In this issue:

UN General Assembly Condemns Massacre of Palestinians

U.S. Flubs in Iraq Again—Sunni Scholar Targetted for Arrest

Olmert, Netanyahu Seek U.S. Backing for Strikes on Iran

Baker Met with Syrians, Iranians in September

Spain, France Promote New Middle East Peace Initiative

From Volume 5, Issue Number 47 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 21, 2006
Southwest Asia News Digest

UN General Assembly Condemns Massacre of Palestinians

On Nov. 17, the UN General Assembly voted up a proposal calling for an investigation of the massacre of 20 Palestinians who fell victim to an Israeli artillery attack in the Gaza Strip on Nov. 8. The massacre—and the wide condemnation of it—was reported in last week's Southwest Asia Digest.

Meeting at the request of Arab delegations and the Non-Aligned Movement, the General Assembly resumed its tenth emergency special session to consider illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

A Security Council statement said: "In similar letters to the Assembly President (UN documents A/ES-10/366 and A/ES-10/367) the representatives of Qatar, on behalf of the Arab Group, and Cuba, on behalf of the Movement, respectively, called the emergency session, so the Assembly could specifically consider Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, particularly the killing of Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006."

The UNGA action came on the heels of the adoption by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council of a resolution that also condemned the killings and dispatched a fact-finding mission to the region.

In opening the debate at the General Assembly, the president of that body, Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa of Bahrain, stated, "We must condemn the assassination of Palestinian and Israeli civilians without distinction, because such arbitrary killings are contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law." Over 20 speakers participated in the debate.

The resolution, however, considerably softer than the one that U.S. Ambassador John Bolton vetoed in the UN Security Council, calls for Secretary General Kofi Annan to establish an investigative commission to look into the incident. It is reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, that former President Jimmy Carter is ready to lead such a commission.

Despite the fact that the governments representing the vast majority on this planet supported the resolution, U.S. Ambassador Bolton claimed the vote confirmed "widespread doubts" about the United Nations' fairness. The resolution was voted up by 156 of the 192 member-nations of the UN. The only ones to vote against it were the U.S., Israel, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau. Those abstaining were Canada, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. All the European nations supported the resolution.

U.S. Flubs in Iraq Again—Sunni Scholar Targetted for Arrest

After the Iraqi arrest warrant was issued for one of the top Sunni clerics, Sheik Harith al-Dhari, of the Muslim Scholars Association, al-Dhari said on Nov. 17 that the Iraqi government's bid to arrest him was illegal, and his spokesman, Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi, urged Sunni politicians to quit the Parliament and government. Al-Kubaisi said the arrest warrant was a cover for "acts of the government's security agencies that kill dozens of Iraqis every day." He called for Sunni "political groups to withdraw from Parliament and the government, which has proven that it is not a national government." He also called on Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa to condemn "this cowardly act." Al-Dhari has been living outside Iraq for months.

Speaking in Amman, Jordan, al-Dhari responded to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who had defended the government action: "I do not consider Talabani as Iraq's President, and he doesn't represent the Iraqis. Talabani is part of the government. He feels as they feel and he fears what they fear." Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi described the warrant as "destructive to the national reconciliation plan" and urged the government to cancel it immediately. The Iraqi People's Conference of Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the largest Sunni bloc in Parliament, said the "government should have chased the death squads and militia leaders instead of allowing them to control the country." Sunni groups hold 55 seats in the country's 275-member Parliament, as well as 9 seats in the 36-member cabinet.

Olmert, Netanyahu Seek U.S. Backing for Strikes on Iran

In a background discussion with EIR on Nov. 13, a retired high-level military and intelligence official warned that the allies of Dick Cheney in the Israeli political arena—most notably Benjamin Netanyahu and fellow Jabotinskyites—could completely overturn the efforts of the Baker-Hamilton Commission, and other U.S. institutions that are trying to fend off a U.S. military attack on Iran, and at the same time stabilize Iraq. The comments were made as leading Israelis were arriving in the United States.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened Iran, while speaking to the press corps accompanying him on the way to the United States for a visit with President Bush, on Nov. 13. After comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler, Olmert said, "My position is clear. If there can be a compromise that will stop Iran short of crossing the technological threshold that will lead them into nuclear capabilities, we will be for such a compromise. But I don't believe that Iran will accept such a compromise unless they have a very good reason to fear the consequences of not reaching it. In other words, Iran must start to fear." He continued that, "if they do not accept the request of the international community, they're going to pay dearly."

The actual policy of the Israeli right—which now controls the deputy prime minister's post in Olmert's government—towards Iran, was articulated by former prime minister, and Likud Party head, Netanyahu, who gave the appearance of being "bonkers in the bunker."

Speaking at the meeting of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Los Angeles, on Nov. 14, Netanyahu launched a raving attack on Iran:

"It's 1938—and Iran is Germany. When someone tells you he is going to exterminate you, believe him and stop him." Netanyahu said he has been for a decade trying to warn world leaders that Iran represented the greatest threat, not just to Israel but also to Europe and America, "but nobody seems to care very strongly." He raved that the real threat to the world is not Iraq or al-Qaeda, but Iran, which is building nuclear weapons in order to start a war. He said that making peace with the Palestinians would not stop Iran.

No fewer than six Israeli Cabinet members were at the assembly—more than attend a Knesset session at any given time, and certainly an unusual concentration of the foreign government to be in Los Angeles at one time.

Following Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, also in the United States, told the United Jewish Communities General Assembly, that Iran represents three threats: anti-Semitism, terror, and another holocaust if it is permitted to carry it out.

Not to be left behind, Deputy Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres, a former head of the Labor Party, proclaimed that "the Iranian president is a Persian version of Hitler. He is a half neurotic leader who has alienated the [world]." He went on to say that Israel should not do the job against Iran's nuclear program alone: "Israel cannot and should not wage war against Iran, because the nuclear threat Tehran is planning is global."

Baker Met with Syrians, Iranians in September

The New York Times reported on Nov. 18 that Syrian Ambassador to the U.S. Imad Mustapha told the Times that James Baker III had asked Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, during a meeting in New York in September: "What would it take Syria to help on Iraq?" Mustapha said the meeting was "very promising." The ambassador has also met with Baker's Iraq Study Group, where he said, "We were very candid with each other. We explained to them why it is in our own national interest to try to help stabilize the situation in Iraq." According to the Times, Baker has also met with Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif, with whom he had a three-hour dinner.

Spain, France Promote New Middle East Peace Initiative

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced a new Middle East peace initiative after a summit meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, reported various news media Nov. 16. Chirac and Zapatero were participating in the first meeting of the French-Spanish Security and Defense Council.

"We cannot remain impassive in the face of the horror that continues to unfold before our eyes," Zapatero said in reference to the recent massacre of 20 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. He said the situation "has reached a level of deterioration that requires determined, urgent action by the international community." The peace plan will be presented at a European Union summit in December.

The plan includes an immediate cease-fire, formation of a national unity government by the Palestinians, an exchange of prisoners—including the Israeli soldiers captured in the war in Lebanon—talks between Israel's Prime Minister and the Palestinian President, and an international mission in Gaza to monitor a cease-fire. Zapatero added that a major international conference on Middle East peace should be held.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Nov. 16 stated that Israel rejected out of hand the new peace initiative, in which Italy has joined Spain and France. She said that it was unacceptable for an initiative concerning Israel to be launched without coordination with Israel. But despite Livni's attack on the initiative, it comes out of the Toledo [Spain] International Centre for Peace, which has the participation of leading Israelis.

Among the Centre's directing staff can be found Shlomo Ben Ami, former Israeli Cabinet Minister and peace negotiator (Labor Party), who is currently the Centre's vice president. Another vice president is Nabil Shaath, former Foreign Minister of the Palestinian National Authority and former peace negotiator. One of the trustees is Miguel Morotinos, current Foreign Minister of Spain. Morotinos had been the European Union's chief envoy for the Middle East, and is deeply involved in efforts to promote peace between Israel and the Arab states, and to reach a diplomatic solution with Iran on its nuclear program.

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