March 29, 2011
Posted: 1643 GMT
In the preceding post we wrote about the controversy over the Facebook group page that called for a third Palestinian intifada. Now Facebook has pulled down the page in question. For more read our story here.
March 28, 2011
Posted: 1724 GMT
After publicly calling for the removal of a Facebook page it said promoted "wild incitement," the Israeli government says it is now satisfied that the social media giant is effectively monitoring the "Third Palestinian Intifada" group page for compliance with its terms of service.
Gal Ilan, a spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, told CNN that following a letter of complaint sent last week to Facebook founder and chairman Mark Zuckerberg by Minister Yuli Edelstein, the internet company had done a better job at policing and removing content that in some instances promoted "the killing of Israelis and Jews and the 'liberating' of Jerusalem and of Palestine through acts of violence."
In that letter Edelstein wrote:
"As Facebook's CEO and founder you are obviously aware of the site's great potential to rally the masses around good causes, and we are all thankful for that. However, such potential comes hand in hand with the ability to cause great harm such as in the case of the wild incitement...I turn to you with the request that you order the immediate removal of this Facebook page. I write to you not only in my capacity as Israel's Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs who is charged with monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, but as someone who believes in the values of free speech, and knows that there is a difference between freedom of expression and incitement. "
March 27, 2011
Posted: 1041 GMT
Violent protests erupted Friday in Syria, with dozens of people killed in and around the restive city of Daraa and a boy slain in the coastal town of Latakia, reports said.
"The situation in Syria has worsened considerably over the past week, with the use of live ammunition and tear gas by the authorities having resulted in a total of at least 37 people being killed in Daraa , including two children," said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N.'s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Among the dead were 15 people who tried to march to Daraa, sources said, and nine others who died when security forces fired on demonstrators in Daraa's main square, said Wissam Tarif, a human rights activist.
There were many casualties in Daraa, said Abdullah, who asked that his full name not be reported due to security concerns. He said he saw Friday's events in the city, where deadly clashes have taken place in recent days between security forces and protesters. Read more...
March 26, 2011
Posted: 900 GMT
Jerusalem (CNN) - In the latest chapter of an unfolding story that reads like a spy thriller, a Palestinian engineer who was allegedly abducted by Israeli intelligence services in the Ukraine over a month ago will be kept in custody for at least another week after an Israeli court ruling.
After being held for over 30 days in an Israeli jail under mysterious circumstances, Dirar Abu Sisi's incarceration will last at least one more week after a judge in a Petach Tikvah court Thursday granted an Israeli government request to keep Abu Sisi behind bars in order for the state to produce evidence against him.
"This request means that Israel does not have, even after 34 days of interrogation, sufficient evidence to indict Dirar Abu Sisi with any offense under Israeli law and under these circumstances we argue that he should be released, " Abu Sisi's attorney Smadar Ben-Natan told CNN following his court appearance.
Read the rest here
March 24, 2011
Posted: 1054 GMT
A woman was killed and more than 50 other people were wounded in a blast near Jerusalem's central bus station, as the evening rush hour began Wednesday, authorities said.
Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the terrorist attack as "cowardly."
The explosion took place in a crowded area with "a lot of civilians and two buses," said Yonatan Yagadovsky, a spokesman for Israel's emergency services.
"Three to four are in critical condition. The rest of the casualties are moderately to lightly injured," he said before the woman's death was announced. The injuries came from both the force of the blast and from flying shrapnel, he said.
Wednesday's explosion was caused by a medium-sized device in a bag that had been left near the bus station, Israeli police and medical officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the terrorist attack.
David Horovitz, the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, said it was odd for an unattended bag to go unnoticed in security-conscious Israel.
All the people hurt in the blast were located between the bus station and a bus, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Read more...
March 22, 2011
Posted: 845 GMT
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and a top military general are discussing a deal for a peaceful transition of power that would allow Saleh to stay in place for the rest of the year, a Yemeni official and senior U.S. official said Monday.
The discussions come amid cracks in support for Saleh's 32-year rule after weeks of anti-government protests.
Three top generals declared their support for the protests Monday, including Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, the man now discussing the deal with Saleh.
Al-Ahmar, who belongs to an important tribe whose backing is significant for Saleh, also said he will order his troops to protect civilians demonstrating against the president. Read more...
Posted: 652 GMT
Following in the footsteps of several other Republicans considering a presidential bid, Sarah Palin was in Jerusalem Monday to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and take in some local sight-seeing. Media was not high on her list of priorities so we were only able to catch up with her at a hastily arranged photo-op at the Western Wall. No public word from her camp about this Telegraph report that says a visit to the West Bank city of Bethlehem was aborted at the last-minute for reasons unknown.
March 21, 2011
Posted: 908 GMT
President Obama and his national security team worked behind the scenes Sunday to try to shore up support within the Arab world for the military mission in Libya, with top White House aides reaching out to officials of the Arab League to insist the bombing does not exceed the scope of a U.N. mandate, according to senior administration officials.
The senior officials described the Obama team's phone calls as making clear to the Arab League that bombing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses falls within the U.N. Security Council resolution's scope of imposing a no-fly zone and taking "all necessary measures" to stop the dictator from attacking civilians in his own country.
"We don't believe this goes beyond the resolution," said one senior administration official in describing the White House's message to the Arab League.
The lobbying came after Arab League officials complained earlier Sunday that airstrikes by the U.S. military and other allies inside Libya exceeded the scope of merely instituting a no-fly zone.
The senior officials noted that Obama also personally called King Abdullah of Jordan as part of the effort to keep key Arab allies on board with the mission. Read more...
March 20, 2011
Posted: 757 GMT
Syria's Ministry of Interior set up a committee to investigate Friday's deadly demonstrations in Diraa, the Syrian news agency SANA reported Saturday.
Anyone who is proven responsible for having committed abuse during the protests will be punished, the news agency reported, citing an unnamed source.
Meanwhile, during the funeral Saturday for two people reportedly killed during the clashes in Diraa, hundreds of people gathered to call for freedom and reforms.
"The general atmosphere was tense," one participant told CNN, referring to demonstrators and security forces, "but no serious clashes occurred."
Said another participant: "None of the slogans were against the president, but all are asking for more freedom and putting an end to the current corruption."
The United Kingdom's Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said Saturday that he was "extremely concerned by reports of increasing violence and the excessive use of force by security forces, apparently resulting in the death of a number of protesters yesterday."
"I am also disturbed by reports of the arrest and prosecution of around 20 human rights activists who attempted to conduct a peaceful protest outside the Interior Ministry on Wednesday," Burt said. "This, along with reports of demonstrations in towns around Syria being broken up with lethal force is very worrying. Read more...
March 18, 2011
Posted: 1505 GMT
In a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out the possibility that his government would ever negotiate with a Palestinian government that included the Islamist group Hamas.
“Can you imagine a peace deal with Al Qaeda? Of course not.” Netanyahu told Morgan in Jerusalem. “What am I going to negotiate with them? The method of our decapitation? The method of their exterminating us? Of course not"
The vocal opposition from Netanyahu comes amidst Palestinians efforts to end the bitter political divide between their two main political parties.
Wednesday Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he was ready to visit the Gaza Strip immediately in an effort to end the internal political division between his Fatah party and the Hamas faction which rules in Gaza.
That move followed an invitation from Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh who extended the invitation to Abbas as tens of thousands of protestors both in the West Bank and Gaza took to the streets demanding political unity.
Israel has long rejected the idea of direct negotiations with Hamas which it regards as a terrorist organization but Netanyahu’s comments signal what appears to be a new Israeli push to prevent Abbas from striking deal that would include Hamas in any future Palestinian government.
Friday’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Israeli officials were working to convince the United States and other nations that any Hamas role in a government would attest to the Palestinian’s lack of interest in peace.
The division between Fatah and Hamas began in 2006 when the Islamist party won parliamentary elections and worsened a year later when Hamas seized power in Gaza from Fatah in a violent coup. Repeated attempts at negotiating a political rapprochement have failed .
While few are holding their breath that this latest effort at reconciliation will bear fruit there is considerably more pressure being brought to bear on both factions. Taking a page from protestors in Egypt and Tunisia internet savvy Palestinians have been using social media to organize increasing numbers to demonstrate publicly for reconciliation.
Independent lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti says recent demonstrations represent a new and important youth movement in Palestinian society.
"What you see is the beginning of change, what you see is the voice of the young people and the silent majority among the Palestinians which are pressuring both Fatah and Hamas to end this terrible division, to end this internal competition about an authority which does not exist because it is all under occupation," Barghouti said. "You see the voice of the Palestinian majority asking for democracy back and asking for unity, which is the only way to end occupation and the suffering of the people."
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