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Daily Archives: 11/08/2010

Hamas slams German foreign minister’s refusal to meet

Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (4th R) stands in front of students during a visit to a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Gaza City November 8, 2010. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

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Militant group furious at snub from Guido Westerwelle during Gaza visit.

November 08, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — The Hamas administration in the Gaza on Monday slammed as “insulting” the refusal by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to meet it while visiting the strip.

Senior Hamas leader and legislator Kamal Shrafi said that while the Islamist Palestinian movement welcomed a visit by an official of his standing, it was “completely wrong to come to Gaza and not meet with the legal government’s representative.”

Westerwelle is the first German government official to visit the Gaza Strip in nearly four years. On Monday, he visited a girls’ school and toured a water treatment plant.

He said he would not meet Hamas over its repeated refusal to renounce violence, honour previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements and accept Israel’s right to resist. Hamas, which has administered the Gaza Strip since June 2007, is subject to a Western diplomatic boycott.

“We really condemn the refusal of officials and diplomats to hold talks with the Palestinian government, which was legally elected with transparency by the Palestinian people. Every official arriving in Gaza did not meet with anybody here, and this is really
insulting,” Shrafi said.

Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, but a unity government set up with President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party was dismissed after Hamas militants routed security officials loyal to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and seized full control of the enclave.

Abbas also dismissed Hamas leader Ismail Haniya from his post of prime minister, a dismissal Hamas did not accept.

“We are legal government, and I believe that it is completely wrong to come to Gaza and not meet with the legal government’s representatives,” Shrafi said.

Westerwelle also met with Gaza businessmen Monday to discuss economic problems in the enclave, which has been under an Israeli blockade since the summer of 2006.

At a press conference along with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem following his arrival on Sunday, Westerwelle called on Israel to allow exports to leave Gaza, saying such a move was “necessary.”

Israel imposed its blockade after militants from the enclave, led by Hamas, launched a raid in which they snatched an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who is still being held.

The blockade was significantly tightened after the Hamas seizure of the Strip, but was eased in the summer of this year, although Israel still does not permit exports to leave.(*)

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Germany’s Foreign Minister called on Hamas to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, during a visit to the Gaza Strip

Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (L) stands next to Noam Shalit, father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, at the start of their meeting in Jerusalem November 7, 2010. Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants who tunnelled from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel in June 2006. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun )

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November 08, 2010 (KATAKAMI / Jpost) — Westerwelle says his country sees speedy return of soldier to his family as humane step; comments come a day after meetings with Noam Schalit, Lieberman, Shimon Peres in J’lem.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday called on Hamas to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, during a visit to the Gaza Strip.

He urged the terror group to “finally free this young man, after so many years in captivity.”

Westerwelle says his country sees speedy return of soldier to his family as humane step; comments come a day after meetings with Noam Schalit, Lieberman, Peres in J’lem.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday called on Hamas to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, during a visit to the Gaza Strip.

He urged the terror group to “finally free this young man, after so many years in captivity.”

Westerwelle stressed that Germany views the speedy return of Schalit to his family as the humane step.

His comments came a day after a meeting with the soldier’s father, Noam Schalit, as well as President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Jerusalem.

During a press conference after their Sunday meeting, Lieberman said that the biggest threat to the Middle East is Iran.

“Not only Iran with its nuclear problem, but Iran through its proxies in its terrorist activity in all our regions. We see Iranian activities through proxies in Lebanon through Hizbullah, in the Palestinian Authority through Hamas, their deep involvement in Iraq, in Yemen, in Somalia and, of course, this threat may be the biggest threat that we are facing as a Western society, as a free society in the modern world,” Lieberman told his German counterpart.

He also said that while Israel has a “political dispute” with the Palestinians, it also has “very good cooperation with the Palestinians on the security level and on economy.”

Westerwelle referred to Schalit, saying that Germany has an “abolultely clear position” that the soldier be “released very soon.”

“We think that our Israeli friends know that they can count on us. And I do not want to comment any further because it is very important that we help the family, that we help this poor young man and that we see him as soon as possible, safe and healthy, back in the arms of his family,” the German foreign minister said.  (*)

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano causes more flight chaos

Indonesia's Mount Merapi spews massive hot clouds of volcanic ash and rocks as seen from Sleman district in central Java on November 6. Airlines cancelled dozens of flights to and from Jakarta, affecting international carriers from Europe to Asia, because of the volcanic ash. (AFP/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

Flights to Jakarta Canceled Over Volcano

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November 08, 2010. JAKARTA (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama’s twice-postponed visit to Indonesia looked on track on Monday after flights to the capital returned to normal following a weekend of disruptions caused by a deadly volcano.

Mount Merapi in central Java began spewing lava, superheated gas and deadly clouds of ash two weeks ago, and has so far killed over 130 people and forced the evacuation of nearly 300,000.

Dozens of flights to and from the capital Jakarta, around 600 km (375 miles) from the volcano, were cancelled over the weekend after the volcano belched fresh clouds of volcanic ash 6,000 metres (19,000 ft) into the atmosphere.

Indonesian authorities saying conditions were safe, but international airlines scrapped scores of flights.

By Monday afternoon normal service had mostly resumed, though Filipino budget airline Cebu Air Inc said it had cancelled its 9.30 p.m. (1330 GMT) flight to Jakarta.

“All have returned to normal,” said Andang Santoso, a spokesman for the operator of Jakarta’s Sukarno-Hatta airport. “They trust us that there is no impact of Merapi here, so they can fly here.”

Authorities did, however, order the closure of the airport at Yogyakarta, the historic cultural city closest to the volcano.

“Since the weather is impossible … we decided to close Yogyakarta for both commercial and civil aircrafts,” said Harjoso Tjandra, operational and technical director at the airport.

On Sunday, U.S. officials said they were closely monitoring the situation ahead of Obama’s scheduled Tuesday arrival.

Obama has twice postponed visits to Indonesia — where he lived for several years as a child with his mother — the first time in March as he struggled to push through a healthcare reform bill in the U.S. and the second in June after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A British Airways flight came close to crashing nearly three decades ago after its engines sucked in ash from another Indonesian volcano, Mount Galunggung, about 180 km southeast of Jakarta.

Indonesia’s disaster agency said clouds of hot toxic gases continued to roll down the slopes of Merapi on Monday, hampering efforts to create a 20 km (12 miles) exclusion zone around the summit.

The country is also struggling with the aftermath of a tsunami in the remote Mentawai islands off Sumatra last week that killed at least 445 people.

Metro TV footage showed an aerial view of Borobudur, site of one of the world’s largest Buddhist temples and a UNESCO heritage site about 50 km northwest of the volcano coated with ash. (*)

Photostream : Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano still spews volcanic ash on Monday, death toll reaches165

A villager watches from Jambon village in the Sleman district of Indonesia's central Java province, as Mount Merapi spews smoke and ash, November 8, 2010. The death toll from the eruption of Mount Merapi, reaching 165 people. A total of 148 victims came from Yogyakarta, and 17 people from Central Java. The data was presented the Special Staff of the Presidential Disaster Area, Andi Arif, Monday (8 / 11), Metro TV reported on Monday. Data obtained from Dr. Sardjito Hospital, Yogyakarta. To reach the 453 people injured. The average victims died of burns suffered from hot clouds. It happened the first time since the Merapi eruption on October 26, 2010 ( Photo by REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas )

Mount Merapi spews volcanic ash into the air as seen from Cangkringan, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. The death toll from the eruption of Mount Merapi, reaching 165 people. A total of 148 victims came from Yogyakarta, and 17 people from Central Java. The data was presented the Special Staff of the Presidential Disaster Area, Andi Arif, Monday (8 / 11), Metro TV reported on Monday. Data obtained from Dr. Sardjito Hospital, Yogyakarta. To reach the 453 people injured. The average victims died of burns suffered from hot clouds. It happened the first time since the Merapi eruption on October 26, 2010 ( Photo by AP Photo/Trisnadi)

Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano spews smoke and ash, as seen from Jambon village in the Sleman district of Indonesia's central Java province November 8, 2010. Mount Merapi, on the outskirts of Yogyakarta, began spewing lava, superheated gas and deadly clouds of ash two week ago and has so far killed over 130 people and forced the evacuation of nearly 300,000. REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas

Mount Merapi spews ash to the sky as seen from Cangkringan in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on November 5, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870s. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesian army special forces wearing masks prepare to evacuate the victims of Mount Merapi eruption at Pejambon in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on November 5, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870s. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Ashes from the eruption of Mount Merapi cover Muntilan city, central Java, on November 8, 2010. Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano killed 85 people in its latest eruption, with scores more suffering severe burns, an official said on November 6, bringing the overall toll to 128. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Merapi Ground Heat Forces Indonesia to Halt Search for Bodies

Mount Merapi erupting again on Monday. (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

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November 08, 2010. Indonesia (KATAKAMI – THE JAKARTA GLOBE) — Indonesian rescue workers were forced to abandon efforts to retrieve bodies of victims from the Nov. 5 eruption of Mount Merapi in central Java, as increasing ground temperature and volcanic instability made it unsafe to continue.

Rescuers had been using wooden boards to walk on in areas where the soil reached temperatures higher than 70 degrees Celsius, Oka Hamid, a spokesman at Red Cross Indonesia’s Yogyakarta branch, said today.

“We found five bodies at Glagaharjo village, but only one was removed,” Hamid said by phone. “We are coming down now because the ground there is too hot and Merapi is unstable.”

Non-flammable boots and special gloves are needed to protect rescuers from hot burning soil, Hamid said.

“We need at least 30 pair of gloves and boots,” he said. “Non-flammable boots are important in case we need to flee if anything bad happened.”

The death toll since the volcano began erupting Oct. 26 rose to 141 from 135 yesterday, with about 280,000 people seeking shelter in evacuation centers outside the 20-kilometer safety zone from Mount Merapi, the National Disaster Management Agency said in a statement on its Web site today.

Merapi, which means mountain of fire, has been spewing hot ash clouds for two weeks, stretching rescue efforts as villagers defy safety orders to tend to their cattle stranded on the mountain’s slopes. The volcano may release hot ash for about two months, Subandriyo, an official at the Energy Ministry’s Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Center, said on Nov. 3.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono returned to Jakarta today, ahead of United States President Barrack Obama visit on Nov. 9-10, after spending two days in Yogyakarta to directly overseeing Merapi relief efforts.

Obama is scheduled to fly to Jakarta from India tomorrow, for a brief trip to the world’s largest majority-Muslim country, where he spent part of his childhood.

“The Embassy fully expects President Obama to arrive on Nov. 9 as scheduled,” Paul T. Belmont, press attaché at the United States Embassy in Jakarta, said in an e-mailed statement today. “The Merapi eruptions have not altered his plan to visit Indonesia.”

At least nine airlines including Singapore Airlines Ltd., Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Japan Airlines Corp. resumed services yesterday after suspending them for one day for safety reasons due to volcanic ash from Merapi, Frans Yosef, an officer at Angkasa Pura II, the operator of Soekarno-Hatta international airport, said on Sunday.

Philippine Airlines Inc., Emirates, Eva Airways Corp. and Valuair Ltd. resumed services to Jakarta today, the operator said on its Web site today.


Bloomberg

Photostream : Indonesian Elite Forces (Kopassus) and rescue team evacuated the victims of Mount Merapi eruption

Indonesian army special forces wears masks as they prepare to evacuate the victims of Mount Merapi eruption at Pejambon in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on Friday, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870s. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesian army special forces wear masks as they search for victims of Mount Merapi eruption at Pejambon in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on Friday, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870 (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesian army special forces and rescue team evacuate a victim of Mount Merapi eruption at Pejambon in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on November 5, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870s. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesian army special forces and rescue team evacuate a victim of Mount Merapi eruption at Pejambon in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on Friday, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesian army special forces search for victims of Mount Merapi eruption at Pejambon in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on Friday, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870 (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesian army special forces search for victims of Mount Merapi eruption at Pejambon in Sleman, Yogyakarta, on November 8, 2010. International airlines were forced to reschedule dozens of flights to Indonesia yesterday as deadly Mount Merapi spewed ash into the sky, ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama. The toll from a series of eruptions since late October rose to 132 as bodies were pulled from the volcanic sludge that thundered down on central Java on November 5, Merapi's biggest eruption since the 1870 (Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Netanyahu – Biden meeting ends, discussed Iran, Palestinians

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

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November 8, 2010 (KATAKAMI/ YNET) — A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Joe Biden ended late Sunday night in New Orleans. The two discussed Israel’s desire to provide a credible threat against Iran.

The leaders also spoke of the direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Israeli claim being that as long as the Palestinians have recourse to an indirect route, such as the UN, they will not behave seriously in talks. (*)

PM Netanyahu tells Biden: Peace agreement must not be forced on us from above

Vice President Joe Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. VP Joe Biden on sidelines of Jewish General Assembly in New Orleans; says that Palestinians must be stopped from taking unilateral action to establish a state.

November 08, 2010. NEW ORLEANS (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday night to discuss Iran and the peace process with the Palestinians, beyond the immediate question of the settlement construction freeze, sources said Sunday.

They said the two leaders addressed what must be done so that the peace process will move forward, including security arrangements needed.

Netanyahu said there must be an agreement that is not forced on the parties from above and that the Palestinians must not attempt to circumvent negotiations by declaring statehood through the United Nations, the sources said.

Netanyahu and Biden were speaking on the sidelines of the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly convention, held in New Orleans this year.

The sources said Netanyahu spoke about the need to get Arab countries involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because that will give Israel a security buffer and political backing.

Netanyahu denies that there is a rift between Israel and the United States, or between Israelis and American Jews, according to the sources.

He reportedly said that the U.S. Congress was positive toward Israel before the November 2 midterm elections and will be positive toward Israel afterward as well. He said there is also fundamental support for Israel within the United States, saying, “We may have lost Thomas Friedman, but I don’t think we lost America,” according to the sources.

As in the past, Netanyahu said that Israel has done enough to prove that it is serious, while the Palestinians have not taken any steps to demonstrate their seriousness about peace, the sources said.

Unfriendly welcome

Participants in the GA who listened to local radio in New Orleans on Sunday could have heard Scott Sekulow, a Messianic Christian who was born Jewish and calls himself a rabbi, who praised Netanyahu, enthused over Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for standing up to the Europeans, and declared that the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state shows that they don’t have peaceful intentions. Sekulow is raising money to plant 1,000 trees in the Golan Heights to replace trees that he said were destroyed by Katyusha rockets during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Amidst the conference hotels straddling Canal Street where GA sessions are being held, the 4,000 Jewish leaders and activists have also confronted a less-than-friendly welcome from a group of demonstrators holding placards accusing Jews of killing Jesus and anti-Semitic chants referring to the theft of private investor money by convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff. One demonstrator wore an apron made of a blood-stained Israeli flag. The GA participants didn’t seem overly upset by the spectacle and mounted police were on hand to maintain order.

The results of this month’s American midterm elections were the grist for hallway conversation at the GA, and there were also a number of people who asserted that Jewish life in the United States could not be reduced to the tenor of relations between the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House.

(*)

Photostream : Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting on Middle East security in New Orleans, Louisiana November 7, 2010. Netanyahu will tell Biden on Sunday that only a credible military threat can deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon, Israeli political sources said. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Lee Celano )

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

Turkish ministry confirms Iran’s plans to resume talks with West

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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November 07, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed Teheran’s plans to resume talks with the group of six international mediators over its controversial nuclear program on the territory of Turkey.

The talks are expected to be held in Istanbul on November 10 or 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said.

“In the last two or three days, we informed our Turkish friends that we agree to hold negotiations in Turkey,” Mottaki said.

“I hope we will reach an agreement soon over the date and the contents,” he said. “We are very optimistic the discussions will start as soon as possible, as the overall approach of Iran is positive and constructive.”

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, said in October that Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, had agreed to resume the talks “in a place and on a date convenient to both sides.” She added that the talks would take place after November 10.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in October Tehran was ready for a new round of talks but only on a number of conditions, including a comment by the Iran Six (the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany) on Israel’s nuclear capability.

Talks between Tehran and the Iran Six came to a halt in 2009, after an IAEA resolution condemned the Islamic Republic over the construction of a second uranium enrichment facility.

The United Nations Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program in June.

ANKARA, November 7 (RIA Novosti)