By KHALED ABU TOAMEH:
Abbas party’s decision comes after week of Israeli, Palestinian meetings being sabotaged by Palestinians; Fatah worries Israel would exploit meetings to show dialogue without PA possible.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction has declared war on all informal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, Hatem Abdel Kader, a senior Fatah official, said over the weekend.
Fatah’s decision came following a series of meetings between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and academics to promote peace and “normalization” between the two sides.
US President Barack Obama’s half-hour tête-a- tête with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Washington Friday, Dec. 16, was vitally concerned with the coming steps in the Syrian showdown and the latest developments in the controversy over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, debkafile’s Washington and intelligence sources report.
Their conference was urgent because key events in the Middle East this week made early decisions necessary on both these issues.
Termination of the US military mission in Iraq has powerful ramifications for Israel, Iran and Syria as well as Iraq itself.
The removal of most of Iran’s nuclear facilities below ground, President Obama’s willingness to heed conciliatory feelers from Tehran, and Baghdad’s assumption of the role of go-between for Washington and Tehran are all bad news for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his defense minister.
Iran has again contrived to buy time and leeway for bringing its nuclear weapons program to completion.
Even the option of a clear run through Iraq for Israeli warplanes to strike Iran is likely to be short-lived: Tehran, which controls the Iraqi prime minister, will lose no time in placing its electronic warfare and intelligence systems in position for shutting that corridor to Israel.
Israel’s vanishing options on Iran topped Ehud Barak’s conversation with Barack Obama in Washington on Friday.
By NINA SHEA:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday ended the “Istanbul Process,” a three-day, closed-door international conference hosted by the State Department on measures to combat religious “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization.”
The conference was intended to “implement” last March’s UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, on the same subject. Notwithstanding Clinton’s final speech defending freedoms of religion and speech, the gathering was folly.
Resolution 16/18 was adopted in the place of one that endorsed the dangerous idea that “defamation of religion” should be punished criminally worldwide. That call for a universal blasphemy law had been pushed relentlessly for 12 years by the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an essentially religious body chartered to “combat defamation of Islam.” It issues fatwas and other directives to punish public expression of apostasy from Islam and “Islamophobia.”
Clinton: With this week’s conference, foolishly encouraged Muslim-world push to treat dissent from Islam as hate speech or worse.
Leading OIC states behind this campaign — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Pakistan — imprison and/or sentence to death “blasphemers.”
Resolution 16/18 deplores religious intolerance but doesn’t limit speech — the result of a deft State Department maneuver. The administration should have let matters rest there.
Instead, while co-chairing an OIC “High Level Meeting” addressing Islamophobia last July in Istanbul, Clinton invited the OIC to Washington to discuss how to “implement” resolution 16/18.
However, the opposition parties, particularly the Liberals, have been trying to sell a bill of goods on Stephen Harper — that he operates on a scale of political malevolence and disregard for democracy that makes him singular. This, of course, is tosh. If anyone can find a quotation of Stephen Harper’s as bracingly insulting to MPs as the one I’ve cited from the golden years of our democracy under Mr. Trudeau, it would be nice to have it.
It was during Mr. Trudeau’s tenure that the PMO became central and the caucus an afterthought. Nor were the reins in any way slackened when the “friendly dictator” (as Jeffery Simpson called Jean Chrétien) took over. Mr. Chretien was brutal when he could get away with it, was a master of stonewall, and scornful of any checks and balances on himself. (Remember the golf-balls moment at the Gomery Inquiry?)
More recently, Mr. Trudeau’s son in the House of Commons this week referred to one of her Majesty’s Ministers as a “piece of “s–t.” Anybody who buys Justin’s apology is naïve: Who is more acutely theatrical, more attuned to the gaining of a spotlight moment than the musketeer from Mount Royal? Vulgarity will grab the beam every time. It’s the oldest opposition game in the world: Make a racket in the assembly, cause a headline-brewing storm and apologize.
Now where in this episode, which we can use as a mini-parable, is that much-touted respect for the traditions and centrality of the Commons that the Liberals summon so often as a stick to beat the Prime Minister? Where is the much-vaunted pledge to maintain or bring back some elements of civility and decorum to the House? In this particular, as on more general grounds, the Liberals play whatever game they are situated to play.
The latest agreement, last week, is another Eurofarce, in which France got what it wanted and the Eurozone will solemnly pledge not to run deficits in the future, with no hint of how it is going to climb down from its unsustainable debts now. The solemn promise to do better will risibly be imposed by the European Court. The film rights to the attempted enforcement of the Court’s injunctions against, for example, France’s industrial unions, would be prized for their entertainment value.
But last week’s agreement was a long step toward Germany approving the issuance of Eurobonds by the European Central Bank in favour of the more vulnerable countries under certain onerous conditions: The whole Eurozone must reform entitlements, cut spending, liberalize labour markets and incentivize investments, as Germany itself did. Countries in default should be allowed to default, make the best deal they can with their grumpy bond-holders, but stay in the Euro and soldier on.
by Victor Davis Hanson:
Barack Obama is a myth, our modern version of Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan. What we were told is true, never had much basis in fact — a fact now increasingly clear as hype gives way to reality.
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, on no evidence, once proclaimed Obama “probably the smartest guy ever to become president.” When he thus summed up liberal consensus, was he perhaps referring to academic achievement? Soaring SAT scores? Seminal publications? IQ scores known only to a small Ivy League cloister? Political wizardry?
Who was this Churchillian president so much smarter than the Renaissance man Thomas Jefferson, more astute than a John Adams or James Madison, with more insight than a Lincoln, brighter still than the polymath Teddy Roosevelt, more studious than the bookish Woodrow Wilson, better read than the autodidact Harry Truman?
Consider. Did Obama achieve a B+ average at Columbia? Who knows? (Who will ever know?) But even today’s inflated version of yesteryear’s gentleman Cs would not normally warrant admission to Harvard Law. And once there, did the Law Review editor publish at least one seminal article? Why not?
We have just received word from our sources in Iran that a decision on the fate of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani – the Christian pastor who faces execution for his faith in Iran – has been further delayed.