Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα borders. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα borders. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 07, 2017

Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 31, 2014

UN Security Council action on Palestinian statehood blocked

UN, 30 December 2014 – Falling short of the required number of positive votes and faced with a veto from one of its permanent members, the United Nations Security Council today failed to adopt a draft resolution that would have affirmed the “urgent need” to reach within 12 months a peaceful solution to the situation in the Middle East and would have paved the way to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The draft also outlined several parameters for the proposed solution – with a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel and a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli forces” from the West Bank by the end of 2017 – and would have looked forward to welcoming Palestine as a full UN Member State within the 12-month timeframe, urging both parties to build trust and negotiate in good faith.
Eight of the Council's 15 members voted in favour, one fewer than the nine members needed to pass a resolution in the absence of a veto by any of the Council's five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom or the United States.
While the resolution failed to receive the required majority among members, the United States also opposed the text, a move that would have seen the draft fail to pass.
Following the vote, Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the US to the UN, stressed her country’s support for new ways to constructively support both parties in achieving a negotiated settlement.
“This resolution is not one of those constructive steps,” she said, adding that the draft set the stage for “more division, not compromise.”
The vote set-up a “staged confrontation” that did not contribute to a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian question, especially as the text was “deeply imbalanced”, establishing “unconstructive deadlines.” Five Council members abstained from the vote, including the United Kingdom, whose representative, Mark Lyall Grant, said he supported much of the draft’s content but was disappointed by the lack of negotiation and had therefore abstained.
“The Security Council has once again failed to uphold its Charter duties,” said Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, who said the draft was tabled in the face of a political impasse caused by “Israeli intransigence.”
Israel’s representative said the opposite was true, with the Palestinians having “every chance to negotiate.” Having refused to engage, they had now tabled their “preposterous unilateral proposal,” and he warned his Palestinian counterpart that he could not “agitate and provoke” his way to a State.
The representative of France voted in favour, calling on the Council to be a positive actor, “not a theatre,” and noting his support for a “clear timetable” on peace negotiations. The other remaining permanent members also voted in favour of the draft, with Russia’s representative, Vitaly Churkin, regretting the Council’s failure to adopt, and China’s representative, also stating his deep regret.
María Cristina Perceval, the representative of Argentina, said explanation of her affirmative vote was “unnecessary” and lamented the Council’s failure to adopt the text, while Chad’s representative, Mahamat Zene Cherif, current Council President, said the draft was “balanced and moderate” adding that the Council had “once more missed a date with history”, sending a negative message that encouraged continuation of occupation, injustice and oppression. The Council, he said, had missed an opportunity give the Palestinians “a ray of hope” after direct talks yielded almost nothing.

Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 22, 2014

Russia’s new gas pipeline to Turkey may be named Turkish Stream

Russia’s new natural gas pipeline, which energy giant Gazprom will built in place of the South Stream pipeline, might be called the Turkish Stream, Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said on Monday.

“The South Stream pipeline will not be constructed and we will be implementing another project, which will get its name in the nearest future,” Medvedev said. “Our partners in Turkey proposed the name of the Turkish Stream.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on December 1 that Russia was abandoning its South Stream gas pipeline project in Europe over the European Commission’s unconstructive approach and instead was planning to build a gas pipeline to Turkey.

Gazprom will build a gas hub on the Turkey-Greece border under a new 63 billion cubic meter pipeline project. Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said the construction of a gas pipeline to Turkey will make it possible to reduce the risks linked with natural gas transit through Ukraine. Russia’s steel pipe manufacturers hope that all their products originally meant for the South Stream project will be redirected to the new gas pipeline project.......................http://itar-tass.com/en/world/768439


Σάββατο, Οκτωβρίου 11, 2014

Syrian rebels overrun intelligence base on Golan Heights used to spy on Israel

Syrian rebel forces fighting the government of President Bashar Assad overran a military intelligence base on the Golan Heights that served as a joint Russian-Syrian forward post for information-gathering on Israel.

In a four-minute video clip which was posted on the Internet by the rebels, Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in a building in Quneitra, just near the boundary between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

The footage shows pictures of Russian officers visiting the base as well as Russian-language maps of Israel. There are also photographs of the Russian defense minister’s top intelligence advisor as well as various other senior Russian defense and military officials having once visited the base. 


Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 23, 2014

Good borders make good neighbours, Merkel tells Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday the standoff over Ukraine could be solved only if control was tightened over the Ukraine-Russia border across which, the West alleges, Russia has been funnelling arms to help a separatist rebellion.

Merkel was visiting Kiev as a prelude to a meeting next week between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders that diplomats say is the best chance in months of a peace deal in eastern Ukraine, where government forces are fighting pro-Moscow rebels.

She arrived as tensions flared up again. NATO has alleged Russia's military is active inside Ukraine helping the rebels, and Moscow angered Kiev and its Western allies by sending an aid convoy into Ukraine against Kiev's wishes.

"There must be two sides to be successful. You cannot achieve peace on your own. I hope the talks with Russia will lead to success," Merkel said, looking ahead to the meeting on Tuesday involving Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.

"The plans are on the table, about how you can achieve peace and good cooperation between the countries. Now actions must follow," she told a news briefing.

She said the main obstacle was the lack of controls along the nearly 2,000 km (1,300 mile) border. She proposed a deal between Kiev and Moscow on monitoring of the frontier by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"Now we need a two-sided ceasefire linked to a clear controlling of the Russian-Ukrainian border, Otherwise peace won't be achieved," Merkel said.

Peace proposals

Diplomats say Merkel came to Kiev with two objectives: primarily to show support for Kiev but also to urge Poroshenko to be open to peace proposals when he meets Putin next week in the Belarus capital, Minsk.

Poroshenko, whose forces have been forcing the rebels to retreat, said Kiev had offered ceasefires before and they were flouted. He said no peace deal was worth sacrificing Ukraine's territorial integrity, and placed the blame at Russia's door.

"Ukraine is ready and capable of guaranteeing a peaceful settlement," Poroshenko said. "What is stopping us are the foreign mercenaries. Take the people with guns out of our territory....and peace in Ukraine will be quickly restored."....................http://www.france24.com/en/20140823-merkel-kiev-aid-convoy-returns-russia-ukraine/


Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 20, 2014

Red Cross team enters eastern Ukraine to smooth way for Russian convoy

GENEVA - Red Cross officials entered eastern Ukraine on Wednesday to smooth the planned delivery of relief supplies aboard a Russian aid convoy, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The convoy has been stuck at the Russia-Ukraine border for nearly a week due to Ukrainian concerns it could serve as a Trojan horse to infiltrate military supplies to pro-Russian separatists in the area. Moscow says the mission is purely humanitarian in support of civilians trapped by the conflict.
"An advance ICRC team crossed into eastern Ukraine this morning, having received security guarantees from groups controlling the territory for this mission. The team is checking conditions of the road, and the general situation, and establishing contacts in preparation for the passage of the convoy," ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson told Reuters in Geneva.

"Obviously, this is a very positive step, it certainly brings us closer," he said.

But the ICRC had no time frame for when the cross-border aid operation might start as Ukrainian authorities had yet to begin inspecting cargo on the approximately 260 trucks, Watson said.

ICRC officials and vehicles are expected to accompany the Russian trucks and their drivers once they get the green light.

The Russian convoy carrying 2,000 tonnes of water, baby food and other humanitarian aid left Moscow on August 12, arriving at the border a few days later.

Despite renewed diplomatic effort to end the conflict this week, Ukrainian forces fought street battles with the rebels in the eastern town of Ilovaisk overnight into Wednesday as they sought to isolate separatist strongholds near the border, an Interior Ministry official said in Kiev.

Government forces are gaining the upper hand after fighting for four months to quell rebellions in its Russian-speaking east and are steadily tightening the squeeze on rebels in their two big bastions of Donetsk and Luhansk. REUTERS

Πέμπτη, Ιουλίου 10, 2014

Egypt set to receive wounded Palestinians via border crossing (Rafah crossing point)

Egypt opened its Rafah crossing point bordering the Palestinian Gaza Strip on Thursday to receive wounded Palestinians by Israeli air strikes, a security official at the crossing told Xinhua.

More than 45 Egyptians who were stuck at the border after the Israeli air strike on Gaza along with the injured Palestinians were expected to arrive, but still no one showed up fearing the strike, added the official on condition of anonymity.

Arish hospitals in north Sinai have been placed on alert with all necessary equipment and blood donation to cure the Palestinians, Adel Adawi, Egyptian Health Minister said in a statement.

The minister added more than 30 ambulances are prepared at the border with emergency and intensive care teams to help the medical teams in north Sinai and providing the medical treatment in Arish and Sheikh Zuwid Hospitals.

Another four hospitals in Cairo were also ready to receive those in serious conditions, the minister added.

The crossing, the sole one for the Palestinian coastal enclave which has been under an Israeli blockade, is usually closed for security reasons as the restive Sinai Peninsula has been witnessing a surge of attacks by hard-line militants against the police and army institutions since the ouster of the Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi one year ago............http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/869900.shtml

  • Putin urges Netanyahu to stop armed standoff in southern Israel...

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that armed confrontation in southern Israel and in the Gaza Strip leading to numerous victims among civilians should be stopped as soon as possible. The Kremlin press-service reported this on Thursday.

Τρίτη, Ιουνίου 24, 2014

ISIS positions in Iraq bombed by unknown planes (a new reality and a new Iraq)

The positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL) in the northern Iraqi city of al-Qaim were bombed by unknown fighter planes on Tuesday.

The White House denied U.S. planes carried out the airstrikes after an Iraqi television station reported that U.S. jets were behind the bombings.

Tribal sources told Al Arabiya News that Syrian fighter planes carried out the raids.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s air force has bombed Baiji - about 200km north of Baghdad, where ISIS fighters seized an oil refinery, according to Al Arabiya's correspondent.

Also on Tuesday, Iraq’s ambassador to Tehran said that the Iraqi government has not asked Iran for help against Sunni militants, Agence France-Presse reported.

The remarks by Mohammad Madjid al-Sheikh came after Iranian leaders repeatedly said they were ready to assist Baghdad against the insurgency that has taken control of a large swathe of Iraqi territory.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held crisis talks with leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday urging them to stand with Baghdad in the face of the waves of insurgency gripping the country.

  • During his visit, Kerry was warned by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani that the rapid advances made by insurgents had already created “a new reality and a new Iraq,” signaling that the U.S. faces major difficulties in its efforts to promote unity among the country's divided factions, the Associated Press reported.
The U.N., meanwhile, said more than 1,000 people, most civilians, have been killed in Iraq so far this month, the highest death toll since the U.S. military withdrew from the country in December 2011.
Last Update: Tuesday, 24 June 2014 KSA 21:19 - GMT 18:19 


Δευτέρα, Ιουνίου 16, 2014

Syria Border Town Residents Returning After Army Ousts Rebels

Syria Border Town Residents Returning After Army Ousts Rebels
KASAB, SYRIA — Residents of the Armenian Christian village of Kasab on Syria's border with Turkey began returning home on Monday, dancing, cheering and waving flags in the main square a day after the army retook the area from rebels.

The fall of Kasab to President Bashar al-Assad's forces less than three months after insurgents captured it dealt another symbolic and strategic blow to an opposition undermined in recent months by infighting and government gains.
Syrian state television has broadcast footage from the village, saying “security and stability” had been restored after the area was cleared of “terrorists,” the government's standard term for the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.

A field commander in the Syrian army told Reuters the area including the border crossing had come under full control of government forces after they struck at rebel storehouses and supply routes and seized a tract overlooking the village.

“The terrorist groups in Kasab had two choices: flee to Turkish territory, or die beneath the blows of the Syrian army,” he told Reuters during a government-organized visit to Kasab, declining to give his name.

A Reuters reporter saw dozens of residents returning, with some kicking up their heels in the village's main square, raising Syrian flags and surveying damage inflicted on some of the village's buildings, including churches.

“We came back today because we heard the army had liberated the village,” said Sausa Nadra, a Kasab resident who had fled to the coastal city of Latakia after the rebel advance.

“There's damage, destruction, there are some upsetting things, but we're happy we were able to come back after a short time. It didn't take a long time like in other areas,” she said.

Handwritten slogans covered walls, although it was not clear who exactly had written them. “We want an Islamic state. God is greatest,” one of the slogans read.

Many of the rebels who seized Kasab in March were hardline Islamists including some from al-Qaida's Syrian branch, the Nusra Front.

In addition to its position on the Turkish border, the village was important for the insurgents because it is located in the heartland of Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, along the Mediterranean coast.

Lama Deeb, another resident of Kasab, praised the armed forces for regaining control of the village as soldiers and other security forces stood nearby.

“We thank God. May God protect our army and everyone who is holding a gun in defense of the country,” she said.

Over 160,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict, which began over three years ago as a peaceful protest movement but turned into a civil war after a government crackdown.

The war has taken on a starkly sectarian character, with the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels backed by Sunni Gulf Arab powers fighting to overthrow Assad, who is backed by Shi'ite Iran.

Τετάρτη, Απριλίου 09, 2014

Lugansk occupation reinforced. -Protesters had found an arsenal of weapons within the building.

Pro-Russian separatists reinforced barricades around the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on Wednesday and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin for help after the government warned it could use force to restore order.

"Of course we must ask Russia to take us in because I don't see an alternative," said a man dressed in camouflage who gave his name as Vasiliy and said he was the commandant of the building. "Putin help us!" he said.

The former KGB headquarters is one of three government buildings seized this week in eastern Ukraine by protesters demanding regional referendums on independence from Kiev, like the one in Crimea that led to its annexation by Russia.
Sandbags and wooden crates were piled near the entrance of the building to defend it against the police. Men with rifles could be seen through broken windows above.

But protesters were also engaged in talks to ease the standoff, which Kiev has said could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion, and lawmakers from eastern Ukraine proposed an amnesty for protesters to defuse tension.

  • More than 50 people held "hostage" by pro-Russian militants who seized a security building in eastern Ukraine have been released, the state security service said on Wednesday.

  • The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said that 56 people had walked free thanks to two rounds of negotiations and no one was injured.

The SBU agency did not specify how many people were still allegedly being held.

Local police spokeswoman Tatyana Pogukai said protesters had found an arsenal of weapons within the building. Protesters say they have 200-300 Kalashnikov automatic rifles. She denied previous reports that hostages had been taken.

  • Protesters in Donetsk, to the south, remain in control of the main regional authority building, but authorities have ended the occupation in the city of Kharkiv.

"A resolution to this crisis will be found within the next 48 hours," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told reporters in the capital Kiev.

  • Ukraine's government says the actions are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country, a charge Moscow denies.

Putin said Wednesday he hoped Kiev would not take any irreversible steps amid the crisis in Ukraine and Russia's diplomatic efforts would be successful.

"I hope that the acting [authorities] will not do anything that can't be fixed later," Putin said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Putin also said he hoped Russian efforts to calm tensions through talks would "have consequences" and a "positive" result.

Moscow also denied allegations Wednesday that it was beefing up its military presence near the Ukrainian border. 

[ http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/853639.shtml#.U0WYaaJql5Y]

Δευτέρα, Απριλίου 07, 2014

Russian diplomats face NATO HQ restrictions

BRUSSELS. -NATO has decided to limit access to its Brussels headquarters to Russian diplomats from Tuesday.
“The formerly extensive access to NATO headquarters will be denied to all representatives of the Russian Mission, except the Russian Ambassador, his Deputy Head of Mission, and two support staff”, according to a NATO official statement on Monday.
The Alliance said that other staff from the Russian mission requiring access for official business would have to be announced, registered and escorted during their visit.

NATO has defended the move, saying it still gives Russian diplomats a level of access to its HQ which has never been reciprocated by any Russian ministry or institution to NATO staff working in Moscow.
  • This measure follows NATO ministers’ decision on April 1 to suspend all practical cooperation with Russia, civilian and military, as a consequence of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine. 
  • The move comes as NATO and the European Union said they would “closely watch” Ukraine after pro-Moscow activists took over government buildings in Donetsk in the east of the country, demanding a Crimea-style referendum on joining the Russian Federation. 
  • A spokesperson for the EU's top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, on Monday underlined the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, repeating the EU’s support of the government in Kiev.
  • NATO army officials stated Monday they had not observed any distinct change in the position of Russian forces near Ukraine’s eastern border. 
Russia unilaterally annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula after taking control of the region on February 26-27 when gunmen, believed to be Russian special forces, seized the regional parliament and Simferopol's airport.
In a controversial referendum held on March 16, Crimea voted to secede from Kiev in favor of unification with Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that officially incorporated Crimea into the Russian Federation on March 21.

Πέμπτη, Φεβρουαρίου 20, 2014

Kerry, Abbas to meet for second day in Paris

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet on Thursday afternoon as part of Kerry's plan for a deal between Palestine and Israel.

The meeting comes after more than two hours of talks on Wednesday. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed last year after a nearly three-year break.

U.S. officials say they are trying to forge a "framework for negotiations" as a first step.

The framework may include borders, security, the rights of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 27, 2014

World court awards Peru swathe of Chile's fish-rich sea

THE HAGUE: Lima cried victory on Monday after the UN's top court handed it a wedge of sea under Chilean sovereignty, but Peruvian fishermen nevertheless said they gained nothing from the historic ruling.
Peru said it drew "satisfaction" from the world court's ruling in which it was handed a part of the fish-rich Pacific Ocean, claimed by Chile since the early 1950s, but its southern neighbour slammed the decision.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice confirmed Chile's sovereignty over waters up to 80 nautical miles (92 land miles, 148 kilometres) from the coast but handed Lima a large swathe of less lucrative ocean beyond that limit.

In Lima, Peruvians who watched the judgement on giant screens in the city's historic centre shouted "Viva Peru!" as the outcome became apparent.
"We have won more than 70 percent of our entire demand," Peru's President Ollanta Humala said.
"This ruling will be adhered to and respected by Peru and we are confident that Chile will similarly abide by it," he added.
But Peruvian fisherman slapped down the victory, saying the territory won in the ruling "did nothing to benefit the region."
"Tacna (a city in southern Peru) lost with this decision," David Patino of a Peruvian's fisherman's association said.
Both Lima and Santiago said before Monday that they would respect the ruling from the ICJ, which handles disputes between countries.
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera called the ICJ's decision "a lamentable loss for our country."
"While Chile maintains in full its freedom of maritime and air navigation in this zone, without a doubt this transfer is a lamentable loss for our country," Pinera said in Santiago.
Chilean fishermen voiced disappointment at the ruling but played down its impact.
"This is a bad decision, but not as bad as what we expected," said a Chilean fisherman from Arica, in the north of the country.
"This is because the government prepared a good defence," the fisherman said.
Analysts said that Chile had lost little as its fishermen rarely venture further than 40 nautical miles from the coast.
After six years of legal wrangling, ICJ judges changed the maritime boundaries which Chile had claimed since the early 1950s, in what they described as an "equitable" solution to a dispute dating back to the 1879 War of the Pacific.
Peru dragged Chile to court in 2008, saying their border in the Pacific Ocean was unclear and accusing Chile of appropriating its territory.
Peru claimed sovereignty over a 38,000-square-kilometre (around 15,000-square-mile) fish-rich patch of the Pacific controlled by Chile as well as 27,000 square kilometres that Santiago classifies as "high seas".
Judges drew a line from a point 80 nautical miles off Chile's northern border running southwest into the Pacific until it reached almost 200 nautical miles of Chile's coast, handing Peru the part of the ocean north of the line.
"The Court has defined the course of the maritime boundary between the parties without determining the precise geographical coordinates," Judge Peter Tomka told delegates representing the two South American neighbours, calling the decision an "equitable solution".
Lima and Santiago have had strained relations stemming from the border dispute.
The 19th-century War of the Pacific redefined the two countries' borders, with Peru losing 25 percent of its territory and Bolivia losing access to the sea.
Established in 1945, the ICJ is the UN's highest court and settles disputes between states.

Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 11, 2014

Ariel Sharon: A Bulldozer in War and Peace

Sharon was always consistent in his desire to secure Israel’s borders and was often photographed with a map in hand....

Israel’s indomitable lion Ariel Sharon, a bulldozer in war and peace, died on Saturday, eight years after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage that left him in a coma from which he never awoke.

Perhaps the most revered and often reviled of the country’s politicians, perceived alternately as a peacemaker and a warmonger, for decades his actions as a military commander and statesman shaped both Israel’s self-perception and the world’s image of the Jewish nation.

From the time he fought in Latrun as a young soldier to save Jerusalem in 1948 to his orchestration as prime minister of the Gaza pullout in August 2005, Sharon was at the center of the modern nation’s historical moments. And like the country he served for most of his 85 years, his life was marked by controversy, deep loss, harsh defeat and miraculous victory.

Sharon was always consistent in his desire to secure Israel’s borders and was often photographed with a map in hand. During his tenure as the 11th prime minister he was determined to redraw those borders based on his vision of the new strategic and demographic concerns of the 21st century. In this pursuit he was not afraid to tear down his own physical, ideological and political works. His health failed him before the task was finished.

Strikingly, throughout his life, either or by chance or design, much of what Sharon built or cherished was lost, destroyed or tarnished. His ability to sustain loss made him fearless in his public pursuits.

Sharon the soldier had seen his friends die in battle by age 20. The family man buried one son and two wives. The gallant military leader with a white bandage across his wounded forehead played an instrumental role in capturing the Sinai desert, only to return it to Egypt years later as a politician. The spiritual father of the settlement movement, Sharon claimed to know the driver of every crane building homes in the territories. But then, as defense minister, he was charged with the razing of the Yamit settlement in Sinai in 1982 and, as prime minister, he ordered the destruction of the Gaza settlements in 2005.

The leader of the Likud Party he had founded in 1973, Sharon catapulted it in 2003 from 19 to 40 Knesset mandates. But then, in November 2005, he crippled it by bolting to form the centrist Kadima Party, taking a host of prominent politicians from across the spectrum with him.

And as the avuncular elder statesman widely, though by no means universally, perceived to know better than his rivals how to steer Israel forward, he was well on his way to a third term in office when his stroke on January 4, 2006, halted his plans to shepherd the nation into a new dawn.

With his white hair, heavyset build, grandfatherly smile and the reading glasses that occasionally slipped down his nose, his image in his later years as well his conciliatory words belied his reputation as an authoritarian political leader and a brutal military commander.

For all the Israelis he alienated throughout his larger-than-life career, however, he was a man generally well-liked on the most personal levels – friendly, courteous and solicitous.

Sharon never left the spotlight for long after he came to national prominence as the dashing war hero of the 1950s. He was lauded as a master military strategist in the Sixties and Seventies. In the early Eighties as defense minister, he was blamed for the failures and excesses of the Lebanon War as well as the massacre of more than 700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camp at the hands of Christian Phalangists. As opposition leader in September 2000, his visit to the Temple Mount was used by the Palestinians as a pretext for the second intifada, and he was often a scapegoat for the continued conflict. Five years later, when he was felled by illness, his sudden forced departure from the political stage was perceived as a crisis for peace.

The sabra son of an immigrant Russian farmer who preferred his own counsel to the communal decisions of his neighbors, as prime minister Sharon turned his own similar preference for solo leadership into a diplomatic platform of unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians. It was a move that broke a deadlocked period in the conflict. But Sharon’s seemingly swift turnabout from right-wing leader who coined the famous phrase “the fate of Netzarim was the fate of Tel Aviv” to one who evacuated the Gaza settlement of Netzarim, left his dizzied supporters gasping at the betrayal.

  • Sharon liked to describe himself first and foremost as a Jew and then as a farmer. In addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2005 at the pinnacle of his popularity, he said, “My first love was and remains manual labor: sowing and harvesting, the pasture, the flock and the cattle.”

Circumstances intervened, he said, and instead his life’s path led him “to be a fighter and commander in all Israel’s wars.”

Now, he told world leaders, he had a different purpose. He was reaching out to the Palestinians in “reconciliation and compromise to end the bloody conflict and embark on the path which leads to peace. I view this as my calling and my primary mission for the coming years.”

Hard-line right-wingers who had long believed the prime minister was one of their staunchest advocates felt abandoned by his sudden shift to the Center. His opponents argued that Sharon was simply an opportunist, willing to pay any price and betray any ideal in the pursuit of power. Some said his political shift was designed to deflect corruption allegations, others that he had gone soft.

But Sharon himself had long said that he was not married to one specific path or ideology. “There is no advantage to the person who steadfastly maintains the same position over the years just for the sake of consistency," he said, as early as 1977.

In his autobiography, Warrior, he referred to himself as a “pragmatic Zionist,” a man of action rather than words. When he believed Jewish settlements created security, he constructed them. Persuaded that a security barrier was needed, he built that too.

Zalman Shoval, a former ambassador to the US and a long-time adviser, said Sharon was foremost “a pragmatist.” He belonged to a small group of similar-minded soldiers-turned-statesmen such as Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin whose primary consideration was security, rather than ideology, said Shoval. “So you never knew how they would act under certain circumstances.”

Proactive, rather than reactive, in this single-minded pursuit of his goals, Sharon pushed forward with a confident winner-take-all attitude.

Back in 1974, The Jerusalem Post predicted that this style of charging into battle would take him far. “Arik Sharon only knows frontal attacks. That is how he fought the Arabs, that is

how he captured the Likud and that is how he intends to storm and capture the State of Israel,” the Post said.

It was not by chance that in the 1970s, solders in his unit were already chanting, “Arik, king of Israel.”

His longtime friend, journalist Uri Dan, said Sharon loved challenges: “When he was told a mission was impossible, that is what he wanted to do.”

Like his biblical hero, Joshua, who blew down the walls of Jericho with a ram’s horn, Sharon bulldozed his way past all military and political obstacles. In the army, he dodged charges that he failed to follow orders and really accurate information to his superiors. In politics he brushed off his image as a has-been politician who attacked both friend and foe. Teflon-style. he survived unscathed allegations of financial corruption.

Former Likud MK Bennie Begin once said acerbically of Sharon that he was as likely to head their party as he was to become a tennis champion. But at the nadir of Sharon’s checkered army career, after he was forced to resign as defense minister in 1983 following Sabra and Shatilla, Dan made a different prediction.

“Those who rejected [Sharon as chief of staff got him in due time as defense minister,” said Dan. “And those who rejected him as defense minister will get him in due course as prime minister.”

Sharon said that his steadfast determination was rooted in his childhood work on a farm.

In an op-ed article for the Post in 1999 Sharon recalled a day he spent with his father at Kfar Malal. “I was working out in the field with my father on an intensely hot day as thirst plagued us and thousands of flies and gnats buzzed around us, getting into our eyes and noses. We, hoes in hand, continued to work. When my father Shmuel, of blessed memory, who was an agronomist, agricultural scientist and also an outstanding farmer, saw I was getting tired, he would stop a minute, point towards the ground we’d covered and say, “Look how much we’ve already done. And with renewed strength, we would continue work.”

It was this mind-set, wrote Sharon, that came to characterize his own indomitable approach - to daily life and to leading Israel.

“This has always been my way: to appreciate what we have already accomplished and to look forward optimistically.”  


Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 06, 2014

Kerry leaves Middle East without achieving framework...

   JERUSALEM, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry headed back to the United States on Monday after failing to create a framework for the Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Kerry did however claim that progress has been made in talks with both sides and several Israeli politicians, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Labor chief MK Yitzhak Herzog.

Kerry operated his shuttle diplomacy, with back and forth excursions between Jerusalem and Ramallah, but it seems that both sides are looking to blame the other party for the talks' deterioration rather than trying to kick-start them.

It appears that the talks mainly revolved around the status of the Jordan valley, which is on the border between Israel and Jordan at the eastern part of the West Bank. It also brought up the highly-charged issue over the status of Jerusalem, which both people consider sacred.

  • Israel demands to deploy security forces at the Jordan Valley, claiming it is a security necessity, while the Palestinians vehemently oppose having Israeli forces on future Palestinian land which would damage the Palestinian sovereignty.

It seems like both sides were looking for ammunition against the other in order to blame them for the deteriorated state of the talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted the line of " incitement" against Palestinians. He added a discussion on the " state of incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority" at the Israeli cabinet meeting's agenda, and said on Thursday that the Palestinians were "continuing their campaign of inciting hatred."

The Palestinians, according to reports, said that they still vehemently oppose any Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

They also denounce Israel's plans to continue to build in the settlements, causing the collapse of the previous round of talks, and a recently announced plan by Israeli ministers to annex the Jordan Valley, which awaits the approval of the Knesset ( parliament.)

Several U.S. officials had said prior to Kerry's trip that there were no expectations of a break-through and Israeli media outlets reported that he intended to return to the region, however, no official confirmation has been given.

On Sunday, Kerry said that any future peace agreement between both sides would be "fair and balanced," and added that both leaders would have to make important decisions to advance the agreement.

"This has been a productive couple of days," Kerry said on Sunday, before leaving on a short excursion to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, adding "We had very serious, very intensive conversations. "

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in July, after a three year-halt, amid the repeated attempts by Kerry, who has been to the region 10 times since he assumed his position in February. The talks were given an outline of nine months, meaning until April, to reach an interim agreement.


Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 04, 2014

Kerry meets with Abbas in Ramallah...

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ramallah on Saturday and met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian and Israeli officials have publicly differed on the future status of the West Bank's border with Jordan, where Israelis want a permanent security presence but Palestinians want a full withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers.

Kerry has said such an accord would narrow gaps between the sides and pave the way for a final deal when the nine-month period allotted the US-backed talks expires on April 29.

An official close to Abbas dismissed Kerry's drive for a "framework agreement" as biased toward Israel.


Δευτέρα, Νοεμβρίου 04, 2013

Turkish patrol seizes over a ton of chemicals from smugglers at Syria border.

Turkish border guards seized three vehicles loaded with over 1,000 kg of chemicals as they tried to illegally cross the border into Syria. One of the smugglers was arrested, while others managed to escape.
The Turkish General Staff reported that the chemicals were seized after a convoy of three vehicles refused to stop and attempted to illegally cross the border near the southeastern Turkish town of Reyhanli on Saturday.

Paramilitary police were ordered to shoot out the tires of the vehicles to stop them. As the tires caught on fire, the three drivers jumped out and fled in the direction of Syria. One of them was arrested.

The vehicles contained 20 bags of sulphur, weighing about 50 kg each, and eight sealed barrels. Their contents were not immediately known.

Republican People's Party (CHP) chairman Faruk Logoglu said in a statement on Monday that the barrels are suspected to contain chemical material. “Traffic was from Turkey to Syria,” he added.

The arrested suspect’s nationality has not been made public. He was taken into custody after interrogation by the Reyhanli district gendarmerie headquarters and is to be sent to the prosecutor’s office.

Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense (CBRN) units from the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency have started examining the seized material, Logoglu’s statement said.

The Republican People's Party has also criticized the release of a primary suspect in a similar case, saying that closing the investigation would be “a shame for Turkey,” Hurriyet newspaper reported, citing CHP’s deputy.

In May 2013, Turkish police seized a group of people after being informed that Syrian rebel groups were looking to obtain materials that could be used to produce chemical weapons.

A two -kilogram cylinder with what initially was suggested to be sarin gas was seized while searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra Front following their detention.

Some of the suspects accused of establishing a connection with a network in Turkey to convey chemical materials were released after lab tests proved that the seized chemicals were not sarin gas.

The alleged use of sarin - considered one of the world’s most dangerous chemical warfare agents - in a Damascus suburb on August 21 provoked an international outcry which nearly led to a US military strike against the Syrian regime, as Western countries assumed it was the Assad government who used the chemical weapons.

However, while a UN investigation proved that sarin was used near Damascus, it did not say who was behind the attack. At the same time, Russia also analyzed samples taken in the Syrian town of Aleppo, where chemical weapons were allegedly used in March. Experts concluded that rebels - not the army - were behind the Aleppo sarin attack.

In September, Syria agreed to comply with Moscow’s offer to put its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent destruction, in order to avert a possible military strike. Damascus declared the possession of 1,300 tons of chemicals and precursors needed for chemical weapons production, as well as over 1,200 empty chemical munitions.

On Thursday, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that Syria's entire declared stock of chemical weapons has been placed under seal.

The organization acknowledged that Damascus has complied with the watchdog’s requirement, adopted on September 27, for the complete elimination of chemical weapons and production units in Syria before November 1.

The process of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stocks has a target finish date of mid-2014. 


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