Middle East News -What Others Are Saying
Israel endorses first university in West Bank
Al Jazeera (Qatar) reports: Israel has upgraded a college in a West Bank Jewish settlement to a university, reflecting a determination to keep control of the enclave in any peace deal with the Palestinians. The decision on Monday gives the Ariel campus, established in 1982 near the city of Nablus, the same status as universities inside Israel, in a move that could trigger international condemnation and enrage the Palestinians. Palestinians consider the West Bank to be part of their future state. Most of the international community agrees and considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace. The move comes after Israel announced plans to expand other settlements on occupied land, drawing protest from European governments and the United States. “For the first time in decades, Israel has a new university,” Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. In September, Israel’s Council for Higher Education, which regulates the seven universities in the Jewish state, opposed the move, branding it political and filed a petition against it to the High Court of Justice. Final approval came from military chiefs, who formalised a cabinet decision in September. Their decision was delayed while experts examined legal challenges from other universities that opposed the upgrade.
Abbas aide: No plans to outlaw ‘honor killing’
Ma’an News Agency (Gaza) reports: President Mahmoud Abbas has no plans to amend laws that reduce sentences for suspects who claim an “honor” defense for murdering women, his legal adviser says. “Why change it? This would cause serious problems,” Hassan al-Ouri told Ma’an, adding that such a reform would “not benefit women.” In May 2011, the president pledged to amend the law to guarantee maximum penalties for “honor killing” in response to protests over the killing of university student Aya Baradiya in Hebron. The decision was announced in a phone call to a primetime show on state TV, drawing tears among crowds of mourners shown in a live link-up from the Ramallah studio to Baradiya’s hometown.
Turkey resumes NATO ties with Israel – a Netanyahu breakthrough
DEBKAfile (Israel) reports: Turkey dropped its ban on cooperating with Israel as a third-nation NATO partner at the 28-member alliance meeting in Brussels on December 4, in response to a reprimand from Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that the ban had “created a lack of confidence among the partners.” The same meeting approved the deployment of Patriots on the Turkish border with Syria. Turkey’s consent to effectively revive its strategic cooperation with Israel represents a major breakthrough for Binyamin Netanyahu.
Former PM of Malaysia says Iran has every right to use nuclear energy even to produce nuclear weapon
Iran Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reports: Former Prime minister of Malaysia insists that Iran has every right to use nuclear energy, even nuclear weapon and the sanctions against this country are illegal because they are not sanctions by the United Nations. Mahathir Mohammed in an exclusive interview with Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) representative in Malaysia talks about his opinion on different issues including Iran’s nuclear program, Syria, Israel, Egypt and the Arab Spring…
Iran slams Canada for delisting rebel group
Aljazeera reports: Canada has come under fire from officials in Tehran for removing an exiled Iranian opposition group from its blacklist of “terror organisations”. Vic Toews, the Canadian minister of public safety, had announced the delisting of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran ["Mujahedeen-e-Khalq" (MEK)], following similar moves made by the European Union and the United States. Toews also announced the addition of the Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, to the blacklist. The Iranian foreign ministry responded on Monday, saying that Canada was “using the issue of terrorism as a tool and violating its international commitments”.
Israel rejects US gun lobby claims on its security
Arab News (Saudi Arabia) reports: Israel’s policy on issuing guns is restrictive, and armed guards at its schools are meant to stop terrorists, not crazed or disgruntled gunmen, experts said Monday, rejecting claims by America’s top gun lobby that Israel serves as proof for its philosophy that the US needs more weapons, not fewer. Far from the image of a heavily armed population where ordinary people have their own arsenals to repel attackers, Israel allows its people to acquire firearms only if they can prove their professions or places of residence put them in danger. The country relies on its security services, not armed citizens, to prevent terror attacks. Though military service in Israel is compulsory, routine familiarity with weapons does not carry over into civilian life. Israel has far fewer private weapons per capita than the US, and while there have been gangster shootouts on the streets from time to time, gun rampages outside the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are unheard of… On Sunday, the lobby’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, invoked his perception of the Israeli school security system to back his proposal.
Kuwaiti liberals blast calls to ban Xmas celebrations
Kuwait Times reports: Several Kuwaiti liberal civil societies have condemned calls from some organisations and individuals forbidding the celebration of Christmas in the state, a report said yesterday. The civil societies said in a statement published by Al-Jarida newspaper that every year at this time certain groups declare celebrating Christmas and New Year as forbidden from an Islamic point of view. “Because such actions represent an insult to Christianity and Christians … we strongly reject the publication of such calls,” a statement signed by nine liberal groups said, adding that such calls were an act of hatred criminalized under the international law. The statement did not say who issued the calls, but usually some radical religious individuals and small groups issue fatwas (religious edict) forbidding Christmas celebrations.
Jihadists take large part of Syria Alawite village: activists
The Daily News (Lebanon) reports: Jihadists overran large parts of an Alawite village in the central Syrian province of Hama on Monday in fighting that killed at least 30 combatants, a monitoring group said. Alongside other radical Islamist groups, Al-Nusra Front seized parts of the village of Maan, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding at least 11 rebel fighters and 20 regime troops were killed. Rebels last week launched an all-out assault on army positions across Hama, home to a patchwork of religious communities, says the Observatory. While anti-regime sentiment in the province is strong, regime forces had so far suppressed any major signs of insurgency in Hama, which links strategic provinces such as Damascus, Idlib in the northwest, and Homs in central Syria.
Saudi Arabia calls on Iran to stop interfering
Gulf News (UAE) reports: Saudi Arabia on Monday told Iran to stop interfering in internal Gulf Arab affairs and spreading ‘sedition’, activities Tehran denies. The comments, made by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, follow similar allegations leveled at Iran by the kingdom in the past, and other Gulf states are likely to voice similar complaints at a summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that opened on Monday. “Interference to stir sedition is unacceptable from a neighbour,” Prince Saud was quoted as saying by the London-based, Saudi-owned daily Al Hayat. “This is not comfortable because it is trying to use the circumstances to interfere.”