WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
A summary of reports on Middle East issues- July 17, 2009
Israel ready to admit 3,000 Ethiopian Jews
Israel has sent envoys to Ethiopia to examine the applications of 3,000 Ethiopians who claim to be descended from Jews and are waiting in transit camps to emigrate to Israel, an official said on Thursday. Some 100,000 Jews from Ethiopia already live in Israel. Many arrived in airlifts in the 1980s and 1990s in times of hunger and political strife in Ethiopia. Thousands more Falash Mura people, who claim they were forced to convert to Christianity in Ethiopia, have also immigrated in smaller groups, but Israel largely halted the flow about two years ago. Some Israeli officials cited financial concern and questions about the applicants’ Jewish origins as reasons for the halt. Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Orthodox Shas party has tried to renew the influx from Ethiopia in an effort to bring an estimated 8,700 people living in squalid transit camps for several years to the Jewish state, officials said. Roi Lachmanovitch, a spokesman for Yishai, said the ministry had sent three officials, two from the ministry and one from the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, to Ethiopia on Wednesday, to explore the eligibility for immigration of 3,000 people. “Yishai considers it important to bring all Jews, including those regarding whose credentials there may be doubts, to Israel and it’s too bad this hasn’t already happened,” Lachmanovitch said. – Arab News (Saudi Arabia), July 17, 2009
Syria tells US envoy it wants all of Golan back
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told visiting US official Frederic Hof on Thursday that Damascus wants the Golan Heights back as part of any Middle East peace deal. Moallem stressed Syria’s wish to “recover the Golan as far as the border of June 4, 1967,” before Israel occupied the upland region in that year’s Middle East war, Sana official news agency reported. The Syrian minister reaffirmed “his country’s support for achieving a fair and global peace [deal] in the region in line with the principle of exchanging land for peace,” the news agency said. Hof, deputy to US special Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell, reiterated the US desire to work for a peace deal in the region, Sana added. The United States wants to play an active and balanced role to relaunch peace talks on all Syrian and Palestinian issues with Israel, the report quoted him as saying. Relations between the United States and Syria have begun to improve since Barack Obama became US president. – The Daily Star (Lebanon), July 17, 2009.
Jordan to host IFJ conference. Israel not invited
The Jordan Press Association (JPA) agreed to a request by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to hold its conference in the Kingdom in October, after the latter agreed to exclude Israel’s participation, a JPA council member said on Thursday. “We are against any form of normalisation with Israel, which still occupies Arab lands and violates Arab and Palestinian rights,” JPA Vice President Hikmat Momani told The Jordan Times, adding that the JPA also agreed to the organisation of several training workshops for journalists from across the region by the IFJ, provided that Israel does not take part. Momani added that Israel’s membership in the IFJ had been suspended for 12 years before the federation cancelled its membership last week. The IFJ Executive Committee unanimously agreed at its July 7 meeting in Oslo, Norway, to expel the National Federation of Israeli Journalists (NFIJ) from the IFJ, according to a statement posted on IFJ website. – Jordan Times, July 17, 2009.
Warship passage indicates Egypt-Israel front against Iran, says Hezbollah leader
The passage of two Israeli warships through the Suez Canal Tuesday are indicative of Egyptian/Israeli security cooperation against Iran’s nuclear program, said prominent Hezbollah leader Mohamed Yazbek. Yazbek told the Iranian news agency IRNA that there was a clear desire on the part of the Egyptians to cooperate with Israel in opposing what he deemed was a “peaceful” nuclear program. “Why does the peaceful Iranian nuclear program constitute such a threat to Egypt while Egyptian ships protect Zionist nuclear warheads in the Suez Canal?” Yazbek was quoted as saying. In late June an Israeli submarine passed through the canal, reportedly escorted by two Egyptian gunships. The Hanit had also crossed the canal both ways in June. Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahoronot said about the submarine passage that “Egypt and Israel wanted to show their coordination in the face of Iran pursuing its nuclear program.” Israeli submarines usually rounded Africa instead of going through the Suez Canal. – Daily News (Egypt) July 15, 2009.
High-tech Israeli-Palestinian firm defies barriers
Zvi Schreiber’s new software links users across the globe, but in order to meet the Palestinian engineers who helped create it he must drive to a petrol station in the middle of the desert. Schreiber, an Israeli Jew, is not allowed to travel to his company’s research and development centre in the occupied West Bank, and his 30 Palestinian engineers must apply for special permits to meet him in Jerusalem. “I’m perhaps the only CEO in the world who can’t visit the company’s main office, even though it’s like 15 kilometres from my house,” he says… Dror Globerman, who reports on the high-tech industry for Israel’s Maariv newspaper, says G.ho.st’s “offshore” approach to research and development could be a model for other firms. “I think the incentives are definitely there. (The West Bank) is cheap and close, and Palestinian engineers are talented people,” he says … We are creating jobs, we are getting good salaries, and we can work here in Palestine instead of going abroad,” general manager Khaled Ayyash says. He adds that G.ho.st is one of the only West Bank firms that give employees share options, allowing everyone to benefit from any possible acquisition. Ayyash blames Israeli governments for the failure of past peace efforts, but says his colleagues treat each other with the “utmost respect.” “There are no problems among us because we are all professionals,” – Kuwait Times, July 16, 2009.
Al Jazeera banned in West Bank
The Palestinian Authority ordered closure of Al Jazeera television in occupied West Bank yesterday for airing “false” information, the government said in a statement. The Information Ministry said that it was taking the Qatar-based satellite channel to court over a report that it aired the previous day and that its operations in the West Bank would be suspended in the meantime. The statement said that the pan-Arab channel “has been devoting significant segments of its broadcasts to incitement against the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority”. “Despite our repeated calls to remain neutral when it covers the Palestinian issue and to be balanced when it comes to the internal Palestinian situation, the channel continues to incite against the PLO and the PA,” it said. Al Jazeera said it was “stunned” that it had been sanctioned for the story, which had also been aired by several other media. – Times of Oman, July 16, 2009.
Israel to test Arrow missile on US range
Israel will soon test an Arrow interceptor missile on a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean in a joint exercise that also will involve three US missile defence systems, a top US general said yesterday. Army Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency, said the test will allow Israel to measure its advanced Arrow system against a target with a range of more than 1,000 km, too long for previous Arrow test sites in the eastern Mediterranean. The Arrow system, jointly developed by Israel and the US, is designed to defend the Jewish state against possible ballistic missile attacks from Iran and Syria. – Gulf Times (Qatar), July 14, 2009.
(Photo credit: cjp.org)