Al-Jazeera leaks reveal negotiation scandal: Hamas



GAZA, Jan. 24 (KATAKAMI / Xinhua) — A senior Hamas official on Monday said documents released by pan Arab Al-Jazeera channel on a decade of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations were “big political scandal.”

The classified documents “drove the final nail in the Palestinian National Authority’s coffin,” said Mahmoud Zahar, a Gaza-based Hamas outspoken leader.

The PNA was ready to give up Jewish parts in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek as a future capital, including Jewish settlements there, according to the Qatar-based TV network.

The documents also said that the Palestinian negotiators were ready to hand the compound in which Al-Aqsa mosque under the international control. The compound, known as Haram as-Sharif, is the third holiest shrine in Islam.

Al-Jazeera said it has obtained more than 1,600 documents, maps and minutes of decade-long records of negotiations.

Zahar accused the PNA of “selling Jerusalem and giving up the right of return” of Palestinian refugees.

Most of the records revealed so far goes back to 2008, when the negotiations were under supervision by the former U.S. administration.  (*)


Photostream : Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, meets with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, centre, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Talks come within the framework of efforts aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process. At left is Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

From right to left, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Talks come within the framework of efforts aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) and Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Saeb Erekat, during their meeting at the presidential palace in Cairo, January 24, 2011. Palestinian negotiators secretly told Israel it could keep swathes of occupied East Jerusalem, according to leaked documents that show Palestinians offering much bigger peace concessions than previously revealed. The documents, obtained by the Al Jazeera television channel, could undermine Abbas's position, whose public declarations about Jerusalem are at odds with what his officials were promising in private. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, listens to Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat during a press conference following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, not pictured, at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Photostream : Portugal's incumbent President Anibal Cavaco Silva reelected

Re-elected Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva (2nd R) stands next to his wife Maria as he gestures to supporters after the announcement of electoral results in Lisbon January 23, 2011. Cavaco Silva won a second term in the election on Sunday, promising to work for political stability as the government fights to avoid an international bailout. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Anibal Cavaco Silva, center, waves during celebrations for his victory in the presidential elections at Centro Cultural de Belem in Lisbon. Lisbon, Portugal. 21/01/2011

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva smiles upon arriving to deliver a speech after winning Portugal's presidential election for a second term. Lisbon, Portugal. 21/01/2011 ( Getty Images )

Supporters of re-elected Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva wave flags of his election campaign and national flags after the announcement of electoral results in Lisbon January 23, 2011. Cavaco Silva won a second term in an election on Sunday, promising to work for political stability as the government fights to avoid an international bailout. REUTERS/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Chinese President, VP attend New Year gala for military veterans

Chinese President Hu Jintao

BEIJING, Jan. 24 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Chinese President Hu Jintao extended new year greetings to military veterans at a new year gala in Beijing Monday, ahead of the Chinese lunar new year, which falls on Feb. 3.

Hu, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, wished the veteran army officers a happy new year and good health.

Xi Jinping, vice president and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, also attended the gala, along with other senior military officials.  (*)

Billionaire lawmaker may be Lebanon's next premier

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah

BEIRUT, Jan 24 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – A billionaire businessman with close relations to Syria is emerging as a candidate favored by Hezbollah to head Lebanon’s next government.

Lawmaker Nagib Mikati, who served briefly as premier in 2005, says he is seeking the post as a candidate of “moderation and accord.”

Hezbollah brought down the unity government headed by Saad Hariri on Jan. 12 because of differences over a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Mikati made his announcement hours before formal talks between Lebanon’s president and lawmakers were to begin Monday to pick a new prime minister.

A moderate politician, Mikati enjoys good relations with Syria as well as the pro-Western Hariri, who is seeking to keep the post.

Hezbollah ready to form unity government again in Lebanon

Hezbollah and its allies are open to forming a new unity government for Lebanon should their candidate receive parliamentary support as prime minister, the Shi’ite group's leader Hassan Nasrallah (pictured) said Sunday.

Jan 24 ( KATAKAMI.COM / FRANCE 24) – Hezbollah and its allies are willing to be part of a new unity government with their rivals in Lebanon’s Western-backed political bloc if the candidate they are backing is chosen to be prime minister, the Shi’ite militant group’s leader said Sunday.

Talks on a new premier are to begin Monday, and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah appeared to be trying to calm tensions as the rift deepened between his group and a bloc led by caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Ministers from Hezbollah and its allies brought down the unity government Hariri had led on Jan. 12 because of differences over a U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Many fear Hezbollah will react violently if its members are indicted, as is widely expected.

“In case the person we support is chosen to form the Cabinet we will work for this Cabinet to be a government of national unity,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “We do not seek to cancel anyone.”

That is significant because Hezbollah and its allies had appeared to be closing in on enough support in parliament to form a government on their own, if they had chosen to try to do so.

Hezbollah and its allies said they won’t back Hariri to form a new Cabinet during the two days of consultations that begin Monday. They have not publicly said whom they will name instead.

Nasrallah’s speech was seen as important sign of his movement’s mindset at a time when many fear the country’s political tension could descend into civil strife. His demeanor was calm and he emphasized that Hezbollah is working for change through constitutional means.

Nasrallah has said he expects members of his group to be indicted but has accused the Netherlands-based court of bias. The group has fiercely denied any role in the killing, and Nasrallah has said the group “will cut off the hand” of anyone who tries to arrest any of its members.

Also, Sunday Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim religious leaders warned Hezbollah not to ignore their sect’s opinion regarding their support for Hariri.

The clerics, led by Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, the Sunnis’ spiritual leader in Lebanon, said they support Hariri because he represents the majority of Sunnis.

“We warn against ignoring the Sunni majority and the parliament majority,” the leaders said in a statement. “We also warn against the dangers of an imposed government.”

Nasrallah appeared to reject such comments when he said that the prime minister’s post is “not a post of (sect) representation but a sovereign one.”

Nasrallah also thanked Walid Jumblatt, the influential leader of the Druse sect, for giving his support to Hezbollah and its allies at this “critical and sensitive moment.” It is not clear how many votes Jumblatt will give Hezbollah.

The support of at least 65 lawmakers is required to form a government in Lebanon’s 128-seat Parliament. Hezbollah and its allies already claim 57 seats. Saad Hariri has 60.

An indictment in the elder Hariri’s killing was filed last week but its contents likely will not be made public for weeks.  (*)

Palestinians reject Israeli report on flotilla raid

People gather to welcome home the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the ill-fated Gaza flotilla attacked by Israel this summer, in Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 26, 2010. The Mavi Marmara departed from Turkey in May to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza and deliver humanitarian aids. On May 31, Israel raided the ship in international waters before it could reach its destination and killed nine activists aboard. (Xinhua/Chen Ming)

RAMALLAH, Jan. 24 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Palestinian officials rejected the findings of an Israeli investigation committee that soldiers acted legally when they attacked a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters last May.

The Israeli commandos’ raid killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, mostly Turks onboard the flotilla, which raised strong international condemnation.

“The investigation results are unacceptable and strongly rejected because they came from a panel with no credibility,” said Ghassan Al-Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian government in the West Bank.

The report of the inquiry committee defended the naval assault on the Gaza Strip and the decision to prevent the flotilla from reaching Gaza.

Al-Khatib said that a neutral party should have investigated the raid on the ship Mavi Marmara. “It makes no sense that Israel, which is blamed on the incident, to examine what had happened,” he added.

Israel eased Gaza siege to calm down global criticism after the raid, but still keeps enforcing the maritime blockade.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s ruling Hamas group also criticized the report, saying that “the criminal should not be the judge at the same time. ”

Israel imposed blockade on Gaza after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and held him hostage in the coastal enclave in 2006, then tightened the blockade a year later after Hamas took over Gaza.  (*)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Meet with Mexican Counterpart

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Jan 24 ( KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Mexico to discuss a range of bilateral issues with the country’s foreign secretary.

The U.S. State Department says Clinton will meet Monday with her Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa, in the city of Guanajuato.

The talks are expected to cover cooperating on combating crime, strengthening the competitiveness of both economies and modernizing the common border.

The diplomats are also expected to discuss climate change.

The visit comes as drug violence continues to plague Mexico, including areas along the border with the U.S.  (*)

South Korea to soon propose nuclear talks with North

SEOUL, Jan 24 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – South Korea will soon propose holding talks with the North that could pave the way for a resumption of six-party negotiations aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions in return for aid, an official said on Monday.

The meeting, which would be a major breakthrough after a two-year suspension of the disarmament-for-aid process, will be proposed separately from high-level military talks between the rival Koreas.

Last week the North accepted the South’s terms for talks to try to defuse one of the worst crises on the peninsula since the 1950-53 Korean War.

“As soon as (internal) discussions conclude, we will be making a proposal to the North on high-level military talks and also official meetings on denuclearization,” said Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-ju.

“We need to look more at whether we can make the proposals for those talks at the same time or with a time differential,” Lee told a briefing.

A South Korean Defence Ministry official said on Monday a set of working-level talks will probably take place in mid-February to set the dates, venue and agenda for a high-level military meeting, and the South’s proposal will likely be made this week.

The North’s acceptance of the South’s conditions for talks last week came as a culmination of U.S. pressure on China with a warning that it would redeploy forces in Asia if Beijing did not do all it could to rein in North Korea, a U.S. official said.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula rose sharply last year when a South Korean navy ship was sunk by a torpedo attack in March that Seoul blamed on Pyongyang. The North bombarded a South Korean island late in the year, the first such attack in decades.

“The government continues to hold the position that we need to check how serious the North is about denuclearization,” said Lee of the Unification Ministry.

Washington and Beijing, the two key players in the six-party process, have argued that North-South dialogue is a prerequisite for a resumption of the talks also involving the two Koreas, Russia and China. Pyongyang walked out after rejecting nuclear inspections and pronounced the talks finished in 2009.

It has since expressed a willingness to return, a move that analysts said was motivated by an acute need for outside help as its impoverished economy continues to be squeezed by international sanctions that cut off its lucrative arms trade.  (*)

Japan vows to strengthen economic ties with Russia


Jan 24 (KATAKAMI.COM / RIA NOVOSTI) — Japan plans to develop economic cooperation with Russia, the country’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, said on Monday.

“We will broaden cooperation with Russia in the economic sphere, including the development of natural resources,” Kan said during the opening session of the Japanese parliament.

Relations between the two countries, who remain technically at war since no peace agreement has been signed to end WWII hostilities, soured in November when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit to one of the four disputed Kuril Islands (known as Northern Territories in Japan) separating the East China Sea from the Pacific Ocean. The islands were annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

Kan described Medvedev’s trip as “very regrettable” and fired Japan’s ambassador to Moscow for failure to timely inform Tokyo about the visit.

Kan pledged on Monday to pursue the resolution of the issue and the signing of a peace agreement with Russia.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said he would “apply all forces to resolve the issue,” adding that he was planning to discuss the dispute with the Russian authorities during his visit to Moscow on February 10.  (*)

TOKYO, January 24

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to head Davos delegation

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin

Jan 24 (KATAKAMI.COM / RIA NOVOSTI) — Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin will head the Russian capital’s delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a source in the city administration said.

The city government earlier said the delegation would be headed by President Dmitry Medvedev.

The annual meeting, which will run this year from January 26-30, is attended by representatives from industry, government, academia, civil society and the media.

“Aside from Sobyanin, the delegation will include deputy mayor on economic policy, Andrei Sharonov and Head of Moscow International and External Economic Relations, Sergey Cheremin,” the source said.

Russia is expected to use this year’s forum to seek foreign investment and promote its modernization program. The recent share-swap between the Russian and British oil giants Rosneft and BP is also expected to be high on the agenda for discussion.  (*)

MOSCOW, January 24

PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Cabinet Meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, convenes the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Oliver Weiken, Pool)


Jan 23 (KATAKAMI / PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE) — Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“Today, I am submitting to the Cabinet the Sheshinski Committee conclusionson the natural gas royalties issue.  My recommendation is to accept these conclusions and to share in the security costs of this natural resource that belongs to the citizens of Israel.  The resource is also important to Israel’s economy and to Israel’s future.  Regarding the latter, I intend to establish a fund for Israel’s future that will be devoted to education and security.  The fund’s revenues will stem from the natural gas reserves.

We need to do one thing – decide so that we may forward the matter on to the Knesset, so that it may make its decision.  We will cooperate with the investors in order to bring the gas to Israel quickly and so the most important thing now is to move forward.  This is what we will do today with, I believe, the support of a majority of ministers.

Today, we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the day to mark the struggle against anti-Semitism.  I would like to point out that this UN decision, which is uncharacteristic, was advanced by Israel.  It was advanced by then Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who deserves all praise for this important action.  It is important for increasing global awareness – in parliaments, schools and educational institutions – about the horrors of the Holocaust and the heavy price paid by our people and others, of course, but first of all by our people.  This leads me to the other side of the decision – the struggle against anti-Semitism, which has not only not disappeared, but has even strengthened.

We will hear a briefing by – inter alia – Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, who will give us a current and updated picture of this problem, which threatens our country and our people.

I believe that this combination of these two issues symbolizes the fact that we have a shared fate with the Jewish People and whoever does not think so needs to know that others do.  Sartre explained that anti-Semitism stems, first of all, not from the Jews’ diagnosis of themselves, but from the fact that others see them as Jews and do not allow them to evade the significance of this fate.  We decided to change the fate of the Jewish People by establishing the State of Israel in the Land of Israel.  Our task is – inter alia – to fight anti-Semitism, both that directed against our state and that directed against our people, so that such disasters as we have experienced in the annals of our state do not recur.” (*)


PM Netanyahu: Raid on Gaza flotilla was necessary to protect Israel

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JANUARY 23: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2R) speaks at the weekly cabinet meeting on January 23, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu said of the Turkel Commission into the nine deaths of Turkish citizens 'that IDF soldiers acted legally and in self-defense'. (Photo by Oliver Weiken - Pool/Getty Images)

Turkel Commission finds that Israel’s blockade on Gaza is legal, and that Israeli soldiers acted in self-defense during raid on a Gaza-bound ship which killed nine Turkish citizens.

Jan 23 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed his satisfaction with the findings of Turkel Commission, which probed the Israel Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound ship last May and found that Israeli soldiers acted in accordance with international law during the operation.

“The truth is simple,” said Netanyahu. “IDF soldiers defended themselves and their country. It is not only their privilege but also their duty and the State of Israel stands behind their actions.”

Netanyahu also added that every time Israel needs to defend itself, it is charged with committing w Defense Minister Ehud Barak also lauded the Turkel Commission’s report on Sunday, saying that its findings prove Israel is a law-abiding nation.

The first part of the panel’s report, released Sunday, found that the Israeli soldiers who took part in a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May which resulted in the deaths of nine people had acted in self-defense. It also determined that Israel’s three-and-a-half year blockade of the Gaza Strip does not break international law. (*)

Leaked document shows what the Palestinian Authority really thinks of Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on at the State Department in Washington September 2, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

In meet between Saeb Erekat and U.S. diplomat David Hale, Erekat describes difficulty arranging a phone call with Netanyahu, says Israelis want a two state solution ‘sometimes more than Palestinians.’

Jan 23 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — A document leaked by Al-Jazeera TV on Sunday reveals a string of unsuccessful interactions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority, as well as a serious mistrust between the two sides.

The document, from January 15, 2010 is a summary of a meeting in Jericho between Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat and the United States diplomat David Hale.

During the meeting, Erekat complained about Netanyahu and National Security Advisor, Uzi Arad, describing incidents where he couldn’t manage to arrange a phone conversation between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

“I called Uzi Arad before Passover and arranged a call from Abbas to Netanyahu to congratulate him. I got nothing. Come Ramadan, the feast, nothing. I called them to meet from the beginning, they kept canceling. This is Netanyahu,” Erekat told Hale during the meeting.

The meeting between the two took place shortly after Netanyahu’s cabinet had agreed to a 10 month freeze on West Bank settlement building.

Hale apparently pressured Erekat to renew negotiations with Israel, emphasizing to him that the U.S. government wanted to do this in a way that would honor the Palestinian viewpoint. He also told Erekat “a freeze in Jerusalem is beyond reach,” saying that Netanyahu would never agree to it.

Further on in their conversation, Erekat tells Hale “Abbas will not allow Netanyahu to do to him what he did to Arafat.”

“Abbas is the father of the peace camp,” Erekat tells Hale. “His heart aches when he sees families thrown into the streets of Jerusalem.”

He describes the Palestinian Authority desire for a state with “’67 borders with agreed swaps” and tells Hale “That is also your postion so say it.”

“Israelis want the two state solution but they don’t trust. They want it more than you think, sometimes more than Palestinians,” Erekat says.

He mentions a paper that lays out the Palestinian Authority position on negotiations, saying “What is in that paper gives them the biggest Jerusalem in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarized state… What more can I give?”.  (*)


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