Tag Archives: Yasser Arafat

Erakat, a veteran voice of the Palestinians

Long-time Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat was announced on Friday as the man to open dialogue with his Israeli counterpart at meetings in Washington after three years of stalled peace negotiations.

Both Erakat and Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry for initial talks, the top US diplomat said at the end of four days of intense diplomacy as he consulted Palestinian and Israeli leaders from his base in Amman.

The 55-year-old Erakat, an academic whose perfect command of English is often spiced with humour, was part of every team to negotiate with Israel since 1991, with the notable exception of those who secretly hammered out the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Erakat rose to prominence as a media personality at the 1991 international peace conference in Madrid at which he wore the black-and-white chequered Palestinian headscarf.

Born in Jerusalem, he has been a key figure in the Palestinian political landscape, an indispensable briefer for foreign envoys and a suave tactician who can register indignation when necessary.

A member of the Palestinian parliament since 1996, Erakat was close to Yasser Arafat, historic leader of the Palestinian national movement, even though he did not follow Arafat into exile in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia before his return to Gaza in 1994.

In 2009, Erakat was elected to the central committee of the Fatah wing of Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and to the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

He was an architect of the negotiations on a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from the failed Camp David summit in July 2000 to the talks launched in Washington in September 2010 which were interrupted after less than a month in a row over Israel’s continued settlement building.

Appointed in 2003 to head the PLO negotiating team, Erakat briefly resigned from the post in 2011 because of “responsibility for the theft of documents from his office,” papers which he said had been “adulterated”.

He was referring to more than 1,600 documents on the talks with Israel between 1999 and 2010, released in January 2011 by Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera and dubbed “The Palestine Papers”.

Palestinian officials worked to limit the damage caused by their publication, which showed Palestinian negotiators prepared to offer significant concessions without securing Israeli guarantees on key issues such as east Jerusalem and the fate of refugees.

Although the documents did not cause major turmoil in Palestinian public opinion, Erakat’s position was weakened at the time by announcements the alleged perpetrators of the leaks worked for the PLO negotiation team he headed.

He had said an investigation into the leaks pointed towards three nationals of US, British and French extraction being responsible.

A former journalist with the independent daily Al-Quds in east Jerusalem, Erakat holds a BA and an MA in Political Science from the University of San Francisco.

He also has a doctorate in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford in England, and he taught at An-Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus from 1979 to 1991.

Erakat has written a dozen books and lives in the …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Kuwait hosts 1st Palestinian leader since Gulf War

Kuwait says it has hosted a Palestinian leader for the first time in more than 20 years after ties were broken over the 1990 Iraq invasion of the Gulf state.

At the time, then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was perceived as sympathetic to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and opposed to the U.S.-led invasion to oust Iraqi forces.

The official Kuwait News Agency said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended a ceremony Monday to open a Palestinian Embassy in Kuwait City.

After Iraqi forces were driven from Kuwait in 1991, the Gulf state’s rulers expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers. Palestinians began working to restore ties with Kuwait more than a decade ago.

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

Pablo Neruda to Be Exhumed

By Kevin Spak Pablo Neruda is about to get the Yasser Arafat treatment . Neruda chauffeur Manuel Araya has been claiming for years that agents of Augusto Pinochet poisoned the acclaimed poet while he was being treated for cancer. Next month, authorities will dig up his corpse to see if that’s true. Judge Mario …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Newser – Home

Symbolism weighs heavy at Iran nuclear talks venue

The venue for talks on Iran‘s nuclear program between world powers and Tehran carries a symbolism that Western negotiators will hope serves as a positive omen.

In the 1990s, Kazakhstan, a sprawling former Soviet republic, gave up a huge nuclear stockpile and now wants to capitalize on its nonproliferation track record by offering to host a bank of reactor fuel that would remove the need for countries, namely Iran, to enrich uranium for themselves.

That may be one proposal under consideration at this week’s talks in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital, Almaty, between Iran and six world powers — five permanent U.N. Security council members and Germany — on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.

Iran insists it is not working on a nuclear weapons program, but rather is enriching uranium only to make reactor fuel and for scientific and medical purposes, as allowed by international law.

But many nations are suspicious because Iran went underground after failing to get international help for its uranium enrichment program in the 1980s, working secretly until its activities were revealed a decade ago. More recent proposals for international shipments of reactor fuel in exchange for Iranian enrichment concessions have foundered, with each side blaming the other.

Kazakhstan will not be involved in the talks that start Tuesday, and are expected to last for two days.

Kazakhstan’s willingness to dispense with its once formidable arsenal in large part was born out of its grim legacy as a nuclear weapon testing site in Soviet times. Some critics say, however, that Kazakhstan’s vocal trumpeting of its nonproliferation record is designed to act as a smoke screen for its lack of democratic freedoms.

Amid the Soviet Union‘s collapse, the Central Asian nation unexpectedly found itself holding more than a thousand strategic nuclear warheads and 370 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, becoming the world’s first predominantly Muslim-populated nuclear power.

Within a day of Kazakhstan declaring independence in 1991, Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat flew into Almaty in a visit that alarmed Western diplomats. Weeks later, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Pakistan, but officials ruled out cooperation on nuclear technology.

A former foreign minister of Kazakhstan last year claimed that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was yet another hopeful buyer snubbed by Kazakhstan.

…read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Brazil: What's behind Carnival masks and disguises

The wall of Olga Valles‘ office is a vast tableau of famous faces past and present: Barack Obama smiles warmly, while Yasser Arafat poses in his trademark black-and-white keffiyeh. Next to him is George W. Bush, practically cheek-to-cheek with a fierce Saddam Hussein, teeth bared in a snarl under his black beret.

Beyond them are Osama Bin Laden, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, an array of soccer greats and the more colorful images of Shrek, Simba from the movie “The Lion King” and assorted monsters.

Valles runs Brazil‘s oldest and most productive mask factory, Condal, a family business started by her Spanish-born husband in 1958. As such, she’s responsible for keeping a finger on the nation’s sense of whimsy and translating the year’s most popular characters, be they real or imaginary, admirable, silly or scary, into masks that will adorn revelers during Carnival, Brazil‘s annual five-day extravaganza. Roving percussion bands have already begun taking over Rio’s streets dragging behind them, Pied Piper-style, throngs of dancing, drinking, costumed revelers.

Carnival’s license to be whoever you want to be for a day is at the core of Valles’ business, with the season’s sales representing 70 percent of her income. She says it’s also a responsibility she takes seriously: Masks and costumes are about much more than looking good for the party.

It’s a time when Brazilians turn to “fantasias,” as Carnival disguises of all sorts are called, to express whatever they’ve kept bottled up during their humdrum workday lives: humor, criticism, fantasies, admiration, aspirations. After all, who doesn’t want to be someone else for a day? Valles’ masks facilitate that, and she’s proud of it, she says.

“I do it for the people, to keep this spirit of street Carnival going,” she said. “It’s social commentary, it’s a way of expressing how you feel. Brazilians need to turn everything into a game, even the most serious things. It’s how they process things.”

Marcelo Servos, manager of the traditional costume purveyor Casas Turuna in downtown Rio, carries Condal masks among other costumes.

“Dressing up is about the imagination, dreaming, becoming someone else,” he said. “People love to transform themselves.”

Picking through the women’s section of Casas Turuna, friends Josiane dos Santos Silva and Vanessa Ventura Freitas had very different secret selves to unveil during Carnival. While Silva wanted to dress up as a soldier, complete with camouflage and fake bullet belts, …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Palestinian fighter, rebel dies in Damascus

A hard-line Palestinian military commander who rebelled against leader Yasser Arafat to form his own rival party died in Damascus on Tuesday, according to his representatives and hospital officials. Said Musa Maragha, better known by his nom de guerre, “Abu Musa,” was 86.

They said Maragha died of cancer.

Maragha, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, defected from the Jordanian army in 1970 over tensions between the military and Palestinian fighters who were using the kingdom as a base to carry out attacks against Israel.

Palestinian fighters were pushed out of Jordan in 1971 in battles with Jordanian forces that killed thousands, mostly Palestinians, later known as “Black September.”

Many fighters, including Maragha, fled to Lebanon.

There he joined the Fatah movement, headed by charismatic leader Arafat. Fatah at the time was aiming to destroy Israel and create a Palestinian state in its place, demanding the return of hundreds of thousands Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced from their homes during the 1948 Mideast war surrounding the creation of the Jewish state.

Decades later, the movement changed its goal to establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel in territories seized in the 1967 Mideast war — the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, while still demanding the return of the refugees to Israel.

Maragha quickly rose through the ranks of ragtag Palestinian fighting forces. By 1976, he was Fatah’s chief military operative in south Lebanon, where Palestinians had carved out an enclave to attack neighboring Israel.

Maragha also involved Palestinians in Lebanon‘s 15-year civil war that ended in 1990, battling Syrian forces that intervened to assist Christian militias against their Muslim and leftist rivals.

Maragha rebelled against Arafat in 1982, after Israel invaded southern Lebanon and bombed the capital, Beirut, pushing out Palestinian fighters. Arafat and much of the Palestinian leadership fled to establish a base in Tunisia. Other fighters fled to Algeria and Yemen.

Maragha wanted Arafat to hold military commanders accountable for fleeing from the fighting. He argued against leaving Beirut, wanting to stay as close as possible to Israel‘s borders.

A year later, he established a rival group, called “Fatah Uprising.” The group received the backing of the Assad regime in Syria, which sought to weaken Arafat.

He ultimately left to Damascus, where he joined the Syria-allied Palestinian National Alliance, a group that rejected negotiations with Israel.

The alliance failed to gain significant traction among Palestinians.

Maragha slowly slipped into obscurity following interim peace accords signed between Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, starting in 1993.

He was born in the biblical village of Bethany, near Jerusalem, a Palestinian town known now by its Arabic name, Azariyeh.

It was not immediately clear where or when Maragha would be buried. Representatives said there was heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces around the cemetery in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus.

He is survived by four children.

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Mohammed Daraghmeh contributed reporting from Ramallah, West Bank.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News