Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 04 May '11 04:06
    Representatives of factions including Fatah and its rival Hamas ink deal following talks in Egypt.

    Palestinian factions have signed a reconciliation deal that will pave the way for elections within a year.

    Representatives of factions including Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party and its rival Hamas inked the deal following talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Tuesday.

    "We signed the deal despite several reservations. But we insisted on working for the higher national interest," said Walid al-Awad, a politburo member of the leftist Palestine People's Party.

    "We have discussed all the reservations. Everyone has agreed to take these points into consideration," he told Egyptian state television without elaborating.

    "Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will be celebrating this agreement... We must now work to implement what was agreed in the deal."

    Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said 13 Palestinian factions were involved in the signing of the deal, including members of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) - the representative body for the Palestinian people.

    A formal signing ceremony is scheduled to take place in Cairo on Wednesday.

    "In the official ceremony we will really see all the Palestinian factions come together for the first time in four years," our correspondent said.

    The deal, which was announced last week, comes after 18 months of fruitless talks and envisions the formation of an interim government of independents that will pave the way for presidential and legislative elections within a year.

    "But in terms of how things are going to work for the next 12 months, we are told three separate committees will be formed to work out outstanding issues, which have been the crux of the problem of getting all sides together," she said.

    "Those issues include security, meaning finding viable ways to incorporate a security system between Gaza and the West Bank, as well as the multitude of militia groups and factions inside Gaza.

    "Another committee will look after the reorganisation of the PLO, and the other will work on planning for the elections."

    Palestinian officials say the new government's role will be to manage affairs in the Palestinian territories, while the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) will remain in charge of peace talks with Israel.

    Fatah and Hamas have been bitterly divided since June 2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, routing Fatah loyalists in bloody confrontations that effectively split the Palestinian territories into two separate entities with separate governments.

    But Israel has heavily criticised the agreement, refusing to deal with a government that includes Hamas, which it and the United States brand a terrorist organisation.

    Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, reacted to the signing of the reconciliation deal on Tuesday by calling on Abbas to rescind it.

    "I call on Abu Mazen (Abbas) to completely cancel the agreement with Hamas and to choose the path to peace with Israel," Netanyahu said during a meeting with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, in Jerusalem.

  2. 04 May '11 12:07,,15047709,00.html

    Barenboim performs historic 'peace' concert in Gaza Strip

    Renowned Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, a supporter of Palestinian rights, has performed a rare concert in Palestine with an orchestra of accomplished European musicians.

    The concert Daniel Barenboim conducted on Tuesday afternoon was the first time such a large group of international classical musicians had performed in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

    The event also marked the first time the 68-year-old maestro, well-known for his reconciliation efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, had managed to enter Gaza. For nearly five years, the area has been isolated by an Israeli blockade.

    "This is a unique gesture from the whole of Europe for you, Gaza," said Barenboim Tuesday at the start of the concert. "You have been blocked here for many years. And this is why we all came today (&hellip not only to give you solace and maybe pleasure in listening, but so you understand that many people from all over the world care for you."

    A message of peace

    Most of the audience members had never attended a classical concertFor many of the 700 people in the audience, it was the first time they had attended a classical concert, with some breaking into spontaneous applause after each movement.

    The performance will make a difference because Barenboim "is bringing a message of peace," Fatma Shahin, an English teacher accompanying schoolgirls from the Jabaliya refugee camp, told AFP news agency. "The girls will like it because it gives them a message - a chance to think before judging people."

    Put together especially for the event, the 25-member "Orchestra for Gaza" played Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" and Symphony No. 40. The one-hour concert was held at a beachfront hotel in the northern Gaza Strip.

    The ensemble included players from five of Europe's top orchestras: the Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, the Orchestra of La Scala di Milano and the Vienna Philharmonic. The musicians had entered Gaza via the Rafah border crossing in Egypt earlier on Tuesday.

    Controversial support

    Barenboim has stirred controversy by publically opposing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, where he has also performed, and actively promotes Arab-Israeli exchange. In 1999 he co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, together with the late Palestinian-American academic Edward Said, which is made up of young Arab and Israeli musicians.

    "I am a Palestinian," Barenboim said at the concert, reaping applause from the audience. "I am also Israeli, so you see it is possible to be both."

    The conductor took honorary Palestinian citizenship in 2008 and also holds Argentinean, Israeli and Spanish passports. He lives in Berlin.
  3. 04 May '11 12:07 / 1 edit

    Egypt says intends to open Gaza border permanently

    (Reuters) - Egypt intends to open its border with Gaza permanently to ease life for Palestinians under an Israeli blockade but the mechanics of such a step are still being worked out, the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

    The initiative, received coolly in Israel, suggested a further Egyptian policy shift since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, whose government cooperated with the Jewish state in enforcing the blockade on the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

    Under Mubarak, Egypt only sporadically opened up the Rafah border crossing for food and medicine, or to let through people, mainly those seeking medical treatment or traveling to study from the area which is home to about 1.5 million Palestinians.

    That system has broadly stayed in place since Mubarak was pushed out on February 11.

    "The intention is there to open it on a permanent basis to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians, but all the mechanics on how it is going to work are under study," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Menha Bakhoum told Reuters.

    She said the issue was being studied "at all levels" but did not say when this might be implemented.

    Israel, which had earlier voiced hope that the clampdown on the Egypt-Gaza border would remain in place, was circumspect about Sunday's announcement from Cairo.

    "The Egyptians are free to do what they want on their border, of course, but we are working on the assumption that, if only for the sake of their own national security, they will ensure weapons and terrorists do not pass into Gaza from the Sinai, or in the other direction," an Israeli official said.

    Egypt has brokered a deal to end a four-year-old feud between Hamas and U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, due to be signed this week, and Cairo has signaled it is ready for closer diplomatic relations with Iran that have been severed for about three decades.

    Analysts say the new rulers in Cairo are shifting policy away from the Mubarak era, in part to gain credibility amongst a largely pro-Palestinian population.

    Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby last week called the blockade on Gaza "disgraceful" and told Al Jazeera television that Egypt would look into ways to open the border in 10 days.

    Bakhoum, in comments carried by the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, said the 10 days Elaraby referred to was the period Egypt needed to study the mechanisms to open the border.

    Bakhoum also said in comments reported by Al-Ahram that reviewing policies after an uprising that toppled Mubarak did not mean Cairo would stop honoring international commitments -- a reference to its 1979 peace treaty with Israel
  4. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    04 May '11 14:49
    Originally posted by Kostenuik

    Egypt says intends to open Gaza border permanently

    (Reuters) - Egypt intends to open its border with Gaza permanently to ease life for Palestinians under an Israeli blockade but the mechanics of such a step are still being worked out, the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
    ...[text shortened]... honoring international commitments -- a reference to its 1979 peace treaty with Israel
    Excellent. Now we can finally stop hearing about the "siege" of Gaza.
  5. Standard member spruce112358
    Democracy Advocate
    04 May '11 18:26
    Originally posted by sh76
    Excellent. Now we can finally stop hearing about the "siege" of Gaza.
    Excellent. The siege of Gaza will be broken.
  6. 05 May '11 02:00 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    Excellent. Now we can finally stop hearing about the "siege" of Gaza.
    Yes excellent isn't it! Democracies from the same color are such a blessing.

    I hope they don't forget to put fertiliser on the "to buy list".