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    Entries in hamas (9)


    Israel rejects plan to divide Jerusalem

    JERUSALEM — Israel's foreign ministry said today that a Swedish-led push for the European Union to call for the division of Jerusalem and the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state would trip up Europe's own efforts to play a role in Middle East peacemaking.

    "We would like to see the Europeans more involved and playing a role," but it will be more difficult for them to do so if they press ahead, says Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "The Swedish initiative does not contribute to promoting the peace process, and all it can do is to marginalize the European role."

    "It will only convince the Palestinians that they can remain the trenches," he adds.

    Israeli diplomats have been working overtime across Europe to stop the document from being adopted when European foreign ministers meet Dec. 7 to set a Middle East policy statement.

    Greater European role
    Several individual European countries have taken a more active role in the peace process in recent weeks. France's Nicolas Sarkozy has been facilitating Israeli-Syrian communication, and German mediators are playing a role in negotiations over a prisoner deal, in which Israel would win the release of its captive soldier, Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who has been held for more than three years by Hamas, in exchange for up to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

    But European policy as a whole has been more of a concern, Israeli officials say. Sweden is at the forefront because it holds the rotating EU presidency through January. Relations between Jerusalem and Stockholm have been chilly since a Swedish tabloid ran a report in August suggesting that the IDF [the Israel Defense Forces] harvested organs from Palestinians held in Israeli custody. Israeli officials asked that the Swedish government officially publicly criticize the sensationalist report, but it declined to do so.

    More recently, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt canceled a planned trip to Israel, Israel's foreign ministry announced over the weekend, apparently due to reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might refuse to meet with him.

    Israel: Swedish draft one-sided
    Quotes from the draft under Sweden's authorship have been sourced by the Israeli press, but no official copy is being provided because it is an internal document, an official at the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv told the Monitor.

    "We see no reason to comment on an internal draft document. And if there is a comment to be made, it will be made on behalf of the 27 member states and not just Sweden," says Annika Ben David, counsellor at the Swedish Embassy to Israel.

    Israel's problem with the draft is that it is one-sided, a senior Israeli official says.

    "If Europe is thinking of going public on what is final status, why only support one side of the issue?" The official continues, "If you say in your position paper that Israel will have to compromise on Jerusalem, why not come out publicly and say what the Palestinians will have to compromise on? Why not say that Palestinian refugees will have to go back to the state of Palestine, not Israel?"

    EU official: Support for Palestinians
    One European official in Tel Aviv, speaking on background, says that the EU position on Jerusalem does not represent a radical change, but is rather an attempt to show the Palestinians that they have international support for their claim to East Jerusalem as their future capital. In so doing, they hoped to draw Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table, despite the fact that the settlement freeze that Netanyahu announced last week did not include East Jerusalem - a prerequisite to peace talks that Mr. Abbas has insisted on.

    "This might be a way to encourage the Palestinians to enter the negotiating process," said the European official. "But I don't think Europe is interested in the recognition of a Palestinian state now, ahead of negotiations. It's more saying, if and when it comes to it, we will recognized East Jerusalem as a capital of a Palestinian state."



    Israel Keeps Giving-No positive response from the Palestinians

    The decision to halt residential construction in the settlements and the deal being formulated with Hamas have one thing in common: In both cases the Israeli side gives something and doesn’t get anything in return, or alternately, gets much less.


    The decision passed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the cabinet Wednesday regarding the halt of construction in Judea and Samaria was supposed to prompt an immediate response by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in respect to a Palestinian return to the negotiations table.

    However a senior official on the Palestinian side was quick to dismiss the Israeli gesture and announced: “We have no intention whatsoever to renew our talks with Netanyahu.”

    To continue reading



    Abbas will not launch intifada despite weakness 

    (reuters) Palestinians will not launch a new uprising against Israel despite their frustration at the deadlock in U.S.-sponsored peace efforts, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday. 

    Israel has rejected U.S. calls to freeze settlements in the West Bank where Palestinians seek statehood, and Abbas - eyeing the internal challenge from his Islamist Hamas rivals - has refused to yield on this core demand and revive negotiations. 

    But Abbas made clear that Palestinians do not want to see a repeat of their 2000-2005 intifada, or revolt, which was spearheaded by gunmen and suicide bombers and met a crushing Israeli military response. 

    "God forbid that we should come to a new intifada. The Palestinian people are not thinking about launching a new intifada," he told reporters during a visit to Argentina. "The Palestinian people are only thinking about the road toward peace and negotiations and no other path. We will not go back to an intifada because we have suffered too much." 

    Hamas beat Abbas' more secular Fatah faction in a 2006 election and, a year later, seized control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Israel fought a war there in December and January that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians. Since then, Hamas has signaled willingness to curb cross-border Palestinian attacks. 

    Abbas, for his part, holds sway in the occupied West Bank, his administration largely propped up by Israel. Abbas' visit comes a week after Israeli President Shimon Peres met with President Cristina Fernandez in Buenos Aires and asked her to mediate in the Middle East peace process. 

    Fernandez and Abbas criticized Israel's announcement last week of plans to build 900 new homes in the settlements. Argentina's president also asked the United States to step up its involvement in the peace process. 

    "To build peace, besides finding common ground and respect for international law, we need to have the will for peace," Fernandez said. "I think this is a key element and that the United States sincerely can do more than what it's doing now regarding this." During a visit to Brazil last week, Abbas and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also condemned the Israeli settlements and demanded the creation of an independent Palestinian state. 


    Will this be the end of Schalit's nightmare?

    The Times has reported that Israel and the Palestinians are preparing a prisoner exchanger that could lead to the release of an Israeli soldier who has been held for more than three years In the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Palestinian militants will be released by Israel.

    There has been a media frenzy since reports that Gilad Schalit, the young Israeli corporal captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid in June 2006, could be free as early as Friday, when Palestinians mark their Eid al-Adha festival. The feast is a traditional period for amnesties and mutual gestures. Hamas’s official newspaper said the exchange could go ahead in the middle of next week.

    A high-level Hamas delegation was due to leave today for Egypt to finalise details of a prisoner swap, which is expected to include around 350 to 450 Palestinian militants as well as hundreds of other prisoners.

    Carry on reading here

    Recent Hamas Video of Gilad Schalit in captivity

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