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Israeli Premier’s Party Criticizes Israeli President For His Praise Of Palestinian President

By Associated Press, Updated: Sunday, December 30, 12:37 PM

JERUSALEM — Israel’s president and prime minister are trading charges over making peace with the Palestinians.

President Shimon Peres told a summit of international ambassadors and diplomats Sunday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a reliable peace partner. He said Israeli diplomacy must change “from an aggressive approach to a moderate approach of dialogue.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party and his hawkish election partner released a statement calling the Israeli president out of touch and labeling the Palestinian president a “peace rejecter.”

Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

Netanyahu is expected to win Jan. 22 elections, and the hard-line bloc maintains a lead over dovish parties. The statement from Netanyahu’s party said Peres’ remarks in front of a diplomatic audience represent a political stance that encourages international condemnation of Israel.



U.S. Complicity in Israel's Deadly Actions in Gaza

On November 18, an Israeli air force pilot flying a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at the four-story home of the al-Dalu family in Gaza City, killing ten members of the family and two from the al-Muzannar family next door.

An on-site investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch concluded that the attack was a "clear violation of the laws of war" and demanded that those "responsible for deliberately or recklessly committing a serious violation of the laws of war should be prosecuted for war crimes."

Two weeks ago, on International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States works to advance "the universal freedoms enshrined" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the "right to life, liberty and security of person." "When governments seek to deny these liberties through repressive laws and blunt force," she intoned, "we stand against this oppression and with people around the world as they defend their rights."

Yet, when it comes to U.S. policy toward Palestinians, this rhetoric rings hollow. The United States arms Israel to the teeth, fails to uphold U.S. human rights laws when Israel uses U.S. weapons to commit abuses of Palestinians and, up to this point, has thrown around its diplomatic heft in international forums to shield Israel from the war crimes prosecutions advocated for by Human Rights Watch and others.



G.O.P. Backs Off a Demand, Clearing Way for More Talks (chained-CPI)

Source: New York Times

WASHINGTON — Negotiations over a last-ditch agreement to head off large tax increases and sweeping spending cuts in the new year appeared to resume Sunday afternoon after Republican senators withdrew their demand that a deal must include a new way of calculating inflation that would lower payments to beneficiaries programs like Social Security and slow their growth.

Senate Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting to say they agreed with Democrats that the request — which had temporarily brought talks to a standstill — was not appropriate for a quick deal to avert the tax increases and spending cuts starting Jan. 1.

To hold the line against raising taxes on high-income households while fighting for cuts to Social Security was “not a winning hand,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said.

The concession could be a breakthrough, but Senate Republicans were still balking at an agreement on Sunday, adopting a new talking point that Democrats want to raise taxes just to increase spending, not to cut the deficit. That concern appears to center on a Democratic proposal to temporarily suspend across-the-board spending cuts to military and domestic programs as talks resume on a larger deficit deal.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/us/politics/obama-accuses-republicans-of-blocking-tax-deal.html?_r=0

Stay tuned...

Russian Warship Heads To Syria In Preparation For A Possible Evacuation

The Kremlin is sending another warship to the Syrian port of Tartus, where Russia has a naval base, Russian news agencies reported.

The reports Sunday by the ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agency cited an unidentified official in the military general staff as saying the Novocherkassk, a large landing ship, has set sail from the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. She was “accompanied by a combat ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” according to a Russian news source.

The Novocherkassk was the third vessel of its kind dispatched since Friday from Russia to Tartus, AFP reported, and was expected to arrive in the area in early January.

The reports gave no information on the ship’s intent. But Russian diplomats have said that Moscow is preparing a plan to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria if necessary. The Defense Ministry announced two weeks ago that several ships were being dispatched to the Mediterranean.



Yemen: Al Qaeda Offers Bounty For U.S. Ambassador, Soldiers

Source: Associated Press

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen has offered to pay tens of thousands of dollars to anyone who kills the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa or an American soldier in the country.

An audio produced by the group’s media arm, the al-Malahem Foundation, and posted on militant websites Saturday said it was offering 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of gold, worth $160,000, for killing the ambassador.

The group said it will pay 5 million Yemeni riyals ($23,000) to anyone who kills an American soldier inside Yemen.

It said the offer is valid for six months. The bounties were set to “inspire and encourage our Muslim nation for jihad,” the statement said.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/30/yemen-al-qaeda-offers-bounty-us-ambassador-soldier/#ixzz2GYpVMAyv
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2012/12/30/yemen-al-qaida-offers-bounty-for-us-ambassador/1798711/

Obama Touts Hagel, Says No Decision On Defense Secretary Job

Dec 30 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama offered strong support for former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as the potential next U.S. defense secretary but said in remarks aired on Sunday he has not yet decided on a nominee for the Pentagon post.

Hagel is considered a leading candidate to replace outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, but he has come under criticism for his record on Israel and for a comment that being gay was an inhibiting factor for being an ambassador.

"I've served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate, somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam," Obama told NBC's "Meet the Press" in an interview taped on Saturday and broadcast on Sunday.

Obama said he has seen nothing that would disqualify Hagel.



Netanyahu's Nominee For Next Envoy To U.S.: The Brains Behind His Support For Romney

Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren is expected to step down from his role in May 2013 after four years as Benjamin Netanyahu's representative in Washington. This role is one of the Israeli prime minister's most important positions of trust, all the more so when it comes to Netanyahu.

On Friday morning, the diplomatic correspondent of Israeli daily Makor Rishon Ariel Kahan reported that Netanyahu is nominating his advisor Ron Dermer to the role. Dermer has served as Netanyahu's advisor for the past four years. I asked the Prime Minister's Office whether they can confirm the report, and received an expected and routine answer: "No comment."

I asked another Israeli official who is close to Netanyahu about the report. The official said that it is possible that Dermer will be nominated, although the fact that in Washington he is thought of as hostile to the Obama administration, and that his views are seen as further to the right than Netanyahu's, might cause the prime minister to reconsider, and pick another person for the job.

It is hard to know if Netanyahu will change his mind over the Dermer nomination or not. But before that happens, here is some food for thought on Ron Dermer and his nomination to the sensitive role:



Arab League Chief Says Palestinians to Petition UN

Source: Associated Press

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby said Saturday that two decades of talks with Israel have been "a waste of time" and that Palestinians will soon take a new statehood bid to the U.N.

The U.N. General Assembly last month endorsed a de facto Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, areas Israel won in a 1967 war. But outright recognition of statehood status for Palestine fell short last year before the more powerful U.N. Security Council.

"We will return to the U.N. Security Council," he said in Ramallah Saturday after meeting Palestinian officials. "Palestine will be cooperating with Arab and EU countries to change the equation (in the peace process) that prevailed over the past 20 years, which was a waste of time."

By mentioning other states and the European Union, some may interpret Elaraby's remarks as implying that the international community should intervene and impose a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/arab-league-chief-palestinians-petition-18090560#.UN9cXW_Qs2A

Russian Foreign Minister Says Assad Won't Step Down, Dan't Be Persuaded

Source: Associated Press

Associated Press
4:01 p.m. EST, December 29, 2012

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister said Saturday that Syrian President Bashar Assad has no intention of stepping down and it would be impossible to try to persuade him otherwise.

After a meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.'s envoy for the Syrian crisis, Sergey Lavrov also said that the Syrian opposition risks sacrificing many more lives if it continues to insist on Assad leaving office as a precondition for holding talks on Syria's future.

Assad "has repeatedly said publicly and privately, including in his meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus not long ago, that he does not intend to leave for anywhere, that he will stay to the end in his post, that he will, as he expressed it, defend the Syrian people, Syrian sovereignty and so forth," Lavrov said. "There's no possibility to change this position."

Brahimi warned that the country's civil war could plunge the entire region into chaos by sending hundreds of thousands of refugees into neighboring nations, but his talks in Moscow produced no sign of progress toward settling the crisis.

Read more: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-eu-russia-syria-20121229,0,7642561.story

Israel Arrests 900 Palestinian children In 2012


The Palestinian Authority is currently looking into the possibility of filing a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel for arresting 900 Palestinian children in 2012.

In taking such an action, Palestine will be using its newly-acquired rights as an observer state at the United Nations, said Eissa Karakea, Palestinian Minister of Detainees’ Affairs.

“We need to use the newly gained state status to take measures against Israel for its crimes especially the arrest, detention, and abuse of Palestinian children, let alone trying them before military courts,” he told Al Arabiya.

Karakea added that after being granted observer status, Palestine has the right to join international human rights organizations and through them can file complaints against Israel.


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