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Tue. March 3, 2015 EDITOR'S PICKS :  
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Issue: Israel's Jewish Identity. What Does it Mean?
MidEast Week
PA: Made "Generous" Offer; Israel: "Bring it to the Table"
More Arabs Join Israel's National Service
Jews Killed in Paris Attack Buried in Israel
Islamic State Continues to Gain Ground in Syria
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Netanyahu's Planned Speech to Congress Sparks Controversy
Egypt Intensifies Crackdown on Islamists
More Shekels for Your Dollar
Hizbullah Threatens Revenge After Israeli Attack
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Syrian President Al-Assad Still Accusing “Traitors and Terrorists” of Causing Unrest

Almost two years and more than 60,000 deaths later, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is still accusing “traitors and terrorists” for the unrest that has split his country and caused the massive carnage. Assad delivered a rare televised speech to the nation on Sunday, calling for reconciliation with those who “have not betrayed Syria,” after which a new government would be formed and an amnesty offered to those who opposed his regime. He made no reference to his abdicating the presidency. No part of the solution would become operative until the West halted its support for the opposition: Assad admonished that, “We will not have a dialogue with puppets made by the West.” The president dismissed those who oppose him as “enemies of the people; enemies of God.” Foreign reaction came swiftly, led by Turkey, whose foreign minister called on Assad to step down after accusing him of repeating empty promises. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reiterated the EU position that Assad must go. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assad went “beyond hypocritical.”

Fayyad Points Finger at Arab State Not Fulfilling Pledges of Support for Palestinian Authority

The critical cash-shortage being experience by the Palestinian Authority is the result of Arab states pledging support but failing to fulfill their promises according to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In an interview with the Associated Press, Fayyad said the PA is on the verge of being “completely incapacitated” because of the IOUs amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. Fayyad said the West has been good about meeting its obligations, the only outstanding money being $200 million held up in Congress. The other significant loss of revenue comes from Israel’s refusal to transfer the tax and tariff dollars it collects on behalf of the PA pursuant to the Oslo Accords. The money is being held by Israel in retribution for the PA United Nations gambit – receiving non-member status in what the Israelis call a unilateral act that violates the peace process. The prime minister reiterated his assessment that Hamas has the perception of succeeding while Fatah talks having obtained the release of more than 1,000 security prisoners from Israel in the Gilad Shalit deal and the easing of restrictions on goods coming in and out of the Gaza Strip following a week-long war with Israel. Coupled with the PA’s failure to deliver on its promises, “it has produced a reality of a doctrinal win for what Hamas stands for and…a doctrinal defeat for the Palestinian Authority.” On Sunday, employees of the PA announced they would continue a partial strike until their back salaries have been paid.

Morsi Consolidates Islamist Control in Cabinet

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday made changes to his cabinet that opposition members decried as merely consolidating Islamist power in the government. The latest move comes with tension still running high over the new constitution, which was also seen as a process dominated by Islamists to the exclusion of liberals and minorities. The cabinet shuffle saw three Islamists take over economic-related portfolios.


Two Weeks Until Israeli Election; Netanyahu Fights Right-Wing Vote Drain; Center-Left Sputters

Two weeks out from elections to choose a new government, incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the overwhelming favorite to become the nation’s first three-term leader, is embroiled in a struggle to stem the tide of voters moving from his Likud party running a joint list with the right-wing “Israel is Our Home,” to “The Jewish Home” party headed by a wealthy, young hi-tech entrepreneur-turned-politician – a party that will doubtless be a key member of Netanyahu’s coalition when the elections are over. The internecine right-wing squabbling has apparently failed to spill over into any tangible boost for the center-left/left-wing entries that seems unable to generate any serious challenge to the Netanyahu bloc, largely because it’s been seen as more of a clash of egos than a challenge to the incumbency. The heads of the three main center-left parties met late Sunday night in an attempt to unify in an effort to change what virtually all polls are calling the inevitable Netanyahu win, but local pundits are expressing doubt that anything significant will come from the parley.

South Sudan Arrests Journalists on Charge of Failing to Cover President’s Speech

Two broadcast journalists in South Sudan have been arrested for failing to cover a speech in the town of Wau by President Salva Kiir, it was announced on Sunday. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based watchdog, identified the pair as Louis Pasquale, director general of state-run regional television and Ashab Khamis, who heads state television. The group believes the arrests were an attempt to intimidate journalists from ignoring the government’s wish that violence in the town of Wau not be investigated. Witnesses there had reported that soldiers shot and killed ten protestors last week. South Sudan’s information minister told the Reuters news agency that the two journalists were arrested because “when the president arrived in Wau, he gave a very, very important speech.”








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