An Event and a Regional Trend

The visit of the two foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan Abu Al-Gait and Abdul Ilah al-Kahtib to Israel and their meetings with prime minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign minister Tzipi Livni attracted the attention of political and press circles in the area, although this visit does not offer anything new in principle, but it was received by Israeli stands that seemed as a slap to Arab quartet’s optimism concerning Israel’s response to the generous offers of Al-Khatib and Aboul Gheit in the name of the Arab group, which includes Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Olmert, who welcomed the visit, demanded from Arab capitals, specifically from Saudi Arabia, to move to the stage of public dealing with Israel and establishing direct relations. He also asked Palestinians to give up 90% of the West Bank, stressing adherence to the Israeli stand towards the peace initiative, which the Arab statements, that preceded the visit of the two foreign ministers, opened the way to modify through saying that it is liable to discussion.
The Israeli discussion of the initiative’s text was previously announced and Rice tried to push her friends among Arab foreign ministers to modify the initiative at Al-Riyadh’s summit through omitting the right to return and launching the projects of settling millions of Palestinians refugees in Diaspora by Arab Gulf funding and announcing giving up the idea of the independent state in all the West Bank and Gaza Strip and considering Jerusalem as its capital.
The US welcoming of the Arab initiative doubles the doubts in the street, while the occupation forces continue the operations of killings and arrest and dividing the West Bank and Gaza. Meanwhile, the US movements aim at preventing Riyadh and Cairo from launching any initiative to activate dialogue on the Palestinian arena while Israel directly interferes in the political dispute between the authority and Hamas in an attempt to adopt the priority of coherence between occupation and the authority’s groups in order to eliminate the resistance instead of the priority of restoring the Palestinian people’s rights.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Communications concerning Al-Matn by-elections continued while Bkirki leads an attempt to avoid a political battle, which seems very hot in its rhythm after nominating the former president Amin Gemayel and the declaration of the alliance that includes the National Liberal Trend, which is chaired by general Michel Aoun, Tachnag party and Michel al-Murr of fighting the battle through the candidate Kamel Khouri.
Dr. Khoury will get 62% of the votes while Al-Gemayel will get 38%. Information from al-Matn say al-Gemayel is precisely calculating the dangers of his loss in the elections and its reflections on the family leadership and the future of the Phalanges party in the shadow of Gemayel’s silent dispute on the party’s leadership with leader of the Forces Samir Geagea.
Mediations clashed with Al-Gemayel’s escalating stand which obstructed any political breakthrough for the benefit of the electoral conciliation. Available information in the corridors say the state Shura council’s studying of the appeal submitted by the candidate Khoury against the decree for calling the electing organizations, which was not issued by president Lahoud, may provide an outlet to cancel this decree and the call for by-elections.
Leading sources in the National Liberal Trend say that those who wish to avoid the battle should offer protection to the judges of the state shura council from political pressures of the ruling team, so the council can take its decisions in accordance with constitutional and legal rules, and not in a way that responds to the desire of Al-Siniora government.

Arab and International Press

The Israeli paper Ha’aretz said the Hebrew state proposed holding new talks with Palestinians concerning an agreement of principles that allows establishing the Palestinian state on 90% of the occupied land. Arab and International Press said the visit of the two foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan to Israel has revealed that Israel will not accept any Arab role in the final compromise with Palestinians.
Reuters said the Cuban embassy in Beirut received from the Cuban captive in the US prison Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez a message of solidarity with the Lebanese captive in the Israeli prisons Samir Kuntar.
Arab and international press said an opinion poll conducted in the US by United Press International an Zogby institute has revealed that 67.2% of Americans do not agree that the US is the most respectable country in the world, while 80% think it is the most powerful.
Russian Press Agency Novosti quoted president Putin as saying that enhancing the capabilities of Russian forces became a priority for Moscow due to international threats.
The Saudi paper Al-Riyadh wondered if the US and Britain have a real intention to activate peace between the Israelis and the Arabs.
United Press International said Taliban and the governor of Gaznha province denied releasing 8 of the South Korean hostages, announcing that one of them was killed.
The Israeli Radio quoted the first deputy prime minister Haim Ramon as saying that Israel sent messages to Syria which confirm that Israel has no intentions to attack it.
Arab and international Press said Libya and France signed yesterday a military and industrial partnership agreement and a memorandum in the field of civil nuclear cooperation.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said the French envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran left Lebanon without achieving success in activating dialogue between the opposition and the majority, pointing out that delaying French foreign minister’s visit to Beirut is not decided yet.
Lebanese Press focused on Nahr al-Bared clashes saying the concentrated artillery bombardment suggests that the army has entered the final stage of terminating the situation on the ground.
Arab and International Press Agencies said Lebanese president Emile Lahoud has refused to receive a package sent to him from Israel that arrived in Beirut international airport and that he ordered the customs to return it to its source.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Syrian Satellite Station
Program: Evening News
Secretary of the higher council of Iranian national security Ali Larijani said Iran will not stop uranium enrichment, pointing out that it will retaliate in a suitable way if the West decides to impose additional sanctions on Iran.

Television Stations News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki made a phone call with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and agreed with him to continue cooperation and consultation between the two countries.
The NTV said the French envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran left Beirut today amid the noise of preparations for by-elections to submit the file of his meetings to the foreign minister Bernard Kouchner.
The NBN said a heated race is taking place between the French endeavors and the conciliation endeavors and the possibility of confrontation in the by-elections on August 5.
The LBC wondered if July rain is able to extinguish the political fires between the loyals and the opposition, the electoral fire in the north and the military fires in Nahr al-Bared.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Useful Summary
Representative Boutros Harb said electing a president for two years weakens the presidency position and this violates the constitution.

Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on in Arabic, English and French languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic and English.