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Posts tagged ‘Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades’

Obama Plans to ‘Listen,’ Not Present Mideast Peace Plan, Kerry Says.


John Kerry and Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speak to media at the Chancellery in Berlin Feb. 26. Kerry said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama will not bring a peace plan to Israel and the Palestinian Territories next month, but rather intends to listen. (Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch )

President Barack Obama will not bring a peace plan to Israel and the Palestinian Territories next month, but rather intends to listen, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

Obama’s plan to visit has raised speculation of a new U.S. push to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, stalled since 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

But Kerry, speaking to German students during his first foreign trip as Washington’s top diplomat, played down expectations.

“We’re not going to go and sort of plunk a plan down and tell everybody what they have to do,” Kerry said. “I want to consult and the president wants to listen.”

Obama, who has a testy relationship with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made peace between Israelis and Palestinians a priority in his first term but, four years later, has little to show for it.

In recent months, each side has antagonized the other—Israel by building Jewish settlements on occupied land and the Palestinians by seeking enhanced status at the United Nations.

Kerry said that after Obama’s trip, which also includes a stop in Jordan, the United States would see how it might pursue peace. He urged all sides to behave calmly and keep the possibility of peace alive.

Tensions have risen in the West Bank, territory that the Palestinians want to be part of a future state including the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, after the death of a Palestinian in an Israeli jail on Saturday in contested circumstances.

A hunger strike by four other Palestinian prisoners has also fuelled violent protests.

Step Back a Little
“We really hope everybody will step back a little and try to find a way to proceed very calmly and very thoughtfully in these next days (and) leave the opportunities for peaceful resolution open,” Kerry said.

In an apparent show of solidarity with Palestinians protesting in the West Bank, militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into Israel on Tuesday for the first time since a truce ended a week of cross-border fighting in November.

There were no casualties in the strike, which the Palestinian news agency Ma’an said had been claimed by al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, an armed group in President Mahmoud Abbas’s West Bank-based Fatah movement.

Hamas, the Islamist group that has governed the Gaza Strip since wresting control of the territory from Fatah in 2007, said it was investigating the incident. There was no immediate Israeli military response.

Netanyahu has said he hopes Abbas will return to peace talks, but has made clear he intends to put Iran’s nuclear program at the top of the agenda of his meetings with Obama, who has drawn criticism in Israel for not visiting during his first term.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear power, and the West fear Iran’s enrichment of uranium is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Netanyahu has hinted strongly at Israeli military action if international sanctions fail to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which Tehran says are purely peaceful.

World powers, holding their first meeting with Iran in eight months, were expected to offer limited sanctions relief in talks on Tuesday in the Kazakh city of Almaty if Iran agreed to halt its most sensitive nuclear work.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.


Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Kevin Liffey

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Amid Palestinian protests, Gaza militants fire rocket into Israel.


• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The rocket launch ended a cease-fire with Israel. Palestinian Authority President Abbas faces powerful voices who say another uprising may be the only way forward after days of large protests.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas strained to tamp down tensions in the West Bank as Palestinians protested by the thousands and called for a third intifada, and militants in Gazabroke a November cease-fire by firing a rocket into southernIsrael.

The Israelis want chaos…. We will not allow them to drag us into it and to mess with the lives of our children and our youth,” Mr. Abbas said, according to Reuters, as he sought to cool tensions and cast the uptick in Palestinian anger as a result of Israeli incitement.

But Abbas is up against formidable voices who seem to see another uprising as the inevitable result of days of large-scale protestsacross the West Bank against conditions for Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons, sparked by the Feb. 23 death of one such inmate.

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This is the new intifada,” said Mustafa Barghouti, a rival to Abbas in the 2005 presidential election, according to Bloomberg. “A popular resistance has started.” Calls for a third intifada come despite the fact that public sentiment still largely opposes a full uprising.

The Christian Science Monitor reported yesterday that the most recent protests come on top of frustration about the seemingly endless Israeli occupation and settlement growth, as well as Israeli and international inaction.

“The issue of the prisoners is only one point that created this eruption,” said Sheikh Issa Jaradat, the former mayor of Sair, at the funeral for deceased prisoner Arafat Jaradat. People filled every rooftop, balcony, and open patch of grass surrounding the village square as Jaradat’s coffin was carried through the crowd, sparking fierce whistling and a few gunshots.

“The fact that so many people are here shows that this is not just about the suffering of Sair. The whole West Bank is suffering,” says the sheikh. “This could easily be the beginning of an intifada.”

But, as the Monitor reports, only 32 percent of Palestinians support a third intifada, according to a poll taken before the death of Arafat Jaradat, the Palestinian inmate. Sixty-five percent oppose it, with 41 percent of them saying it will hurt the Palestinian cause.

Indeed, such an uprising could work against Palestinian interests in several ways. It could bolster Israel’s argument that it has no partner for peace, enabling it to continue expanding settlements in the West Bank unfettered by negotiations. It could also provide Israeli justification for maintaining or increasing checkpoints, arrests, and administrative detention in the name of security.

Reuters reports that international leaders had hoped the unrest in the West Bank was dying down prior to the rocket attack from Gaza, for which the militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility. The news agency described the attack as “an apparent show of solidarity” with the protests. It was the first such attack since a cease-fire was signed in November to end eight days of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli air strikes.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Israel is taking the unrest seriously,” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding “security consultations” yesterday and sending a representative toRamallah to urge the Palestinian Authority (PA) to calm the protesters.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu, pinned blame for the protests, some of which turned violent, on PA officials, the Journal reports. “There were elements within the [Palestinian Authority] who were actually encouraging incitement and violence,” Mr. Regev said. “The Palestinian Authorityhas an obligation to maintain law and order.”

And Amos Gilad, an Israeli defense official, told Army Radio that “It looks as if the Palestinian Authority is trying to walk a delicate tightrope: both raising unrest and displays of violence and not wanting the matter to spin out of control,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Ariel Zirulnick | Christian Science Monitor

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