persons who have been forced to live outside of their lands. The present West Bank cannot absorb new populations ─ insufficient agriculture, water, and employment prevent immigration of a large number of new people, and the authority will fear that the in-gathered Palestinians will be those who are most poor, most angry, most restless and most rebellious. In addition, the Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza, Lebanese and Syrian camps want to return to ancestral homes in Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias, and hundreds of other ethnically cleansed villages in Israel. No more than someone removed from Philadelphia would consider returning to Akron, Ohio, will displaced Palestinians consider returning to a territory that is alien to them.
Will Israel cede claims of sovereignty on areas east of the existing security barrier? Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared, “Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley.” On March 2, 2010, the PM told a Knesset committee that the Jordan Valley’s “strategic location makes pullout impossible, even in a peace deal.”
An immediate question; why is Amihai Ayalon telling us this? His proposal has an air of uncertainty and a dreamlike quality. The proposal rests on convincing the Israeli government to proceed with the recommendations − a difficult, if not impossible task. What can Americans do about that, except hope and postpone other endeavors until the Israelis, if ever, proceed? Why is the Labor leader, who must have many associates in Israeli politics, not devoting all of his time and effort to convince his associates and government to start moving the proposition − at least halting new settlements and settler expansions − some small initiative to convince others that this concept has legs. Would not Israel, if it had any interest in the plan, want to show some good faith?
The thrust is singular − a Zionist perspective on only what is good for Israel and not what is good for reconciliation. It essentially legalizes the illegal land seizures and legitimizes the illegitimate actions. No consideration to “right” the “wrongs,” or to allow Palestinians to reclaim water rights, land rights, and human rights.
Most disturbing is the appearance that the Israeli children have been raised with a narrative of 5000 (?) years of Jewish history, rather than the actual sixty years of Israeli history. Archaeology and historical research have disproved the biblical myths of a united Jewish nation that commanded vast territory for centuries in the Levant. Academics lack historical evidence that supports the existence of the Torah’s Hebrew prophets or a common and connected history of Jews through millennia. Other than religious beliefs and some common customs, Falasha, Yemenites, Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, German-American and other Jews have tenuous relations between each other. Relating modern day Israel to ancient tribes, as if the small tribe of a 5000 year-old Abraham walked the land only a few years ago, denies reality.
Careful examination of the proposal, as in most mighty dramas, reveals sub-text. The former Shin Bet leader has knowingly or carelessly framed a document of surrender. This plan serves as a floater, to gauge opinion of a treaty of surrender for the Palestinians, in which Israel unilaterally dictates the surrender terms. The terms may not be exactly as Ami Ayalon has specified, but then the Palestinians, who have sacrificed everything, must make some sacrifices. Expect the terms to be exactly as Israel wants them, with Jerusalem entirely Israeli, all major settlements incorporated into Israel, some unusable Israeli land given to the Palestinians for any loss in West Bank land, all Israeli roads and water provisions remaining as is for Israelis in the West Bank, and the Jordan Valley incorporated into Israel. There will be a new nation with defined borders, the nation of Israel; the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza can declare themselves one or two nations, as they want. Checkpoints will disappear and be replaced by border guards. A visa will be required to enter Israel, even if it is only for passing through new Israeli territory to re-enter Palestinian territory. This will include traversing the Jordan valley to reach Jordan. West Bank Palestinians will be more landlocked and less able to move than brethren in Gaza.
The drama of Peace Without Partners is not much different than that of Partners Without Peace. The characters and their actors are the same. The backdrop and scenery are the same. The plot is identical. The script has been modified, but still controlled by the same director. Without a change in action, the ending will be the same − and there is no discernible change in action.
In a PNN report today, the Al-Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights stated that on Wednesday, May 23rd, prisoner Sameh Elaiwe, 50, was transferred from Nablus city to Administrative Detention one hour before his scheduled release date.
Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial that is authorized by administrative order as oppose to a fair and just judicial decree.
Foad al-Khafsh, head of Al-Ahrar, affirmed that on Tuesday the Israeli military brought Elaiwe’s case before the court, accompanied by his lawyer Fares Abu al-Hassan. The court ordered Elaiwe’s release for the following day.
However, Israeli intelligence petitioned to overturn the decision after Elaiwe’s lawyer had left the court, and the Court transferred the prisoner to the administrative detention centre for four months.
Al-Khafsh alleged that Israeli intelligence deliberately intends to break the spirits of the prisoners, and questioned whether the military have actually agreed to stop the policy of Administrative Detention when in fact they appear to be using it more than before the hunger strikes.
More than 25 cases have been transferred to Administrative Detention since the Israeli prisons administration and the Supreme Committee for Prisoners signed their agreement on May 14th.
- Hunger strike deal ‘does not end administrative detention’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli occupation authority renews administrative detention of MP Rejoub for fourth time (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Until Freedom or Martyrdom: Thaer Halahleh on 60 Days of Hunger Strike (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Free Hanaa Shalabi, End Administrative Detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- IOA renews administrative detention of MP Rejoub for fourth time (windowintopalestine.blogspot.com)
Reporting from the big cable TV industry event this week, Broadcasting & Cable‘s Andrea Morabito writes (5/22/12):
Hardball host Chris Matthews argued that because of the rise of opinion-based news networks, the non-critical aspect of the media is gone, going as far to say that the reporting that verified the U.S. administration’s claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002 would not happen today because of cable news.
“I would like to think there would be a reckoning we didn’t have then because of modern media,” Matthews said. “24/7 is good because it’s not only breadth, it’s depth. Without cable, it is just network [television] thinking, embedded thinking, which is dangerous in a democracy.”
Umm… He’s aware of the fact that cable news channels existed in 2002, right?
In fact, here’s some of what he and his cable colleagues were doing:
—MSNBC‘s Hardball host Chris Matthews asks of World Bank/IMF protests in Washington, D.C.: “Those people out in the streets, do they hate America?” Conservative pundit Cliff May responds: “Yes, I’m afraid a lot of them do. They hate America. They align themselves with Saddam Hussein. They align themselves with terrorists all over the world.” Hardball correspondent David Shuster later adds that “anti-Americanism is in the air.”
And elsewhere on MSNBC (3/6/03):
—MSNBC‘s Dan Abrams indignantly defends the Bush administration against critics who suggest the White House isn’t telling the truth about the rationale for war:
“Well, anyone making these allegations better be willing to defend exactly what they’re saying. They’re saying this administration is at the least morally corrupt, lying to the American public and the world about their motives and willing to have Americans die for that lie, and, at worst, that they’re actually abhorrent criminals. That’s absurd.”
A few months later, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (4/10/03) demanded that war critics apologize:
“I’m waiting to hear the words ‘I was wrong’ from some of the world’s most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types…. I just wonder, who’s going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: ‘Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong’? Maybe the White House will get an apology, first, from the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. Now, Ms. Dowd mocked the morality of this war….
“Maybe disgraced commentators and politicians alike, like Daschle, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich, and all those others, will step forward tonight and show the content of their character by simply admitting what we know already: that their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes. But I doubt it. After all, we don’t call them ‘elitists’ for nothing.”
To be fair, there were people at MSNBC pushing back against the pro-war propaganda. Phil Donahue was the most prominent– and he was fired for it. What was Matthews doing at the time? He was reportedly going to management to lobby to get Donahue off the air.
“We would have stopped the drive to war” is probably more comforting than “We helped make the war happen.”
Who are the “Outsiders” Raping Native American Women?
Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times has been traveling to “third world” countries to find evidence of male cruelty to women. He’s found plenty. He recently visited a Native-American reservation. His article left out the statistics that show that among American women, Native American women are the only group where outsiders commit the majority of the rapes.
I wrote him a letter asking why? No answer.
The last time I wrote him at least the Times had a black guy reply, vouching for his character.
House Republicans are balking over whether Tribal courts can bring these “outsiders” to justice. Why are Republicans and the Times (NYT, May 23, 2012) protecting these outsiders by not identifying these “non-Indians”?
I visited Sitka, Alaska in October. I was the only black guy in town. So maybe it’s not the brothers, your typical media, literary, Broadway show and Ms.Magazine rapist. Maybe Kristof can tell us who these mystery “non-Indians”are?
Ishmael Reed is the publisher of Konch. The latest issue includes a brilliant take on the post-black entrepreneurs by Houston Baker, Jr. His latest collection of essays, ”Going Too Far: Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown,” is forthcoming from Baraka Press.
- Toxic landfills on or near a Native American Reservation. (sachemspeaks.wordpress.com)
Canadian police have arrested some 400 people in Montreal in the latest student protest against tuition hikes, police say.
Several thousand demonstrators poured into Montreal’s central square late Wednesday to protest tuition hikes and to denounce a new legislation aimed at ending months of anti-tuition hikes protests.
Police clashed with the demonstrators and arrested nearly 400 protesters.
On Tuesday, tens of thousands of students took to the streets of Montreal to mark the 100th day of protests.
The protesters, carrying red banners and signs, marched through central Montreal to commemorate the day and also voice their opposition to the Quebec provincial government’s new law that would make protests more difficult to organize and impose stiff fines on those who disobey.
Since the law was passed on Friday, daily protests have often turned violent.
Under the new legislation, any individual, who prevents students from entering an educational institution or disrupts classes will be fined between CAD 1,000 and CAD 5,000.
The punishment will rise to between CAD 7,000 and CAD 35,000 for a student leader and to between CAD 25,000 and CAD 125,000 for student federations or unions.
The law also forces regulations to govern student protests, requiring protesters to inform the police of their demonstration plans, including an eight-hour notice for details, such as the itinerary, the duration, and the exact time of the action.
Quebec students have been holding almost daily demonstrations since February in an attempt to show their outrage at the proposed tuition fee rises.
Under the provisional agreement, university fees would increase by CAD 1,780 over seven years or about CAD 254 a year, bringing the total to CAD 4,000 per year. The plan is scheduled to be effective from 2012-13 until 2016-2017 academic years.
BAGHDAD – The six major powers known as the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed to reach an agreement between themselves on a package of proposals which had been presented by Iran in the meeting on Wednesday.
Sources close to the meeting have blamed the U.S. for the failure of talks between the major powers, the Mehr News Agency correspondent reported from Baghdad.
Iran had presented a five-point proposal which included “nuclear and non-nuclear issues”.
Diplomats close to the talks say the major powers have reneged on their promises of reciprocal steps which had been agreed upon in the Istanbul talks on April 4.
In the meeting negotiators from the 5+1 group especially the U.S. used a language similar to those of Israeli officials and this caused a hurdle in the talks, diplomat said.
According to our correspondent, the 5+1 group is suggesting another place for a next meeting. However, the Iranian side is seeking a tentative agreement in Baghdad before setting a date for the next meeting.
Iran’s lead negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in the talks, held bilateral talks late on Wednesday and early Thursday.
The two top negotiators plan to brief reporters about the results of negotiations later today.