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Entries in Saeb Erekat (23)


Israel, Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: US Restarting Negotiations?

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

See also Syria Live Coverage: Regime Rejects UN Human Rights Enquiry
Saturday's Lebanon (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Prime Minister Resigns --- What Next?

1731 GMT: Mali. Clashes between the army and Islamists killed seven people Sunday, including a soldier and two civilians, after the insurgents infiltrated northern Mali's largest city, Gao.

The army carried out what it called a "clean-up" operation after Islamists opened fire on an army camp overnight.

The city was now "calm" again, an "African military source" said, adding that the army, "backed by French and African troops, had the situation under control".

1725 GMT: Egypt. President Morsi has prompted speculaton and concern, following outside the Muslim Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters on Friday, with remarks on his Facebook page: "If I am forced to do what is required to protect this nation, then I will do it. And I fear that I might be on the verge of doing it."

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Israel-Palestine Special: Why More Settlements Are Vital to West Jerusalem's Long-Term Strategy

On Monday, Israeli authorities authorised plans to expand the Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian territory, with 1500 housing units. Reports followed that a total of an additional 6500 apartments across the 1967 Green Line will be approved this week.

The latest steps have received some international attention, with the US State Department criticising Israel's "pattern of provocation".

But here is the important question: does anyone recognise Israel's long-term agenda behind the "pattern"? These settlements are not just being established as a short-term extension of Israel --- they will be maintained as a "natural" and "inalienable" development, given the Palestinian "failure" to meet West Jerusalem's essential need for "security". These apartments are not being built to derail a would-be negotiation process; they are part of the attempt at Israel's perpetual superiority over the Palestinians.

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Israel-Palestine Special: Getting the Truth in a Phone Call from Gaza

Washington Post front page with BBC Arabic's Jihad Misharawi holding body of his 11-month-old son, killed in Israeli airstrike

Can we talk about the attack?

"There is no safe place. You get some flour, some sugar, some other necessities, and you stay home and you wait the rockets out. Remember the last time they attacked Gaza?

"There were about 400 fighters killed, but 1,100 civilians. There is no safe place for people to hide. Gaza is small and pretty much all just houses. Hamas is running about between them. How do you kill Hamas members without killing civilians?"

Does Hamas care?

"It's an investment, both for the Israelis and Hamas. After this operation is finished --- whatever it is --- Hamas will be stronger, people will feel that Hamas is the one fighting israel and giving martyrs from among its leadership. It's not easy to punish the militants. You can kill a few hundred, but it doesn't hurt them. It's very easy to administer Gaza, it's small, you can do whatever you want with a few thousand men. And Israel has an election so [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will get what he wants."

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Israel-Palestine Special: Assessing the Move for UN Recognition of a Palestinian State

This time, Washington has to bring something more than Obama’s speech, with more flexibility for the European Union initiative, to the table. One possibility? Acknowledging Hamas behind closed doors, giving Abbas a guarantee that Ramallah will never need to recognise a “Jewish state”, and promising a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in a year.

At the same time, a sign can be given to Prime Minister Netanyahu that he can be a peace-making hero ahead of Israeli elections. How? The release of Gilad Shalit, the detained Israel soldier, by Hamas.

And if this is not pursued? Well, get ready for the September display at the United Nations.

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Israel-Palestine Special: Assessing the Move for UN Recognition of a Palestinian State

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Palestine Snapshot: The Palestinian Authority's Three Steps After "Mubarak Friday"

After the departure of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Yasser Abed Rabbo has confirmed Ramallah's determination to have elections in September, without giving a specific date. Rabbo, signalling to Hamas and its leadership in Gaza, continued, "We call on parties to put aside all of their differences and to focus on conducting the elections by September at the latest."

However, Hamas is determined not to take the offer. Its spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Saturday:

Hamas will not participate or recognize or give any cover for this election and we consider this announcement a conspiracy against the Palestinian people. Hamas believes in elections but elections can come only after [political] reconciliation.

In a second step, the Palestinian Authority's top negotiator Saeb Erekat quit in the wake of the scandal over the leak of more than 16,000 "Palestine Papers" revealing the PA's manoeuvres on talks with Israel and on Gaza: "If there was any security failure in my office, then I am responsible. For that, I have resigned."

Still, as protesters march in other Arab countries, this may not be enough for Ramallah to be secure from an uprising. This morning, it is reported that  a "massive change" is expected in West Bank Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Cabinet. More Erekats are expected to give their resignations for a "fresh' face to the region and to the Palestinian people. 


Israel-Palestine Latest: Quartet Pushes Israel as Netanyahu Pushes Economic Plans

UPDATE 1830 GMT: Britain's Defense Secretary Liam Fox has underlined the importance of such a peace between Israel and Palestine in deflecting Iran's potential nuclear power, "an existential threat". Fox said:

The United Kingdom is pushing for stronger sanctions to influence Iran, but the importance of the Middle East peace process should not be overlooked.

Progress towards a two-state solution -- a secure and universally recognized Israel alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state -- is important for defusing the malign political influence of Iran in the region.

After the Quartet's meeting, German Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said:

Those who want to support moderate forces in the Middle East, those who want to support constructive forces in the Middle East, are well advised to press for progress in the Middle East peace process

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The Latest from Iran (27 January): No Money for the Babies

2145 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. We started with babies this morning, we'll close with very adult behaviour. Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi has attacked former President Hashemi Rafsanjani once again, saying religious seditionists and silent elites must be dealt with. Moslehi declared that he had documents of the 2009 sedition to back up his allegations.

2140 GMT: Parliament v. President. Reformist MP Mostafa Kavakebian has invited President Ahmadinejad to a public discussion about his letter to MPs warning that Parliament, the judiciary, and the Expediency Council were acting wrongly to oppose his plans on the budget and the Central Bank.

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The Palestine Papers: The Palestinian Authority Tries to Hit Back

Last night Al Jazeera completed three days of special broadcasts on the "Palestine Papers", the more than 1600 internal documents about the Palestinian negotiations with Israel from 1999 to 2010. The documents themselves carry on, posted not only by Al Jazeera but also by The Guardian of London.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, tried to strike back, calling the documents "fake". He told the crowd denouncing the Qatari regime, which owns Al Jazeera:

The Palestinian principles ... have not and will not change and the first of them is that East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine. No one in the world can make us give up on a centimeter of our land, the issue of the refugees or the issue of Jerusalem.

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Wikileaks 2008: Palestinian Leaders on Israeli Settlements and Gaza "Gone Forever"

Saeb Erekat (left) and Salam FayyadA leaked US cable summarises a July 2008 discussion between the Prime Minister of the West Bank, Salam Fayyad, and chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Fayyad pointed to the dilemma for Gaza. On the one hand, Fayyad argues that "its crossings must be controlled or it will be gone forever", but on the other, he warns Americans and Israelis not to give Hamas the 'vulnerability' excuse to exploit the Gazans. The West Bank Prime Minister wanted to talk to Hamas and bring it to the legitimate political arena. This, however, could not come true at the expense of Israel's "security".

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