KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND HERB KEINON
Israeli officials say US pressure bears fruit, Israel ready to negotiate; Hamas rejects League's conditions as "cover for Zionist occupation."
Arab League foreign ministers on Thursday authorized the Palestinian Authority to enter into direct negotiations with Israel, but left it up to PA President Mahmoud Abbas to decide on the timing.
Jerusalem immediately welcomed the decision, taken at a special meeting in Cairo, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issuing a statement saying he was “prepared to begin direct and honest discussions with the Palestinian Authority in the coming days.” The US, which has been urging Abbas to switch from the current “proximity” talks to direct talks, also praised the move, and said it would seek to convene the direct talks “as soon as possible.”
Netanyahu added that it would be possible through direct negotiations to soon reach an accord “between the two peoples.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, currently in Washington, also praised the move, saying that only direct negotiations would lead to two states for two peoples. He added that the negotiations would require “difficult and courageous” decisions from both sides, and that he hoped the Palestinians “also realize that.”
Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said the Arab foreign ministers decided to send a letter to US President Barack Obama explaining the Arab position vis-a-vis the entire peace process in the Middle East.
Abbas told the foreign ministers that Obama had been exerting heavy pressure on him to enter direct negotiations, a PA official in Ramallah said. Abbas told the ministers he saw no reason why he should succumb to the American pressure in light of the fact that no progress has been achieved during the current US-brokered proximity talks.
The US pressure, according to Israeli officials, was leveled not only at the PA, but also at the Arab League to ensure that it not “handcuff” Abbas.
One senior Israeli official said that the League’s decision could have been “much worse,” and that it could have piled on a number of conditions for Abbas before enabling him to enter the talks.
“Abbas now has the backing to go into the talks,” the official said, adding that the Arab League gave him the ball to do with it what he wanted.
The official said Jerusalem made no commitments to ensure the Arab League green light. Israel’s position is that it would not institute new confidence building measures toward the PA to get it into direct talks, but that once the talks began both sides would be expected to take steps to improve the atmosphere and ensure the talks succeed.
The official, who said he was fairly optimistic that direct talks would resume, gave no indication of where the negotiations would be held, or in what format.
In Washington, meanwhile, a State Department official said the US was “encouraged by reports that Arab states meeting in Cairo agree on the need to resume direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to reach a final-status agreement. In the days ahead, we will continue to work with the parties, Arab countries, and our international partners to launch these negotiations as soon as possible.”
The Qatari minister said that Thursday’s meeting did not discuss when and how the direct talks would take place. “The Palestinians will decide when conditions are suitable for the negotiations,” he said.
“We are sure that Israel is not serious about the peace process,” the minister said. “Israel just wants to waste time. On the other hand, we are confident that the US is serious and we are sure of Obama’s intentions to achieve peace.”
He said that the Arab ministers were originally opposed to direct talks with Israel, but changed their mind due to the “situation in the Arab world.”
He added: “Whether we hold indirect or direct talks with Israel, there will be no progress as long as [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is around. But we want to prove to the world that we want peace, without giving up our principles, and that there’s a price for peace.”
Asked if the US administration had given the Arab League any “assurances,” the Qatari minister said: “The Arabs don’t have guarantees; we only have hopes and fears.”
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, however, told reporters after the meeting that Obama’s message to Abbas, which included a pledge to work toward achieving a two-state solution, was tantamount to assurances.
“We don’t want lengthy talks that would allow the continuation of settlement construction and Israeli practices [on the ground],” Moussa stressed. “We know that Netanyahu is not serious. But we are addressing the US because the Americans are addressing us. We won’t enter negotiations without a time limit or a reference, as was the case in the past. The Israelis are playing a political game by winning time. This is what we are trying to prevent by proving that they are not serious.”
Muhammad Dahlan, a senior Fatah official, said in response to the Arab ministers’ decision that the PA’s position has not changed.
“We continue to insist on receiving assurances before moving to direct talks that would serve as a reference for the peace process and would be based on the two-state solution,” Dahlan said. “It’s clear to us that the US administration has failed to get any assurances from Israel. Nor has it managed to change the Israeli government’s position. Therefore we declare that we won’t move to direct negotiations until the conditions set by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are fulfilled.”
Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report from Washington.
EP clinic offers to treat man ‘possessed’ by jinnBy BADEA ABU AL-NAJA | ARAB NEWSPublished: Jul 26, 2010 23:21 Updated: Jul 26, 2010 23:21MAKKAH: A clinic in the Eastern Province that provides treatment to people possessed by jinns has volunteered to help Turki, a 29-year-old Saudi from Makkah who according to his father is possessed by a female jinn and has, as a result, been chained to a bed for more than six years.
“I’ve spoken to the center and they’ve offered to help my son. They will provide accommodation, food and air tickets for him, his wife, me and his mother who is my ex-wife,” said Turki’s father.
He, however, added that traveling to the Eastern Province is going to be difficult. “If we try to unchain him, he will become violent. Every limb in his body will undergo a radical change and we won’t be able to put him on the plane,” he said.
The father said he has taken Turki to see medical doctors and psychiatrists who have all been unable to diagnose his illness or treat him. “We’ve visited many doctors and none have been able to do anything. They simply gave him sedatives which aren’t useful and that’s why I started taking him to see religious sheikhs, who’ve also been unable to do much,” he said.
He added that all of the sheikhs who have seen Turki are unanimous that he is possessed by a female jinn who refuses to leave him. “She’s supposedly very powerful and said she is of royal stock and will not leave Turki until he dies,” he said.
Muhammad Al-Suhaili, professor of Shariah at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, confirmed that Turki has been possessed by a female jinn who talked to him and refused to leave him.
The father appealed to the authorities to treat his son in Makkah and to provide financial assistance to his family which is extremely poor.
gold and red compatible with the red and black - Former Nazi Guard, 88, Charged in Mass Murder of JewsLabels: Nazi» socialism
This photo made available by Yad Vashem Photo Archive in Jerusalem shows Nazi guards at Belzec death camp in occupied Poland in 1942. A former Nazi death camp guard has been charged with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews and other crimes during the Third Reich. (AP Photo/Yad Vashem Photo Archive)
BERLIN — German prosecutors have charged an 88-year-old former Nazi guard with aiding in the murders of 430,000 Jews at the Belzec death camp during World War II, and with shooting 10 people himself during his time there.
The former guard, Samuel Kunz, No. 3 on the list of most wanted Nazi war criminals published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was indicted earlier this month for crimes committed between January 1942 and July 1943, Christoph Göke, a prosecutor in Dortmund, said Wednesday.
In a case with echoes of the trial under way in Munich of John Demjanjuk, Mr. Kunz, an ethnic German who served in the Soviet Red Army, was captured by the German Army and given a choice of whether to remain a prisoner or cooperate with the Nazis, and he chose to cooperate. . Mr. Göke said that Mr. Kunz later trained at the Trawniki SS camp to work as a concentration camp guard.
Unlike Mr. Demjanjuk, who is not charged with specific murders, Mr. Göke said, Mr. Kunz is accused of personally shooting two people on one occasion and eight more on another day.
Mr. Kunz has not been arrested and he hung up without comment when reached briefly by telephone on Wednesday. The Associated Press reported that he said he did not wish to discuss the accusations.
He was informed last week of the charges against him, but law enforcement authorities said they had not taken him into custody because he was not considered a flight risk. Matthias Nordmeyer, deputy press spokesman at the district court in Bonn where Mr. Kunz is expected to be tried, said that no court date had been set.
“This reflects the changed, more proactive German prosecution policy, starting about two years ago,” said Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“It underscores the fact that these people can be brought to justice despite the time that’s passed since their crimes were committed, and in that respect it’s very important,” Mr. Zuroff said.
German prosecutors last year indicted a 90-year-old man, Adolf Storms, a former SS sergeant, on 58 counts of murder for his suspected role in the massacre of a group of Jewish laborers near the Austrian village of Deutsch Schützen in March 1945. Mr. Storms died last month before he could be brought to trial.
In December 1939, four months after the beginning of World War II, Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky paid a visit to a retired 61-year-old British colonel.
The colonel, Richard Henry Meinertzhagen, served as an advisor at the War Office in London and knew Jabotinsky from his service in the British army in the Land of Israel after the Ottoman era in 1918.
The colonel documented his conversation with the Zionist leader in his private diary, which was published in London in 1959 as a book titled, "Middle East Diary, 1917-1956." Here is a short segment from the conversation:
Jabotinsky: I have brought a plan to bomb Hitler and the entire Nazi leadership.
Meinertzhagen: An ambitious plot.
Jabotinsky: An attainable one.
Meinertzhagen: Do elaborate.
Jabotinsky: A number of high-ranking Nazis in Munich must be assassinated. Their funeral will require the arrival of their senior comrades, including Hitler. Bombs containing 100 kilograms of explosives will be concealed in one of the coffins. As all the Nazis gather around the grave, 100 kilograms of bombs will explode and they'll all move on to the next world.
Meinertzhagen: Who will activatethe bomb system?
Jabotinsky: The Jewish gravedigger in Munich. He's a friend of mine.
The colonel, who was impressed by the plan, presented it to the Foreign Office in London. He concluded this chapter in one short line in his diary: The Foreign Office frowned and the Nazis were saved.
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