Tag Archives: Arab Israeli

Manila sets UN conditions for Golan force to stay

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has set out conditions to the United Nations for more than 300 Filipino peacekeepers to stay in the Golan Heights, including additional weapons for their protection and shorter periods of deployment in the volatile buffer region separating Israel from Syria, officials said Sunday.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in a meeting Friday in New York that the world body will work “with all stakeholders to provide what is needed consistent with the disengagement agreement,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

President Benigno Aquino III’s administration did not immediately say if the U.N. pledge would be enough for it to decide to keep 342 Filipino soldiers in the Golan Heights beyond Aug. 11, when the Philippine contingent was to be replaced by fresh troops. Aquino has sought increased security for the troops, saying they face “an undoable mission” if their security in the increasingly violent buffer zone was not bolstered.

Austria announced recently that it would remove its 377 peacekeepers from the 911-member U.N. peacekeeping force, which includes troops from India, leaving the Philippines as the largest single contributor of armed peacekeepers.

The United Nations and the United States have asked the Philippines to keep its troops in place, warning of “maximum volatility” in the Golan Heights if the Filipinos withdraw after a number of other countries such as Japan and Croatia pulled out their forces amid escalating violence and a series of abductions of peacekeepers.

Del Rosario told Ladsous that the Philippines wanted the U.N. to deploy an agreed peacekeeping force of 1,250 troops and acquire additional protective equipment and weapons for the soldiers by October. Filipino troops should also be allowed to be replaced every six months, shorter than the current deployment, the statement said.

It said that Ladsous understood the Philippines’ position and agreed that more robust defense capabilities were needed for peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.

The U.N. force was established in 1974 to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and Syria wants the land returned in exchange for peace.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Leader of Egypt's Jewish community dies at 82

The leader of Egypt‘s dwindling and aging Jewish community, known for her tireless work preserving synagogues and a once-sprawling Jewish cemetery, died Saturday at the age of 82.

Carmen Weinstein will be buried on Thursday in the Bassatine cemetery she herself worked to save since 1978. It is the only Jewish cemetery left in Cairo and is the largest in Egypt.

The transformation of Bassatine mirrors the dramatic changes Egypt has undergone as its population skyrocketed and poverty grew. Named in Arabic after its gardens, the cemetery is now a slum of tightly-packed redbrick apartment buildings that house thousands of poor Egyptians after waves of migration from villages in southern Egypt.

Parts of Bassatine were turned into a garbage dump, while another area was seized by antiquities’ officials. Weinstein was able to preserve a small area as a Jewish cemetery.

Egypt‘s once thriving Jewish community largely left more than 60 years ago at a time of hostilities between the country and Israel. Estimates say that since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, about 65,000 Jews left Egypt — most of them traveling to Europe and the West. Some settled in Israel.

Their departure was fueled by rising nationalist sentiment during the Arab-Israeli wars, and harassment and some direct expulsions by then-President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who seized power shortly after a military coup ousted the country’s king.

According to a friend of Weinstein, Magda Haroun, only around 40 Egyptian Jews remain in the country, split between Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria that was also once a thriving multicultural and cosmopolitan hub.

Haroun, who says she is one of Egypt‘s last surviving Jews, said Weinstein’s father had owned a large print shop in downtown Cairo, where she had worked for some 50 years after her father’s death. The family’s name remains on the shop, which now sells stationary.

“She was a friend of my parents’ and I remember her being a very well-educated woman who was very courageous because she fought a lot to keep the Jewish heritage as much as she could intact,” Haroun said. “I owe her a lot of respect for this.”

As the president of the Jewish Community in Cairo, Weinstein helped urge Egyptian authorities to renovate at least four Cairo synagogues. Some 15 still exist

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/oIwf44vfTO4/

Kerry meets Israeli leaders to push Mideast peace

Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior Israeli and Palestinian officials amid talk of reviving a decade-old Arab plan for Mideast peace.

Kerry spent the morning of Israel‘s Holocaust memorial day visiting Yad Vashem. He was to meet later Monday with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Kerry then has a dinner with Netanyahu; he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

Kerry is trying to end a 4½-year Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.

He hasn’t publicly outlined a new plan.

But Palestinian and Arab officials say he wants to modify the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that offered peace with Israel for a pullout from territories captured in 1967.

Officials say Kerry seeks Arab-Israeli security commitments and softer language on borders.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Decade-old Mideast peace plan re-emerges

A dormant, decade-old Mideast peace plan has suddenly emerged as a possible key to breaking years of deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians.

A top Palestinian official said Sunday that the visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed interest in reviving the so-called Arab Peace Initiative, a 2002 plan in which the Arab world offered comprehensive peace with Israel in exchange for a full pullout from all territories it captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Arab officials confirmed the Arab League was set to discuss the matter on Monday.

The initiative was revolutionary when it was introduced by Saudi Arabia‘s then crown prince, King Abdullah, and later endorsed by the 22-member Arab League at a summit in Beirut. However, the plan was overshadowed by fierce Israeli-Palestinian fighting at the time and greeted with skepticism by Israel. The Arab League re-endorsed the plan in 2007, and technically, the offer remains in effect.

Key obstacles remain. Israel has not softened its objections to the plan, and the Palestinians turned down a request from Kerry for changes in it.

In the 1967 war, Israel took control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Sinai and Golan Heights. Israeli returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1982 in the framework of a peace treaty and pulled out of Gaza unilaterally in 2005. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, and peace talks with Syria over the territory have repeatedly failed.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been deadlocked since late 2008, in large part over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The Palestinians refuse to talk while Israel settles its population on the occupied territories where they want to establish their state. They have demanded that Israel accept the 1967 lines as the basis for a future Palestine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects a return to the 1967 lines and calls for talks with no preconditions.

The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation has also endorsed the 2002 Arab peace initiative.

The plan, if adopted, considers the Arab-Israeli conflict “ended,” offers “normal relations” with Israel and calls for providing “security for all the states of the region.”

Israel has rejected a return to the 1967 lines for both security and spiritual reasons. Israeli leaders have long argued that the 1967 frontiers are indefensible. In addition, a return to those boundaries would mean a withdrawal …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Hagel omitted two speeches on Middle East from Senate disclosure forms

In the supporting documents he turned over to Senate investigators as part of his confirmation process, Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel did not disclose at least two recent speeches on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Fox News has learned.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox News – Politics