Saturday, June 23, 2007
NEW LEADER FOR EUROPEAN UNION SUMMIT AGREES
22.06.2007 - 09:24 CET | By Lucia Kubosova
As a surprise by-side move in the debate on revising the EU constitution, French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he has secured the scrapping of a crucial competition clause from the bloc's new treaty, with experts concerned it could undermine Brussels' powers against protectionism and monopolies.Speaking to journalists after the first session of the European summit on Thursday (21 June), Mr Sarkozy said that his demand to drop a reference to free and undistorted competition from the list of the union's objectives received a positive answer from Germany's Angela Merkel.There was some play on that, but today's presidency document satisfies our demand, he said, according to Reuters.
The competition clause had been mentioned in the European treaties since the very first founding document was signed in 1957. Officials and experts now fear its loss could weaken the commission's role as an antitrust watchdog and a controller of national champions.The French delegation also tried to change the wording of the goals of the European monetary union, by highlighting an objective on securing economic growth while dropping a reference to price stability.The move corresponds with Paris' long-standing criticism of the European Central Bank policy, which has been raising interest rates to curb inflation while keeping the euro strong compared to the US dollar, harming French exporters.EU diplomats suggested the fiscal change is likely to meet strong opposition from Berlin and other member states, according to the Financial Times.In another potential change in economic policies, EU leaders appear ready to back calls led by the Netherlands to strengthen the protection of public services from single market liberalisation pressures.
ARE THE FEDS DOING ENOUGH TO PREVENT A CATASTROPHIC ATTACK?
By Joel C. Rosenberg
(WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2007) -- On April 30th, I wrote a weblog column entitled, Nuclear Attack: How Real Is The Threat? Ex-CIA Chief Says Its Al-Qaeda's Top Priority.In the piece, I quoted a number of analysts warning that it's not a matter of if but when that a nuclear, chemical or biological attack will occur inside the American homeland. Among them, I quoted Graham Allison, author of the book, Nuclear Terrorism, who has warned: If policy makers in Washington keep doing what they are currently doing about the threat, a nuclear terrorist attack on America is likely to occur in the next decade. And if one lengthens the time frame, a nuclear strike is inevitable. After I posted the story, I was contacted by a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security who said the statistics Allison cites were out of date. He briefed me on how much DHS has been doing in recent years to plug up the holes. He specifically pointed me to the administration's Container Security Initiative, as well as its Secure Freight Initiative, both of which represent dramatic increases in funding, manpower, technology and advanced intelligence strategies (such as the Megaports Initiative) designed to prevent any ship, truck or airplane from carrying cargo into U.S. territory that could have weapons of mass destruction inside. What's more, he noted that the administration's new budget also call for increases funding for these initiatives.
After reviewing this material, I thought it only fair to pass it on. I do believe the administration is taking large and important steps in the right direction. I think that more needs to be done, but so does DHS. Hopefully Congress will authorize sufficient funding to make our ports safe and secure. We dare not lose our focus. After all, all the intelligence we're gathering indicates that radical Islamic jihadists want to trigger a catastrophic series of attacks to cripple our economy and decapitate our government. As I continue to do research amidst writing my next novel, Dead Heat, I'll continue to update you on what I'm learning.
SAMPLE DHS BUDGET REQUEST
February 5, 2007
Priority: Continue to Protect our Nation from Dangerous Goods
We are aggressively working to improve maritime cargo security, including enhancing domestic and overseas container scanning. In addition, the Department is dedicating funding to improve technology and reduce costs to the BioWatch program, a key element in its comprehensive strategy for countering terrorism. The following initiatives are fundamental to the Department achieving our goal of protecting the nation from dangerous goods: Total funding of $178 million will provide for the procurement and deployment of radiation portal monitors, including next-generation Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) systems. The requested resources will assist the Department in achieving its goal of screening 98 percent of all containers entering the United States by the end of FY 2008.
An increase of $15 million is requested for the Secure Freight Initiative that is designed to maximize radiological and nuclear screening of U.S. bound containers from foreign ports. Secure Freight includes a next generation risk assessment screening program and an overseas detection network, while merging existing and new information regarding containers transiting through the supply chain to assist customs and screening officials in making security and trade decisions.
An increase of $47.4 million is requested for the Acceleration of Next-Generation Research and Development program which will increase funding across multiple research, development, and operations program areas.
This Week with Rabbi Eckstein
June 21, 2007
Dear Friend of The Fellowship,
By now, you have all heard that the terrorist group Hamas has solidified its hold over the Gaza Strip. In the past two weeks, the fighting between Hamas and its rival Palestinian faction, Fatah, has reached levels that make the Palestinian-Israeli conflict pale in comparison. And it has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that, despite their efforts to paint Israel as villain, the Palestinians are their own worst enemies.
In fact, fighting between Hamas and Fatah has been continuous since Hamas came to power in January 2006, despite numerous treaties and the forming of a Hamas-Fatah unity government last February. But last week’s events took the violence to a new level. On June 14, after days of fierce fighting during which over a hundred people were killed, Hamas claimed control of Gaza, declaring, The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived. Violence and chaos erupted, as Hamas sought to wipe out every vestige of Fatah’s power in the area. The offices and homes of Fatah leaders were attacked and looted, and, in some cases, Fatah members were rounded up and shot in front of their wives and children.
Meanwhile, fearing a similar struggle in the West Bank, Fatah rushed to solidify its hold on the area. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, head of Fatah, announced the dissolution of the Palestinian unity government which most believe was little more than a sham to begin with and announced the formation of an emergency cabinet. He appointed a new prime minister of the emergency government, rounded up Hamas officials in the West Bank, and paraded heavily armed Fatah fighters throughout the area in a show of power meant to silence opposition.
Obviously, Israel is deeply concerned with these developments. Gaza, a haven for terrorists since Israel left the area in 2005, could turn into a true terrorist state. Rocket attacks from the area targeting Israeli cities like Sderot, which have been going on for years and have grown more frequent recently, could escalate even further. Israel’s im mediate tactic will likely be to support Fatah, seen as the lesser of two evils, against Hamas, which is more rabid in its hatred of Israel. But while this may be necessary in the short term, experience shows it is an extremely risky proposition. Previous efforts to negotiate peace with Fatah have failed, and given its corruption and sponsorship of terrorism, there is little reason to believe it will be a real partner for peace. The lesser of two evils, as one writer recently put it, is still evil.
Meanwhile, for those stuck in Gaza, there is truly no good solution at the moment. Palestinian Christians, in particular, are at great risk we know that, where radical Islam triumphs, Christians suffer. We see it in Saudi Arabia, where public worship by Christians is expressly forbidden by law, and severe persecution is common. We see it in Iraq, where radical Muslim terrorists have given Christians in some regions the option of either converting to Islam, marrying their daughters to terrorists, paying the jizya (an Islamic tax imposed on non-Muslims), or leaving im mediately with only the clothes on their backs. We see it in Iran, where the radical Muslim regime oppresses a tiny Christian population through a combination of harassment and close surveillance. Already we have heard from Gaza stories of churches being attacked, and of violence and intimidation being used against Christians. There is no reason to believe that they will be spared the fate experienced by Christians in other Muslim countries.
In the face of this desperate situation, I ask all of you to pray. Pray for wisdom for Israel’s leaders as they face the difficult task of securing peace and safety for their country, and for Israel’s people seeking to maintain normal lives in these difficult and uncertain times. Pray for Christians in Gaza and throughout the Middle East who live under terrible oppression. And pray that leaders throughout the world will take a stand for Israel against her enemies and those who seek her destruction.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
Fire-Fighters' Strike Douses Gay Post-March Rally
by Hillel Fendel
After rejecting three anti-gay-pride march petitions, the Supreme Court was finally forced to revoke permission for the homosexuals' post-march rally. The contrast in Jerusalem was vivid late Thursday afternoon, as on one end of the city, 3,000 religious Jews held a prayer rally, while 2-3 kilometers away, 2,000 others were showing off their sexual preferences. The Israel Broadcasting Authority's Channel One television news showed, for many consecutive minutes, a split screen with both events - a live depiction of the struggle for the spirit of Jerusalem, the world's holiest city.
The religious Jews recited Psalms and special Tikun HaKlali and other prayers, while the homo-lesbian marchers marched with signs supporting homosexuality. Media reports made much of the fact that 7,000 policemen and women were required to protect the 2,000 marchers. The parade ended, mostly uneventfully, after an hour. At one point, the march was stopped for several minutes after a disturbance caused by two men - dressed as marchers - who started insulting the gay parade participants.
A dramatic two days in the Supreme Court - Wednesday and Thursday - ended with what both sides called a victory. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, Trade Minister Eli Yishai and others filed suits against holding the parade in Jerusalem, but the Court rejected all of them, ruling essentially that freedom of expression overrides - in this case - the offense caused to public sensitivities. Today, on the day of the parade, a fourth, last-minute, suit was filed, claiming that because of the firefighters' strike and the resulting lack of Fire Department approval, the parade could not be held. The petitioners said that their own request to hold a parade of animals yesterday - equating bestiality with homosexuality - was turned down for a similar reason, namely, the lack of a necessary permit from the Agriculture Ministry.
Though the Jerusalem Open House (JOH), which organized the gay march, tried to get fire trucks from other sources, including the Jewish National Fund, they were unsuccessful. The Court then ruled that the march - a 500-meter affair along King David St. - could be held, but the gay happening to be held afterwards at Liberty Bell Park must be called off. Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, who filed the suit, expressed their satisfaction, saying it had ruined the party and promising to continue their struggle until such marches cease.
Roads Closed, Some Arrests
Roads were closed in various areas of the city in deference to the march and the prayer rallies, and traffic jams began as early as the mid-morning hours. Twelve anti-parade protestors were arrested, police found one home-made bomb, and a hareidi-religious man was arrested as he tried to enter the Temple Mount, saying he wished to convert to Islam because the authorities had allowed the parade to take place.
One hareidi-religious representative explained on Channel Two television that if we had wanted, it's clear we could have stopped the march by bringing out a million people. But we chose to take a more educational approach - and instead, the other side, by stubbornly insisting, at whatever cost, on provoking most of the city's sensibilities, became the 'non-enlightened' ones. A Jerusalem woman named Rebecca, who helped organize a petition that collected tens of thousands of signatures against last year's homosexual parade, said at the time, I want to make it clear that this is not a homophobic issue; if the Mardi Gras, a heterosexual event, were to be held here, we would object with the same vociferousness. The reason is because Jerusalem is the spiritual dimension of the world; it is a spiritual jewel to the world, and we don't want it tarnished... We want to show that the majority of the people in this city do not want sexuality paraded around without modesty or dignity. In addition, homosexuality in particular is not something that we want to see advocated in our holy city.
Andrew Friedman, writing for Ynet last year, said he asked JOH head Noa Sattah why her organization had not routed the parade through the Muslim and Christian quarters of Jerualem. We don’t want to offend them [the Arabs], she explained, to which Friedman responded, But many Jews are also offended by the march. Seems to me that means you are careful not to offend Arab residents, but feel it is your right to offend Jewish ones. Friedman wrote that Sattah's silence in response was deafening.
PM Olmert Sees 4-Way Summit as 'New Start'
by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
Emphasizing that he prefers to see the positive side of the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday that his upcoming summit with Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian Authority leaders represents a new start in relations between Israel and the PA. The meeting between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert on Sunday will be the first such meeting after the Hamas coup in Gaza. Also taking part in the summit at the Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh will be Jordanian King Abdullah II and, the host of the event, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In his remarks, delivered at a gathering of the Keren HaYesod organization in Haifa, Olmert said that he would work together with the Arab leaders at the summit to create a platform for a new start between us and the Palestinians.The Prime Minster also discussed his meeting with United States President George Bush this week, saying that the US premier wants to realize the dream of the creation of a Palestinian state before the end of his term in office. To that end, we will have the support and involvement of the United States, he explained.
Regarding the Hamas takeover of Gaza, Olmert said, I prefer to see not only the dangers, but also the possibilities. PA Arabs outside of Gaza, he noted, see a new and better environment. Looking back over the difficulties of the past year in general, Prime Minister Olmert said, the final result has been the creation of hope and a new opportunity.
European Union Leaders Reach Deal On Reform Treaty - Update
(RTTNews) - Saturday, European Union leaders reached agreement in Brussels on an outline of new rules to govern the 27-member bloc, reports BBC.
The European Union announced a compromise to delay until 2014 a new voting system that reduces Poland's influence - the main stumbling block. Other proposals visualize a long-term president and a foreign affairs head.
The new treaty, expect to be finalized toward the end of this year, conserves much of the planned EU constitution, which was rejected by voters in 2005. The treaty will need to be ratified by each of the EU's member states, before entering into force in mid-2009. BBC's Oana Lungescu said, After two years of uncertainty, the road for EU reforms is clear.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the current EU president, said: We are very, very satisfied with what we have been able to conclude. Mrs. Merkel said the talks had been hard - with Poland, the UK and the Netherlands each steadfastly protecting their interests.
The chief difficulty had been Warsaw's demand to keep its voting power, which is presently almost equal to that of Germany's, even though its population is only half as large. The latest system - known as a double majority - will now be phased-in beginning in 2014 and fully implemented three years later. Under this system, a 55% majority of EU countries with at least 65% of the bloc's population will be required for a change to be approved.
The accord is also set to include most of the main points of the failed constitution, such as: a full-time president of the European Council - the regular gatherings of prime ministers and presidents; a new foreign affairs chief, with the profile and the budget to give the EU more clout on the world stage; fewer national veto powers and a slimmed-down European Commission from 2014.
Britain won changes, including guarantees that its employment and social security laws would not be affected by a European Union Charter of Rights and that it would not be outvoted on justice and home affairs questions.
The four essential things that Britain wanted in order to protect our position have all been obtained said Tony Blair at the end of his last EU summit as British prime minister.
Those were first of all to make it absolutely clear that the charter on fundamental rights was not going to be justiciable in British courts or alter British law. Mr. Blair also wanted to maintain national control over foreign policy, justice and home affairs.
The Netherlands, too, was satisfied that the role of national parliaments in Europe is to be strengthened and the criteria for new members joining the EU are included in the treaty.
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WELL THIS WILL LEAD TO AN EU PRESIDENT LIKE THE BIBLE SAYS MUST HAPPEN SO THE EU CAN SIGN A PEACE TREATY WITH THE ISRAELIS, ARABS AND MANY IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
EU leaders agree on foreign chief By Yves Clarisse and Niclas Mika
Fri Jun 22, 11:35 AM ET
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders reached broad agreement on Friday on a single post to run EU foreign affairs, the first success at a summit on the bloc's future, but Poland held up progress towards a treaty to reform the Union. The leaders of the 27 member states agreed on the job title, role and powers of a High Representative of the European Union for foreign policy, defense and security, diplomats said.The post will combine the jobs of foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who does mostly crisis management, and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who controls the executive European Commission's aid budget.
The new foreign policy chief would chair meetings of EU foreign ministers and head a combined external action service drawing on both national and EU diplomats, after Britain dropped its reservations on those points, the diplomats said.The provisional accord was reached on the second day of a crucial summit meant to launch negotiations on a treaty to reform the bloc's institutions, replacing the defunct EU constitution and helping the bloc face up to global challenges.German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hosting the summit, struggled to break Poland's resistance to planned changes to the bloc's voting system which Warsaw says would favor member states with larger populations and reduce its own influence.
Merkel met Polish President Lech Kaczynski three times in 12 hours to try to ease his concerns.We're working hard. The problems are not yet solved but everyone is trying, said Merkel, who also met the leaders of the other states with concerns over the treaty Britain, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
Finnish President Tarja Halonen said she sensed progress.
I would say the atmosphere was today better...I am more optimistic now than I was this morning, she told reporters.Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a lot of hard talking lay ahead: I still believe in an agreement but it will be a long negotiation.
Acrimony grew over Poland's repeated references to its suffering at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War Two to justify its opposition to the voting system. It says it would have a larger population were it not for heavy wartime losses.But Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the president's twin brother, was unapologetic. This is simply the truth. This is not about settling accounts with the Germans. This is about making people aware about a certain moral situation, he told reporters in Warsaw.
He reiterated that Poland would consider other options if there was no agreement on its proposal on EU voting rules.Backers of reform say a revamp of the EU's complex decision-making structures is needed for further enlargement of the bloc and to tackle challenges such as climate change.They say it will provide clear leadership, a stronger voice for the EU in the world and more say for European and national parliaments. Critics fear a dilution of national sovereignty. The treaty plan was salvaged from the EU constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Failure at the summit would deepen divisions in the Union. It could prompt a small group of states to press ahead with closer integration, leaving others behind, and make richer west European countries more reluctant to aid poorer newcomers.
POLAND ISOLATEDOVER VOTING SYSTEM
Nearly all the EU states favor a double majority voting formula requiring 55 percent of member states representing 65 percent of the EU population to pass decisions.
Poland has proposed an alternative under which voting power would be based on the square root of each country's population. This would favor smaller states rather than larger ones. A spokesman for French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he made a proposal based on the so-called Ioannina Compromise -- giving states just short of a blocking minority an emergency brake to postpone decisions and force more negotiations. But EU diplomats said Lech Kaczynski wanted those measures further tightened and proposed that existing voting rules be maintained until 2014 at least and ideally through to 2020.
Poland also sought pledges that EU countries would help each other in the event of energy supply crunches, a major concern given the bloc's dependence on Russian oil and gas imports. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the other leader who could scupper a deal, has said Britain will sign up to a treaty only if a list of demands are met. But other leaders say he has struck a conciliatory tone at his final EU summit.
Eighteen EU nations ratified the constitutional treaty, but even they accept it must be cut to allow France, the Netherlands and Britain to avoid referendums their governments might lose. Yet some key institutional changes are set to be kept, such as creating a president of the European Council of governments elected for 2-1/2 years instead of the current six-month rotating presidency which has grown unwieldy in the enlarged EU.
Friday, June 22, 2007
EU TREATY TOUGH TO SOLVE
20.06.2007 - 12:47 CET | By Honor Mahony
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The German presidency has a paper outlining the issues it suggests need negotiating in an intergovernmental conference on a new treaty - but the list, which includes foreign policy, the role of national parliaments and citizens rights, looks set to give rise to lengthy and bitter negotiations.The 11-page document - obtained by EUobserver - suggests that many of the innovations of the EU constitution be dropped, right down to the naming of new laws.
The new document should be called a Reform Treaty, the foreign minister should have another title, symbols such as the anthem and flag should be dropped, a sentence on the primacy of EU law should be taken out in favour of a declaration on existing EU case law, while EU legislation should continue to be called regulations and directives, instead of EU laws and framework laws.The paper also allows for opting-out of judicial and police matters - enabling member states to go forward on a given dossier while allowing others not to participate. If a third - or nine - member states want to go ahead with cooperation in this area, they should be able to, according to the paper.
There is to be some new language on common foreign and security policy, which the UK has pushed up the topic hotlist with several 11th hour complaints.A new paragraph suggests that foreign policy is subject to specificic procedures and that the European Court of Justice shall not have jurisdiction in this area. The European Commission and the European Parliament are not to get any extra power and language in related articles is to be tightened up so that the union cannot get more authority in this area. The topic came up for heated discussion on Tuesday evening when London indicated that it wanted to reduced the powers of the foreign minister. It also objected to the proposed EU diplomatic service, saying it should only contain national officials. Meanwhile, national parliaments would be given slightly more say on EU legislation but not going nearly as far as some countries - such as the Netherlands - have pushed for.
The length of time that they have to object to laws proposed by the commission will be extended from six to eight weeks. If a third of national parliaments object to a proposal, then the commission will have to submit a reasoned opinion as to why it is bringing the law, but it will not be obliged to withdraw it.
Power-sharing and enlargement
The final provisions of the treaty foresee an article on volunatary withdrawal from the union while procedures for revising the treaty are to remain. But it is to be made clear that treaties can be revised to increase or reduce the competences conferred upon the union. Meanwhile, the criteria for further enlargement of the union are to be changed. Would-be member states will have to respect the values of the European Union rather than the principles as currently stated. Countries will also be obliged to show commitment to promoting such values. This new wording is a sop to both France and The Netherlands which wanted stricter enlargement critieria included in a future treaty. Serveral member states pointed out however on Tuesday evening that including the actual Copenhagen criteria on democratic criteria would be subject to the European Court of Justice's jurisdiction, allowing third states to challenge the EU.
Other issues include the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is to be included in a single article only which makes it legally binding and sets outs its scope, with London fearing it will impinge on its sovereignty because it guarantees the right to strike, amongst other issues. There is also to be a new article on member states' social security systems, saying that if a country fears that the scope, cost, or financial structure of their welfare system will be affected then they can refer the matter to the European Council. As for the lay-out, the provisions are to become part of the Treaty on European Union and the original Treaty Establishing the European Community.
© AP 2007-06-20
At their summit in Brussels, EU leaders hope to agree on a slimmed-down version of their draft constitution which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Here are key elements of the charter and whether they are likely to be scrapped or salvaged under a new treaty
Europe is based on equality of persons, freedom, respect for reason,and draws «inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe. It proclaims: «The people of Europe are determined to transcend their ancient divisions, and, united ever more closely, to forge a common destiny. Expected to be scrapped because French and Dutch voters objected to the complexity of text.
SYMBOLS & NAME OF TREATY 'CONSTITUTION
The constitution enshrines the EU flag a circle of 12 golden stars on a blue background. It designates Beethoven's Ode to Joy as the EU anthem and makes the euro the official currency. It designates May 9 as Europe Day and declares the EU's official motto: United in Diversity. Reference to symbols and the name of the treaty is expected to be scrapped amid widespread fears they hint at the creation of a European Superstate.
A LEGALLY BINDING CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
The 50-article charter contains an exhaustive list of well-established rights, such as freedom of speech and religion, but also includes the right to shelter, education, collective labor bargaining and fair working conditions. Might not be included in the new treaty amid strong British opposition it could erode sovereignty over domestic law.
NEW VOTING SYSTEM
Under a new voting system, EU laws and other measures are adopted if at least 55 percent of EU nations say yes and they represent 65 percent of EU citizens. The double majority voting rules give each state one vote and adds their weighting based on population. Poland is demanding a change to this system arguing it unfairly favors bigger states like Germany.
MORE MAJORITY VOTING
Ends national vetoes in almost 50 new policy areas, including judicial and police cooperation, education and economic policy. Preserves unanimity in foreign and defense policy, social security, taxation and culture. Expected to stay but Britain pushing for new opt-outs in judicial and police areas.
BIGGER ROLE FOR NATIONAL PARLIAMENTS
National parliaments will get powers to raise a yellow-card in drafting of EU legislation. The Netherlands is demanding more democratic control over EU lawmaking. Expected to stay.
The president would be chosen by EU leaders for a five-year term to chair EU summits, «facilitate cohesion and consensus» and represent the EU abroad. Expected to be stay.
EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTER
The foreign minister would chairs EU foreign minister meetings; formulate policy on issues ranging from terrorism to peacekeeping; represent the EU abroad alongside the EU president. Expected to stay but role and name could be toned down in new treaty.
MORE 'FLEXIBLE' UNION
Makes it easier for some countries to opt out of EU policies they don't like, or to band together to push through policies without others being able to stop them. Expected to stay.
The European Parliament gets more power especially in justice and interior affairs o influence or reject EU legislation. Expected to stay.
TRIMMING EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Cuts the EU executive office from the current 30 members to two-thirds of the number of member states, or 17, starting in 2014. Commissioners will be selected on a rotation system among the 25 member states, and will sit for five-year terms. Expected to stay.
One EU official remarked that the future Reform Treaty - which retains most of the rejected EU constitution but in this new amended form - is now unbelievably ugly and will be not at all clear to the citizens. The paper is Germany's suggestion for the mandate of the so-called intergovernmental conference which, if EU leaders agree on Thursday, is to start work in July.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
BARASSO WARNS POLAND ON TREATY
Barroso warns Poland on treaty, Warsaw talks tough By Paul Taylor
Tue Jun 19, 6:46 PM ET
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission warned Poland on Tuesday it could lose money and support if it blocks a deal to reform European Union institutions at a summit this week, but Warsaw vowed to fight on. Britain meanwhile set out last-minute demands to water down the EU's common foreign and security policy in a way that diplomats said would largely emasculate the role of a proposed European foreign minister. Poland has demanded a change in the voting reform designed to ease decision-making in the enlarged Union, saying the new system would give big states, especially Germany, too much power at Warsaw's expense.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the new central and east European member states who joined the EU in 2004 and this year needed to demonstrate that the 27-nation bloc was still capable of taking difficult decisions. I believe it would be in their interest for them to show that their membership of the EU is not making the union's life more difficult, Barroso said, two days before a crucial summit on the treaty to replace the defunct EU constitution. Failure to agree on a mandate to negotiate a reform treaty would set back all EU business and weaken the mechanisms of cohesion and solidarity, he said, using two EU terms for financial transfers from rich to poor member states.
Please avoid appearing as blocking. This is not intelligent, this is not in your interest, Barroso said.In a swipe at British demands for exemptions from more EU policies, Barroso also said opt-outs could not become the rule in the Union, or else the bloc would eventually fall apart.
Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said his country was only seeking equal treatment, complaining that the German EU presidency had taken all other countries' concerns into account except the Polish position.This (Poland's position) will be defended with full ruthlessness, there is no plan B, he told a news conference.
Germany circulated a highly complex draft mandate to representatives of the 27 EU leaders, aimed at launching negotiations on a slimmed-down treaty to replace the constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.Polish negotiator Marek Cichocki later claimed progress, saying the Germans had for the first time officially acknowledged in a footnote to the negotiating mandate that two countries had concerns with the proposed voting system.This footnote is a first step in the right direction. Berlin for the first time admitted there is a problem with the voting system, Cichocki told Polish reporters after a five-hour meeting of the so-called sherpas in Brussels.
However, an EU diplomat present at the meeting said the German text merely noted that two delegations wished to raise the issue at this week's summit and gave no commitment that it would be on the agenda of negotiations for a new treaty.Several EU leaders voiced doubts about whether the summit on Thursday and Friday would be able to reach agreement given Poland's resistance on the voting issue.Currently there is no proposal on the table that we know will go through, but we have a couple of days to make that happen, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said after a meeting of Nordic leaders in Punkaharju, eastern Finland.
Barroso said failure to agree this week would damage the EU's credibility, and weaken its voice on issues such as globalization, energy security and climate change. Only the Czechs have lent Poland some support, while the other 25 member states insist the voting reform must stay. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has vowed he will not allow Europe a greater say over Britain's judicial system, foreign policy or its tax and benefits arrangements. British negotiators said London not only wanted separate legal arrangements for European foreign policy but wanted to prevent the EU foreign minister, whose title would be downgraded, from chairing meetings of national foreign ministers or speaking at the United Nations, except with permission from Security Council members.
Furthermore, London wanted the EU's proposed foreign service to be entirely inter-governmental, without including the European Commission's 3,500-strong external action service. Gordon Brown, who will take over as prime minister when Blair steps down on June 27, joined Blair for a teleconference on the treaty with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday. Presidential spokesman David Martinon said the three leaders had reviewed their red lines. Sarkozy told the Britons France wanted a treaty that is not left with nothing in it, he said. (Additional reporting by Terhi Kinnunen, Punkaharju, Finland, Adam Jasser and Chris Borowski in Warsaw; Adrian Croft in London and Andras Gergely in Budapest, Emmanuel Jarry in Paris)
EU treaty rifts remain after deal on name and symbols
18.06.2007 - 09:26 CET | By Mark Beunderman
EUOBSERVER / LUXEMBOURG - EU foreign ministers have agreed on how the new EU treaty should be presented – it should not be called a constitution, and not contain symbols such as an EU flag – but key divisions on the substance of the text remain unresolved.Of course we don't have a guarantee of the success we are all hoping for and that we are all intensively working for will actually come about, German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier said after talks with EU counterparts in Luxembourg on Sunday (17 June).
But he indicated that progress had been made, explaining all 18 states which ratified the original draft constitution had now agreed to drop the term constitution.Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen, whose country together with France in 2005 rejected the constitution in a referendum, said it looks like the constitution will be definitely off the table on Thursday, with EU leaders set to tackle the disputed document at a summit later this week. A new look constitution will simply be an amending treaty changing the current Nice Treaty in a number of ways while avoiding the constitutional terminology which sceptics say make the EU look like a state.
The Luxembourg meeting also produced agreement on the scrapping of EU symbols such as the 12-star flag and EU anthem from the 2004 text.All agreed that the symbols can be taken out of the text – except for the euro, said Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn.
But deep rifts remain on key parts of the treaty that go beyond mere names and symbols and which concern the division of power between the EU and its member states.
The status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights – a document listing citizens rights and fully integrated into the draft constitution – is the subject of strong controversy, with the UK in particular opposing a charter that is legally binding.
This is extremely difficult, Mr Asselborn said, indicating it was unacceptable for the majority of member states that the binding character of the charter be given up.
We raised this as a prime issue to people when we explained the constitution, he said, referring to Luxembourg's referendum on the EU constitution which resulted in a yes in 2005.The legally binding status of the charter also figured in a list of demands put forward by France and Spain on Sunday. According to a Spanish diplomat, the list amounted to the substance of a new look treaty. The diplomat also emphasized the importance of France – having rejected the constitution – and Spain – having approved it by referendum – showing a common front on the issue.Apart from a binding rights charter, the Franco-Spanish wish-list list also includes a number of other topics which are still controversial.
Paris and Madrid seek the scrapping of a number of national vetoes as proposed in the draft constitution. This is strongly opposed by London which is not yet prepared to give up its veto in justice and police matters.France's president Nicolas Sarkozy and Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero will also defend the so-called double majority voting system, which is heavily opposed by Poland.
The Polish question
The voting weights issue is seen as a major stumbling block for an agreement at this week's EU summit, with Warsaw proposing its own alternative voting system which would give itself more power relative to Germany.Sunday's gathering in Luxembourg did not make the issue any less pressing with the German EU presidency keeping it off the ministers' agenda. We have maintained our position, said Poland's Anna Fotyga after the talks.
Other outstanding issues left by foreign ministers to their political bosses include whether the EU should have a single legal personality – enabling it to sign international agreements – and whether its powers in foreign policy should be bound to legal limits, with London again seen as a main player in this area. EUobserver
Finally! The full exposé of North American agenda
Book documents plans for merger of U.S., Mexico, Canada
June 20, 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
WASHINGTON – Resistance to enforcing immigration laws and border security by political elites in the nation's capital is, at least in part, a result of plans to promote political, social and economic integration of the U.S., Mexico and Canada, charges a new book, The Late Great USA. It's the only context in which the current immigration travesty makes sense, says Jerome Corsi, co-author of the best-selling Unfit for Command,and it must be stopped. Millions of Americans, shocked by the Senate grand bargain on immigration that gives the precious gift of legalization to millions of illegal aliens and felons, have taken to the phones to demand no amnesty. But, claims Corsi, there's far more to the current Senate bill – a story documented in shocking detail in The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada, published by WND Books.
Prior to this 'grand bargain' cooked up in a backroom by our so-called representatives, many people had never heard of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, yet several amendments in the Senate bill are designed specifically to further the SPP's agenda, explains Corsi. In The Late Great USA, Corsi shows how the SPP, an agreement signed in 2005 by Bush, Paul Martin of Canada and Vicente Fox of Mexico, is nothing less than a full-frontal assault on American sovereignty. This aim to create a North American Union between the United States, Mexico and Canada is the real reason behind comprehensive immigration reform.Says Corsi, Bush's goal to create a North American Union – with no borders, a shared currency, and utterly no voice for average Americans in their own futures – is the real reason he won't enforce immigration laws. Utilizing thousands of documents released as a result of the Freedom of Information Act, The Late Great USA shows how unelected bureaucrats in faceless agencies such as the Department of Commerce have been given the power to foist the NAU on the American public incrementally.
The European Union, which now holds millions of voiceless, voteless Europeans in thrall to a heedless Brussels bureaucracy, was put into place little by little over a 50-year period, Corsi writes, not by the citizens of the member states, but by elitists who disguised their goal of a regional government.
In The Late Great USA, Corsi details:
1. The tactics unelected globalist business leaders, bureaucrats and taxpayer-funded academics are using to lead to the merger of the United States with Mexico and Canada
2. How the state of Texas is seizing millions of acres of privately owned land so foreign investors can cash in on a NAFTA super-highway from Mexico to the Canadian border.
3. How China, through its proxies in Mexico, plans to bring the world's sole superpower to its knees economically – without firing a shot. A North American Union would not just be the end of America as we know it, claims Corsi, but the beginning of an EU-like nightmare – a bureaucratic coup d'etat foisted upon millions of Americans without their knowledge or consent. The Late Great USA is a meticulously researched story of deceit, the chapters of which are being written in secret. For Corsi, The Late Great USA is nothing less than a wake-up call to the American people.
The Security and Prosperity Partnership is not just unconstitutional, but an act of treason at the highest levels, he says. Anyone who cares about the future of this country – our children’s future – must act now against a North American Union and the underhanded way in which our sovereignty is being compromised, one illegal alien at a time.Corsi, a WND columnist, received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972 and has written many books and articles, including the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. Corsi's most recent book was authored with Michael Evans: Showdown with Nuclear Iran. Corsi's other recent books include Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil, which he co-authored with WND columnist Craig. R. Smith, and Atomic Iran.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Just amazing' amount of rain in short period MSNBC
Floods force hundreds from homes
June 18: Flash flooding caused by heavy rain strikes two mobile home parks, forcing residents to climb to their roofs. NBC's Charles Hadlock reports from Haltom City, Texas.MSNBC
Updated: 9:03 a.m. ET June 18, 2007
HALTOM CITY, Texas - Torrential overnight rainfall flooded a handful of North Texas towns Monday, killing two people and stranding people and their pets on the roofs of their homes awaiting rescue.Creeks swollen by as much as 8 inches of rain inundated parts of the towns of Gainesville and Sherman near the Oklahoma state line.A 4-year-old girl, Alexandria Collins, was swept away to her death while firefighters were trying to rescue her and her mother from their home in Haltom City, a Fort Worth suburb. Her body was found more than two hours later.We were in the boat when the boat capsized,” her mother, Natasha Collins, tearfully told KXAS-TV of Dallas. “The current swept her from my arms.A woman died in Sherman, about 60 miles northwest of Dallas near the Oklahoma state line, after her car stalled in rising water and was swept away, Sherman police Sgt. Bruce Dawsey said. A firefighter was struck by lightning but went back to work helping with rescues, he said.
Nursing home evacuated
About 125 residents of a Sherman nursing home were being evacuated, and an unknown number of people were being rescued from an office building where the roof started caving in, Dawsey said.In Gainesville, aerial video showed dozens of people seeking refuge from the high water on a railroad crossing. Families awaited rescue on their roofs, some having hacked their way to the outside from their attics. Some were joined by their dogs.About 100 mobile homes in Haltom City were inundated and many were washed off their foundations, emergency officials said.When I looked out the window, water was up to the bottom of the window and the current was so fast houses were washing away, said Haltom City resident Rachel Hawkes. You could hear people screaming but we couldn’t get out to help.
About 37,000 people live in Sherman and about 16,500 in Gainesville.
Authorities closed Interstate 35 from Gainesville to the Oklahoma state line for several hours, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. Some other roads in the region also were closed by high water.The National Weather Service said rain fell at a rate of an inch every 15 minutes in some places early Monday.We get heavy rains in North Texas, but the rate, the amount, the duration and the coverage of this are just amazing, said Gary Woodall, the warning-coordination meteorologist for the weather service office in Fort Worth.The weather service forecast a chance of isolated thunderstorms in the area Monday and Tuesday but said overall the weather was expected to improve.
EU to Offer Direct Aid to Fatah, Keep Ban on Hamas (Update3)
By James G. Neuger and Stephanie Bodoni
June 18 (Bloomberg) -- European Union governments will back Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with direct financial aid while continuing an economic boycott of Hamas, the movement now in control of the Gaza Strip, the EU said. Direct aid to Abbas's Fatah government on the West Bank would end the financial embargo imposed on the Palestinian leadership after Hamas, a sworn enemy of Israel, became part of a short-lived Palestinian unity government last year. We promised political support and the only way you can provide political support is with financial support, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a press conference in Luxembourg after chairing a meeting of EU diplomats. We are expressly ready to provide aid. The EU has been the main donor to the Palestinians, providing 700 million euros ($940 million) in 2006. The money went for welfare support and through United Nations agencies, bypassing Hamas.
The EU will earmark the funds once the new Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, assesses the government's needs and allocates $562 million in Palestinian customs and tax revenue that Israel agreed to unblock. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who traveled to Luxembourg to meet the EU ministers, said Israel is sincere about yesterday's pledge to release the funds that it had withheld while Hamas was in the government.
The message is clear: We are not looking for excuses not to transfer the money, Livni said. We believe that time is of the essence.Livni said Israel is determined to strengthen the Fatah government, which favors a negotiated settlement of the question of Palestinian statehood, and undercut the breakaway Hamas regime. The goal is to weaken extremists and build a genuine alternative to Hamas with the moderates, she said. This is an opportunity to say to the Palestinians that there is an alternative
Direct EU payments could flow to an account set up by Fayyad when he was finance minister last year, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said. Aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza will be funneled through the UN or through temporary arrangements that were used to pay Palestinian energy bills and provide humanitarian support in the past year. Part of the money will be direct, Solana said. The part that will have to go to Gaza -- we will have to see how it goes.Gaza, a seaside stretch of desert with 1.5 million Palestinians, depends on Israel for water, electricity and access to ports for trade.
In order to help the Palestinian people in Gaza we will need some mechanism that cannot be direct support, Solana said. Separately, Israel's tax authorities today halted the release of shipments to the Gaza Strip to prevent goods from building up on the Israeli side of the border crossing, which has been closed since June 13. To contact the reporters on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at firstname.lastname@example.org ; James G. Neuger in Luxembourg at email@example.com .
INTERESTING HOW THE KILLERS ARE KILLING THEMSELVES OFF. GAZA IS IN TURMOIL AND THE TROOPS WILL SOON BE COMING IN I PREDICT TO GUARENTEE ISRAELS SECURITY, AS WELL AS STOP HAMAS AND FATAH FROM KILLING EACH OTHER.
Justice Minister Offers Opinion: Open the Gaza Gates
by Hillel Fendel
With 300 Arabs at the Erez Crossing hoping to escape Gaza, followed by possibly thousands more, Justice Min. Friedmann says Israel should let the non-dangerous ones in.Hundreds of Fatah-supporters are still crowded on the Gaza side of the Erez Crossing into Israel, hoping to escape the vengeance of Hamas. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann announced Monday morning that in his opinion, Israel should ease their passage [to Ramallah], as long as they are not Hamas people or endanger Israeli security.
The Fatah would-be refugees say they are caught between Hamas and Israel, and fear for their lives. Hamas wants to kill them, and Israel fears that thousands of people fleeing not Hamas dangers but economic difficulties will also soon try to pour into Judea and Samaria.Manhigut Yehudit, the Likud Party's Jewish Leadership faction headed by Moshe Feiglin, disagrees sharply with Friedmann. The Government of Israel, by allowing Fatah terrorists to enter the territory of the State of Israel,continues to play fast and loose with the lives of its citizens. Gaza must have one land-based departure point only - towards Egypt.
Similarly, Professors for a Strong Israel released this statement: The drums of war between the Palestinian terror groups are barely silent, and the Kadima ministers are already making their foolish distinctions between good terrorists and bad ones, allowing passage to terrorists running from Gaza who in the future will act against us from Ramallah... They are more interested in the humanitarian needs of the enemy's civilians than those of the residents of Sderot.Several dozen Fatah VIPs and their families, journalists and others were allowed out of Gaza over the weekend, but the IDF shot in the air when hundreds of others tried to follow them.
Hamas has begun a house-to-house search for Fatah leaders in Gaza - although this follows it granting amnesty to several leaders who were caught at the end of last week. During the height of the battles last week, both Hamas and Fatah executed leaders of the opposite group. A drama took place at the Erez Crossing on Friday, when a known Palestinian Authority photographer attempted to pass into Israel. Hamas men pursued him, shooting at his taxi. The photographer then jumped from the taxi and began running towards the Israeli side of the crossing, where he was saved.
U.S. to Lift PA Funding Freeze -- in Judea and Samaria
by Hana Levi Julian
The United States is expected to push hard and fast this week Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward Americas goal five years ago to establish a PA state, now that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Fatah terrorist faction is clearly divided from Hamas. U.S. Consul General Jacob Walles left no doubt when speaking to reporters on Sunday that his government intended to move ahead to strengthen whatever control over the PA Abbas has managed to retain in the wake of the civil war.The new emergency PA government installed by Abbas in Ramallah (north of Jerusalem) is expected to receive an infusion of American funding and other support, possibly within the next few days.
This government is going to receive the full support of the United States, said Walles, very quickly both diplomatically and also economically.U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to announce resumption of funding to the PA, said American sources, sometime during Prime Minister Ehud Olmerts visit to Washington this week.
U.S. Hoping to Head Off a 3-State Solution
It is true now that [the PA chairmans government] does not have a great ability to influence events in Gaza, admitted Walles in Jerusalem on Sunday. He said that the U.S. would, however, continue to include Gaza in the working definition of the PA entity, at least for now. The Consul-General added that the U.S. will not abandon Gazas 1.8 million PA residents, although he also acknowledged that the issue of helping them had become more complicated since the Hamas takeover of the area.
But I think ways can be found in order to ensure that this (helping Gaza residents) happens. We dont want to see the Palestinian people in Gaza suffer any more as a result of whats happened there, he said.The American official also said his government eventually hopes to work with Israel to persuade the Arabs of Gaza to abandon their support of the Hamas terrorist network, but realizes this might have to be a long-term project. It is clear that Abbas has yet to prove his ability to control the terrorist factions that permeate the population in PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria. Were not going to lose sight of the need to begin a process between Israel and the Palestinians to resolve the fundamental problems, he said, but before we can do that, I think we need to get the house in order first.More to the point, he added, the new PA government would first have to ensure law and order and security in the West Bank.
PM Olmert Ready to Take More Risks For Peace
Prime Minister Omert was upbeat about the results of the civil war when speaking to Jewish leaders in New York Sunday night, saying, I personally believe that under the new circumstances, with a much greater cooperation between us and the Palestinian government, we can take perhaps more risks than we took in the past.Olmert explicitly stated that Israel can now hand over to the PA up to half of the $700 million in tax revenues that has been withheld since PA residents elected Hamas to become the ruling faction in their government.We will defreeze monies that we kept under our control because we didn't want these monies to be taken by Hamas to be used as part of a terrorist action, promised the prime minister. Fatah forces surrendered some 50,000 weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and other materiel to Hamas terrorists in Gaza last week after Abbas' loyalists lost the PA civil war.
Abbas PA Gov't Sworn In, Haniyeh Denies He's Out
by Hana Levi Julian
A new, Fatah-led Palestinian Authority government was sworn into power on Sunday in PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria. But Hamas still rules the new, Fatah-free Gaza. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas swore in an emergency government in Ramallah (north of Jerusalem) on Sunday, installing 11 new ministers who are to serve for as long as the PA chairman deems it necessary. According to the PA chairmans aide, Nabil Amar, all of the new ministers are independent technocrats.
The ceremony took place a day after Abbas issued a decree allowing the formation of a government without prior approval from the Palestinian Legislative Council. The PA chairman had already officially dissolved the Hamas-Fatah unity government, led by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, last Thursday. The emergency government will be led by newly-appointed Prime Minister Salem Fayyad, a professional economist and finance minister in the previous PA government, whose bank account was used to channel foreign aid into Fatah-controlled PA coffers. According to media reports, Fayyad will keep his job as finance minister and will also take on the additional role of foreign minister.
Abdul Razek al-Yihya was sworn in as the new Interior Minister. al-Yihya served as interior minister in the PLO government of the late Yasser Arafat and was involved in negotiations with Israel. The new interior minister faces an uphill battle, having to coordinate security and civilian affairs in the PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, while trying to resurrect the Fatah-linked security forces the few that remain in Gaza.
The rest of the Fatah-appointed PA cabinet ministers are as follows:
Riyad al-Maliki Justice and Information Minister.
Ziyad al-Bandak Municipal Affairs Minister.
Ashraf al-Ajarmi Prisoners, Youth and Sports Minister.
Kamel al-Hasuna Communications, Economy and Public Works Minister.
Hulud Deibas Tourism and Womens Affairs Minister.
Namis el-Alami Education Minister.
Samir Abdullah Planning Minister.
Fathi Abu Marli Health Minister.
Jamal Bawatna Religious Affairs Minister.
Bawatna is also the mufti of the Ramallah district.
Mashhur Abu Dakka Transportation Minister.
Who Rules the PA and in Which Area?
Abbas declared that the new emergency government has authority in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza. He also announced Sunday he was outlawing the Islamist Hamas terrorist organization and disbanding its armed militia. Fatah security men have been attacking Hamas-linked stores and other buildings in Judea and Samaria, burning several of them, since last week. The incidents have taken place primarily in the Samaria cities of Ramallah and Shechem. Local residents said that Fatah members kidnapped several Hamas men last week in Shechem. There were also reports over the weekend that Fatah security men executed a resident for allegedly collaborating with Israel. It was not clear whether the man was associated with Hamas, although it seemed unlikely. Hamas issued a statement in response to the attacks, accusing Fatah of ethnic cleansing against its members. Fatah spokesman Abu Odai responded by charging Hamas with trying to divert attention from Gaza, where he said Hamas had murdered 400 Fatah activists.Hamas has led the government after being elected by Palestinian Authority residents to take the helm in a landslide victory at the polls in the PA elections held in January 2006.
Haniyeh insists that mandate is still in force.
The deposed prime minister issued a statement saying The national unity government asserts here that we are fulfilling our duty according to the law. Haniyehs words were echoed by Hamas representative Abu Osama Abd el-Moti, stationed in Iran, who promised that the resistance to Israels presence will get stronger. El-Moti added that Hamas has no intention of establishing a government in the Gaza Strip, and responding to Israels and Fatahs dictates.Hamas is insisting that the new Fatah emergency government is irrelevant, the result of an American-Israeli conspiracy, calling it the peak of illegal political thuggery.Spokesman Ismail Radwan told reporters, The Islamic Resistance Movement considers this government illegitimate and illegal. We will not work with it.Nonetheless, there were glimmers on Sunday that Haniyeh has begun to realize the partys over, dismissing several senior officers in the PA security forces in Gaza. Kamal el-Sheikh, chief of the PA police was one of the first to go, as was the commander of the Preventive Security Services, Rashid Abu Shabak, who had already seen the writing on the wall and tendered his resignation last month.
HAMAS TAKES GAZA
Hamas gives amnesty, killings persist By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Cheering Hamas supporters wearing green headbands and waving flags surged through Gaza's streets Friday as Islamic militants in black masks took over one of President Mahmoud Abbas' offices and rifled through his bedroom. Hamas offered amnesty to its defeated foes as violence tapered off from five days of bloodshed that claimed more than 90 lives. Bu Fatah leader Abbas made the split complete by firing the Hamas prime minister, leaving Palestinians struggling to adjust to a new political reality that has crushed their long-standing hopes for their own state. Safe in the West Bank, Abbas moved quickly to cement his rule there after losing control of Gaza to Hamas forces. He replaced Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas member, with Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, a respected economist, to head a new moderate government.Hamas, overwhelmingly elected in a 2006 parliament vote, denounced Abbas' move as a coup. Hamas' supreme leader, Syrian-based Khaled Mashaal, later said Abbas has legitimacy as an elected president and promised to cooperate, but warned Fatah against going after Hamas loyalists in the West Bank.
But Fatah gunmen and security forces allied with Abbas in the West Bank were prowling that territory looking for Hamas supporters and wrecking a Hamas radio station.The sparring made little difference on the ground: The two Palestinian territories, on either side of Israel, are now separate entities with two governments one run by Hamas and backed by radical Islamic states, and the other controlled by the Western-supported Fatah.Abbas received immediate pledges of support from Israel, the U.S., Egypt, Jordan, the U.N. and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by phone that he would take steps to bolster Abbas. Officials in Olmert's office said he would consider releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax receipts frozen after Hamas came to power.Though the moderate government that Abbas plans to appoint will have no say in Gaza, it stands a stronger chance than the Hamas-Fatah coalition it replaces of restoring foreign aid to the West Bank.The yearlong aid embargo imposed after the Hamas election victory has crippled the Palestinian economy, and many Gazans feared they would become even more isolated and impoverished.
In a West Bank hotel, several Fatah loyalists who fled Gaza sat in the lobby chain-smoking and worked the phones to set up new lives, hearing from relatives in Gaza that their homes had been searched. In Gaza City, a government worker who ran the operations room in the main police compound, called his old office and pleaded with the new Hamas rulers to care for the computers. He gave only his first name, Hani, because he feared for his safety despite Hamas' amnesty offer.Several thousand Hamas supporters in Gaza cheered as a small armored personnel carrier seized from Abbas' forces rolled into the Palestinian legislature compound, where a victory march was held.
A jubilant crowd chanted slogans and waved green Hamas flags as gunmen fired in the air. Many wore green hats and headbands. Excited children climbed over the vehicle, and bearded armed men strutted around the parliamentary building, grinning from ear to ear.Hamas was both cocky and conciliatory. It released nine senior Fatah leaders and many lower-ranking activists, saying it was granting amnesty to its rivals. Hamas spokesman Abu Obeideh also promised to get BBC journalist Alan Johnston, held since March, released quickly. He said Hamas has made contact with the captors and is taking serious and practical steps to win his release.
Yet Hamas gunmen also entered the seaside compound used by Abbas on visits to Gaza, rifling through the president's belongings in his bedroom, next to his office. They lifted the mattress and searched drawers.One gunman sat at the desk of the Fatah leader, who is also known as Abu Mazen, picked up the phone and pretended to call Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Hello, Rice? the gunman said. Here we are in Abu Mazen's office. Say hello to Abu Mazen for me.Gaza's streets, deserted during the fighting, were crowded with cars, pedestrians and triumphant Hamas fighters, some driving in jeeps and firing in the air. Haniyeh, the prime minister fired by Abbas, promised to restore security to the anarchic territory. He urged Gazans to display self-restraint and end the widespread looting of houses and other property of Fatah officials. Looters stripped the home of Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan of everything from windows and doors to flowerpots. This was the house of the murderer Dahlan that was cleansed by the holy warriors, read graffiti sprayed on the wall. Donkey carts outside the house waited to take more loot. Dahlan was in Egypt when the fighting erupted, and reached the West Bank on Thursday. Gaza City's Shifa Hospital was still grappling with battle casualties. More than 90 people were killed in the fighting and dozens wounded. The morgue was overflowing, with four bodies lined up on the floor, and some of the wounded were sleeping on cardboard on the floor.
Two men were killed in revenge slayings Friday, including a Fatah gunman thrown from a roof in what Hamas described as a family grievance — the gunman, they said, had killed a member of a Hamas -allied family. Another Fatah loyalist was shot dead in southern Gaza. Since Hamas' victory late Thursday, about a dozen Fatah gunmen had been killed in gangland-style executions, Fatah said.
Before word came of Hamas' amnesty offer, 97 Fatah officials fled in a fishing boat to Egypt. Others reached Israel via the Erez crossing and headed to the West Bank. An Egyptian security delegation left Gaza after failing in its mediation efforts between the warring Palestinian factions. Hamas' military takeover of Gaza formalized the separation between Gaza and the West Bank, and was a major setback to dreams of Palestinian statehood. With a larger middle class, more foreign passport holders and more contact with the outside world, many West Bank residents have long felt they have little in common with Gaza.
I expect to have economic development here and poverty there in Gaza, Salah Haniyeh, a government employee, said as he watched masked Fatah gunmen parading in pickup trucks through the West Bank city of Ramallah. Across the West Bank, Fatah gunmen backed by Abbas-allied security forces expanded an anti-Hamas sweep. Dozens of Hamas supporters had been seized by gunmen or arrested by police since Thursday. In the city of Nablus, a Hamas stronghold, Fatah gunmen set up checkpoints and barred access to the Hamas-run municipal building. Gunmen also vandalized a Hamas media office in Nablus, trashing computers and furniture. We will go after them (Hamas) everywhere, said Mouin Hijazi, a Nablus leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent Fatah offshoot. We won't allow them to continue existing in the West Bank.In Gaza, an immediate concern was how long the coastal strip would be sealed. Gaza's main passenger and cargo crossings, with Egypt and Israel, were closed this week, and it was not clear when they would reopen. Extended closure could quickly lead to a humanitarian crisis. A Hamas spokesman said Palestinian police, now under Hamas command, would take up positions at the crossings, but it was unlikely Israel would agree to such a deployment because Hamas militants frequently attacked the passages in the past.
John Ging, head of U.N. aid operations in Gaza, said his agency would resume work Saturday. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency provides emergency food rations and health care to hundreds of thousands of Gazans. He called for a quick reopening of the Gaza crossings.
Barak poised to gain Israel defense post By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 15, 3:36 PM ET
JERUSALEM - The Israeli Cabinet on Friday approved the appointment of Ehud Barak as defense minister, an Israeli official said, capping the political comeback of the former prime minister six years after a humiliating election defeat. The appointment follows Barak's election this week as leader of the dovish Labor Party. Barak, a former military chief, has made no secret that he coveted the defense post as a step toward returning to the nation's top job.The Cabinet ministers approved Barak's appointment in a special vote conducted over the telephone, the official said. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wanted the vote taken before he heads to the United States on Saturday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.Barak's appointment is expected to receive final approval in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, on Monday, the official said.Shortly after Friday's vote, the current defense minister, Amir Peretz, announced his resignation.Defense Minister Amir Peretz will resign immediately after the Knesset vote on Monday, his office said in a statement. Until then, he will fulfill his duty as usual.In a statement, Olmert's office confirmed his plans to make Barak the defense minister: Only after the expected Knesset authorization on Monday will he be appointed.
Barak's presence in the Cabinet is expected to give a boost to Olmert, who was widely criticized for his performance during last year's war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.While calling for Olmert to resign over the war, Barak is expected to keep Labor in the government coalition for now to help burnish his leadership credentials.Earlier this week, Barak called for unity and pledged to restore Israel's military might and deterrent power.Barak served as prime minister from 1999 until he was crushed by hard-liner Ariel Sharon in a 2001 election, months after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising and his failure to secure final peace deals with Syria and the Palestinians.Barak, 65, disappeared from politics after his political drubbing, earning millions on the lecture circuit and advising businesses.Seen as arrogant and overbearing when he was premier, Barak says he learned from his mistakes and would make a far better leader this time.Peretz, a former union leader with scant military experience, was trounced as Labor's leader in a first round of voting on May 28. Like Olmert, he has been widely criticized for his performance during the war. Peretz is expected to receive a lower-profile Cabinet post.
Billy Graham's wife Ruth dies at 87
Mike Baker- Associated Press Writer OneNewsNow.com
June 15, 2007
MONTREAT, N.C.- Ruth Graham, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world's most renowned evangelist, died Thursday. She was 87. Graham died at 5:05 p.m. at her home at Little Piney Cove, surrounded by her husband and all five of their children, said a statement released by Larry Ross, Billy Graham's spokesman.Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team, Billy Graham said in a statement. No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together. We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven.Ruth Graham had been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck- the result of a serious fall from a tree in 1974 while fixing a swing for grandchildren- and underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. At her request, and in consultation with her family, she had stopped receiving nutrients through a feeding tube for the last few days, Ross said.A public memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Montreat Conference Center. A private interment service will be held the next day in Charlotte.
As Mrs. Billy Graham, Ruth Graham could lay claim to being the first lady of evangelical Protestantism, but neither exploited that unique status nor lusted for the limelight.Behind the scenes, however, she was considered her husband's closest confidant during his spectacular global career- one rivaled only by her father, L. Nelson Bell, until his death in 1973.She would help my father prepare his messages, listening with an attentive ear, and if she saw something that wasn't right or heard something that she felt wasn't as strong as it could be, she was a voice to strengthen this or eliminate that, said her son, Franklin, who is now the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.Every person needs that kind of input in their life and she was that to my father.Bell, a missionary doctor, headed the Presbyterian hospital in Qingjiang, China, that had been founded by the father of author Pearl Buck. Ruth grew up there and spent three high school years in what's now North Korea.What she witnessed in her family home, she practiced for herself- dependence on God in every circumstance, love for his word, concern for others above self, and an indomitable spirit displayed with a smile, said the Grahams' youngest daughter, also named Ruth.
Despite her reluctance to be a public personality herself, Ruth Graham met many of the powerful and famous through her husband- who was a spiritual adviser to presidents for decades. President Bush and first lady Laura Bush called her a remarkable woman of faith who inspired people around the world with her humor, intelligence, elegance, and kindness.She met Billy Graham at Wheaton College in Illinois. He recalled in 1997 memoirs, If I had not been smitten with love at first sight of Ruth Bell I would certainly have been the exception. Many of the men at Wheaton thought she was stunning.
Billy Graham courted her, managing to coax her away from the foreign missions calling and into marriage after both graduated in 1943. In 1945, after a brief stint pastoring a suburban Chicago congregation, he became a roving speaker for the fledgling Youth for Christ organization.From that point onward she had to endure her husband's frequent absences, remarking, I'd rather have a little of Bill than a lot of any other man.Ruth Graham moved the couple into her parents' home in Montreat, where they had relocated after fleeing wartime China. She stayed in western North Carolina mountain town the rest of her life.The young couple later bought their own house across the street from the Bells. Then in 1956, needing protection from gawkers, the Grahams moved into Little Piney Cove, a comfortably rustic mountainside home she designed using logs from abandoned cabins. It became Billy's retreat between evangelistic forays.
Though the wife of a famous Baptist minister, the independent-minded Ruth Graham declined to undergo baptism by immersion and remained a loyal, lifelong Presbyterian. When in Montreat, a town built around a Presbyterian conference center, Billy Graham would attend the local Presbyterian church where his wife often taught the college-age Sunday School class.Due to her husband's travels, she bore major responsibility for raising the couple's five children: Franklin (William Franklin III), Nelson, Virginia, Anne and Ruth.Ruth Graham was the author or co-author of 14 books, including collections of poetry and the autobiographical scrapbook Footprints of a Pilgrim.In 1996, the Grahams were each awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for outstanding and lasting contributions to morality, racial equality, family, philanthropy, and religion.Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell began her writing career with a Ruth Graham biography that depicted many deeds of personal charity. Cornwell said as a youth in Montreat she thought Ruth Graham was the loveliest, kindest person ever born. I still do.She helped establish the Ruth and Billy Graham Children's Health Center in Asheville, and the Billy Graham Training Center near Montreat.Ruth Graham will be buried at the new Billy Graham Library in Charlotte- a source of apparent discord within the family last year. This week, Billy Graham said he and Ruth had decided after much prayer and discussion they would be laid to rest at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway in the library's prayer garden.American Family News Network.
GAZA ON FIRE: LESSONS FOR WASHINGTON JUNE 15,07
* FYI: Joel will be on the Glenn Beck Show tonight on CNN Headline news at 7pm, 9pm and midnight eastern, for a replay of Glenn's recent special on the epicenter and Bible prophecy
By Joel C. Rosenberg
(WASHINGTON, D.C., June 15, 2007) -- Washington politicians take note: Gaza is what can happen when you precipitously pull your military forces out of a Middle Eastern war zone without making sure there is in place a truly democratic government and adequately trained and armed security forces capable of insuring law and order. In the summer of 2005, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insisted on a unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza saying the occupation wasn't working and the Israeli people were tired and ready to come home. Such a bold move would be a sign of goodwill, Sharon insisted, to the Palestinian people and the entire Arab and Islamic world, evidence of Israel's goodwill and desire for peace. But even close allies of Sharon -- chief among them Bibi Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky, both of whom were serving at the time in Sharon's cabinet -- warned that such a unilateral withdrawal would be read by Israel's enemies not as a sign of goodwill but as signs of weakness and surrender. Gaza would not become a model of peace and prosperity, they cautioned, but the scene of a full blown civil war that could give rise to Hamastan, a deadly new base camp for radical Islamic jihadists.
Sadly, that is exactly what has happened. With at least 113 Palestinians dead so far and hundreds more wounded in raging street battles between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas now appears to have gained full control of the Gaza Strip. There have been reports that Hamas commanders are executing Fatah leaders in front of their families. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency. There is also a growing fear in the Arab world -- particularly in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq -- that radical Islamic jihadists could seize control of their governments as well. How will the disaster in Gaza play out over the next few weeks? It's too early to say for certain, but even at this early stage two things are clear: 1) Iran's efforts to surround Israel and prepare to wipe Israel off the map has just been significantly advanced and thus the prospect for a full-blown war in the Middle East this summer or fall now seems more likely, not less; and 2) U.S. politicians had better think twice about a precipitous withdrawal of American military forces in Iraq before the Iraqis are ready unless they want a repeat of the nightmare now unfolding in Gaza.
Arab Media Reports Syria Making Preparations for War with Israel
by Hana Levi Julian JUNE 15,07
A Qatari newspaper, Al Watan, reported Friday that Syria is making concrete preparations for war with Israel, saying that the Syrian government has removed the Government and State Archives from the Damascus area. According to the paper, this move indicates preparations for war. Syrian parliament member Muhammad Habash confirmed on Al-Jazeera Arabic world news satellite TV last week that Syria is indeed engaged in active preparations for a war with Israel. The conflict, said the Syrian MP, is expected to break out during the summer months. Officials close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reported Sunday that their efforts to begin negotiations with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad have gone unanswered. They also said that Mr. Assads failure to reply signaled that his claims of wanting peace were not honest and were meant to improve his own status in the international community. Last week, the head of Mossad, Israels international intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, warned that Syrian President Assad was putting up a smoke screen by claiming he wants to open peace talks with the Jewish State.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has also raised the issue numerous times. The IDF is preparing for an escalation on both the Palestinian and the northern fronts, he said bluntly during a speech to the IDF Officers Training School earlier in the year.The IDF held a large-scale exercise ten days ago simulating a Syrian invasion to Israels north. Infantry units, tank divisions and the Air Force took part in the exercise, which took place at the Shizafon IDF installation, in the southern Negev.
Asked about the exercise by Army Radio, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that the IDF was indeed preparing for the possibility of war with Syria, but said this does not mean that Israel would initiate such a war. Our preparedness is not an indication of any decision by either us or Syria to go to war - these are purely defensive measures, he said.
PA Government Dissolved, Abbas Declares State of Emergency
by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz JUNE 15,07
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the head of Fatah, announced on Thursday night that he is dissolving the government of the PA. By Rice called Abbas and expressed her government's support for the forces of Fatah. dismissing the PA's legislative head, Ismail Haniyeh, and other Hamas officials, Abbas formally ended the power-sharing agreement between Hamas and Fatah. The agreement had been in effect for just a few months and was marked by intermittent violence between the two groups from the start. A spokesman for Abbas, Tayeb Abdel-Rahim, said, The President is determined to go back to the Palestinian public, when the situation allows that. Abu Mazen is intending to form a new government, Abdel-Rahim explained.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Abbas and expressed her government's support for the forces of Fatah, which she defined as moderate.
Earlier Thursday, the Islamist Hamas terrorist group completed its takeover of Gaza, sending the surviving local Fatah leaders fleeing across the border to Egypt and by boat into the Mediterranean Sea. In what was the Fatah-run General Security Services building in Gaza City, Hamas gunmen claimed to have found documents proving strong ties between Fatah and the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Spokesmen for Hamas said they would show the documents on local television on Thursday night.All Fatah traitors who refuse to surrender will be killed, a Hamas spokesman recently made clear. Hamas gave Fatah gunmen a Friday deadline to turn over all their weapons, but Fatah terrorists have been blowing up their own weapons caches and headquarters in various parts of Gaza to prevent their falling into Hamas' hands.
The Executive Committee of the PLO recommended that Abbas ask for international protection against Hamas. During a meeting in Ramallah on Thursday, the committee PLO leaders wanted to protect the Hamas activists from angry Fatah members, they said.authorized Abbas to take whatever decision he judges appropriate, according to one committee member. Abbas said he plans to declare a state of emergency in Hamas-controlled Gaza. In Judea and Samaria, Fatah gunmen arrested dozens of Hamas activists during the day Thursday. According to spokesmen of Abbas' Fatah, the sweeping arrests were for the detainees' own protection. PLO leaders wanted to protect the Hamas activists from angry Fatah members, they said.Senior Fatah terrorist Abu Udai, however, seemed to disagree, telling the Bethlehem-based Maan news service that Hamas is now a legally prohibited movement... Its activities are banned, and Hamas members will be punished if they participated in any Hamas activity. On Tuesday, Abu Udai threatened to wipe out the entire leadership and all the activists of Hamas in the West Bank.
US sticks to European missile shield plan
15.06.2007 - 09:20 CET | By Renata Goldirova
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – NATO and Washington have poured cold water on Moscow's offer to use a Russia-operated radar base in Azerbaijan as an alternative to a possible American site in central Europe, saying the proposal will not halt the ongoing US negotiations with Prague and Warsaw. I don't think that the offer by president Putin – the proposal he made in Heiligendam on the Azeri radar site - is going to replace or be an alternative for the bilateral negotiation between the US and Poland and the US and the Czech Republic, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on Thursday (14 June).US defence secretary Robert Gates was also very explicit in telling his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov that the Azeri radar is an additional capability and the White House intended to proceed with the radar in the Czech Republic.The Russian defence minister himself made no public appearance and no comment in response.
Precisely one week ago, president Vladimir Putin tabled a proposal to build a joint site in the Russia-rented radar station Gabala in Azerbaijan, saying he had already secured agreement from Baku.
Earlier, Mr Putin threatened to target Russian weapons at European territory if the US places 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic – something the Pentagon claims is meant to defend the US and Europe from rogue states such as Iran, but the Kremlin sees as hostile to itself. Despite remaining differences in opinion, the two sides seem to have moved away from the icy rhetoric of previous weeks, which had revived fears of the Cold War when Washington and Moscow both had missiles aimed at each other. I am quite satisfied with the atmosphere and the tone in today's meeting, the NATO chief said, adding we need professional dialogue, civilised debate and that's exactly what we had today.Mr Gates, for his part, added that the door for US-Russia cooperation remains open and that military experts will study Moscow's offer in detail.
Bolt-on system - the way forward
Meanwhile, the 26 NATO countries have agreed to a study which will assess political and military implications of the US missile system in Europe, including the possibility of tying NATO's defence capacities onto the US anti-missile shield. The move was triggered by the fact that while many western and central European countries would benefit from the system primarily designed to protect American soil, countries such as Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania would be exposed to a possible threat of missile attack. [The] NATO roadmap on missile defence is clear, it is practical and agreed by all, the Secretary General said. According to Mr Scheffer the indivisibility of security remains a guiding principle - meaning all NATO countries should enjoy the same protection. We can never have grade A and B allies in the Alliance because all allies are created equal.The study is to be wrapped up by February next year so that in April – when NATO ministers meet in Bucharest – the final political decision on the way forward is nailed down.
Giscard calls on EU leaders to be honest on new treaty
14.06.2007 - 17:41 CET | By Honor Mahony
EUBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The architect of the draft EU constitution has called on national governments to be honest about what they are trying to achieve with negotiations on a new-look treaty for the bloc and not deceive EU citizens.Writing in French daily Le Monde, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing said EU leaders should not be afraid to tell citizens that they are essentially trying to preserve the text of the constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters two years ago.If governments agree on a simplified treaty preserving the essential institutional advances, they should not be afraid to say so and write so.Pointing to the likelihood that the original constitution will be divided up with its innovative elements tacked on to the current Nice and Maastricht treaties and technical parts put into a non-descript treaty, the former French president noted that the public would then be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly.While noting that it might be a good exercise in presentation he went on to criticise that it will reinforce the idea among European citizens that European construction is a machinery organised behind their backs by jurists and diplomats.His words come exactly a week before EU leaders are due to gather in Brussels for a crunch summit on a new treaty.
They go to the heart of what most member states have been trying to do but have been less forthright about saying: preserving as much of the text as possible, taking out overtly constitutional elements – such as the EU symbols - and making the minimum changes necessary to allow the French and Dutch leaders to go back to their respective parliaments with a text that feels different.The chopped up text – currently it is an unwieldy 448-article document – would then go for ratification by national parliaments, presented as the more palatable amended treaties of Nice and Maastricht rather than the more emotive draft EU constitution, that would make a referendum in the UK and other EU sceptical countries impossible to avoid.
Deconstructing Giscard's text
There is likely to be as much chagrin behind Mr Giscard words for the fact that EU leaders are taking his constitution apart as for the fact that they could be deceiving EU citizens.He spent a year and half presiding over the 2002 to 2003 convention that drew up the text and its shape, style and content was largely a result of his wishes.At times he intimated he wanted to go even further, drawing parallels between the convention on the future of the EU and the Philadelphia Convention that prepared a constitution for the United States and comparing himself to Benjamin Franklin, one of America's founding fathers.
MKs Discuss Transferring Border Crossings to Int’l Force
by Hana Levi Julian 28 Sivan 5767, June 14, '07
(IsraelNN.com) Knesset members have begun to discuss the possibility of transferring control of border crossings with Gaza to an international force, in view of the fact that the Islamist Hamas terrorist organization has almost completed its total takeover of the region. Kadima MK Otniel Schneller recommended Thursday that a multi-national force take control of the Erez and Karni crossings, through which goods are delivered, and Palestinian Authority Arabs, diplomatic officials and other VIPs travel. Israel should prepare itself for a situation in which the Gaza Strip is run as an independent terrorist entity which is cut off from the Palestinian Authority, said MK Schneller.
Bringing international forces into areas between the Israeli border and the populated areas in the Strip will aid in a secure separation as well as contribute to the security of Israeli residents who live in the vicinity of Gaza, he added. Meretz Knesset members Zahava Gal-On and Avshalom Vilan both urged the government to open emergency talks with the United Nations, as well as the Arab League, to also discuss the possibility of deploying such a force inside Gaza as a means of restoring calm. MK Yuval Steinitz, meanwhile, slammed the idea. The Likud legislator maintained that only the IDF can destroy the terrorist infrastructure and stop arms smuggling into the Strip.Knesset Member Steinitz added that he believes it is useless to talk about an international force in Gaza, saying that attempts to rely on international forces are doomed to failure.The Hamas terrorist organization agrees. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters Hamas rejects any dispatch of foreign forces to the Gaza Strip. The movement would regard those forces as occupation forces no different than the Israeli occupation, regardless of their nationality.PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas had discussed the idea in a phone conversation with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier in the week.