- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Olmert faulted for preconditions

Israel was accused this week of blocking a pan-Arab peace plan after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out holding talks with any country that it does not consider to be “moderate.”

Last weekend, Mr. Olmert expressed willingness to attend a regional peace summit with “moderate” Muslim leaders after Israel’s neighbors adopted a Saudi Arabian plan for peace with the Palestinians.

He was criticized Monday after an unnamed Syrian official told the Saudi Arabian newspaper al Watan that Mr. Olmert was stalling for time by being selective about the Arab nations with which he would meet.


Jailed activists hoped to form party

RIYADH — Saudi reform activists arrested in February on suspicion of funding terrorism were considering forming a political grouping in the kingdom, where parties are banned, a prominent reformer said yesterday.

“Some of the men … were interacting and discussing an idea revolving around the possibility of creating a political [party],” Matruk al-Faleh said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Mr. al-Faleh, a politics professor jailed in 2005 for suggesting political reforms but now released, said those detained hoped “to concretely push the democratic reform movement.”


Emir appoints new prime minister

DOHA — Qatar’s emir yesterday appointed Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani as prime minister in place of Sheik Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, the state-owned Qatar News Agency reported.

All other ministers in the outgoing Cabinet remained in office. A post for a state minister for energy and industrial affairs was created, with Mohammed Saleh al-Sada appointed.

Weekly notes …

Egyptian archaeologists at Tel Habuwa displayed white pumice yesterday that they theorize was swept onto the northern Sinai Desert by a tsunami triggered in the 17th century B.C. by a volcanic eruption on Santorini island 530 miles away. The Santorini explosion was devastating. It sank most of the island and killed more than 35,000 residents of a thriving Minoan community. The head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, said discovery of the pumice opens a new field of study in Egyptology. … Egyptian police have detained a prominent lawyer they suspect of financing the al Qaeda terrorist network in the region, judicial sources said. Mamduh Ismail, arrested last week, is accused of “financing Al Qaeda in Egypt, in Yemen and Algeria, on the instructions of Ayman al-Zawahri,” the network’s Egyptian second in command, the official said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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