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Today’s Top Stories
1.What’s on the agenda for President Obama’s visit to the Mideast? Depends on who you read.
- Officials: Obama coming to Israel to prevent strike on Iran
- Obama’s Israel trip to focus on resetting Netanyahu relationship, not restarting peace talks
- Obama takes carrot and stick to Israel
- PM names main topics for for Obama visit
More on the presidential visit and peace process below.
2. A tribunal meeting in The Hague concluded that Iran is guilty of crimes against humanity. According to The Independent, we’re talking about the Khomeini regime murdering between 15,000 and 20,000 political opponents:
“In the 1980s the Islamic Republic of Iran went about arresting, imprisoning and executing thousands upon thousands of Iranian citizens because their beliefs and political engagements conflicted with the regime,” the judges wrote.
3. Arab media reports say Hamas sent gunmen to Cairo to help shore up the Morsi regime during recent protests. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:
There is no doubt that Hamas is prepared to do its utmost to help Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood organization stay in power, even at the cost of killing and torturing Egyptian civilians. The downfall of the Mubarak regime has been a great blessing for Hamas, which has since emerged as a major player in the Palestinian and regional arena.
Qassem said in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm published on Saturday that Islamists would carry weapons to defend Morsy if “saboteurs” continued to attack state establishments . . .
Qassem added that Sharia allowed the killings, saying that people who protest violently against a ruler were guilty of “Haraba,” a Quranic term defined as committing grievous crimes that “sow corruption and chaos on earth.” Perpetrators are subject to severe punishment such as amputation and, in some cases, execution . . .
Qassem also said that the organization would return to its former violent ways as a last resort if security forces were “reluctant” to confront opposition members.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Hard to assess if this Sunday Times assessment is on the ball. According to its combo of sources and tea leaf-reading, Obama will essentially offer Israel a “settlements for Iran” deal:
The Sunday Times has learnt that White House officials recently spent two weeks in Israel seeking to stitch together an alliance of pro-western states, including Turkey and Jordan, to help stabilise the region. Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli deputy foreign minister, said yesterday he expected a summit between Obama, Netanyahu, King Abdullah and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, to take place soon.
John Kerry, the new secretary of state, is also due to visit Israel this month.
In return for US promises to step up pressure on Iran, Miller said, Obama was likely to ask Netanyahu to open talks with Abbas on borders and security issues, even if the more contentious subjects of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees are put aside for now.
Aides to Netanyahu, however, doubt he will give Obama a full year to pursue a diplomatic deal with Iran.
• Which brings us to the NY Times:
There is talk of giving the Palestinians partial control over some areas of the West Bank where Israel currently rules. Israel may release some longstanding Palestinian prisoners as a gesture.
Also, some Israelis and Americans are pushing the idea of at least a partial freeze of Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank in exchange for a promise by the Palestinians to postpone plans to use their new upgraded status at the United Nations to pursue claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
On the next page:
- Suha Arafat wishes she had never married Yasser.
- More details on Hezbollah’s connections to Bulgarian bombing.
- Why did a Saudi professor’s assessment of Israel’s elections spark Arab hate mail?
- And more . . .