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August 10, 2008

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish dies at age 67

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish dies at age 67

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

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Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died Saturday in southern American state of Texas three days after heart surgery at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Darwish’s poems are considered as an encapsulation of the Palestinian cause.

Palestinians in Ramallah went to the streets, some weeping, gathered around candles in the darkened streets and lit candles expressing their sadness.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning.

“The passing of our great poet, Mahmoud Darwish, the lover of Palestine, the pioneer of the modern Palestinian cultural project, and the brilliant national leader, will leave a great gap in our political, cultural and national lives,” Abbas said. “Words cannot describe the depth of sadness in our hearts, Mahmoud, may God help us for your loss.”

A day after his death many intellectuals and politicians in the Middle East gave their tributes in honor of him.

Ahmed Fouad Negm, a famous Egyptian poet, told Reuters “[h]e translated the pain of the Palestinians in a magical way. He made us cry and made us happy and shook our emotions, Apart from being the poet of the Palestinian wound, which is hurting all Arabs and all honest people in the world, he is a master poet.”

“Mahmoud Darwish knew how to express the attachment of an entire people to its land and the absolute desire for peace. His message, which calls for coexistence, will continue to resonate and will eventually be heard”, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statement.

Darwish will get the equivalent of a state funeral in the West Bank on Tuesday, the first since Yasser Arafat died in 2004.



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April 16, 2008

Former US president Carter meets with former deputy-PM for Hamas

Former US president Carter meets with former deputy-PM for Hamas

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jimmy Carter

Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter met with Nasser al-Shaer on Tuesday. Shaer is a former education minister and a former Deputy Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority. He is considered a high-ranking member of Hamas.

During a visit to the West Bank, Carter laid a wreath upon the grave site of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Carter then met with Shaer, whom he greeted with a hug and kisses to both cheeks, according to a member of Carter’s delegation.

Shaer told Reuters that he and Carter had a face-to-face meeting and that they discussed brokering an unofficial truce between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June of 2007. Carter’s office has declined to comment on the closed meeting.

“Carter asked what he can do to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel … and I told him the possibility for peace is high,” Shaer said.

Carter told reporters that he wanted to go to the Gaza Strip, but was not allowed. Reuters reports that Israel, citing a member of Carter’s delegation, denied the visit.

“I haven’t been able to get permission to go into Gaza. I would like to. I asked for permission. But I was turned down. But maybe we can find a way to circumvent that,” Carter said.

U.S. and Israeli officials have both expressed disapproval of Carter’s visit. Both countries have sought to marginalize Hamas, while they try to negotiate a peace with Mahmoud Abbas, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority who hails from the Fatah party. They see Carter’s mission as counterproductive to their efforts.

Carter “in effect is undermining a current policy which is not just American but held by many others,” said U.S. Representative Howard Berman to the Associated Press. Berman is the chairperson for the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Cquote1.svg Since Syria and Hamas will have to be involved in a final peace agreement, they have to be involved in discussions that lead to final peace. Cquote2.svg

—Jimmy Carter

Friday, Carter is scheduled to meet in Damascus, Syria with Khaled Mashal, who is considered the political leader of Hamas and is the head of its Syrian branch.

Cquote1.svg Jimmy Carter’s view of the forces at work in the Middle East and how he likes to attribute blame and responsibility is so warped to my way of thinking that I’m skeptical of any initiative he undertakes. Cquote2.svg

—U.S. Rep. Howard Berman, Chairperson, Committee on Foreign Affairs

Yigal Palmor, an official with the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, “The official Hamas position until this day is that it won’t negotiate with Israel or recognize it under any circumstance … Jimmy Carter has dignified this position with his presence, and one cannot but wonder how this attitude is supposed to promote peace and understanding.”

“Since Syria and Hamas will have to be involved in a final peace agreement, they have to be involved in discussions that lead to final peace,” Jimmy Carter told reporters in Ramallah.

“Jimmy Carter’s view of the forces at work in the Middle East and how he likes to attribute blame and responsibility is so warped to my way of thinking that I’m skeptical of any initiative he undertakes,” said Howard Berman.

While in Israel, Carter met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who criticized the planned meeting with Mashal. Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel did not receive Carter.



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January 9, 2008

George Bush arrives in Middle East

George Bush arrives in Middle East – Wikinews, the free news source

George Bush arrives in Middle East

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

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US President George W. Bush has arrived in Israel – the first stop on a Middle East journey designed to bolster the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and foster unity on Iran.

Israel’s leaders were waiting at Ben Gurion Airport, as Air Force One taxied to a stop.

They formed a long welcoming line as George W. Bush set foot on Israeli soil for the first time in his presidency.

Cquote1.svg If there needs to be a little pressure then you know I will provide it. Cquote2.svg

—George W. Bush

Following a discussion with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, George Bush said he would provide pressure if necessary. He made this clear by saying “If there needs to be a little pressure then you know I will provide it,” after the talks.

He spoke of the strong ties between the United States and Israel. He says the source of that strength is a shared belief in the power of human freedom.

“We will do more than defend ourselves. We will seek lasting peace. We see a new opportunity for peace here in the Holy Land and for freedom across the region,” said Mr. Bush.

Like President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert kept his comments at the arrival ceremony broad in nature, avoiding any direct reference to issues related to the peace process.

“From the very beginning, your policies have reflected a basic understanding of the challenges facing Israel in this troubled region and a solid commitment to our national security,” he said.

George W. Bush, Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres during the arrival ceremony which took place after George Bush’s arrival earlier today.

It fell to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who is considered by some to be largely ceremonial, to offer some tougher talk. He said President Bush is right to urge the world to pay attention to the threat posed by Iran.

“We take your advice not to underestimate the Iranian threat. Iran should not underestimate our resolve for self-defense,” said President Bush.

President Bush, Prime Minister Olmert and President Peres wasted no time getting down to business – launching talks shortly after the arrival ceremony.

Thursday, President Bush will travel from Jerusalem on to Ramallah, the West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, to meet separately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

At a meeting in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas agreed to begin negotiations on the thorniest issues blocking a peace agreement. Among them: the borders of a future Palestinian state, competing claims to Jerusalem, and the status of Palestinian refugees.

Concerns about rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza and Israeli settlement activity have created tensions since the American-led Annapolis Mideast conference in November. President Bush is expected to use his trip to encourage both sides to look at the big picture and keep focused on the need for peace.

During the flight to Israel, White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley told reporters traveling with the president that Mr. Bush is not coming to the Middle East to interject himself into the negotiations. He said, instead, the president wants both sides to stay focused, and look beyond what he called “a lot of distractions.”

Hadley also talked about the recent incident involving Iranian vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. He said Iran must be careful and realize there will be consequences to bear if they again menace American boats in international waters.



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December 14, 2006

Stephen Hawking concludes visit to Israel and Palestine

Stephen Hawking concludes visit to Israel and Palestine

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hawking takes a look at the old city from the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University

Professor Stephen Hawking today concluded his eight-day visit to Israel and Palestine. The visit was organised by the British Embassy and the British Council. The world-famous scientist and best-selling author of A Brief History of Time embodies the UK’s scientific excellence and his visit has promoted Britain as the international partner of choice in science and technology collaboration.

Professor Hawking met with teenage scientists in an event organised by the British Council at the Bloomfield Museum of Science in Jerusalem on Sunday 10 December. Also on that day, Professor Hawking met the Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert.

This evening, December 14, Professor Hawking gave a public lecture to over 1,000 people at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on “The Origin Of the Universe.”

In between he met other Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and gave them courage.

He also visited the Jewish/Arab joint village of Neve Shalom/Wāĥat as-Salām, Tel Aviv University, Weizmann Institute of Science and the Birzeit University in Ramallah (in Palestine).

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August 19, 2006

Top Hamas official seized by Israel

Top Hamas official seized by Israel – Wikinews, the free news source

Top Hamas official seized by Israel

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

The West Bank territory

On Saturday, in a pre-dawn raid, Israeli soldiers seized Nasser al-Shaer at his home in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Al-Shaer is the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and a top official of the Hamas militant group.

The Israeli military confirmed the detention of al-Shaer. Israel has been cracking down on the Hamas movement, which does not recognise Israel, for the last seven weeks. Al-Shaer is the highest ranking Hamas member to be detained. 30 members of Palestinian National Authority parliament have also been detained during the crack-down.

Nasser al-Shaer, a former university professor, is known as a pragmatist in Hamas. Palestinian officials accused Israel of undermining their efforts to form a broad government coalition.

The West Bank was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered by the United Nations and most countries to be under Israeli occupation. Some Israelis and various other groups prefer to refer to it as “disputed” rather than “occupied” territory.

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August 5, 2006

Israel detains Speaker of Palestinian parliament

Israel detains Speaker of Palestinian parliament

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

Israel’s military has placed the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislature under house arrest. Aziz Dweik, a leading member of Hamas has been confined to his residence since the army surrounded his Ramallah home. An Israeli army spokesperson told the Reuters news agency that “Since Hamas is a terrorist organisation, [Dweik] is a target for arrest.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya has responded to the action by accusing Israel of “piracy” and has urged “all Arab and international parliamentarians to condemn and denounce this crime and to secure the release of Aziz Dweik and all jailed ministers and lawmakers.”

Mr Dweik’s detention brings the number of Hamas government officials and MPs being detained since the end of June to 30 or 64 persons, according to varying sources. The detentions began after Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, as part of the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict.

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June 28, 2006

Israel Defense Forces attack Gaza Strip

Israel Defense Forces attack Gaza Strip – Wikinews, the free news source

Israel Defense Forces attack Gaza Strip

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A 3,000 strong detachment of the Israeli Defense Forces has moved back into the Gaza Strip only months after withdrawal of settlements from the area. Eight Hamas cabinet ministers, in addition to other officials, have been detained in a coordinated action codenamed Operation Summer Rains. The pre-planned operation was launched in immediate response to what Israel said was the kidnap of 19-year-old Israeli tank gunner Cpl. Gilad Shalit on 25 June.

Map of the Gaza Strip.

Three bridges in the Gaza Strip have been bombed for the stated purpose of restricting the movement of the hostage takers and the hostage.

In other operations a helicopter attack on a power station in Gaza plunged large portions of the Gaza Strip into darkness, leaving somewhere around 700,000 civilians without electricity or water. While Israeli troops and armored vehicles, lead by bulldozers, also moved into Gaza near a disused international airport.

There were also reports of Israeli warplanes making warning flights over Syria in what has been reported to be a warning “against supporting Palestinian militants.”

“Fight your enemies, who came to their deaths. Grab your rifles and resist,” said Nizar Rayan in a radio message to Palestinian militants. Despite this exhortation, there were no immediate reports of casualties or conflicts.

“We have no desire to remain in the Gaza Strip,” said Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, on Israel Radio, although he did not give a timetable for the operation. “We want to bring our boy home, that’s all.”

The Popular Resistance Committees threatened to kill an Israeli soldier, kidnapped in the West Bank. The body of an 18-year-old Israeli settler, Eliyahu Yitzhak Asheri, kidnapped while hitchhiking in the West Bank, was found in the A-Tira neighbourhood of Ramallah today; he was killed by Palestinian militants from the Popular Resistance Committees on Sunday.

Israel has also detained dozens of Hamas MPs and ministers in a what Israel claims is an unrelated operation. An Israeli official denied the capture as a use for bargaining with the kidnappers saying, “They are not bargaining chips for the return of the soldier – it was simply an operation against a terrorist organisation.”

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May 23, 2006

Israeli forces capture Hamas commander

Israeli forces capture Hamas commander – Wikinews, the free news source

Israeli forces capture Hamas commander

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006 Israeli troops have captured Ibrahim Hamad, the leader of the military wing of the Islamic Group Hamas in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Israel accuses the 41-year-old Hamad (who has headed the Izzedine al- Qasam brigades in the West Bank since 2003) of masterminding a string of suicide bombings including attacks on cafes and universities in Jerusalem. Hamas, which has launched some of the biggest attacks against Israel, declared an informal truce 15 months ago. Since then, Hamas also won the palestinian parliamentary elections in January of this year.

The raid (which was executed early this morning) involved Israeli troops, jeeps and a bulldozer. Eye-witnesses say the soldiers surrounded a row of shops in which Hamad was hiding and threatened to demolish the building if he did not come out. The bulldozer then proceeded to ram the iron doors of the shops, after which Hamad emerged and surrendered. The Israeli troops then ordered him to strip to make sure he was unarmed. After this, he was arrested and taken away in his underwear.

Hamad had been wanted by Israel since 1998, he was arrested by the Palestinian Authority but was released in 2002 during a major Israeli offensive in the West Bank. The BBC’s correspondent in Jerusalem, Caroline Hawley says it is not clear why Israel moved against Hamad since Hamas has not carried out any attacks for over a year. Israeli operations in the past few months have been concentrated against the more active group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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January 13, 2005

Brazilian deputies meet Ramallah Abbas

Brazilian deputies meet Ramallah Abbas – Wikinews, the free news source

Brazilian deputies meet Ramallah Abbas

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

A delegation of Brazilian deputies and senators met the new president of the Palestine Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, on Monday, January 10. Abbas recognized the preferential treatment offered by Brazil to the Palestinians and promised reciprocity. Carlos Abicalil (PT) , member of the delegation, said that the decision of the Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to establish, in July 2004, an office of representation in Ramallah contributed to the closening of relations between the governments of Brazil and the Palestinian.

He praised the choice of Abbas, remembering that the election of the parliament, in July, can be a still more decisive step: “From the point of view of the major political representation of the parliament, there is still an incognito, since diverse political positions which didn’t participate in the presidential election, with proper candidates, as is the case with Hamas – who have an armed and very organized arm – will participate in the legislative elections. Evidently, in the composition of the parliament, there will be more or less radical positions around the situation of Gaza and Jerusalem “.

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