An event and a Regional Trend

The assassination of the leader of al-Quods brigades and his deputy and announcing the scope of the Israeli army’s operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip coincided with holding the conference of the donating countries which dedicated to the Palestinian authority seven billion dollars, which are, according to analysts, the price for a civil war that Israel and the US nurture in the occupied territories thrugh offering money to the West Bank and tightening siege on Gaza. This will also be a nucleus for the international community’s commitment to the idea of the Palestinian state which will be the axis of Bush’s speeches during his tour in the Middle East.
The current discussion in Israel on the level of leaders reveals an important aspect of the coming developments. The Israeli press reflected heated debate on the usefulness of the military action in Gaza and the scope of the real ability to change the scene which is governed with a chronic complication which already forced Sharon to give up the option of military action in Gaza and the West Bank.
What is new in the movements of the Israeli minister of defense Ehud Barak and the head of staff is the following as the Israeli press revealed:
- The continuity of preparations for invading Gaza and tightening the siege which is unprecedented in colonial experience since it takes the form of collective punishment despite the presence of an Israeli trend which calls for giving up this illusion and warns from the rise of a new kind of resistance that negotiation with it will be impossible.
- Condensing the assassination operations and announcing a bank of goals that includes activists from Hamas and all the resistance groups.
- Israel’s insistence on rejecting any demands under the pretext of enhancing the position of the Palestinian authority until Israel is sure that the authority and its organs are engaged in a real war against the resistance factions. That is what was frankly expressed by the Israeli foreign minister Tzibi Levni at Paris conference when she asserted that Israel’s security first in her indirect discussion of European statements about the necessity of lifting the check points in the West Bank and enabling the authority to use its administrative and political structure.
- A US movement to guarantee an Israeli-Egyptian cooperation in besieging Gaza and establishing a new security condition against the smuggling of weapons and ammunition to the resistance factions in Gaza and building a wall on the borders between Egypt and Gaza.
The Palestinians are facing bloody days while a number of their economic experts say that the donors conference will repeat Paris’ experience through giving the money to a corrupt machine which will not enable the Palestinian people to benefit from it in accordance with a European report which added that conditions witness more deterioration in the occupied territories.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The events of the last few hours pushed press and political circles to wonder if conciliation can be achieved before next Saturday, the date of the electoral session. The following factors shed light on the aspects of the Lebanese political scene:
- 1. Contrary to what was marketed by press and political sources in Beirut, which are close to the loyalists, the French and American tone, which was heard in Paris, indicates the extension of the US authorization to France and a climate of cooperation with Syria, not threatening it.
- 2. Confirming the press information from Paris that the French-Syrian communications were condensed last week. I is anticipated that the attempts may reach a political understanding that leads to the completion of the presidential elections. 3- The loyalists’ stand seem distributed on three axes:
• Representative Walid Junblat gave up discussing the topic of the understanding that the opposition stressed through the ministerial statement and openness to various formulas to distribute the ministerial positions. He stressed in his press interviews the end of the confrontation option through naming a president from outside the constitutional quorum.
- Representative al-Hariri gave up discussing the topic of the new government despite his previous agreement in the presence of Bernard Kouchner on the idea of a government that reflects the relativity of the parliamentary representation between the two teams.
• Sameer Gagea and Fouad al-Siniora were searching for a governmental step after the failure of the tendency to appoint ministers due to the possible reactions of the oppositions and the Maronite Church because this will lead to putting the hand on the presidential authorities. Gagea asked Al-Siniora to send a formula for the constitutional modification to the Parliament but he did not answer yet.
- 4. The opposition’s clinging to the obligation of negotiations with head of the national liberal trend Aoun and the necessity of reaching a written and signed document with guarantees the implementation after electing the army’s leader as a president especially after al-Hariri’s retreat from commitments to pledges in the presence of Kouchner.

Arab and International Press

Al-Bayan said in its editorial that the donors’ conference in Paris is a promising opportunity to activate economy in the West Bank and Gaza.
Tichrin daily said that Syria achieved diplomatic success but the fabricators of analyses and Western press circles do not want to recognize it.
David Ignatius said in an article published in the Washington Post that when rescue teams at the airport feel that there is a possibility for an airplane clash with the surface of the landing place they cover it with a foamy material to belittle the possibility of fire eruption, and that is what the banks of federal reserve and other central banks are doing when they pump money in the markets which are financially damaged.
Atta allah Muhajer said in an article published in al-Sahrq al-Awsat paper that the US intelligence report on Iran’s nuclear project shocked all the sides.
The Emirate paper al-Kahlij said the US support to Israel made it look at the world from its own perspective.
The Qatari paper al-Rayah said that there is no doubt that Qatar’s celebration on the occasion of Sheik Jasem Ben Mohamed Al-thani’s assuming of power is a national day.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

The ANB
News Coverage
French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said that donors pledged to offer the Palestinian authority seven billion and four hundred million dollars and the only winner is the Palestinian authority.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Mahmud Abbas asked for 5.6 billion dollars by 2010 in order to develop Palestinian economy.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir wondered if the 9th delay of the Parliamentary session will lead to the 10th delay.
Ad-Diyar said the disputes that led to the delay of the Parliamentary session revolved around the form of the coming government.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Al-Manar said giving up commitments is responsible for prolonging the presidential vacuum.
The NTV said Michel Al-Murr represents a heavy weight in Aoun’s alliance.
The NBN said the presidential birth did not take place and therefore there will be not other chance as Koucner said. Therefore, everybody is anticipating Saturday session.
The OTV said five days after the assassination of brigadier general Francois al-Hajj and two days after the visit of David Welch al-Hariri gave up the card of compromise.
The LBC said war of words escalated between Syria and Saudi Arabia.
The Future said the loyalists prefer the step by step policy: first electing the president, then agreeing on the government.

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