March 28, 2011

EDITOR: The problem is democracy, it seems!

Israel has called upon the few Jews living in Tunisia to leave and emigrate to Israel now. This is interesting – as long as Tunisia was a ruthless dictatorship, they had no problem with it; it is only now, wiuth the tyrant deposed, that they have become ‘worried’ about Tunisia’s Jews…

Tunisia condemns Israeli calls for Jews to emigrate: Haaretz

North African country denounces ‘ill-disposed’ call, which it warns amount to ‘meddling’ in Tunisia’s domestic affairs.

Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned a call by Israeli officials for Jews to emigrate to Israel over concerns about possible economic hardship ahead in the North African country.

“The ill-disposed call amounts to meddling in Tunisia’s domestic affairs and an attempt by Israel to tarnish the post-revolutionary image of Tunisia,” the ministry said.

Monday’s statement via state news agency TAP comes a day after Israel’s Cabinet said Prime Benjamin Netanyahu cited real distress among Tunisia’s Jews and pledged extra money and aid to help them immigrate.

Tunisia’s tourism industry has suffered after a popular uprising drove President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee in January. Two-thirds of Tunisia’s estimated 1,500 Jews live on the island of Djerba – a popular vacation spot.

Richard Silverstein: I delegitimize Occupation
27 MARCH 2011 

I Deligitimize Occupation (Graphic: Michael Levin and Richard Silverstein): IOA

By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam – 25 March 2011

I Deligitimize Occupation (Graphic: Michael Levin and Richard Silverstein)

After the IDF’s intelligence unit, Aman, came up with the bright idea to create a special unit to investigate, monitor and spy on Diaspora groups opposed to the Occupation (enemies now known by the catchy phrase, “delegitimizers”), I thought the only proper response was to step up proudly and say: “I am one.”  Not a delegitimizer in the terms they employ since they falsely claim that delegitimizers wish Israel’s destruction.  That’s not the kind of delegitimizer I am.  I delegitimze Occupation as do all the groups they’ll be harrassing.  So Michael Levin and I came up with this poster which we hope you will share, promote, circulate via social media, etc.

Let’s tell the generals, spooks, inquisitors and ideologues that we want to be first on the list to be investigated.  I delegitimize Occupation.  There.  Now I said it.  I feel better already.  Now when can I be expecting that knock on the door in the middle of the night from someone from headquarters saying they just have a few questions?

EDITOR: The Law machine is working overtime…

There is hardlya day that the Knesset is not passing some law or other which is an attack on human rights, in the name of security. This one is supposedly against terrorists… but then we find that one of those supposed ‘terrorists’ is the ex-MK, Azmi Bishara. What maddness and hypocricy!

Knesset passes law to strip terrorists of Israeli citizenship: Haaretz

MK David Rotem: There is no citizenship without loyalty; lawmakers also agree to revoke stipend of MK Azmi Bishara, suspected of series of crimes against national security.

The Knesset plenum on Monday gave its final seal of approval to a law that would enable Israel’s Supreme Court to revoke the citizenship of anyone convicted of espionage, treason or aiding the enemy during war.

“Anyone who betrays the state and carries out acts of terror must know – citizenship and loyalty go together,” said Yisrael Beiteinu MK David Rotem, who initiated the bill, which passed in its second and third reading. “There is no citizenship without loyalty.”

The ‘citizenship loyalty’ law also allows the court to revoke the status of any permanent resident found guilty of assisting a terrorist organization.

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, lauded the Knesset’s decision as a step toward “contending with the phenomenon of exploiting democracy in order to subvert it.”

According to the bill, only people with dual citizenship could be stripped of their Israeli citizenship entirely. Someone without dual citizenship could still lose his Israeli citizenship, but would be granted status equivalent to what Israel grants foreign workers.

However, the bill also states that someone convicted of terrorism would lose his right to all allowances paid by the state, such as child allowances or welfare.

The Knesset on Monday also approved by a majority of 29 to 8 a bill to strip the stipend of former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled the country to skip out on an investigation into a series of crimes against national security.

EDITOR: Fear of Unity

Israel is terrified of the possibility of Palestinian unity, though they should not really worry – as long as Abbas is there, there can hardly be such a move… After all, they have invested for years in the Palestinian split, and do not intend to see it healed now.

Netanyahu to Abbas: You can’t have peace with both Israel and Hamas: Haaretz

Palestinian president willing to give up hundreds of million dollars in U.S. aid if necessary to forge a unity deal with Hamas, says top adviser.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas could spell the end of the peace process, after an aide to Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian president was would be willing to give up U.S. aid if needed to secure unity with the rival faction.

“You can’t have peace with both Israel and Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “Choose peace with Israel.”

Abbas is making a heavy push for reconciliation with Hamas, and a senior adviser said Monday that he was prepared to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if that was what it takes to forge a Palestinian unity deal.

“Of course we need the American money. But if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we are ready to relinquish that aid,” said adviser Azzam Ahmed.

Israel, the U.S. and the EU consider Hamas a terror group because of its rocket attacks and suicide bombings aimed at Israeli civilians.

The U.S. administration, the largest single donor to the Palestinians, withheld funds when Hamas was a part of a short-lived Palestinian unity government. The Palestinian Authority is heavily reliant on foreign aid and forgoing the funds could easily spark its own crisis.

The Palestinian unity government, isolated internationally because of Hamas’ refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, collapsed during a five-day civil war in 2007 that ended with the Islamic militant group seizing power in the Gaza Strip.

Since then, the Palestinians have been divided between rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza, the two territories they hope to turn into an independent state.

With peace talks stalled since September, Abbas has begun an effort to win international recognition of Palestine, with or without an agreement with Israel. That effort is to culminate at the United Nations in September.

Palestinian officials acknowledge that they must solve their differences with Hamas before they can go to the United Nations. Abbas has made repeated overtures toward Hamas in recent weeks – including an offer to visit Gaza to lay the groundwork for national elections. Over the weekend, he met with local Hamas officials in the West Bank.

“The president is working hard in order to bring about a unified Palestinian territory before he goes to the UN,” Ahmed said.

Hamas leaders say they want a full power-sharing deal before meeting with the Palestinian president – including a deal on how to divide security responsibilities.

“This visit should be for the sake of achieving progress on the ground and not only for photos and media coverage, said Mushir al Masri,” a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. “The problem is not in forming the government; it’s in reaching an agreement.”

Hamas is demanding further gestures from Abbas before considering unity, such as a release of hundreds of Hamas prisoners locked up in the West Bank, re-opening closed Hamas charities and the removal of a ban on Hamas activities in the West Bank.

Palestinian analysts say Hamas has hardened its negotiating positions recently and is feeling empowered by the recent upheavals in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt, where its ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, is expected to play a key role in the new regime.

Ayman Hussein, a West Bank Hamas member who recently met Abbas in Ramallah, said Abbas appeared serious in his efforts to reach out to Hamas and was pessimistic about the peace process with Israel.

Hanna Amerah, a member of the PLO executive committee, said Abbas is waiting for an official response from Hamas about his initiative to go to Gaza and expects an answer within a few days.

He claimed Abbas has support for his move from the European Union, the UN and the Arab League. But giving up on the U.S. and Israel could come at a heavy price.

The Palestinians receive more than $470 million a year in direct financial assistance from the U.S. The U.S. hasn’t said what it will do if Hamas returns to power in the West Bank, but it will likely cut off the funds unless Hamas agrees to renounce violence and recognize Israel. Hamas has given no indication it is prepared to do either.

EDITOR: The fruits of democracy are nearby

The corrupt deal with Israel, allowing Israelis to buy Egyptain gas at cheaper prices than available to Egyptian consumers, is about to be overturned. Whoo has been paid for this deal? We can probably work this out.

Officials deny full gas resumption to Israel, as experts seek a way to renegotiate contract: Ahram Online

Gas exports to Israel have not returned to their pre-revolution levels, according to one official, as legal experts scramble to find ways to renegotiate a deal that was agreed under Mubarak’s corrupt regime
Dina Ezzat, Monday 28 Mar 2011
An informed Egyptian official told Ahram Online that while Egypt had resumed its gas exports to Israel, this resumption is not at 100 per cent of the level prior to the interruption of the exports a few weeks ago as a result of an attack on the pipeline.
Speaking on condition of strict anonymity, the official said that when the resumption started some two weeks ago, it was around 40 per cent of the regular exports, and this amount has increased, but it is not at the level of cubic meters agreed upon according to the Egyptian-Israeli deal. “It is not even 80 per cent, but it is keeping the Israelis pleased for now,” he said.

According to the same official, the Israelis are “for sure expecting a wide range of changes in the overall volume of Egyptian-Israeli relations, in the wake of the regime change, and they certainly know that the gas issue might be one.”

The official suggested that the deal “which was negotiated and signed” away from the expected scrutiny of concerned government departments – including certain departments at the Ministry of Oil no less – pledges Egyptian exports of natural gas to Israel “at a clearly preferential price” to Israel “for twenty years”.

“Very few people know the exact details of the contract or how it was negotiated, but some have speculated that the price put on the contract is what actually goes to the state coffers and that there is some large amount of money that is channelled in parallel to someone else’s bank account – or maybe was channelled in advance.”

He added that very few people are privy to the details of the contract and even fewer people have seen a copy of it. “It was done in a very fishy way – it smelled bad right from the beginning”.

Meanwhile, Israel was not officially notified of any “planned changes on the side of Egypt with regards to its gas imports”, according to a Cairo-based Western source.

“Our understanding is that the situation should go back to normal shortly,” the source said. He added that the understanding is that any current shortage of exports is supposed to be for technical rather than political reasons. “We are not aware of a political decision on the part of Cairo to change the terms of the agreement,” he said.

During a recent meeting in Cairo, where he met with foreign minister Nabil El-Arabi, the director general of the Israeli foreign ministry did not dwell much on the issue of gas exports but expressed the expectation of his government to see relations return to normal on all fronts – politically, economically and in terms of security.

El-Arabi, who had underlined Cairo’s commitment to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, made no promises.

The issue of Egyptian gas exports was one of the matters discussed recently by Washington and Tel Aviv. It was picked up in Cairo during the visit of the director general of the Israeli foreign ministry to the American ambassador in Cairo, a foreign diplomat told Ahram Online. Recently, the US has interceded with the Egyptian government to secure the resumption of crucial Egyptian gas exports to Israel.

Cairo is well aware that it might fall under considerable pressure from the US and other Western nations to stick to the unfair articles of the gas exports contract, concluded under the toppled regime of President Hosni Mubarak, but legal experts say that they are currently examining possible legally-viable exits, with a view to partially renegotiating the deal.

“It might be impossible to fully renegotiate the deal but we will see what we can do to improve the situation,” said one legal expert who is tasked with the mission. He added that given that the deal was signed in several phases, much research is still being done to fully acquire all the necessary papers before an attempt to renegotiate can be launched.

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