Archive | April 23rd, 2012

Popular Travel Guide Posts Video on IsraHell Lies

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by Tom Valentine

 

Rick Steves, Travel Guru on PBS, has been everywhere, and now reveals on the web what he has learned about Israelis behavior by posting a video that belongs among the archives of what I call the VT educational program.

Steves wrote the following epiphany on his website April 18:

“I’ve Been Duped.

“Do you know the frustration you feel when you believed in something strongly and then you realize that the information that made you believe was from a source with an agenda to deceive?

“I just watched a powerful and courageous documentary called ‘Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land.” It certainly has its own agenda and doesn’t present a balanced coverage. Still, it showed me how my understanding of the struggles in the Middle East has been skewed by most of our mainstream media. I saw how coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian problem is brilliantly controlled and shaped. I pride myself in understanding how the media works…and I find I’ve been bamboozled.

“Invest 75 minutes in watching this, because most of the time we only hear one viewpoint when it comes to the interminable struggle in the Holy Land. While this documentary would never be shown on commercial TV in the USA, it can be viewed online (Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land). In my view, many Palestinians live under inhumane conditions, and US taxpayers help to make it happen. Please, watch this and then share your impressions.

“Criticism of Israel’s policies is not automatically anti-Semitic [see J-Street for an example of a pro-Israel, pro-peace groupnew. In fact, the irony is that for Israel’s hard-liners, their clever PR strategy could be their own worst enemy. While Israel certainly deserves security on its land, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory (in Gaza and the West Bank) degrades Israel and drives Palestinians to desperation. The question of whether Israel is conducting a brutal military occupation or a reasonable defense against terrorism gets no real airtime. If we care about the long-term security of Israel, we have a responsibility to understand what our government is funding and supporting.

“I believe that watching this documentary is a painful first step to finding a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. If you are a friend of Israel, you must watch “Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land.”

Most Americans are like Steve, they never heard this truth.

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land

Thanks to Charles Carlson’s WHTT.org site for pointing this out.

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Pakistan To Help Extricate Than Reinforce ISAF

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by Asif Haroon Raja

 

Among the seven agreements made by Gen Musharraf with Washington in September 2001, free passage of NATO containers from Karachi Port to Afghanistan via Torkham and Chaman and also air supplies were included. But for the supply routes, the ISAF couldn’t have sustained war on terror in Afghanistan and also conducted covert war against Pakistan for such a long period. In spite of free flow of massive supplies plying daily, the ISAF started sinking into the quagmire of Afghanistan because of stiff resistance put up by Mullah Omar led Taliban and al-Qaeda from 2008 onwards enabling them to make southern and eastern Afghanistan into their strongholds and pushing ISAF on the back foot.

Troop surges made by USA failed to contain resurgence of the Taliban. From 2010 onward, battle casualties and cases of mental disorders and indiscipline of ISAF rose sharply. Critical security situation in Afghanistan coupled with mounting domestic pressure to bring home US troops, growing unpopularity of the war, downslide in economy and 2012 as election year impelled Obama to announce drawdown plan, starting July 2011 and finishing by end December 2014. He directed Pentagon to expedite training of Afghan Army and Police so that security duties could be handed over to them. He also directed his political section to establish contacts with Taliban and work out a negotiated political settlement. Efforts were made to befriend Taliban leaders and convince them to get detached from al-Qaeda which had been the principle source of their woes.

Hamid Karzai, his half-brother Wali Karzai and Burhanuddin Rabbani were also encouraged to play their part to woo as many Taliban leaders. They might have succeeded in convincing Taliban Shura to accept Karzai’s offer of preferring peace over violence and sharing power with Northern Alliance. However, America’s three conditions of renouncing violence, severing ties with al-Qaeda and accepting US drafted western model democracy impeded reconciliation efforts. Opening of backdoor secret channels to induce and bribe moderate as well as hard line Taliban leaders with a view to isolating Mullah Omar were other factors which made the Taliban wary. In other words, the spoilers hypocritically worked on the strategy of dividing the Taliban to weaken them and then negotiating from position of strength. The military hawks didn’t sheathe the military prong since they felt that without using this instrument they may not be able to achieve their objective.

Meetings of Taliban with US officials were held twice in Munich and once in Doha between November 2010 and May 2011. UNSC separated the ‘1267’ joint list of names of members of al-Qaeda and Taliban as a move to win over Taliban. Process of reconciliation suffered a setback after military targets in Wardak and Kabul were struck and Burhanuddin murdered by Taliban in September 2011. Flummoxed by the ever growing power of Taliban and not knowing how to contain it, spin doctors of ISAF started fabricating excuses to hide poor performance of US military. The US gave vent to its enragement by throwing the blame at the doorsteps of Pakistan and making it the scapegoat. From 22 September onward, the US officials kept firing salvos at Pakistan relentlessly and also stepped up their efforts to woo the Taliban. The breakthrough achieved in Doha retarded as a consequence to series of events taking place in Afghanistan in first quarter of 2012. Acceleration of night raids together with incident of burning of copies of Quran in Baghram base and killing spree of Sergeant Bales heightened anti-Americanism and impelled the Taliban to discontinue negotiations. Multiple attacks in Kabul on April 15 were retaliatory acts.

Strains in Pak-US relations had started appearing from 2010 onwards because of hawkish behavior of the US officials, their never ending do more mantra, leveling of baseless allegations against Pakistan and propaganda campaign by US-Western media. Relations became frostier after Raymond Davis episode, Abbottabad assault and Mike Mullen’s invectives after Kabul attacks by Taliban, but broke down after unprovoked attack by NATO helicopters at Salala on 26 November. America’s ever growing involvement in internal affairs, presence of Blackwater, Dyncorps and CIA network, drone war and its heavy leaning towards India in disregard of Pakistan’s security concerns and appeasement policy of our rulers had make the people highly resentful. Accumulated pent up ill-will made the rupture imminent and call for severing relations with USA and terminating US sponsored war on terror became louder.

Mounting public anger and Army’s pressure compelled the government to hesitatingly take tough measures so as to curb America’s unbridled intrusions. It also set up a Parliamentary Committee on National Security to revise terms of engagement with the US, NATO and ISAF. Of all the measures taken by Pakistan, closure of NATO supplies hurt ISAF the most since it affects its operational efficiency and also CIA led covert war against Pakistan. Instead of mollifying Pakistan by offering an apology and promising compensation to the families of victims, the US behaved snobbishly. It refused to offer apology over Salala massacre and held Pakistan equally responsible. The US was confident that because of precarious socio-politico-economic situation, Pakistan would soon cave in and go back to business as usual. It was sure that the appointed Committee would make recommendations favoring USA. This crude response further vitiated the atmosphere and hardened the stance of Pakistan.

Unlike the poor track record of outcome of parliamentary committees, the Parliamentary Committee under Senator Rabbani worked hard and made further revisions in recommendations because of opposition’s objections. It put up its report to the Parliament containing several well-measured recommendations for debate and decision. Washington eagerly waited for the resumption of supply routes but gave no assurance that drone strikes would stop, or promised that no further unilateral attacks would be undertaken. On the contrary Obama and visiting US official Thomas Nides gave veiled warnings that Pakistan must remain mindful of US security needs. The government which was all set to give a green signal to appease the US had to apply brakes in the wake of intense public protests. The religious forces insist that opening of supplies should be made conditional to cessation of drone attacks and release of Aafia Siddiqui. Taliban from both sides of the border have also asked Islamabad not to feed the killers in Afghanistan. Difa-e-Pakistan Council and Fazlur Rahman warned that supply roads will be physically blocked if the government permits NATO containers to ply.

Finding himself cornered, the PM took the matter to the DCC with a hope of obtaining a favorable decision, but the DCC wisely decided to defer resumption of NATO supplies because of the outrage of the people. The principled democratic course adopted by the government to deal with issues of national importance is encouraging. Skeptics however say that the decision to restore supply lines for NATO has already been taken and will be announced before Chicago meeting next month which will be attended by Zardari. The President and PM must not forget the fact that great majority oppose reopening of transit facility for the ISAF whose intelligence agencies are involved in clandestine operations against Pakistan. Blow back may be severe. Policy makers must also recognize the hard reality that Pak-US interests are at variance and not in congruence and must therefore stop chasing rainbows that the US would treat Pakistan and its sovereignty with respect. We must not forget that the US nurtures sinister designs against our nuclear program. What is needed is to help the ISAF in extricating 130,000 troops, 70,000 vehicles and 120,000 containers via Pakistan’s land routes rather than reinforcing the ISAF and saboteurs and thus adding to the woes of people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Right Wing Billionaires Push IsraHell’s Agenda in 2012 Elections

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Sheldon Adelson has donated more than $16 million so far, to the election campaign and he plans to give similar support to the eventual Republican presidential nominee, whoever that person might be. Time.com

Right-Wing Neoconservatives and former Democrats from Wall Street are teaming up to defeat Obama, but can their attacks on his Israel policy divide his funding base?

 

The staunch pro-Israel campaign messaging that characterizes  this Election, can be traced back to millions of dollars in campaign funding by pro-Israel funders both inside and outside the Israel Lobby.

Time.com: Few political donors have played as significant a role as billionaire casino magnate and fierce Israel advocate Adelson has in 2012.

A $5 million gift from Adelson to the super PAC backing Newt Gingrich funded a flurry of ads that helped spark the former House Speaker’s then flagging campaign.

Along with his family, Adelson has donated more than $16 million so far, and he plans to give similar support to the eventual Republican presidential nominee, whoever that person is.

Richard Silverstein, journalist and blogger, has followed such funding before the election cycle even began…

 

More at The Real News

 

Editing: Debbie Menon

  Sheldon Adelsen “Wishes he fought for Israel NOT America”

 

The Money and the Power: IsraHell’s Gambling on US Presidential Elections

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Political Milestone: Iranian Leader’s Fatwa against Nuclear Weapons

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By Ismail Salami

Iranian solider wearing mask druing Iran-Iraq war

 

The fatwa issued by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei forbidding the production, proliferation and use of nuclear bombs is to be considered a political milestone in Iranian history and one which can salvage the Islamic nation from the spate of external threats and plots.

Fatwa is a religious decree issued by a Muslim leader against a specific issue and it is incumbent upon all Muslims to abide by it. However, in this particular case, the issuance of the fatwa has not only religious but political force as well as the leader in the Islamic Republic is the prime decision-maker.

The recent P5+1 talks, which the US officials hailed as “a step forward” and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton described as “constructive and useful”, were held in an ambience filled with optimism this fatwa inspired. Although the ten-hour talks between Iran and the six world powers apparently bore no tangible fruits, the two sides ended the talks with an air of sanguinity in a feel-good atmosphere. Further to that, the two sides seemed resolute to put an end to the long-standing dispute so stubbornly dragged on for years by the West.

Some Iranian officials have expressed hope and optimism the next round of talks slated to be held in Baghdad on May 23 will come to fruition.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Zagreb, Croatia, on Wednesday, “We are optimistic about the future of negotiations and want the other sides to put their words into action.”

The western pessimistic glasses have cast a dark haze over Iran’s nuclear energy program, making long-standing efforts to inculcate that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapons program.

Be it as it may, there is no point in believing that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons as there is no evidence whatsoever pointing to this notion. Besides, modern history has proved that Iran has never been an aggressor; rather it has become a victim of aggression. During the Iran-Iraq war in 1983, the Iraqis used mustard gas, and in March 1984, they used tabun, a nerve agent used for the first time in war. The corrupt regime of Saddam Hussein continued to use chemical weapons until the end of war in August 1988 in violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol on the use of chemical weapons. They also used the nerve agent sarin.

In March 1986, the then UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar formally announced that Iraq had used chemical weapons against Iran on the strength of the report of four chemical warfare experts sent to Iran in February and March 1986 by the UN. The report concluded that “Iraqi forces have used chemical warfare against Iranian forces”; the weapons used included both mustard gas and nerve gas. The report further stated that “the use of chemical weapons appear[ed] to be more extensive [in 1981] than in 1984.” However, the regime of Saddam Hussein made pointlessly egregious efforts to deny the report; yet, the influx of badly wounded chemical victims from Iran to Europe for receiving medical treatment was not something the Iraqi regime could easily deny.

Iranian chemical weapon victim exposed to Iraqi mustard gas during the Iran-Iraq war, breathes through a respirator.

In 1984 Iraq became the first country to use a nerve agent on the battlefield. Around 5,500 Iranians died as a result of the nerve agent between March 1984 and March 1985. Tabun kills within minutes. Also, over 16,000 Iranians were killed by the toxic blister agent mustard gas between August 1983 and February 1986.

In spite of all these inhumane atrocities perpetrated by a US-backed coup regime, the Islamic Republic never did the same to retaliate.

Painful as it is, the US government threw all its intelligence, financial and military support behind a regime it knew thrived on evil and havoc. In 1982, the US government started supplying the regime with dual-use vehicles such as heavy trucks, armored ambulances as well as materials for producing chemical weapons.

The then US President Ronald Reagan announced that the US “could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran”, and that it “would do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran.” Then CIA Director William Casey personally spearheaded the effort “to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war. Pursuant to the secret NSDD, the United States actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by providing US military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure that Iraq had the military weaponry required. The United States also provided strategic operational advice to the Iraqis to better use their assets in combat. For example, in 1986, President Reagan sent a secret message to Saddam Hussein telling him that Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran. This message was delivered by Vice President George H. W. Bush who communicated it to Egyptian President Mubarak, who in turn passed the message to Saddam Hussein. Similar strategic operational military advice was passed to Saddam Hussein through various meetings with European and Middle Eastern heads of state” (quoted from the sworn court declaration of former NSC official Howard Teicher, dated 1/31/95, regarding ‘Iraqgate).

Under the encouragement and direction of the US government, how many bombs fell on the Iranian cities while people were sleeping? How many youths lost their lives in a war that dragged on for eight years? How many women were widowed? How many children were orphaned? Is there no remission to this political insanity?

The US government is morally and financially indebted to Iran. What seems to be the right course of action to be taken by the US government is that Washington should make it clearly known to Iran that it entertains good intentions about the Iranian nation and that it is resolute to compensate for the agony and havoc it has wrought upon Iran. In other words, it is Washington which should take first steps to dispel ambiguities as to its intentions.

There seems to be little hope the upcoming talks will bear splendid fruits unless the US dismounts its mule of obstinacy, puts an end to its animosity towards the Islamic Republic, forsakes its morbid cynicism and acknowledges that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

The fatwa of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution can well serve as a beacon of light for Washington in order to find its way out of darkness and ignorance.

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HART : What do Breivik and Netanyahu have in common?

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By Alan Hart

 

Let’s start with a glance at what they do not have in common. The man now on trial for killing 77 people in bomb and gun attacks in Norway last July has admitted, even boasted about, what he did. Netanyahu denies Zionism’s crimes.

The main thing they have in common stems from the fact that they both live in fantasy worlds of their own creation and talk a lot of extreme rightwing nonsense.

The nonsense Anders Breivik speaks is driven in general by his fears about the consequences for Norway of immigration and multiculturalism and, in particular, by his vision of an Islamic takeover.

The nonsense Netanyahu speaks is driven by his perception of Israel in danger of annihilation.

As he tells and sells it, the current biggest threat to Israel’s existence is, of course, Iran.  Arguably the single most ridiculous statement he has made to date on this subject was in 2006 when, as the chairman of Likud, he addressed a gathering of Jewish American organizations. He said then, “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany.”

So what Breivik and Netanyahu have in common is, it seems to me, the mania of victimhood.

That’s a condition which Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s longest serving Director of Military Intelligence, warned about in his book Israel’s Fateful Hour.

After confirming a Zionist offer to do business with Nazi Germany on terms outlined in a proposed agreement which stated that Zionist forces would “take part in the war on Germany’s side,” (the full story is in my book),Harkabi wrote this:

“It is doubtful whether the long history of the Jews, full as it is with oddities and cruel ironies, has ever known such an attempt to make a deal with rabid enemies – of course, ostensibly for reasons of higher political wisdom… Perhaps, for peace of mind, we ought to see this affair as an aberrant episode in Jewish history.Nevertheless, it should alert us to how far extremists may go in times of distress, and where their manias may lead.”

We know where Breivik’s mania led him.

We can only speculate about where Netanyahu’s mania will lead his Israel. On present course its final destination seems to be disaster. The question is, will it be disaster only for the Zionist enterprise or disaster for the region and possibly the whole world?

Footnote

A generally accepted definition of mania (there are others) is “mental illness marked by periods of great excitement, euphoria, delusions and over activity.”

Listen to Grass’ poem here…

 


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Jolie Film a Propaganda Flop

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Angelina Jolie’s film interrupted in Moscow

 

 Accused of Aiding War Criminals

 

Angelina Jolie’s film “In the Land of Blood and Honey” has already  flopped in Serbia – the film’s premiere attracted just 13 people.

Jolie’s work has invoked severe criticism of Serbian public, because  they considered that film as a biased, which reflects Muslims’ viewpoint  on the war.

In Moscow, on the 31st of March, 2012, the film’s demonstration was interrupted by the Russian patriotic organization Russky Obraz, the members of which burst into  the showing room, unrolled a transparent reading “Killed Serbs? No, we  didn’t hear about it” with Angelina Jolie’s face depicted with blood at  her mouth.

Two activists chanted slogans “Stop lies!”, “Serbs are  brothers!” and “Bosnia is Serbian land!”. Meanwhile another activists  distributed leaflets with a detailed information about was happen in  Bosnia and why Jolie’s film is a racist attack on the Serbian people.

In the leaflets there was a list of concentration camps where Serbs  were kept, such as Silos and Celebici camps, camps in Livno,  Tomislavgrad, Bugojno, Obasje, Odzak, Ilidze, Zenica… It was reminded  that Muslim mercenaries – mujahideen – who fought on the side of Bosnian  Muslims’ government, treated Serbian civilians with a particular  cruelty, beheading and burning them.

It was also pointed ou that such  Muslim criminals like Naser Oric and Atif Dudakovic were not punished  and now are enjoying good political career and financial welfare.

Posted in Literature1 Comment

Wikileaks Editor Julian Assange interviewed Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah

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To some Julian Assange is a hero to others a spy, you can watch the show and judge for yourself below.

 

Assange, who is on bail in the UK while he fights extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations, speaks to his first guest on his new show.

Hassan Nasrallah, whom the western allies of Israel consider a terrorist, is seen and heard via a video link from a secret location in Lebanon in his first appearance on a foreign TV station in six years.

Assange faced heavy criticism when he announced in January that he would be hosting a series of talk shows on  RT, Russia TV.

He said, however, that he would maintain full editorial control and has promised to feature “iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders” on the show and focus on issues not covered in mainstream western media.

“Hezbollah urged the Syrian opposition to engage in dialogue with Assad’s regime…”

 

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Iranians Say They Took Secret Data From Drone

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WASHINGTON — Iran claimed on Sunday to have extracted secret intelligence information from an advanced American drone aircraft that crashed in the country in December, seeking a propaganda victory over what has been an embarrassing intelligence failure for the Central Intelligence Agency.       
 

The air force commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, suggested in remarks to the country’s semiofficial news agency that Iran had or would soon reverse-engineer the aircraft, known as the RQ-170 Sentinel, though American intelligence officials and experts have discounted the country’s ability to do so.       

General Hajizadeh cited as evidence data that he said was extracted from the drone’s computer hard drives revealing its operations in the months before it went down in Iran — either because it was shot down, as Iranian officials have claimed, or because it experienced a technical failure, as the Americans have said.       

The drone, he said, had undergone repairs in California in October 2010 and returned to Afghanistan in November 2010, where American officials have acknowledged it operated, though without specifying where its missions took it. He added that the drone’s computer memory revealed that it had flown over the compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed in an American raid in May 2011.       

“Had we not accessed the plane’s softwares and hard disks, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve these facts,” General Hajizadeh said, according to the news agency Fars.       

The White House and American intelligence officials declined Sunday to comment on the new claims, though independent experts expressed skepticism. They noted that the information about the drone’s activities — including its use in the Bin Laden raid — could have been drawn from public reports about the sophisticated aircraft. It was not clear what record of previous flights would have remained on the drone’s systems.       

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut and a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, also suggested that Iran’s claims were probably overblown, though he said the drone’s loss was embarrassing.       

“I think there is a history here of Iranian bluster, particularly now when they are on the defensive because of our economic sanctions against them,” he said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the increasingly punitive restrictions on Iran’s oil industry and central bank imposed by the United States and Europe because of the country’s nuclear program. “But, look, it was not good for the U.S. when the drone went down in Iran, and not good when the Iranians grabbed it.”       

Mr. Lieberman called the drone “a very sophisticated piece of machinery” that he assumed had operated in Iran, “particularly at areas where we have reason to believe that they are working on a nuclear weapon.”       

American officials have said that the drone’s onboard computers were programmed to destroy important information if it stopped responding to radio signals from its base. They said, however, that such security systems do not always function properly and that intelligence and military officials of other countries, including China and Russia, would undoubtedly try to persuade Iran to share any data or allow their experts to study it.       

Dennis M. Gormley, an expert on drones and cruise missiles at the University of Pittsburgh, said Sunday that Iran’s claims strained credibility. “It’s hard for me to imagine no self-destruct or erase mechanism was embedded in the drone to destroy sensitive systems, including software.”       

He added: “As someone who does monitor Iranian aerospace and missile claims closely, let me simply observe that they are preternaturally disposed to exaggeration.”     

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Egypt scraps IsraHell gas supply deal

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A gas pipeline on fire in the al-Arish region of Sinai (27 April 2011)

ed note–just one more excuse Israel will use in justifying her future invasion and reabsorption of the Sinai. No doubt Egypt is being goaded along in this fashion by the US in the same way that took place with Iraq invading Kuwait. America is doubtless telling Egypt–’oh, this is your affair…you are a sovereign country and free to act in your own best interests…We can’t tell you what to do…Besides, if Israel owed as much money to us as she does to you we would do the same thing’ and then as soon as Israel launches her invasion–BAM! the US will be on the tv talking about Israel’s need to deal with the terrorism on her borders and all the rest.

BBC

Egypt’s state-owned gas company says it has scrapped a controversial deal which supplies Israel with 40% of its natural gas at lower than market prices.

Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) complained it had not been paid by the Israeli-Egyptian firm that buys gas from Egypt and sells it to Israel.

Israel denied the claim and warned Egypt that it was violating an economic annex of their 1979 peace treaty.

Egypt’s military rulers have not yet commented on the deal’s cancellation.

The deal was widely unpopular in Egypt, but solidly backed by former President Hosni Mubarak who was forced to step down last February after mass protests.

Continue reading the main story

Analysis

 

image of Yolande Knell 
Yolande Knell BBC News, Jerusalem

 

The termination of the gas deal between Egypt and Israel is more than just a trade dispute; it has serious political and diplomatic consequences.

The historic Camp David Accords ended 30 years of war between these neighbours but only ever led to a cold peace. Since President Hosni Mubarak, an advocate of the deal, was ousted last year, relations between the two countries have deteriorated.

The pipeline delivering Egyptian gas to Israel has been attacked repeatedly. In September, there were riots outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo after Egyptian policemen were killed on the border. Israeli forces had been pursuing militants who crossed illegally from Egypt to carry out a deadly attack. In recent weeks, the Egyptian media and parliament have criticised Coptic Christians and the Grand Mufti of al-Azhar for visiting Jerusalem.

The latest development is another reminder that ties are unlikely to improve soon. Israel is worried about the rise of Islamists in Egypt and a new confidence among its general public about expressing anti-Israeli views.

 

Since then, the pipeline delivering gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan has been bombed at least 14 times, reducing supplies significantly.

Gas deliveries to Israel dried up for a total of 225 days in 2011 and 66 days during the first three months of 2012, and ceased after an explosion on 5 March, according to Ampal-American Israel Corporation – a stakeholder in East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), which operates the cross-border pipeline.

The shortages have seen the state-owned Israel Electric Company increase rates by a third and warn of rolling blackouts this summer.

‘Business dispute’

Ampal announced on its website on Sunday that EGAS and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), another state-owned firm, had told EMG that they were “terminating the Gas Supply and Purchase Agreement”.

“EMG [the pipeline operator] considers the termination attempt unlawful and in bad faith, and consequently demanded its withdrawal,” a statement said.

“EMG, Ampal and EMG’s other international shareholders are considering their options and legal remedies as well as approaching the various governments.”

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

We want to understand this as a trade dispute… to turn a business dispute into a diplomatic dispute would be a mistake”

End Quote Avigdor Lieberman Israeli foreign minister

Ampal is already using international arbitration to try to get compensation for the supply shortages it has experienced since the uprising.

The chairman of EGAS, Mohammed Shoeb, said it had scrapped the deal on Thursday because EMG had failed to pay for the past several months.

“It is a commercial contract between companies,” he added.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli radio stations that the cancellation of the agreement was “not a good sign”, but added: “We want to understand this as a trade dispute.”

“I think that to turn a business dispute into a diplomatic dispute would be a mistake. Israel is interested in maintaining the peace treaty and we think this is also a supreme interest of Egypt,” Mr Lieberman added.

It remains unclear whether Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) will intervene. It has not yet commented and Israeli officials said they had not yet been formally notified.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

The big saying here in Egypt is that we are subsidising the Israeli people while we are not subsidising the Egyptians”

End Quote Tamer Abu Bakr Chairman, Genco Group

Former President Mubarak faces criminal charges for his role in the 20-year gas supply agreement, which was signed in 2005. A close associate, EMG co-owner Hussein Salem, is facing extradition from Spain.

Israeli officials insist the terms of the contract are fair, but Egyptian prosecutors said last April the state had lost more than $714m.

The details of the deal have never been released publicly, but former Egyptian officials have said the gas was initially sold to EMG at about $1.25 per British thermal unit (BTU), and then increased in 2008 to $4 per BTU. EMG was able to negotiate its own terms with Israeli buyers.

The government sells gas to Egyptian companies for about $4 per BTU, while comparable deals see Turkey, Greece and Italy paying $7 to $10.

“The big saying here in Egypt is that we are subsidising the Israeli people while we are not subsidising the Egyptians,” Tamer Abu Bakr, the chairman of Genco Group, an Egyptian natural gas distribution company, told the Wall Street Journal.

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Seven injured in Tyre restaurant blast

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afp

Seven people were injured when an explosion apparently caused by a bomb shook a restaurant in the south Lebanese coastal town of Tyre, according to a Lebanese security source.

The blast occurred at midnight Sunday in the elevator of the Nocean restaurant, injuring seven people who were hospitalised, the source said.

A policeman said a bomb had apparently been placed in the lift. It exploded on the fourth floor of the building where the restaurant is situated.

The Nocean is known for its dance parties in this Shiite-majority region.

A security perimeter was set up around the scene of the blast. Chunks of stone and shards of glass were strewn around up to 1,000 metres (yards) from the blast.

Several restaurants in the region have been damaged by bombs in recent months, the last in December. Two explosions have also targeted shops selling alcohol.

Tyre is one of the few towns in south Lebanon where alcohol is served in restaurants, which brings in tourists including members of the UN force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), but the recent blasts have caused several restaurants to ban alcohol.

 

Israel’s chief of staff says covert operations in enemy states on the rise

 

washingtonpost.com

Israel’s military chief of staff says he has ordered his forces to step up covert operations in enemy countries.

Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz made the remarks Sunday in an interview published in Israel’s Yediot Ahronot daily.

“You almost won’t find a point in time where something isn’t happening somewhere in the world,” he said. “I am escalating all those special operations.” 

Gantz did not identify any of the countries or give any further details.

He said 2012 is a critical year in the standoff between Israel and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Israel and much of the West believe Iran is close to nuclear weapons capability. Israel has hinted it may strike Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail to halt its nuclear program.

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