|Southwest Asia News Digest
Hamas To Accept Israel's Right To 'Live in Peace' Within '67 Borders
April 21 (EIRNS)Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that Hamas is prepared to accept the right of Israel to "live in peace" within its 1967 borders. He also said the Islamist group would be willing to accept a peace deal initiated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, if it were favored in a Palestinian national referendum.
"There's no doubt that both the Arab world and the Palestinians, including Hamas, will accept Israel's right to live in peace within the 1967 borders," Carter said in an April 21 speech in Jerusalem. "They said they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if approved by Palestinians ... even though Hamas might disagree with some terms of the agreement. It means that Hamas will not undermine Abbas's efforts to negotiate an agreement, and Hamas will accept an agreement if the Palestinians support it in a free vote."
Carter, who had just returned to Israel following talks with Hamas leaders in Egypt and Syria, said Hamas wanted to hold a referendum, and that any peace deal must be preceded by reconciliation between the group and Abbas's Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"The problem is not that I met with Hamas in Syria," Carter said in his speech. "The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved."
Commenting on Hamas's discussions with Carter, Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, would regard any future Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Stripterritories Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day Waras "transitional."
Carter said Hamas turned down his proposal for a 30-day unilateral ceasefire with Israel, but that Egypt would continue its efforts to mediate a truce.
Carter also met in Jerusalem with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai, whom he told that Hamas was prepared to release another letter from abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit to his family. According to Carter, Meshal has promised that Shalit is in good physical health.
Hamas was prepared to transfer Shalit into Egyptian hands as part of a package deal which would include the release of Palestinian prisoners. He also asked Yishai, who has offered to meet with Hamas representatives to secure a prisoner exchange, to consider meeting with officials in Egypt regarding Shalit's release. Yishai responded that he has already met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, on the matter, but he would consider another meeting.
Carter Welcomed by Arab Leaders
April 20 (EIRNS)Contrary to falsified U.S. news reports, and rabid statements coming from the White House and its bootlickers, Jimmy Carter's trip to Southwest Asia, engaging Hamas leaders in talks, was a multi-faceted, well-prepared mission of diplomacy. He was received with the warmest welcome by the same top leaders who had met recently with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney: King Abdullah II of Jordan, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, according to a well-informed Arab intelligence source based in Egypt.
Carter was welcomed on April 20 by the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Jordan; both wanted to send a message to Washington and the Arab world, that an American policycontrary to that of Cheney and Bushis desired and will be supported, the source told EIR. The trip had the backing of key members of a group known as "The Elders," which includes former South African President Nelson Mandela and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Elders Carter, Mandela, and Annan particularly wanted to intervene against the British-Cheneyac policy on Hamas, and the spreading war danger in the Mideast, said the source, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was deployed to telephone Annan and Carter to tell them to hold off at this time. Carter went ahead with the trip.
The source noted that Carter's trip was exceptionally well thought-out. Not only did he meet with Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Yishai to open up the issue of prisoner exchange, but he also met with Noam Shalit, the father of Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier being held by Palestinians. The Shalit supported Carter's efforts.
Israeli 'Breaking the Silence' Group Exposes Occupation
April 20 (EIRNS)An Israeli NGO called Shovrim Shtika, or "Breaking the Silence," will publish this week the testimonies of 39 Israeli soldiers who witnessed or experienced Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) brutality against Palestinians in the occupied territories, especially Hebron, reports the London Independent. The organization was founded four years ago; this is a major escalation in its attempt to expose the dehumanization of Israeli soldiers by the occupation.
Recently, one IDF soldier from the Kfir Brigade, which covers Hebron, appeared on Channel 2 TV, after serving five months in prison for organizing an armed assault on Palestinian civilians. The soldier, Yaakov Gigi, said of his experience in Hebron: "To lose the human condition is to become an animal." The West Bank town of Hebron includes within it a tiny Jewish settlement populated by the worst militant fanatics, who consider Arabs to be non-human. It is protected by a major IDF contingent.
Iraq Plan Commits U.S. Forces 'in Perpetuity'
April 16 (EIRNS)Under questioning from Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), during an April 11 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield admitted that the "framework agreement" under negotiation with Iraq would allow U.S. troops to stay there for an indefinite period of time, based on the 2002 Iraq War resolution, and according to the Bush/Cheney regime's interpretation of Executive authority.
Satterfield told Webb that the authorization "is not limited in time." Webb replied: "So, in perpetuity, arguably," then noted that in the signing statement issued with the resolution, the White House contended that Congress does not have the right to constrain the military deployment, because this would infringe on the President's authority as commander-in-chief. Satterfield had earlier testified that the agreement would include no binding commitments and thus would not require ratification by the Senateyet it will allow U.S. forces in Iraq to conduct military operations without limit.
Committee chairman Joe Biden (D-Del.) had noted, at the outset of the hearing, that the agreement will bind the Bush Administration's successor "to what I consider to be a failed policy," and to do it "without the informed consent of the American people," by rushing to long-term agreements with Iraq without adequate public debate. This would make it harder, Biden charged, "for his successor to change course."
The agreement is the subject of discussion in France, including among the French chiefs of staff. The newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné reports that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) had leaked a document relating to the agreement, apparently on behalf of those inside the military establishment opposed to Cheney's perpetual war schemes. A copy ended up in the French Embassy in Washington, and was forwarded to Paris. According to the newspaper, the United States is authorized to conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals, when that is deemed necessary for security reasons.