- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ISRAEL

EU backs Jerusalem as joint capital

BRUSSELS | The European Union on Tuesday urged Israel to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians as part of a Middle East peace agreement and make the holy city the capital of two states.

Reaffirming a position that the current Israeli government rejects, EU foreign ministers said genuine peace needed the resolution of the status of Jerusalem through negotiation.

Rejecting Israel’s annexation of the eastern half of the city, their statement said the EU would “not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed East Jerusalem and nearby suburbs, in a step never recognized internationally.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to office in March declaring that Jerusalem would remain the “undivided capital” of the Jewish state and has repeatedly ruled out including the future of the city in peace talks.

In Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad seemed visibly moved by the EU statement. “I believe it’s a good day for international law, for international legitimacy, for justice and for our own people to begin to have a sense of hope about the future,” he told Reuters news agency.

WEST BANK

Palestinians boycott settlement goods

RAMALLAH | The Palestinians on Tuesday announced a boycott of Israeli products made in the West Bank, stepping up their campaign against Israeli settlements.

Economics Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh said the Western-backed Palestinian government already has confiscated $1 million worth of products, including foods, cosmetics and hardware, and the goal is to eliminate all settlement-made goods from Palestinian store shelves next year.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the Palestinian boycott was counterproductive and would only damage peace prospects. Carrying out the boycott will be a challenge because the Palestinian economy relies heavily on Israeli manufacturers for many basic goods.

IRAQ

Parliament elections set for March 7

BAGHDAD | Iraq on Tuesday set a long-awaited date for a general election next year, but later pushed it back by one day to March 7 amid political wrangling typical of the squabbles that already have delayed the vote.

Naseer al-Ani, President Jalal Talabani’s chief of staff, said the presidency council chose the new date late on Tuesday, after an earlier date of March 6.

Tareq Jawher, adviser to the parliament of Iraq’s semiautonomous region of Kurdistan, said Kurds had rejected the March 6 date because it coincided with the anniversary of a 1975 treaty between former dictator Saddam Hussein and Iranian Shah Reza Pahlavi that Kurds say marginalized them.

March 7 comes after a constitutional deadline for the vote, but is still just before Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s mandate expires. The ballot was initially expected in mid-January, but Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, on Nov. 18 vetoed parliament’s election law. He argued it did not provide enough representation for refugees, many of whom are Sunni.

IRAN

U.S. accused of holding nuke scientist

TEHRAN | Iran accused Saudi Arabia Tuesday of handing over to the United States an Iranian nuclear scientist missing since June, the semiofficial Mehr news agency said.

Shahram Amiri, a university researcher working for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June. Some media reports said he wanted to seek asylum abroad.

“Riyadh has handed over Iran’s nuclear scientist Amiri to America,” Mehr quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

Tehran originally refused to acknowledge Mr. Amiri’s involvement in Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Mr. Mehmanparast said Mr. Amiri was being detained in the United States. “He is among 11 jailed Iranians in America,” he said, without elaborating.

Iran has said the United States was involved in Mr. Amiri’s disappearance, which Washington has denied.

In 2007, Iran’s police chief suggested that a former deputy defense minister, Ali Reza Asgari, who disappeared in Turkey that year, had been kidnapped by Western intelligence operatives. Israel and the United States deny any involvement in his disappearance.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide