The Palestinian village of Beit Iksa overlooking Jerusalem just built a new village they called Bab Al-Karama (Gate of Dignity) on their land behind the apartheid wall that Israel has built on their land and call on Palestinians and Internationals to join them in their popular struggle to hold on to their lands.
The wall Israel is building on the village land would leave 96% of the village land inaccessible and behind the segregation wall.
Over the past 24 hours, the villagers built a mosque and set up 5 tents for dwelling on their land behind the wall.
The head of the Beit Iksa village council Mr. Kamal Hababa stated that idea of building this village extension is to protect their legally owned lands and to be the second such village built to protect from growing efforts at transforming Arab Jerusalem.
Already the threatened village land behind the wall is 7,411 dunums which amounts to half the total threatened lands of the eight Palestinian villages northwest of Jerusalem and 96% of the village land of Beit Iksa. Colonial Jewish only settlements built on Palestinian lands beyond the Green line in this area include Ramot, Neve Shmuel, Har Shmuel, and Givat Ze’ev.
The erection of Bab Al-Karama village comes shortly after Palestinian activists erected a village they called Bab Ashams to counter Israeli settlement construction in the area known as E1, located between Jerusalem and Jericho, which signals a new model in popular struggle against the ongoing expansion of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Istanbul – In what may be described as a very odd move by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish authorities, tens of thousands of Kurds in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir were allowed to participate in the funeral of three Kurdish activists – including a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – who were assassinated in Paris on 9 January 2013.
To be sure, Turkish warplanes had carried out airstrikes against PKK positions and encampments in northern Iraq prior to the funeral. Perhaps this was a government message to the Turkish population that the war on Kurdish “terror” would continue, even if the government allowed the slain leaders of the Kurdish “terrorist” group to be buried in a massive funeral procession in Turkey.
Kurdish leaders in Turkey appealed to the participants in the ceremony not to raise PKK flags or portraits of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned by the Turkish authorities since 1999. These directives are possibly a first for a Kurdish demonstration.
And indeed, tens of thousands gathered yesterday at a square in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in Turkey, many wearing white scarves, a symbol of peace. The mourners refrained from chanting any “radical” slogans that may have provoked Turkish nationalist factions.
In the meantime, a delegation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) met with Öcalan to inquire about his conditions in prison. According to the Turkish media, secret talks between the government and the PKK leader continue, with a view to reach a secret deal that serves both sides’ interests. To many, this is seen as a starting point for the final settlement to the Kurdish question in Turkey.
One key demand by Öcalan is to be released under a comprehensive general amnesty issued by the government for all leaders, members, and followers of the PKK. Only then would he instruct the party’s armed fighters to cease their attacks against Turkey once and for all.
After that, political demands such as recognizing the Kurdish national identity in the constitution would be discussed between the PKK and the Turkish government.
Through its media, the Turkish government has been able to persuade a majority of the Turkish people that a political solution to the Kurdish question is both necessary and urgent, and that reaching one would serve the national interests of the state. Yet independent opinion polls show that most Turks would not readily accept Öcalan’s release or amnesty for PKK followers.
For one thing, this would mean that in the future, Öcalan could become an important figure in Kurdish, and even Turkish, political life, especially if the Turkish government were to give autonomy to the Kurds in southeast Turkey.
In this vein, press reports have often alluded to a Turkish plan for a quick resolution to the Kurdish question, which seeks to counter any undesirable scenarios in Syria, which also has a sizable Kurdish population. Particularly so when the Syria-based Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is allied with the Turkish chapter of the PKK, controls the Kurdish regions in Syria adjacent to the Kurdish regions in Turkey and northern Iraq.
This may help explain the strategic alliance between Ankara and Iraqi Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. The alliance seeks to influence Kurdish public opinion in Syria, and to convince Syrian Kurds of the need for cooperation and rapprochement with Turkey.
Turkey has provided all kinds of support for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq as it makes profits to the tune of billions of dollars in trade and oil deals.
This has allowed Ankara to become a key player in internal Iraqi affairs, owing to its alliance with Barzani and Talabani, as well as Iraq’s Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Tariq al-Hashemi.
On a related note, it has become an open secret that Erdogan’s moves concerned with the Kurdish question have a lot to do with its most important ally: Washington DC. Next month, Erdogan will travel to the US to hold talks over future scenarios.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the situation may soon heat up in Iran’s Kurdish regions with the approach of Iran’s presidential election. This may prompt Ankara to move faster towards containing Kurdish populations in the region under an umbrella of pan-Islamic sentiment.
Just like the Turkish political and ideological model was endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood in the countries of the Arab Spring, this Turkish umbrella may take a form that is acceptable for Arab and the Muslim nations. Most probably, it will involve a model of moderate and democratic Islam, that is to say, one that is consistent with US interests.
See also; prominent Zionist suggests rapprochement:
On January 15, 2013, University of Houston Law Center professor Jordan Paust penned an article entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program and Lawful Israeli Self-Defense,” which was published on Jurist, a website of analysis and opinion pieces written by law professors, lawyers, and legal scholars. It is clear throughout Paust’s piece that his arguments are neither sound nor based in fact, and unfortunately rely entirely on false premises and long debunked propaganda. Paust himself is a contributing editor to Jurist.
To begin with, the title of Paust’s analysis itself betrays both its agenda and its absurdity, considering Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program according to all Western and Israeli intelligence agencies and unprovoked, “preventative,” “anticipatory” or “preemptive” military assaults are not only totally illegal but also can not possibly be justified as “self-defense.”
And that’s just the beginning; the falsehoods continue to stack up. In fact, Paust reveals his utter ignorance from the get-go, writing – in his very first sentence, no less – that the Iranian leadership “continues to proclaim its desire to wipe Israel off the map” – something even Israel’s own Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admits it has never done. His understanding of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter (which affirms the right to retaliatory self-defense if attacked first) is bizarrely lacking, especially considering he’s a law professor. He joins the shameful company of Alan Dershowitz in this regard.
Paust goes on to (1) accuse of Hezbollah and Hamas of terrorism and serving as Iranian proxies, without ever mentioning Israel’s decades of international law violations and continuing war crimes and occupation or the fact that they are autonomous organizations that don’t take direction from Iran; (2) ignore all facts pertaining to the illegality of initiating of a “war of aggression” (the “supreme international crime,” according to the Nuremberg Tribunal); and (3) claim that Iran is violating UNSC resolutions regarding the cessation of uranium enrichment, a demand many have long acknowledged is ultra vires, itself abrogates the NPT and the resolutions are themselves illegal.
Apparently, though, these facts aren’t important to Professor Paust.
Furthermore, among the “facts” that Paust marshals to advance his argument that Israel could legally launch a preemptive attack on Iran is the contention that “Iran is publicly ‘gunning’ for Israel.” Yes, he wrote that. And he still has a law degree. And is presumably literate.
From there, Paust launches into a bizarre and wholly inapplicable “Wild West Showdown” analogy in which the (Israeli) “good guy” is justified in “shoot[ing] first” since he knows the (Iranian) “bad guy” is out to get him. It is “not necessary that the bad guy shoot first,” Paust writes, elaborating (for some inexplicable reason) that “the good guy could have drawn first once it was known that the bad guy was gunning for him and they were staring each other down in the street.” By way of trying to make this dumbfounding, Manichean analogy make sense, he explains, “Someone was about to draw first and, in context, the process of attack had begun and a right of self-defense had been triggered even though it was possible that the bad guy might back down and make this clearly known before the good guy fired.”
If this passes for astute legal analysis these days, it’s no wonder the United States has little to no respect for basic tenets of international law.
The analysis is so strained, based entirely on presumptions and assumptions with no basis in fact (only in Netanyahu-approved talking points), that Paust discredits himself by writing in the first place.
In the end, Paust pines for a peaceful way out. His solution? That Iranian leaders “shift their attention to peace,…comply with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” and not build a bomb. As countless IAEA reports have demonstrated, Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful and no nuclear material has ever been diverted to a military program. Iran has also never been found to have violated its obligations to the NPT. Its leaders, for decades now, have repeated denounced nuclear weapons as, not only amoral and religiously sinful, but also strategically useless and politically irrelevant.
But you wouldn’t know that from reading Jurist.
- Ask The Leveretts Anything: Are Israeli Fears Of A Nuclear Iran Overblown? (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
This is the winding road that the leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions has had to take in the French justice system. (Photo: Haytham al-Moussawi)
“We don’t think he [Georges Abdallah] should be released, and we are continuing our consultations with the French government about it…We have serious concerns that he could return to the battlefield.” This according to a statement from Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US Department of State, on Friday, 11 January 2013.
This was more than an enough of a hint for the socialist government in Paris to block the decision to release Abdallah, who, from today, 15 January 2013, is essentially a hostage at the Lannemezan Prison.
Yesterday, Abdallah was supposed to appear one last time before the French judge, to be read the terms of his conditional release, which requires him to be deported from France. But French Minister of Interior Manuel Valls refused to sign Abdallah’s deportation order.
One judicial source said that the Sentence Enforcement Chamber of Paris (TAP), which held a hearing on Monday to evaluate the 8th request for parole submitted by Abdallah, “has not yet made a decision pending the deportation order.”
On 21 November 2012, the TAP had approved Abdallah’s request for parole on the condition that he be expelled from France. On 10 January 2013, the Court of Appeals in Paris upheld the TAP’s ruling, and rejected the appeal submitted by the French Public Prosecution, settling the controversy regarding its final and unequivocal decision to release Abdallah.
The sudden French move triggered many questions. For instance, is it possible for the French interior minister to completely block the procedures for the Lebanese prisoner’s conditional release? And, will the French prosecution be able to appeal the parole ruling again, having lost the appeal battle?
A French legal source familiar with the case of Abdallah in Paris told Al-Akhbar that political considerations had trumped legal ones after the interior minister’s move. Usually, he affirmed, the authorities may refrain from deporting a foreign national if it suspects that the country of destination, whether it is the foreigner’s home country or a third country, may mistreat or torture him.
In this event, the authorities often respect the wishes of the foreigner to be deported, to remain under house arrest or in refugee facilities, after serving his or her sentence.
The source added, “In Georges Abdallah’s case, the opposite is true. The Lebanese government has expressed on several occasions its willingness to receive him.”
Concerning whether the prosecution can appeal the parole ruling again, the judicial source said that this was unlikely, but stressed that the interior minister’s insistence on not signing the deportation order practically meant that Abdallah’s release has been obstructed.
This is not the first time that legal proceedings have clashed with political calculations, which makes Abdallah’s case the “scandal of the age,” in the words of Yves Bonnet, the former head of French intelligence services (DST). Since 1999, Abdallah has met all the conditions that make him eligible for parole, something that prompted the French judicial authorities to revisit his case several times over the past years.
As it turns out, there are five parole requirements stipulated in the French Penal Code. The first condition is good conduct in prison, which Abdallah has met according to the testimony of the French court itself.
Second, there has to be someone providing him with assistance in case he is released, a requirement that is met as per the documents that have been provided by Abdallah’s family, at the request of the French authorities, since 2003.
Third, the parolee must be able to pursue a vocation, a condition already satisfied by Abdallah, who is part of the Lebanese Ministry of Education’s teaching cadre.
Fourth, the parolee must be in good mental health, which, according to the reports of Abdallah’s psychiatrist, has been fulfilled.
Finally, the parolee must not pose a threat to French society, a requirement that the judiciary has undertaken to fulfill by ensuring that Abdallah is deported by the French interior ministry to Lebanon, or any third country that agrees to host him.
It was this requirement that the French interior minister exploited on Monday, in reverse fashion, to block the Lebanese prisoner’s conditional release.
A History of Abdallah’s French Court Rulings
On 19 November 2003, the parole court in the French district of Pau agreed to release the Lebanese national. The move angered the French Public Prosecution, which rushed to appeal the decision at the request of the justice minister. It succeeded in having the ruling suspended by the court in Pau.
On 16 January 2004, the National Parole Court reexamined the case. However, the court came under pressure from the French justice minister, who in turn was under US-Israeli pressure. Abdallah was subsequently denied parole.
On 31 January 2006, the court refused to release Abdallah after prosecutors argued that France’s image would be undermined with the US and its allies should it release him.
The prosecutors further claimed that Abdallah’s deportation would not guarantee that he wouldn’t return to the same types of acts he carried out in the past and that the psychiatrist’s report was insufficient in this regard.
While he may be in good mental health, they argued, what guarantee was there that he would not return to “terrorism”? (As though Abdallah is a common criminal or a drug addict who is being treated to quit his habit.)
The prosecution gave another reason for opposing Abdallah’s release, namely that he had not paid compensations to the victims, estimated by the court to stand at 53,357 euros, bearing in mind that his family has pledged to pay all such compensations.
On 6 February 2007, Abdallah requested parole for the 7th time only to be rejected once again. Abdallah appealed the ruling, but a decision was postponed until April 2008. The surprise was that the judges, instead of pronouncing the appeal verdict, decided to refer Abdallah’s case from the parole court to a special committee.
On 17 June 2008, Abdallah’s case was referred to a “special committee” in accordance with the provisions of Dati’s Law. Abdallah was formally notified of this, and the committee was set to issue its ruling in September 2008. The ruling was postponed yet again to 9 January 2009 when the court rejected the parole request.
This is the winding road that the leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions has had to take in the French justice system. Yet Monday’s court session was one of its most sinister junctures.
So will Jacques Vergès, Abdallah’s lawyer, play the ace up his sleeve and demand a retrial? He most definitely will if Abdallah is not released come January 28.
Vice-president Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday that Venezuela is willing to have the ‘best possible relations’ with the US government as long as these are based on respect and equality. He added that it was President Hugo Chavez who instructed the newly named Foreign minister Elias Jaua on the issue.
“President Chavez has given very precise orders, and he also instructed our new Foreign minister, our dear comrade Elias Jaua that with the government of the US we are always willing to have the best possible relations based on mutual respect and on equality conditions”, said Maduro.
The Vice-president who passed on to Jaua the Foreign ministry after six years in the post, said that the US media elite as well as its governments, sooner than later, “will have to acknowledge the new independence of Latin America”
“Latin America and the Caribbean are no longer the backyard of the US elites. Latin America is on its own path in economic and political affairs…This should give way to a new cycle of relations, respectful relations” said Maduro who is head of the Executive since Chavez left for Cuba over a month ago for his fourth cancer surgery.
“In the framework of this new reality, the Venezuelan government will always be willing to have the best possible relations with the governments of the US, at any moment”.
But, insisted Maduro “on the basis of absolute respect and non intervention in the internal affairs of our country”.
Last 4 January Maduro revealed that at the end of November there had been three contacts between Venezuela and the US in which the establishment of improved relations in the understanding of mutual absolute respect was considered.
Maduro who considered the contacts as ‘normal’ said they involved the Venezuelan ambassador before OAS, Roy Chaderton and were specifically authorized by Chavez who remains convalescent in Cuba
Although the US remains as the main trade partner of Venezuela, bilateral relations have gone through bad moments, currently probably the lowest since the end of 2010 when ambassadors were withdrawn. Venezuela denied consent to the new US ambassador following statements before the US Congress and Washington left the Venezuelan ambassador in the US with no visa.
Likewise when the US Treasury imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA for its links with Iran and because of the situation in the Venezuelan consulate in Miami closed for over a year following Washington’s decision to expel the head of that office.
Punto Fijo – The controversy surrounding Venezuela’s constitution and the delaying of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s swearing-in became a point of contention at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington yesterday.
Panama’s ambassador to the OAS, Guillermo Cochez, sharply criticized OAS General Secretary José Miguel Insulza for accepting the ruling of Venezuela’s Supreme Court to delay Chavez’s swearing-in.
The government of Panama rejected Cochez’s statements today and dismissed him from the OAS, according to the ambassador himself.
Insulza stated last week that the OAS would fully respect the decision of the Venezuelan Supreme Court and would not consider taking any action regarding the matter.
Cochez rejected this position, comparing Venezuela to a “classic dictatorship”, and said that although the Chavez government was democratically elected, a “lack of independent institutions” makes it a “sick democracy”.
Cochez went on to accuse the OAS and its member states of being “accomplices” to a violation of the Venezuelan constitution, and suggested that if nothing is done the Organization of American States should consider permanently closing down.
The Panamanian ambassador’s intervention led to a number of responses from member nations, including some very strong remarks from Venezuela’s ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, who accused Cochez of intervening in Venezuela’s internal affairs and receiving instructions from the Venezuelan opposition.
“You write and comment in Venezuelan media against President Chavez at every opportunity, especially on that nest of media delinquents known as Globovision, and with all the freedom guaranteed by Venezuelan democracy,” said Chaderton.
The Venezuelan ambassador accused Cochez of meeting and conspiring with right-wing factions seeking to overthrow the Venezuelan government, including individuals like Roger Noriega and Venezuelan bank executive Pedro Mario Burelli, who was present at the OAS meeting as a guest of the Panama delegation.
Several Latin American countries quickly responded in favor of Venezuela, and rejected any type of intervention on the part of the OAS.
Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Argentina all intervened in support of Venezuela, and rejected the comments made by Panama’s ambassador.
“Venezuela’s democratic order is perfectly guaranteed,” said the Brazilian ambassador, assuring that the situation was “an internal matter”.
Canada, on the other hand, suggested sending an OAS delegation to Venezuela to evaluate the situation, however Insulza said that any decision to take action would have to wait until a future meeting since it was not a part of the agenda of yesterday’s meeting.
Shortly after the meeting, the government of Panama also rejected the intervention made by their ambassador.
“The government of Panama categorically rejects the unauthorized declarations made by Panama’s Ambassador to the OAS,” said an official communiqué released by the government.
Panama assured that the position taken by Cochez was “far from the position of the national government,” and said that Panama would “continue to respect the internal political process” in Venezuela.
Chaderton attributed the Panamanian’s intervention to an attempt by Venezuela’s opposition coalition MUD of attempting to force a type of OAS intervention in Venezuela.
“It is an embarrassment that the MUD tries to use their friends in the OAS to get them to intervene in Venezuela,” he said.
Opposition Student Protests
The OAS decision to respect the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruling was also the motive of a minor protest in Caracas yesterday.
A group of students marched to OAS headquarters to demand the organization reconsider their position on the situation in Venezuela.
“Just because the three branches of government have ratified the decision does not mean that it is constitutional,” said one student to private channel Globovision.
Both the opposition and government supporters have planned major marches for next Wednesday, January 23rd as part of the controversy surrounding Venezuela’s constitution.
- The Guardian vs. the Conventional Wisdom on Venezuela (venezuelanalysis.com)
No longer limited to US citizens suspected of human rights abuses at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the updated list of Americans prohibited from entering Russia now includes new categories of individuals.
In December, the number of US citizens declared persona non grata in Russia stood at 11; now this number has been increased by 49 more people as new categories of individuals are added to the list, Aleksey Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Friday.
The new names, which contain both government officials and ordinary Americans, can be divided into three categories, Pushkov said.
The first category is comprised of “judges, investigators, secret service agents and Justice Department members” who are believed to be connected with the criminal prosecution and sentencing of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, Russian nationals who were arrested by US officials, tried on American soil, and are now serving their prison sentences in the US.
Bout, a former Soviet officer who became the owner of an air transport company, was arrested in 2008 by US agents in Thailand. In November 2011, he was convicted by a jury in a New York federal court of intending to provide military weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), which the United States ranks as a terrorist organization, and conspiracy to kill US citizens. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Bout has pleaded his innocent to all charges.
Yaroshenko, a pilot, was arrested in Liberia in 2010 and transported to America on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the US. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The second category of individuals prohibited from entering the Russian Federation include US Senators who were responsible for initiating the so-called Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama in December.
The new US legislation attempts to punish Russian nationals who Washington believes are responsible for the death of Sergey Magnitsky, who died in a detention facility in Moscow in 2009 awaiting a tax evasion investigation.
The final category of persona non grata individuals include American adoptive parents who were found guilty of abusing their adopted Russian children or guilty of their deaths.
On December 28, 2012, President Putin signed the Dima Yakovlev bill, named after a Russian orphan who died of heat stroke after being left in a car for an extended period by his American adoptive parents.
Judges who delivered “inadequate” verdicts on such cases, as well as psychiatrists who claimed that those children allegedly had congenital deficiencies that supposedly caused their deaths are also prohibited from entering Russia.
- RT: Moscow responds to US Magnitsky Act with Dima Yakovlev Law (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
The Foreign Ministry has expressed outrage after a US court imposes a fine on Russia for its refusal to comply with a 2010 court order to return a collection of religious documents to a prominent US-based Jewish organization.
The move comes shortly after the Magnitsky Act, which saw US legislators attempting to exert pressure on Russia’s judicial system. A court in Washington is now attempting to penalize Russia for its possession of a collection of books, manuscripts and other Judaic documents.
According to the ruling, Russia would be required to pay $50,000 a day to Chabad Lubavitch, an Orthodox Jewish movement headquartered in New York City, until it releases the Schneerson Library, of which the Jewish group claims rightful ownership.
“It is outrageous that a Washington court has taken this unprecedented step fraught with most serious consequences as the imposition of a fine on a sovereign state,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The ministry statement slammed the US ruling as “exterritorial in nature,” and a violation of international law. Russia considers the ruling to be legally null and void, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the US Justice Department also spoke out against the decision, arguing the court cannot introduce sanctions of this type against Russia, and that such a move would further damage US-Russian relations.
Chabad Lubavitch claimed the Schneerson collection – which includes 12,000 books and 50,000 rare documents gathered since the 18th century by Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn and his descendants in the Russian city of Smolensk – was illegally seized during a wave of Soviet nationalization projects.
“The Schneerson Library has never belonged to the Chabad; it never left Russia, and was nationalized because there were no legal heirs in the Schneerson family,” the ministry said. “The ‘return’ of these books to the US is therefore not an issue in principle.”
Due to the controversial question regarding the ownership rights of the Schneerson Collection, Russian museums are hesitant to travel to the United States with any exhibitions for fear of them being held hostage in the court standoff.
Meanwhile, the head of Russia’s Jewish Congress has said that Russia should be compensated by the Americans “50,000 dollars plus one dollar a day” for saving the collection from the Nazis and handing the massive collection of documents over to the National Library, where “they are kept carefully and remain available to the general public,” Zinovy Kogan told Itar-Tass in an interview on Thursday.
We should be grateful (to Russia) for the rescued books, he added.
The rabbi also challenged claims on the collection by the Chabad Lubavitch movement, reminding that the books were written “long before the emergence of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.”
Why should the books be given away to them, he asked.
“It does not matter where the books are kept. What is really important is they are available to the public. The books that are kept at the Eastern Section of the Russian State Library are available. Everyone is free to order and have a copy. No problem. Books are not to be treated as idols. Books will be books. They are not to be kissed and worshiped, they are to be read and studied,” Kogan said.
The Russian State Library in the 1990s agreed to give 70 books from the Schneerson archive to the Federation of the Jewish Communities of Russia. They are now stored at the library of the Moscow Jewish Community Center in the Maryina Roshcha neighborhood.
Yitzhak Schneerson died in 1950. He left behind no instructions regarding the future of his vast library.