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 on: May 21, 2015, 06:29 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Janus: The loneliest moon in the solar system

May 20, 2015
Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

A moon that shares its orbit with another moon seems like an unlikely candidate to be considered the “loneliest moon in the solar system,” but such is the case with Janus, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California explained on Monday.

Janus has the same average distance from Saturn as its sister moon Epimetheus, but is alternately closer and farther away from the planet as the two moons change position about every four years. New images captured of Janus, which is 111 miles of 179 kilometers across, capture the moon at a distance of 1.6 million miles (2.5 million kilometers), the US space agency said.

The image was captured in visible light by the Cassini spacecraft on February 4, and shows the sunlit side of the rings from approximately 19 degrees above the ringplane. It was taken from a phase angle of 91 degrees and is nine miles (15 kilometers) per pixel in scale, they added.

More about Janus and Epimetheus

According to NASA’s Solar System Exploration profile of Janus, it and its neighboring moon are known as the planet’s Siamese twins due to their co-orbital condition. This phenomenon, which is also known as 1:1 resonance, initially baffled astronomers who were stunned that two separate moons could share a nearly-identical orbit around the planet without colliding.

The break-up of a single moon may have led to the formation of Janus and Epimetheus, and if so, this event would likely have taken place early on in the lifespan of the Saturn system, since both moons have ancient cratered surfaces, several soft edges, and grooves apparently indicating they received glancing blows from other objects. Combined, they also produce a faint ring.

Janus and Epimetheus have orbital radial distances from Saturn of approximately 94,100 miles or 151,500 kilometers, with one moon orbiting 31 miles (50 kilometers) higher and moving slower than the other. Due to the velocity difference, the inner moon catches up to the outer one in about four Earth years, and the gravity causing the two moons to change places and velocities.

Also known by astronomers as Saturn X and as S/1980 S1, Janus was discovered on December 15, 1966 by Audouin Dollfus, who proposed that it be named in honor of the Roman god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings, NASA said. Three days later, Richard Walker made a similar observation, which is now credited as the discover of Epimetheus, but at the time was viewed by astronomers as two sighting of a single moon unofficially called “Janus.”

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:26 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Pinochet-era secret police chief’s sentence now 505 years in Chilean jail

Manuel Contreras, who ran torture centres in which hundreds were killed, and who was already serving 490-year sentence, given additional 15 years’ jail

Reuters in Santiago
Thursday 21 May 2015 01.32 BST

The Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s former secret police chief, already serving 490 years in prison for human rights violations, was handed an additional 15-year sentence on Wednesday.

Manuel Contreras was the head of operations at the Dina intelligence service, which ran torture centres where hundreds of people were killed.

Chile’s supreme court sentenced Contreras to another 15 years for the murder of a husband and wife, Alejandro de la Barra and Ana Maria Puga, on 3 December 1974.

Another four former Dina agents were also sentenced for the couple’s murder.

An estimated 3,000 people disappeared or kidnapped and killed during the 17-year dictatorship; 28,000 were tortured.

Pinochet died in 2006 at the age of 91. He never faced a full trial for the crimes committed under his rule.

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:24 AM 
Started by Rose Marcus - Last post by Rad
Ballarat bishop allegedly told victims: 'In 40 years you'll be dead and this will be forgotten'

Bishop Paul Bird also accused victims of being intent on destroying the Catholic church, the royal commission hears

Australian Associated Press
Thursday 21 May 2015 11.16 BST

A headmaster told an 11-year-old boy it was his fault he was being abused, and a priest told another he was a bad child and would go to hell, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse has heard.

In 2013, a Ballarat bishop is alleged to have told victims they were trying to destroy the Catholic church, but it would endure after they die.

Victim Andrew Collins told the abuse royal commission he was raped by his Seventh Day Adventist grade four teacher, who warned him that if he said anything the same thing would happen to his younger sister.

In 1980, when he was 11, a parish priest named only as Father X abused him during preparations for his confirmation.

“He told me that I was a bad child and I would go to hell and that my parents would be so disappointed in me,” Collins, 46, told the commission hearing in Ballarat on Thursday.

As an altar boy he was also raped by a Christian Brother. “Then he told me that the pain and suffering was a way to get closer to God and that what happened would get me closer to God,” Collins said.

He told the commission he was belted and grounded when he later told his parents another Christian Brother molested him at St Patrick’s College.

“My mother said: ‘how dare you make up lies about a Christian Brother. He’s a man of God. As if he would do anything like that’,” Collins told the commission.

Collins also alleged that current Ballarat Bishop, Paul Bird, told him in 2013 that if the church had to pay an amount they were discussing to every survivor it would go bankrupt.

“Bishop Bird told us that we were intent on destroying his church,” Collins said.

“He said: ‘Andrew, you need to understand something: the church has endured for thousands of years and in another 40 years or so you people will all be dead and this will be forgotten about and the church will endure for thousands of years more.”

Victim Stephen Woods told the commission his grade six teacher and headmaster at St Alipius primary school – the now-convicted paedophile Brother Robert Charles Best – told him the abuse was his fault.

“He told me that I was bad, that I was evil and that I deserved what he did to me,” Woods said. “He said ‘this is your fault.’ I heard these words from him over and over and over.”

Woods thought he would feel comfortable confiding in Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale, but the priest asked him for graphic details before raping him.

Woods said he spoke out about his abuse by Ridsdale and Best – who was acquitted of abusing Woods – and Edward Vernon Dowlan to expose the cover-up.

“I wanted to expose the horrific cover-up perpetrated by the senior members of the Catholic church who I believe knew about Ridsdale, Best and Dowlan for many years but chose to do nothing about it.”

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:22 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Brazilian journalist beheaded during mystery investigation

Police find his half naked body with his hands tied behind his back

Roy Greenslade
Thursday 21 May 2015 08.42 BST

The decapitated body of Brazilian journalist Evany José Metzker was found on Monday, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

After an anonymous phone call police found Metzker’s body in a ditch outside the town of Padre Paraíso in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais.

His head was found 100 metres away from the rest of his body. He was half naked and his hands were tied behind his back, reported the daily O Globo. He still had his wallet, watch and ring.

Metzker, 67, wrote a blog called Coruja Do Vale, in which he focused on political news and corruption in the impoverished north and eastern parts of Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s biggest states.

His wife, Hilma Chaves Silva Borges, said Metzker was working on an investigation “ in a region that is very dangerous”, but gave no details.

She said: “I think that the motive, given the barbarity of his murder, was because he hit on something. He investigated mayors, politicians, cargo robberies, prostitution”.

According to some local news reports (example here), Metzker had been investigating a child prostitution ring.

Independent bloggers in Brazil’s provincial capitals and towns who cover crime and corruption are particularly at risk, according to CPJ research.

“We condemn the brutal murder of Evany José Metzker and urge Brazilian authorities to leave no stone unturned in investigating this crime and all possible motives,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s Americas senior programme coordinator.

“The ability of local journalists to report the news is clearly being undermined by deadly violence against the Brazilian press”.

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:20 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
How Nigeria turned a corner against Boko Haram

After five years of insurgency, the military has made significant gains on the battlefield. But now the battle for peace must begin, says Max Siollun

Max Siollun
Thursday 21 May 2015 10.32 BST

The Nigerian army has recaptured all of the major towns occupied by Boko Haram in recent months, and rescued nearly 1,000 kidnapped women and children. It claims to have destroyed several of the militants’ camps, pursued the group into the Sambisa forest and arrested those suspected of supplying food and fuel.

Isolated suicide attacks have continued, but after more than five years of torment, the insurgents seem to have been transformed from the hunters to the hunted. It is now Boko Haram fighters who are fleeing, with the army in pursuit. Recently released footage shows militants running away in disarray from aerial bombardments by the Nigerian air force.

Yet not long ago Boko Haram was wreaking havoc in the north east, seemingly able to launch attacks at will after having captured an area about the same size as Belgium.

A failure to stop militants played a part in the political downfall of Goodluck Jonathan, the first Nigerian president to lose an election, amid promises by his challenger Muhammadu Buhari to “crush” the insurgency.

    Relations between the previous commander and his men were so poor that enraged troops opened fire on him

Yet even before Buhari’s inauguration, the military seems to have turned a corner in its fight against Boko Haram.

The recent rescue of hundreds of women and children was a watershed. Although hostages have escaped from Boko Haram captivity before, they did so of their own volition. This was the first time that the army had rescued hostages in significant numbers. Some of the women claimed that their former captors had complained of battle fatigue and of being under-equipped – complaints formerly heard from soldiers.

Also it seems Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau has been uncharacteristically quiet of late – not having released any of his customary propaganda videos since March.

After failing for so long, how has the army managed this turnaround? Although many factors played a part, perhaps the most obvious has been a brutal crackdown on dissent within the military itself.

After being stung by reports that some soldiers had refused to fight Boko Haram or had “tactically retreated” from battle, army chief of staff Lt-General Kenneth Minimah ordered that deserters be court-martialled. Fifty-four were sentenced to death. He rejected complaints about being poorly equipped, , arguing that “It is the soldier that fights, not the equipment”.

His tough tactics appear to have worked. Soldiers now say they would rather fight Boko Haram, that confront “that mad man [Minimah]”.

A change of command also helped. Since taking charge of the division in charge of combatting Boko Haram less than five months ago, Major-General Lamidi Adeosun has provided charismatic leadership and is respected by his men – unlike his predecessors.

Relations between the former commander and his men were so poor that enraged troops opened fire on him last May, blaming him for a botched night-time operation that led to several of their colleagues being killed.

In contrast, Adeosun personally led his men into battle in a recent operation. The new commander has quietly got on with the job with little fanfare, implementing more aggressive tactics to take the fight to the enemy.

But the army’s gains on the battlefield have inadvertently exposed the magnitude of the task still ahead. The fact that the military rescued nearly 1,000 women and children and yet not one of the nearly 300 kidnapped Chibok teenagers was among them demonstrates just how many people are being held.

    The rescued hostages, including children fathered by ​Boko Haram ​insurgents, may struggle to be accepted

An intermediary who entered Boko Haram’s camp last year to negotiate the Chibok girls’ release was shocked to find their presence dwarfed by other captives. The teenagers are thought to represent less than 10% of the total number of hostages held by the militants, amid estimates that more than 3,000 other teenagers have been kidnapped.

Boko Haram kidnaps, rapes, and impregnates female abductees not just to sow terror but also to replenish its ranks. More than 200 of the women recently rescued are pregnant, and several of the rescued children were born and raised in Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa forest.

It is clear that the Islamic militants will not just disappear, no matter how successful the army is militarily. There is no magic bullet that will end the insurgency and nothing short of a comprehensive armistice deal will neutralise its ability to give the army a bloody nose from time to time.

Military force is the means, but not the end. All it can do is buy enough breathing room for the government to devise comprehensive solutions. For that, eyes will turn to Buhari’s new government taking office on 29 May.

The last time the army inflicted heavy losses on Boko Haram, in 2009, the government relaxed and thought the conflict was over. The militants laid low, re-armed, regrouped, and returned more deadly than before. The government must learn from this missed opportunity.

The conflict is entering a phase where it needs to be fought not just with bombs and guns, but also by addressing the consequences of the insurgency. Those raped or rendered refugees or orphans by Boko Haram need rehabilitation and support. The rescued hostages, including children fathered by insurgents, may struggle to be accepted back in their communities. The group’s indoctrination was so effective that some of the women captives opened fire on the soldiers who came to free them. Some who escaped captivity in the past were sent away by their families in order to escape stigmatisation.

Also, even if Boko Haram agrees to lay down its weapons, the level of hostility towards the group means that security forces may have to protect former insurgents from score-settling attacks by their victims.

Nigeria may win the war, but could find that winning the peace will require different tactics.

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:15 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Qatar still failing migrant workers, says Amnesty International

Human rights organisation says little has improved for foreign labourers since promises of reform in country hosting 2022 World Cup

Owen Gibson and Ian Black
Thursday 21 May 2015 00.01 BST

Amnesty International has accused Qatar of failing migrant workers and “promising little and delivering less” in terms of meaningful reform of its labour laws ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

The human rights organisation, which has produced a series of in-depth reports detailing the grim working conditions of many of the 1.5 million migrant labourers engaged in a huge construction boom, said “little has changed in law, policy and practice” since the government promised limited reforms 12 months ago. It said that of nine key issues identified by Amnesty, limited progress had been made on just five.

In the wake of a Guardian investigation in September 2013, pressure has increased on the Qatari authorities to reform the kafala laws that tie workers to their employer and to improve often dire living and working conditions.

Amnesty said that even those changes that had been promised, such as the introduction of electronic wage transfers to ensure they are paid on time, were still being implemented, and it had spoken to many migrants who still complained of late or non-payment.

The report said Qatar had also failed to meet its target to have 300 labour inspectors in place by the end of 2014 and there had been only limited progress on measures to improve safety on construction sites, regulate exploitative recruitment agencies and improve access to justice for victims of labour exploitation.

“The reality is that more than a year and a half after Amnesty highlighted rampant exploitation of migrants, little has been done to address the root causes of this abuse. We are one year closer to Qatar’s 2022 World Cup – time for changes to be implemented is running out,” said Amnesty’s gulf migrant rights researcher Mustafa Qadri.

“With Qatar’s construction boom continuing and the migrant worker population set to expand to 2.5 million, the need for urgent reform is more pressing than ever.”

The Qatari government disputed many of the Amnesty accusations, insisting: “Significant changes have been made over the last year to improve the rights and conditions of expatriate workers.”

In a statement, the government said it had appointed 294 labour inspectors, a number that it said would rise to 400 by year-end, and added that new accommodation for 250,000 workers was being built.

World football’s governing body has also come under pressure for failing to insist on meaningful reform ahead of the 2022 World Cup, controversially awarded to the tiny Gulf state in December 2010.

“Fifa has spent much time, money and political capital investigating alleged corruption in the Russia and Qatar World Cup bids, and agonising over the scheduling of the tournament,” said Qadri. “But the organisation has yet to demonstrate any real commitment to ensuring Qatar 2022 is not built on a foundation of exploitation and abuse.”

Last week it emerged that four BBC journalists had been detained on an official visit in early May to inspect conditions in migrant labour camps after being accused of trespassing.

Qadri said: “Seeking to silence those documenting the conditions of migrant workers by detaining and intimidating them, sends the message that the government is more concerned about its image than dealing with the appalling reality of the tens of thousands of men and women who are abused in Qatar.”

In Doha, a source close to the Qatari government said that the detention of the BBC film crew had been “overinterpreted” because it had happened in response to a complaint by a property-owner who said the journalists were trespassing.

“There is no organised crackdown, or policy change,” the source insisted. “There has been a massive overinterpretation of this incident. The trend is towards more openness and engagement. This is a bump in the road.”

But there was no explanation of why Mark Lobel and his three colleagues had been under surveillance, with the BBC reporter shown photographs of his activities in the days leading up to his detention by security personnel travelling in eight vehicles. Lobel said his interrogators never explained why he had been held. “They had actually photographed my every move since I arrived,” he said.

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:13 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Isis controls 50% of Syria after seizing historic city of Palmyra

Islamic State militants massacre rebellious tribe and have unhindered access to city’s ancient ruins
Smoke rises amid shelling from Islamic State fighters in Palmyra city, Syria.

Kareem Shaheen in Beirut
Thursday 21 May 2015 10.05 BST

Islamic State now holds sway over half of Syria’s landmass after its seizure of Palmyra, where it has begun massacring a rebellious tribe and faces no opposition to its entry and sacking of the historic city’s ancient ruins.

“There are no forces to stop them [entering the ruins],” Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, said. “But the important thing also is they now control 50% of Syria.”

Isis seized Palmyra on Wednesday night after a week-long siege that led to the collapse of forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad. The militants are drawing closer to his strongholds of Homs and Damascus and severing supply lines to Deir Ezzor in the east, which faces an overpowering Isis crackdown.

Local activists said Isis had imposed a curfew and was sweeping the city for remnants of Assad’s forces. Isis has also massacred members of the Shaitat tribe, which fought alongside the Assad regime in Palmyra and had railed against Isis in Deir Ezzor – a rebellion in which the militant group killed 800 members of the tribe.

Control of Palmyra leaves Isis with unopposed access to the city’s magnificent ruins, amid fears that they will destroy significant chunks of Syria’s heritage as they did in Iraq.

But more significantly, Isis controls vast swaths of Syria, from Palmyra to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor in the country’s west, a tract that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates to be 95,000 sq km, or more than half Syria’s landmass. With its seizure of the Arak and al-Hail gas fields near Palmyra, it also controls much of the country’s electricity supply – those two fields power much of the Syrian regime’s strongholds in the west.

Isis also controls the vast majority of Raqqa province, its de facto capital, most of Deir Ezzor, parts of Hassakeh and the Aleppo countryside, most of the Syrian desert as well as parts of the Homs countryside and the Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus.

Palmyra, once a Silk Road hub and one of the cultural centres of the ancient world that occupies mythological status in Syria, is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity, including the Temple of Bel, built in the first century.

Isis considers the preservation of such historical ruins a form of idolatry and has destroyed temples and historic artefacts, as well as ancient Assyrian sites in Nineveh in Iraq, after conquering the province in a lightning offensive last year.

The group has profited from looting such treasures, in addition to scoring propaganda victories by the wanton destruction of archaeological sites, and Palmyra is likely to face a similar fate.

The fall of the city raises questions about the fighting capability and cohesion of Assad’s remaining troops and allied militias, whose rapid collapse surprised observers, given their close proximity to supply lines and the strategic importance of Palmyra.

The regime is stretched thin after a string of losses to rebels in Idlib in the north, who are backed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but residents had expected Assad’s forces to withstand the siege for longer. Instead, they appear to be retrenching in the country’s west, cutting their losses in the face of advances by Isis and the opposition.

Palmyra is the second city to be seized by Isis in less than a week, after the militants routed Iraqi security forces in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar province, highlighting the group’s resilience in the face of a US-led coalition air campaign and the limits of its strategy.

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:11 AM 
Started by Skywalker - Last post by Rad
Hi Skywalker,

JWG did not learn how to see past lives from his time spent living with the Navajo Indians. He said and taught that this happens to any Soul as a function of evolution relative to the center of gravity shifting within the consciousness of the Soul, in human form, from the ego to the Soul itself. This starts with seeing/ remembering the past lives of itself and progressively expands to others.

God Bless, Rad

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:07 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Skywalker,

3rd Stage consensus: right before 1st Stage individuated.

God Bless, Rad

 on: May 21, 2015, 06:06 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Israel Cancels Project Barring Palestinians From Some Buses to the West Bank

MAY 21, 2015

JERUSALEM — The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday abruptly shelved a pilot project that prohibited Palestinians from riding home to the West Bank on the same buses as Israelis headed to Jewish settlements.

The Israeli government’s turnabout comes as it has been trying to address Western frustrations over the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and as it has engaged in delicate efforts to head off a Palestinian attempt to have Israel suspended from the world governing body of soccer.

“These proposals are unacceptable to the prime minister,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu. “He spoke to the defense minister this morning, and they decided to shelve the matter.”

Just as the pilot project started, and ended, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, arrived in the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

When the Israeli news media reported on Wednesday that the three-month project had begun, opposition politicians in Israel joined Palestinians in denouncing it, dismissing the idea that security concerns justified the new policy. Some even said that it smacked of apartheid.

Criticism also emerged from some more conservative quarters. Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, said the project “could have led to an unthinkable separation between bus lines for Jews and Arabs.”

Such ideas “have no place being heard or said,” Mr. Rivlin said in a statement.

They “go against the very foundations of the state of Israel and impact upon our very ability to establish here a Jewish and democratic state,” added Mr. Rivlin, whose voice carries significant moral weight though his position is largely ceremonial. “Such statements cause great damage to the state of Israel, and to the settlement movement.”

Mr. Rivlin has long opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state in territories that Israel conquered in the 1967 war and has supported building and maintaining settlements, which most of the world considers to be a violation of international law, while advocating equal rights for all.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank, said that the plan for segregated buses was particularly “blunt,” but that other forms of segregation remained, pointing to the existence of roads in the West Bank that are exclusively for use by Israelis. “This revealed the fact that Israel unfortunately has transformed the situation into a system of apartheid,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu appeared to have been taken by surprise by the news that the project had gotten underway, though officials in his office declined to confirm that.

The bus plan was conceived by the Israeli Defense Ministry, apparently in response to pressure from Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank who have long demanded separate transportation for the Palestinians.

The plan called for Palestinians who work in Israel to return to the West Bank at the end of the day through one of four designated Israeli checkpoints, and then to take Palestinian buses to their towns and villages. They would no longer have been allowed to take Israeli buses traveling directly from Israeli cities to West Bank settlements, which cuts down on travel time for Palestinians who live along the way.

The defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, denied that there had ever been a plan to segregate the buses.

“There was no discussion to do so, no decision was taken to do so, and there will be no decision to do so,” he said in a statement later on Wednesday.

Mr. Yaalon said that the idea had solely been to tighten security by supervising the re-entry of Palestinian workers into the West Bank, by having them pass through the designated checkpoints.

Israel’s deputy defense minister, Eli Ben-Dahan, a member of the right-wing, pro-settlement Jewish Home party, said he was surprised by the reversal, having learned of it as he was defending the project in Parliament.

“There is no apartheid here,” he said, telling opponents to “stop blackening Israel’s reputation.” He defended the travel rules on security grounds, citing Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

Critics have said there is no security rationale for barring Palestinian workers from Israeli buses, because the workers have undergone security checks and received work permits from the authorities. About 50,000 West Bank Palestinians have permits to work in Israel, according to the Israeli authorities.

The newspaper Haaretz reported in October that Mr. Yaalon had issued a directive to stop Palestinian workers from traveling on Israeli buses, but Mr. Yaalon, who has retained his post in the new government, apparently waited to introduce the plan until after the March elections.

Representatives for the settlers had complained that the buses were overcrowded and unpleasant, in addition to the concerns about security.

Mordhay Yogev, a legislator from the Jewish Home party, was quoted in Haaretz at the time as saying that the situation was “unreasonable” and that “the buses are filled with Arabs.”

“I wouldn’t want my daughter to ride them,” he said, adding that girls and women had complained of being sexually harassed by male Arab passengers.

On Wednesday, Mr. Yogev said that those who opposed the plan for separate lines “are unfamiliar with the reality, and their statements are tinged with hypocrisy, lies and irresponsibility.”

Isaac Herzog, the leader of the center-left Zionist Union and leader of the opposition in Parliament, described the plan for separate buses in a Facebook post as “gratuitous humiliation and a stain on the face of the country and its citizens. Needless oil on the bonfire of hatred towards Israel in the world.”

At the start of his meeting with Ms. Mogherini on Wednesday evening, Mr. Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to peace and said he supported the vision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, seeking again to correct remarks that appeared to contradict that position on the eve of Israel’s March elections.

“I look forward to discussing with you how we can advance that vision forth in a practical, secure and responsible way,” Mr. Netanyahu told Ms. Mogherini.

Also on Wednesday, a Palestinian driver was fatally shot in East Jerusalem by Israeli border police officers after he drove into a group of them, injuring three, the Israeli police said.

The police said they were treating the episode as the latest in a wave of attacks against the Israeli police and civilians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months by Palestinians who have used vehicles, knives and guns as weapons.

The Palestinian driver was identified as Omran Omar Abu Dheim, a resident of East Jerusalem.

The independent Palestinian news agency Maan quoted an unnamed Palestinian as saying that he had been at the scene and that the driver had not been trying to run over the police officers, but rather to make a U-turn in the middle of the road.

The episode took place in the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of A-Tur, on the Mount of Olives, in territory that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and then annexed.


Israel's bus segregation row shows high wire act facing Netanyahu

Caught between the Israeli right and the international community, the president is struggling to keep all his plates spinning

Peter Beaumont
Wednesday 20 May 2015 14.11 BST

The first crisis in the new rightwing government of Binyamin Netanyahu – over a discriminatory pilot scheme that would have seen some Palestinian workers banned from using Israeli buses in the occupied West Bank – is deeply instructive.

Scotched by Netanyahu barely hours after it had been approved by defence minister Moshe Yaalon, amid an outcry from across the Israeli political spectrum that condemned the move as racist and smacking of apartheid, it has underscored the immense political challenges facing Israel’s prime minister.

At the head of a coalition with a majority of one in the Knesset, Netanyahu has found himself exactly where many expected him to be after having assembled a coalition heavily dominated by the pro-settler right: between a rock and a hard place.

Reliant on the support of Naftali Bennett’s ultra-nationalist Jewish Home, he has found himself, too, under sharp and increasing scrutiny by the international community including the US and EU. During elections in March, Netanyahu appealed directly to Bennett’s voters when he disavowed support for a two-state solution, a position he has since tried to row back on.

In any circumstances the events of Tuesday evening and Wednesday were bizarre in their timing.

Coinciding with the visit of the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, who had flown in to try to persuade the Palestinian Football Association to drop its efforts to have Israeli football banned from international competition for discrimination, it also preceded the visit of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini – who is under increasing pressure to formulate a tougher policy against Israel’s continued occupation and settlement-building.

While it is possible Netanyahu was not aware of the decision by his defence minister – one of his closest allies in cabinet, Moshe Yaalon – to press ahead with the controversial pilot scheme, that poses an equally awkward question: why not?

The explanation of Netanyahu’s own office has hardly helped shed light on what occurred – a series of events evoking more than a passing similarity to the political satire The Thick of It. “The proposals,” Netanyahu’s office told the Jerusalem Post without elaboration, were “unacceptable to the prime minister.”

Israel faces Fifa suspension over claims it discriminates against Palestinians..Read more:

What seems more than likely is that this will not be an isolated incident. For years Netanyahu has flourished on his own terms as the political equivalent of a plate spinner in an old-fashioned music hall act, supplying just enough momentum to avoid a crisis.

In the last year, however, that trick has seemed ever harder for him to pull off. Unhappy with what he thought was an unmanageable coalition last year, he has replaced it with a more tenuous one.

The reality, underscored by recent events, is that Netanyahu is confronting a potentially unsolvable problem.

On the one hand he cannot keep the pro-settlement lobby inside his government happy without increasing friction with an international community already deeply frustrated by the collapse of the Middle East peace process.

On the other, Netanyahu – under pressure from the US and the EU to show concrete signs that he is still committed to negotiations – has little room to move on them, surrounded in government as he is by those who oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.

If the bus-segregation row was one indicator of this increasingly precarious high-wire act, it has not been the only one in recent days.

As few have failed to notice, Silvan Shalom, the man Netanyahu has given responsibility for handling peace negotiations with the Palestinians, has been vocal in the past about his opposition to a Palestinian state.

And it is not only political figures from Israel’s left and centre that have been sounding warnings about the direction of the country under Netanyahu’s new coalition.

In Tuesday’s Haaretz, prefiguring the bus segregation row, former Likud minister Dan Meridor warned in sharp terms about his old party’s dangerous trajectory.

“In the past,” warned Meridor, “the Likud had always tried to strike a balance between nationalism and the pursuit of the Zionist dream, on the one hand, and liberalism, respect for democracy and the individual, on the other.”

“This balance, unfortunately, has been disturbed and I see the Likud becoming much more nationalistic and less attentive to its liberal side. Today, in the party, when you use words like democracy, human rights and rule of law, they immediately depict you as a leftist.”

For now all the plates are still spinning. But for how long?


UN resolution to impose 18-month deadline on Palestinian state talks

Details of draft resolution emerge as France says it will unilaterally recognise Palestinian state if no deal reached in timeframe

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Thursday 21 May 2015 11.54 BST

A UN security council resolution being drafted by France and New Zealand plans to set an 18-month deadline for completion of talks leading to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Details of the draft resolution – disclosed to the French newspaper Le Figaro – emerged on Thursday amid warnings that if no agreement was reached in that timeframe, France would go ahead and unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state.

Pressure appears to be mounting on Israelis and Palestinians, not least from Europe, to return to the negotiating table after a damaging hiatus in the peace process of more than a year.

According to sources familiar with the resolution, however, it is unlikely to be tabled until after the end of negotiations between Tehran and world powers over a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme – due to be completed by 30 June – and probably not before September.

Details of the resolution emerged as the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, met the Europoean Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. He restated his purported commitment to a two-state solution, having told voters earlier this year that no Palestinian state would be established on his watch.

Netanyahu had been warned by the visiting Norwegian foreign minister, Børge Brende, on Wednesday to expect a fresh wave of international pressure over making substantive progress towards a two-state solution once the Iran deadline ha dpassed.

While it was known that France had been working on a resolution since the failure of the last effort to pass a resolution on the issue, the leaking of its contents appears designed to put pressure on Netanyahu’s new rightwing government – in which opponents of a two-state solution hold prominent positions – to return to talks.

Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution has been questioned, not least by US officials, who have refused to accept his assurances that his comments during Israel’s elections in March did not mean he had abandoned it.

In his meeting with Mogherini, Netanyahu used the opportunity “to reiterate Israel’s commitment to peace, and my commitment to peace”.

“We want a peace that would end the conflict once and for all,” he said. “My position has not changed: I don’t support a one-state solution – I don’t believe that’s a solution at all. I support the vision of two states for two peoples – a demilitarised Palestinian state that recognises the Jewish state.”

However, observers have remarked on Netanyahu’s appointment of Silvan Shalom to lead any negotiations with the Palestinians, a figure who in the past has been very public in his opposition to Palestinian statehood.

Netanyahu’s remarks were also quickly discounted by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in a statement released by his office.

“It is not about Mr Netanyahu’s public relations skills claiming that he supports a two-state solution, but about his actions,” said Erekat. “The new Israeli cabinet has shown its commitment to consolidate an apartheid regime in occupied Palestine, as well as to continue its incitement campaign against Palestinians, sending the message that Palestinian lives, history and culture don’t matter.

“The international community has allowed Israel to stall the prospects of a just and lasting peace for too long and has a responsibility to face Netanyahu’s hypocrisy head on, and not at the expense of the Palestinian people. We call on the international community to do nothing more than demand Israel fulfill its obligations under international law.”

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