|Southwest Asia News Digest
Prominent Israeli Figures Urge Europe To Recognize Palestinian State
May 27 (EIRNS)An Israel pro-peace group, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, has sent a letter to European Union leaders, signed by several prominent Israeli peace activists, calling on Europe to officially recognize a Palestinian state when the issue comes before the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Among the signers are former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, Nobel Laureate Prof. Daniel Kahneman, former Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Liel (who also signed the recently announced Israeli Peace Initiative), former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair, former Ambassador to South Africa Ilan Baruch, former Civil Service Commissioner Itzhak Galnoor, popular Israeli authors Nir Baram and Ronit Matalon, and Israel Prize winners Yirmiyahu Yovel, Menachem Yaari, and Prof. Avishai Margalit.
The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement also organizes weekly demonstrations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The statement declares:
"Peace has fallen hostage to the peace process.... As Israeli citizens, we announce that if and when the Palestinian people declare independence of a sovereign state that will exist next to Israel in peace and security, we will support such an announcement of the Palestinian State with borders based on the 1967 lines, with needed land swaps on a 1:1 basis....
"We urge the countries of the world to declare their willingness to recognize a sovereign Palestinian State according to these principles." The letter added that "the Palestinian appeal to the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian State does not harm the Israeli interest, and is not at odds with the peace process. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's speech in Washington and the support he received from the U.S. Congress shows that the peace process has reached its end."
The statement stressed that for Israel now, the choice is between recognizing a Palestinian State, and renewed violence.
Egyptian Revolution Takes a Big Step Forward
MAY 30 (EIRNS)The Egyptian revolution, which began with mass demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square in January, has taken a dramatic leap forward, with well-planned demonstrations all over the country on May 27, to keep up pressure on the ruling Supreme Military Council to continue with reforms. In Cairo, an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 people turned out in sweltering heat. In Alexandria, over a million people filled the center of the city, extending from the new Library of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea, to the heart of the downtown area, stretching more than five miles. According to one of the organizers, there were also large demonstrations in Port Said, Suez, and dozens of other cities. The size of the turnout was even more significant, because the Muslim Brotherhood opposed the demonstrations and mobilized to diminish the turnout.
The demonstrators from the January 25th youth movement organized for over a month to pull off the nationwide protests. The message was clear: No backroom deal between the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood is going to happen without fierce protests. The demonstrators, according to one of the organizers, have been circulating papers on the American Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and on the history of the American Revolution, clearly looking to the United States as the model for the "civil state" that they are demanding.
Egypt Continues Role in Palestinian Stabilization
May 28 (EIRNS)Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza today, finally ending its collaboration with Israel in the siege that began four years ago, after Hamas won elections in Gaza. The Israeli government, of course, is unhappy, but Palestinians are jubilant at the prospect of a normal chance at travel and commerce.
This long-awaited decision by Egypt comes on the heels of its role in facilitating negotiations between the Fatah and Hamas leadership to bring about a unity agreement between the two Palestinian groups. The unity agreement is a crucial step in the Palestinian effort to gain recognition of Palestine as an independent state, at the September 2011 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
Turkey Supports Japan's Nuclear Industry
May 29 (EIRNS)The Turkish Ambassador to Japan, Abdurrahman Bilgic, said Turkey wants to reopen negotiations on importing a nuclear power plant from Japan. He told a news conference that he still trusts Japanese technology, and that his country will not give up on nuclear energy. He said if talks reopen and a nuclear agreement is signed by the end of this year, Turkey will be able to start operations in 2019, as originally planned.