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Entries in Cyprus (3)


Middle East Inside Line: Hezbollah's "Evidence" on Hariri Assassination; A Nuclear Reactor in Lebanon?

Hezbollah's "Evidence": Two weeks ago, Hezbollah's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of being behind the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He claimed aerial surveillance tapes showed Israeli intelligence had been tracking Hariri's movements before his death in a truck bomb explosion.

On Tuesday, UN-appointed prosecutor Daniel Bellemar, said that the "evidence", six DVDs that Nasrallah had already submitted, was "incomplete". "This can properly be done only if it is based on a complete record," Bellemare said.

Nuclear Reactor in Lebanon?: Referring to the country's electricity crisis, Nasrallah urged the Lebanese government on Tuesday to draw conclusions from current problems: Beirut should follow in Tehran's footsteps and build a nuclear reactor to Iran's Bushehr plant. Nasrallah added:
The cost of building the Bushehr reactor was less than Lebanon's investment in the electricity network. I call on the government to build a nuclear reactor to generate electricity, and then we can also sell energy to Syria, Cyprus, and other countries in the region.

On the same day, a clash between supporters of the Shi’ite Hizbullah and a Sunni conservative group killed at least three and wounded several others. It was reported that Muhammad Fawaz, the local Hizbullah commander in Bourj Abu Haidar, was slain along with his subordinate Ali Jouaz.

Israel-Palestine-Gaza Latest: Not So Fast With Those Talks?; Lebanese Aid Ship Delayed

Cracks are appearing this morning in the narrative of warm acceptance, at least on the Palestinian side, of the US formal invitation for direct Israel-Palestine talks on 2 September.

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was "very angry" when he heard US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say that the talks would have no preconditions. Washington reportedly had to call Abbas three times in less than an hour to calm him down and ensure his Yes to the talks.

Israel-Palestine Analysis: Why Did Ramallah Agree to Direct Talks (Yenidunya)

Sherine Tadros of Al Jazeera English adds that half of the members of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization did not attend the PLO's discussion over direct talks, a sign of a possible split in the movement.

On the Gaza front, the Lebanese aid ship Mariam delayed its departure on Saturday after Cyprus denied permission to sail through its waters or to use its ports. Organizers hope to reach a deal with Turkey and/or Greece by Monday.

Gaza Latest (20 August): Aid Ship Mariam to Sail on Sunday?, UN Report on Gaza Restrictions, & Hamas v. Fatah

Will Mariam Sail to Gaza?: As Palestine Today reported Thursday that an aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip had departed from Algeria, the organizers of the Lebanese ship Mariam said that they plan to set sail from Lebanon on Sunday.

One of the organisers, Samar al-Hajj, said:
All on board were instructed to carry details of their blood groups in case they need blood transfusions in the event of being attacked by Israeli forces.

There are nuns, doctors, lawyers, journalists, Christian and Muslim women on board.

Gaza: UN Releases Report on War “No Judgement”
Turkey’s Israel “Problem”: Analysing the Supposed Threat from Washington (Yenidunya)

The Cypriot ambassador to Lebanon, Kyriacos Kouros, told The Associated Press that the Mariam will be turned back when it reaches Cyprus. Kouros said:
We decided that such a ship will not be allowed to enter Cyprus and if such a Gaza-bound ship docks in a Cypriot port the crew and the passengers will be deported to their country of origin.

Hajj's response was sharp and clear: "We are not children who can be told to stay home."

UN Criticism on Gaza: A report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that Israel Defense Force restrictions on Palestinian access to farmland on the Gazan side of the Israeli-Gaza border, as well as to fishing zones along the Gaza beach, over the last 10 years have affected about 178,000 individuals directly, in addition to causing millions of dollars in losses.

The report was based on more than 100 interviews and focus group meetings, as well as analysis of data gathered from other sources. The report says that 17% of Gaza lands and 85% of beachfront zone have been restricted. Live fire has killed 22 people and wounded 146 who entered restricted zones since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. OCHA estimated some $308 million has been lost.

Israel's official position is that the restriction zones are to prevent rocket attacks.

Hamas Targets Fatah: In response to a series of decisions taken by the Palestinian Authority, including banning the recitation of the Koran over mosque loudspeakers ahead of  the call to prayer, shutting down hundreds of centers for teaching the Koran, and firing hundreds of mosque imams Hamas accused Ramallah on Tuesday of "waging war on Islam and Allah". Hamas claimed the decision to ban the Koran recitation had been taken at the request of Jewish settlers who complained about the loud noise from the minarets.

However, the Palestinian Authority said all the centres were being used as bases and meeting places for Hamas supporters and the fired imams were affiliated with the Islamist movement.