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Quartet pressures Israel to not resume construction in disputed areas

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–The Quartet of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia on Tuesday, Septe. 21, issued the following statement regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations:

“The Quartet expressed its strong support for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which can resolve all final status issues within one year. The Quartet reaffirmed its full commitment to its previous statements, which provide that negotiations should lead to an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors. The Quartet also confirmed its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement.

“Noting that mutual trust and confidence are critical to successful negotiations, the Quartet reiterated its call on Israel and the Palestinians to promote an environment conducive to progress, including by refraining from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric. The Quartet noted that the commendable Israeli settlement moratorium instituted last November has had a positive impact and urged its continuation. The Quartet recalled that unilateral actions by either party, including settlement activity, cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community. The Quartet called upon both sides to fulfill their obligations under the Road Map. The Quartet encouraged the parties to work together to find a way to ensure that negotiations continue in a constructive manner and urged the international community to support their efforts.

“The Quartet underscored its commitment to a just, lasting, and comprehensive Middle East peace, including Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese agreements. In the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet called on Arab states to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and progress on the other tracks by taking bolder steps to foster positive relations throughout the region and to combat violence and extremism.

“Recalling that change on the ground is integral to peace, the Quartet reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian Authority’s August 2009 plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian state within two years. The Quartet commended the significant progress toward that goal as reported by international institutions to the 21 September 2010 meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. The Quartet took particular note of statement in the Economic Monitoring Report of the World Bank that “If the Palestinian Authority maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future.”

“The Quartet called for Israel to take further steps to facilitate Palestinian state-building and economic growth. The Quartet welcomed measures Israel has already taken to improve day-to-day life for Palestinians, including the easing of restrictions on movement in the West Bank and improved Gaza access, and commended the work of the Quartet Representative in helping to achieve that change. The Quartet further called upon Arab states and the international community to provide immediate and sustained support for the Palestinian Authority.

“The Quartet reaffirmed that the current situation in Gaza is not in the interests of Palestinians or Israelis and restated its desire to see progress on the implementation of all aspects of Security Council resolution 1860. Reconfirming its statement of 21 June 2010 the Quartet welcomed the significant shift in Israel’s Gaza policy since June 2010 and called for further efforts by all concerned to ensure the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods, and persons to and from Gaza and to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The Quartet also took positive note of approvals of UN and other international projects in Gaza and expressed its desire to see further progress in the near future. The Quartet reiterated its support for efforts to restore Palestinian unity based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“The Quartet condemned in the strongest possible terms continuing violence against Israeli and Palestinian civilians, in particular the 31 August 2010 attack near Hebron, for which Hamas claimed responsibility while threatening additional attacks. The Quartet urged a complete halt to all violence and reiterated its call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and to respect international humanitarian and human rights law. The Quartet reiterated its call for the immediate release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

“The Quartet committed to remain actively involved on all tracks and to encourage and review progress. The Quartet agreed to meet regularly and to task the envoys and the Quartet Representative to intensify their cooperation, to maintain contacts with the Arab League Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative, and to formulate recommendations for Quartet action. The Quartet reaffirmed its support, in consultation with the parties, for an international conference in Moscow at the appropriate time, concurrent with direct negotiations.”

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Preceding provided by the U.S. State Department

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Lakes on Saturn moon Titus filled with liquid hydrocarbons

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

TEL AVIV (Press Release)–Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, is the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere ― ten times denser than the atmosphere of Earth. Five years ago, the Cassini–Huygens mission to Saturn, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and NASA, sent a probe through Titan’s atmosphere, revealing that Titan is home to a landscape that includes hills, valleys and most notably lakes.

A researcher involved with the mission, Prof. Akiva Bar-Nun of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, has now determined the composition of these lakes. Taking into account the chemical components of Titan’s atmosphere, he has demonstrated that the lakes are not composed of water but contain liquid hydrocarbons like ethane and methane, which are also found in oil and gas wells on Earth.

His in-depth analysis of the chemical composition of Titan’s atmosphere and lakes was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets. Read more…

Conference of Presidents decry video threats showing Gilad Shalit

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)–Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations decried the latest YouTube video attributed to the terrorist organization Hamas that threatens the life of Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit. The 24-second video shows two masked gunmen standing on either side of Gilad Shalit. As the video fades to black, the words “Is the mission completed?” in Arabic appears on the screen to the sound of gunshots.

“This video is a declaration of war on the conscience of humankind. It goes to an extreme that is unimaginable to sane, decent people. The pain it causes his family has no justification. Hamas is toying with the suffering of parents whose son was kidnapped more than four years ago. While Hamas may have denied a connection to this video, as the captors of Gilad, they are linked to anything and everything that threatens Gilad’s life and safety. They continue to hold him incommunicado, with no access even to the Red Cross or other humanitarian relief organizations, in violation of international law. Hamas fosters a complete and utter disrespect for humanity that resulted in this video. Hamas should give the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations access to Gilad and stop denying him his most basic rights. After more than 1,500 days of captivity, Hamas must release Gilad Shalit,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

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Preceding provided by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Construction freeze period will end during Sukkot

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Sukkot begins on Wednesday evening. It may not amount to much in America, but it is a major event here. Religious Jews and some not so religious are building a sukkah (hut) in their yards or on their balconies, and the observant are acquiring an etrog (citrus with a bump), palm branch, myrtle, and willow branch. An acceptable set of the objects this year is going for the equivalent of US $6 to US $15. The especially well off who are willing to examine at length an etrog for imperfections will spend up to US $300 for one that meets all the specifications that their eyes can see.

The political significance of this holiday competes with the details of ritual. Almost all government offices,  public institutions, and many companies shut down for the week. Like Passover, Sukkot is a time for vacation. The middle days of Sukkot and Passover, are not days when travel is forbidden, so the religious will be seeking space on the roads and at vacation spots.  Politicians can move around without fear of violating any constituent’s sense of proper observance.

The airport will be jammed on the eve of Sukkot and its final day, and there is scant room left in the inns of the Galilee and other Israeli sites. The highly touted construction freeze in the Jewish settlements of the West Bank comes to an end in the middle of this, but there may not be anyone minding the store. Insofar as the religious settlers will be celebrating the holiday, they might not be home to supervise the Chinese, Romanians, legal and illegal Palestinians who do the work. Read more…

A Palestinian journalist interviews Hillary Clinton

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

JERUSALEM, Sept. 16 (Press Release)–During her recent visit to Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State was interviewed by Maher Shalabi of Palestine TV about issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  Here is a transcript:

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for this opportunity. I know that you have a very short time, but it’s clear that U.S. wants stability and peace in the region. Direct talks have started under U.S. supervision. What will U.S. Administration do to guarantee a positive outcome?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re doing everything we can, because we believe so strongly that this is the time and these are the two leaders. I think that the opportunity is very much apparent to the Israelis and the Palestinians, and certainly to the United States. And I have to say that we have worked hard to get these direct negotiations started again.

It was challenging, but I think appropriate that they’ve now started, and we’ll do everything we can to keep them going, and I hope they do keep going, because I’ve seen these two men talk. And they are already discussing very delicate, difficult issues. Both of them come with a lot of experience, and President Abbas, for example, has an amazing memory and has an ability to zero in on the issues that are important to him. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been very forthcoming about what he would need to have a final agreement.

I think they’ve started. As Senator Mitchell said last night, sometimes it takes months once leaders start talking to each other to get serious about the real core issues. So therefore, we hope, and we’re going to do everything we can, to help facilitate their continuing to negotiate.

Read more…

Casuto wrapping up 37-year career with the ADL

September 21, 2010 1 comment
 

Morris Casuto

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Morris Casuto is retiring next month.  And, no, that’s not one of the irrepressible Casuto’s jokes.  The ADL is even having a “gold watch” dinner for him Oct. 17 at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines.  

At age 68, he says he’s ready to try something different – something that requires him to be less an administrator, and more a “field man.”

Such people as former Sheriff Bill Kolender; Monsignor Dennis Mikulanis; La Raza Lawyer 
Lorena Slomanson;  former TV Reporter Lee Ann Kim, who now heads the Asian Film Foundation; and former San Diego Jewish Times columnist Dan Schaffer think of Casuto’s self-deprecating humor whenever his name is mentioned.

At 5’6 “on a good day,” Casuto remembers when he was the subject of a fundraising “roast,” and Kolender was the speaker.  Pretending to be perturbed with Casuto, Kolender declared, “You know I’ve had it with this guy – up to here!”   The tall sheriff indicated an area somewhere above his belt buckle.

Similarly, Schaffer, who also is of short stature, loves to quote Casuto on why he rarely gets upset with people:  “I don’t have long toes.”

Slomanson, who went on an ADL-sponsored Latino leaders’ trip to Israel, recalls, having grown up Roman Catholic, how strange it was to “walk in the footsteps of Jesus with Morris besides me.”  Especially before she “immunized myself” to Morris’s humor.

Says Mikulanis, vicar of interfaith and ecumenical relations for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego: “I know this appears hard to believe but Morris is a giant among men — and not just in Lilliput.  Everywhere Morris goes people know him — and they run to their houses and lock the doors!  No, actually, San Diego is a much better community because of the integrity and sheer decency of Morris Casuto.  With his wife by his side and his sons to urge him on (getting out of bed in the morning can be tough at his age!) Morris has kept the conscience of San Diego from being totally numbed by an increasing social self-indulgence.  Read more…

Netanyahu: ‘Historic compromise’ between Israelis, Palestinians possible

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)–In a conference call for national Jewish leaders sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his belief that “an historic compromise” to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people is possible.

He also reiterated his goal of reaching a framework agreement with the Palestinians within one year, stating that the two foundations for a lasting peace are recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and the nation state of the Jewish people and lasting security. While achieving success in these negotiations requires him and President Abbas to be “flexible and creative,” Prime Minister Netanyahu noted the “enormous benefits to both our peoples that will come if we can defy the skeptics and forge a historic peace.”  Read more…