A SUMMARY OF TODAY’S NEWS – April 28, 2009
Venezuela and the Palestinian Authority have established diplomatic relations
Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan foreign minister, and Riyad al-Maliki, his Palestinian counterpart,signed agreements creating diplomatic ties on Monday in Caracas, reports Aljazeera.net. “The people of Palestine can count on our eternal and permanent solidarity with their just and humane cause,” Maduro said. Al-Maliki thanked Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, for his support during the recent Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.Al-Maliki also praised Chavez as “the most popular leader in the Arab world”, in part for his staunch support of Palestinians. Maduro said that the Palestinian cause was “like our own”.
Abbas refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state
Arab News (Saudi Arabia) reports today that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas yesterday refused to accept Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?” Abbas asked in a speech in the West Bank’s political capital of Ramallah. “You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly.” Abbas said the topic was “extensively discussed” and rejected by the Palestinians during a November 2007 international conference in Annapolis, near Washington, during which the two sides re-launched peace negotiations.
Ex-chief Rabbi invites Ahmadinejad to Israel
Palestine Chronicle states Israel’s former chief rabbi invited Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s to visit Jerusalem to see proof of the Holocaust with his own eyes as the Israeli tourism ministry urged the Pope Wednesday to cancel a meeting with a mayor of an Arab Israeli town, calling the latter a “terror supporter and warmonger.” Israel’s response to Ahmedinejad’s critical speech at the United Nations racism conference in Geneva came as an invitation from former chief rabbi, Yisreal Lau, who invited the Iranian president to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Occupied Jerusalem.
Palestinians build stage for Pope next to barrier
Kuwait Times reports that Palestinians in a refugee camp near Bethlehem want to receive Pope Benedict XVI in what they say is the most fitting setting — next to the towering cement wall that is part of Israel’s West Bank separation barrier and borders the camp on two sides. They are building an outdoor theatre next to the wall for the pope’s visit to Aida camp May 13. They say they chose the spot to highlight life under Israeli military occupation. However, the Israeli government has ordered the construction to stop, saying camp organizers lack the necessary permits and that the theatre’s proximity to the wall poses a security risk. Israel started building the separation barrier in the West Bank in 2002, portraying it as a defense against Palestinian gunmen and suicide bombers.
Assad: Hamas, Hezbollah not to attack Israel from Syrian soil
According to Albawaba.com, Syrian President Bashar Assad defended Lebanon’s Hezbollah against allegations that the Shiite movement planned to carry out multiple attacks in Egypt. “What is Hezbollah’s aim behind this?” Assad said in remarks published on Tuesday by Asharq al Awsat newspaper. “Hezbollah has no reason to do this, and it has denied that,” Assad added. He was referring to Cairo’s accusations that the so-called Hezbollah cell arrested recently in Egypt plotted attacks against Israeli tourists in Egypt. “They (Hezbollah) said they have nothing against Egypt or the Egyptians,” Assad stressed, adding that neither Hamas nor Hezbollah would attack Israel via Syrian territory.
Debate in Qatar over Sudanese President
Qatar’s Peninsula reports that while Arab public opinion remains divided over the controversial arrest warrant issued against Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, a majority of the participants in Qatar Foundation’s Doha Debates yesterday supported the warrant, saying the Arab states should hand over Bashir to the International Criminal Court. The motion supporting this argument was carried with 55 percent votes, against the 45 percent who voted against the resolution. The panelists supporting the motion were Ahmed Hussain Adam, official spokesman of the Justice and Equality Movement, one of the main political and military groups in Darfur, and Hani Shukrallah, head of the Heikal Foundation for Arab journalism. Ahmed Hussain opened the debate by saying that Al Bashir should be brought before the ICC for the good of the Sudanese people and the whole world. “Sudan will be a better place without Bashir. Those who commit war crimes should be held accountable for their acts and should be tried in the court of law,” said Hussain.
(Photo credit: Aljazeera)