Excerpts: Qatari plan to unify Syrian opposition. We’ve no pre-1967 lines
territorial demand: Abbas.Peres salutes Abbas 'courageous' remark. Lebanon's
oil, gas wealth. Syrian tanks in Golan demilitarized zone November 03, 2012
+++SOURCE: The Guardian Co.U.K. via Egypt Daily News 3 Nov,’12:”West backs
Qatari plan to unify Syrian Opposition”, Julian Borger, Matthew Weaver
SUBJECT: Qatari plan to unify Syrian opposition
QUOTES:”Brookings Institution: ‘It could go as promised or it could be a
train wreck’ “; “ ‘The Qataris have played their cards close to their chests
and its not clear they want the same things as us’ the western official
FULL TEXT:Britain and US behind drive to create council to represent Syrian
rebels, but Russia and main exile opposition group oppose it.
Britain, the US and other western powers are backing a new attempt to create
a single coherent Syrian opposition that could take part in peace talks with
President Bashar al-Assad's regime or, if talks fail, provide a channel for
greater military support to the rebels.
The plan, to be launched in Doha, Qatar, on Thursdya[8 Nov.], will bring the
external opposition together with the revolutionary councils leading the
insurrection inside Syria, behind a common programme for a democratic
transition. The Syrian National Initiative (SNI) will create a council of
about 50 members chaired by Riad Seif, a Sunni businessman who left Syria in
June after being imprisoned by the regime.
The Doha initiative has been organised by the Qatari government and has
drawn support from the US, Britain and France. Russia, however, opposes the
plan, arguing it reneges on an earlier international agreement to pursue the
formation of a new government by "mutual consent" of the parties to the
conflict. The leadership of the main exile opposition group, the Syrian
National Council (SNC), has also criticised the plan, in which its influence
will be diluted, and it is not yet clear which of the divided rebel forces
inside Syria will turn up on Thursday[8 Nov.][10 Nov.], or whether they will
agree on the common platform once they arrive in Doha.
"It could go as promised, or it could be a train wreck," said Salman Shaikh,
the head of the Brookings Institution Doha Centre, which had helped arrange
earlier opposition discussions that paved the way for the Doha meeting.
Shaikh has argued that Syria's collapse as a nation state can only be
avoided by unification of the rebels coupled with "a unified, controlled
flow of weapons and other support to the Syrian opposition" to prevent a
power vacuum and a "free for all".
The US and its western European allies have so far avoided supplying weapons
to the rebels, although US intelligence appears to have played a role in
trying to control the flow of arms coming from Qatar and other Gulf
opponents of the Assad regime. Observers say that if the Doha initiative is
successful, Washington's policy might change, allowing heavier weapons to be
supplied to the opposition, whoever wins the US election on Tuesday.
A western official insisted on Friday[2 Nov.] that the primary goal of a
unified opposition would be to engage in peace talks with the regime about a
transition, and so the Doha plan was a way of implementing the June Geneva
agreement, rather than a substitute for it, as Moscow had alleged.
The risks that have so far prevented direct western intervention were made
clear on Friday with the emergence of a video apparently showing the
execution of captured government soldiers in Idlib province. A rebel fighter
from the province, Abu Abdul Rahiem, said the killings took place in
al-Nayrab to the west of Saraqeb, on the highway between Aleppo and
Damascus, which the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) claimed to have captured on
Friday[2 Nov.]. He claimed the executions were carried out by a Salafist
extremist group, operating outside the command structure of the FSA.
"Assad's soldiers were inside a military camp in the town. Fighters from the
Salafi Dawood brigade overran the camp and captured the soldiers. Initially
there were only 10 of them so they could not take the soldiers captive, and
had to kill them immediately. No trial could be held because the fighting
was still going on. This is guerrilla warfare," Rahiem told the Guardian.
"We do not wish to turn Syria into another Afghanistan, but we can't stop
these extremists groups. We are really worried about the future of Syria. We
need weapons and media support, but there is nothing on the ground."
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN human rights council, said the video
still had to be verified, but added: "The allegations are that these these
were soldiers who were no longer combatants. And therefore, at this point it
looks very likely that this is a war crime, another one."
Washington's decision to swing its support behind the Doha initiative marked
a decisive break with the SNC after months of mounting frustration over the
exile group's failure to unite the internal and external opposition.
"We've made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible
leader of the opposition," the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said
on Wednesday[31 Oct.]. "They can be part of a larger opposition, but that
opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a
legitimate voice that needs to be heard."
SNC leaders dismissed the Doha plan. The group issued a statement saying
that any attempt to create new bodies to replace the SNC "are an attempt to
undermine the Syria revolution by sowing the seeds of division".
The SNC will hold a congress of its own starting on Saturday[ in Doha, aimed
at restructuring the organisation and electing a new leadership. That new
leadership will have to decide by Thursday whether to take up about 15 seats
on the 50-member SNI council which have been reserved for it.
"The SNC has not been able to provide a broad-based platform," Shaikh said.
"They've been asked to cut themselves down to size. Fifteen seats would
still leave them the biggest single group by far. Most other groups will be
represented by just one person."
A western official said: "It is important for the SNC to know that there
will be very little tolerance for them if they try to play the spoilers at
the Thursday meeting."
The official said that the Qatar government had made great efforts to ensure
that the internal opposition, including the revolutionary councils, would
take part in the meeting. Western observers are also due to attend,
including the British envoy to the Syrian opposition, John Wilkes, but have
not played a central role in the organisation.
"The Qataris have played their cards close to their chest and its not clear
they want the same things as us," the western official said
+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette Nov. ‘12 We’ve no pre-1967 lines territorial
Last Updated : Saturday, November 03, 2012 1:15 AM
RAMALLAH – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians
have no territorial demands on Israel in its pre-1967 lines.
Abbas said implicitly in an interview with the Israeli Channel 2 television
that the right of return of millions of Palestinian refugees and their
descendents will be to the future Palestinian state. The right of return is
one of the key obstacles in the peace process between the Palestinian
Authority and Israel.
“Palestine for me is the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital.
This is Palestine, I am a refugee, I live in Ramallah, the West Bank and
Gaza is Palestine, everything else is Israel,” Abbas said in the interview
which was held Thursday in his Ramallah’s Al-Muqata’a headquarters.
The Palestinian president said that he was not seeking the right to live in
Israel even though he was born in the town of Safad, in what since 1948 has
been northern Israel. Abbas said he had visited the town and would like to
see it again. “It’s my right to see it, but not to live there,” he said.
Israel rejects the idea of Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their
original homes in the 1948 areas in accordance with the UN General Assembly
Resolution 194, saying that in any future peace solution, they can only
return to their independent state, which will be established in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel fears that a massive influx would threaten the Jewish majority in the
country, which now counts some eight million of whom some 1.6 million Arab
Some six million Palestinian refugees are scattered around the world,
including more than 400,000 in Lebanon. They are dependent on UN Relief and
Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
The Palestinian president also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu to return to the negotiating table ahead of the upcoming
elections. His only condition was that Netanyahu declare his agreement to a
two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, he said.
Abbas indicated that he represented the final chance for peace between
Israel and the Palestinians. “This issue will determine the fate of your
children, I am the last person with whom you can reach an agreement.”
Abbas said that as long as he remains in power, he will not allow a third,
armed intifada to break out. “We will not go back to violence,” Abbas said
during the interview. “We will only operate through diplomacy and through
peaceful means. That’s it.”
He noted, however, that he did intend to seek an upgrade in status for
Palestine as a non-member state at the UN General Assembly. And he
criticized Israel’s continued settlement construction in the West Bank.
On Thursday, Palestinian sources said that the PA considers Nov. 15 or Nov.
29 as its goal dates for the vote, despite the threat of financial sanctions
by the US administration and Israel.
The US has said it wants the recognition of the Palestinian state to be a
result of a negotiated agreement between the concerned parties. The US
Congress has blocked nearly $200 million in aid for the PA after Abbas asked
the UN Security Council in September 2011 to recognize a Palestinian state
in the West Bank and Gaza with West Jerusalem as its capital.
According to Palestinian sources, Abbas dispatched several senior officials
to EU countries to convince them to vote in favor of the bid.
The US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed
after Israel refused to extend a 10-month moratorium over freezing
settlement constructions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The international community, including the US, Israel’s most important ally,
has been urging Israel to totally freeze its settlement constructions, yet
Netanyahu’s government has so far refused to yield to that demand
+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 3 Nov. ’12:”Peres Hails Abbas Comment on
Refugees”,Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Peres salutes Abbas ‘courageous’ remarks
QUOTE:”Abbas : ‘I want to se Safed. . .It is my right to see it but not to
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday [3 Nov.] saluted as "courageous"
remarks by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in which he appears to
relinquish Palestinian refugees' right to return to their former homes in
what is now Israel.
"Abu Mazen's courageous words prove that Israel has a real partner for
peace," Peres said in a statement, using the name by which the Palestinian
president is informally known in Arabic.
In an interview broadcast on Friday[2 Nov.] night by Israeli commercial TV
station Channel 2, Abbas said that he had no intention of trying to regain
his childhood home in the northern town of Safed in Galilee, today located
"I want to see Safed," he said in English. "It's my right to see it but not
to live there."
In a direct pitch to Israeli viewers, apparently aimed at assuaging their
concerns ahead of a PalestiniaSafed:n bid to seek upgraded UN status, he
reiterated his acceptance of the Israeli state within the borders that
preceded its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem
in the 1967 Six-Day war.
"Palestine for me now is '67 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital," he
told Channel 2. "This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, I am living in
Ramallah, I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other
parts is Israel."
Abbas was born in Safed in 1935 in what was then British-ruled Palestine.
With the founding of the Jewish state in 1948, he fled into exile along with
hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs.
"These are significant words," Peres said. "We must all treat them with the
"These positions stand exactly in line with those of Israel and with the
clear majority of the population, which supports the solution of two states
for two peoples. This is a brave and important public declaration."
The militant Islamic group Hamas, which has said that it will never
recognize Israel, has condemned Abbas's comments and called for protest
rallies later on Saturday throughout the Gaza Strip
+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 3 Nov.’12:”Berri:Lebanon Sitting on Region’s
Greatest Oil,Gas Wealth”
SUBJECT: Lebanon’s oil,gas wealth
QUOTE:”Spectrum and Petroleum Geo Services company’s survey revealed that
Lebanon enjoys the greatest oil and gas wealth in the region, surpassing
that of Israel.”
FULL TEXT:Speaker Nabih Berri stated that a foreign company had conducted a
survey of Lebanon's offshore and land petroleum and gas resources, which
revealed that the country enjoys a wealth that exceeded previous estimates,
reported As Safir daily on Saturday.
He said that Spectrum and Petroleum Geo-Services company's survey revealed
that Lebanon enjoys the greatest oil and gas wealth in the region,
surpassing that of Israel.
“The discovery will not only lead to Lebanon's entry to the club of
oil-producing countries, but even lead it to occupy its front row seats,”
said As Safir.
The Spectrum company had unveiled its findings during a conference in
London, during which it confirmed that Lebanon's oil wealth off its southern
coast is among the richest and best in the region.
The quantities in the South are three-times more abundant than other
regions, it added.
Berri therefore urged the government to immediately tackle this file “and
stop wasting precious time” with various disputes, reported As Safir.
He noted that the Spectrum report warned that Lebanon's failure to address
its wealth will harm its credibility and push investment companies to search
for other fields.
“Investing in this sector will end Lebanon's public debt and end labor
disputes,” stressed the speaker.
“We must stop these losses and the crime against our economy,” declared
As Safir meanwhile reported that efforts are ongoing in order to appoint the
members of the petroleum sector.
Government sources told the newspaper that this issue will be the cabinet's
priority during the next phase in Lebanon.
The daily revealed that among the candidates being proposed to be appointed
to the management board of the sector are Nasser Hoteit (Shiite), Wissam
Shbat (Maronite), Wissam al-Thahabi (Sunni), Issam Abou Ibrahim (Druze),
Walid Nasser (Catholic), and Gaby Daaboul, Rafik Haddad, or a member of
al-Qazan family (Orthodox).
Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a zone that consists of about 854
square kilometers and suspected energy reserves there could generate
billions of dollars.
The cabinet approved in September the proposed borders of Lebanon’s
Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mediterranean.
In June, Lebanon was able to restore 530 square kilometers of a maritime
zone that it considers it to be within its EEZ.
Media reports said that, the United States and the United Nations
acknowledged Lebanon’s rights to control the 530 square kilometer disputed
area after prolonged diplomatic and political efforts.
Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other
eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Cyprus and Turkey are all much more
advanced in drilling for oil and gas
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 3 Nov.’12:”Three Syrian tanks enter Golan
demilitarised zone –Israel”, Reuters
SUBJECT: Syrian tanks in Golan demilitarised zone
QUOTE:” ‘Israel has filed a complaint with the UN (peacekeeping) force in
the area’ “
FULL TEXT:JERUSALEM –– Three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarised zone in
the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria on Saturday, an Israeli military
“Israel have filed a complaint with the UN (peacekeeping) force in the
area," the spokeswoman said.
She had no further information on what the tanks were doing.
Israeli media said the tanks were involved in fighting in the Syrian village
of Beer Ajam against rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
Israel is technically at war with Syria, but it has generally taken a
cautious line on the uprising in its Arab neighbour.
Errant Syrian mortars landed in Israel in September, spurring Israel to
lodge a similar complaint with the United Nations observer force that
monitors a long-standing, de facto truce between the two countries.
Israel captured the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau, from Syria during a
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA