An Event and a Regional Trend

Political and press circles in the area follow up the stormy developments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the shadow of a new round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authority which is scheduled for today. Analysts and experts observed the following points:
- 1. The campaign of judaization and settlement in occupied Jerusalem runs counter to the US promises at Annapolis conference and its corridors. This reflects an Israeli determination to impose a status quo which is one of the titles of the final status. The Israeli government continued the settlement activities on a grand scale in Jerusalem on the eve of the new negotiations.
- 2. The Israeli security priority is applied on all the items of the agenda offered by the Palestinians concerning the final status and the occupation measures in the West Bank where the Palestinian authority and its institutions exist and where they do not enjoy any efficiency and exposed to daily Israeli aggressions.
- 3. The Israelis use two weapons in subjugating Abbas team:
• A continuous use of the internal division through threatening to negotiate with Hamas and exaggerating the talks with Hamas concerning the exchange of captives.
• The carrot of financing which was decided in Paris and whose channels are governed by the Israeli control.
In the end, the Palestinian authority seems in a critical stage due to the daily Israeli aggressions and the continuity of settlement and the Israelis’ suffocation of the Palestinian ambitions. This enhances the presence of the trend of the Palestinian dialogue to restore the unity that collapsed since the plan of general Falon which led to the battles in Gaza between Fateh and Hamas.

An Event and a Regional Trend

Escalation was the only title for the developments of yesterday in all the press and political analyses and comments which dealt with al-Siniora’s government’s decision to issue a project to modify the constitution under the title of opening the way for electing General Suleiman and opening a new round for the parliament:
- 1. What is essential in the government’s step is putting the hand on the authorities of the president, a step that the opposition warned from.
- 2. The step in itself does not enjoy any legal aspect due to the known dispute on the legality of the government and due to the public stand of the house speaker towards this issue.
- 3. The opposition considered the step an implementation of the US instructions to prevent Lebanese reconciliation and deal a deadly blow to the French endeavors; announcing that it is preparing for a suitable retaliation. The Loyalists’ stands differed concerning the next steps, like appointing new ministers which will lead to an open political confrontation.
- 4. The political endeavors seem in a holiday while France announced the continuity of communications despite denying information about preparing for the Paris meeting between the opposition and the loyalists.
- 5. The new indicator is the return of Walid Jumblatt to escalation against Syria and the opposition.
- 6. The supposed length of the crisis, which some analysts linked to the anticipated Arab summit in Damascus next spring, which is also the date of the beginning of the usual round of the parliament. The opposition linked the crisis to the deal of sharing the cell phone and selling it and talked about shares for loyal leaders and for high ranking foreign officials, who are involved in the Lebanese file.

Arab and Foreign Press

Jim Hogland said in an article published in the Washington Post that secretary of defense Robert Gates told some officials that spraying the opium fields in Afghanistan is not a long term strategy and the farmers should be convinced to plant alternative corps in order to curb the corruption related to the use of the opium money.
Gorge Galloway said in an article published in Los Angeles Times that the US intelligence report on Iran’s nuclear file caused a big shock and this should put an end to the threats against Iran.
The Israeli press quoted the Israeli defense minister as saying that any war that Israel will launch in the future will end with its victory, while the Israeli army claimed that its use of cluster bombs in Lebanon war was legal.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that the second session of Annapolis series drowned in the topic of settlements.
The Emirate paper Al-Khalij said negotiations between Palestinians and Israel are meaningless in the shadow of the judaization of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial the road will not be open for holding the peace conference in Moscow because Israel was not satisfied about Annapolis’s results.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

ANB
Program: Evening News
Member of the popular bloc representative Saleem Aoun said that the statements of bishop Bishara al-Rae were surprising in a time when general Aoun demands restoring the rights of Christians.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said Paris froze the decision to hold a meeting between the opposition and the loyalists in Paris amid hints at the Arab summit in Damascus as a horizon for solution.
As-Safir said that with a useless decision al-Siniora government reignited the atmospheres of political tension in Lebanon.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said that Bush and Welch used the occasion of Al-Adha Eid to abort the chances of compromise, while Al-Sinora government used Christmas to increase the sharpness of the crisis with its decisions.
The NTV said the Christians will be no longer able to blame general Aoun who works to restore their rights due to the current divisions in Lebanon.
The NBN said that Bush decided and Fouad al-Siniora carried out the decision and generalized the project of schism and conspiracy against Lebanon and its constitutional institutions.
The OTV said Al-Siniora said happy Christmas to the Christians by putting his hand on the president’s authorities and using the signature of the Maronite president,
The LBC said the political contest in Lebanon violated the sanctity of the holy occasions. The Future said immediately after issuing the decisions of the cabinet the opposition launched a vehement attack on the government and accused it of obeying the instructions of the Americans.

Television Stations Interviews in Lebanon

Al-Manar Program: Between two Brackets

Representative Ali Hasan Khalil said the government’s measures aim at targeting reconciliation in Lebanon.

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.