Thursday, September 2, 2010

Iranq180 Web Site

Here is a Web site you will all like: Iran180.

This declaration will be presented outside the UN on September 23, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the General Assembly.

Demand a 180 for Iran!

As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in NYC at the UN's General Assembly on September 23, let's send a "message to Mahmoud!". He and his army violently crushed the Twitter Revolution and continue to perpetrate horrific human rights abuses while pursuing deadly nuclear weapons.

Now more than ever, it's time to stand up and voice support for a new direction: yes to human rights, no to nuclear rights.

What's a 180 for Iran?

A 180 is Human Rights: A 180 is being able to wear makeup. A 180 is being able to hold hands in public. A 180 is being able to read any book. 180 is a country in which young women are not struck down by stones after being accused of adultery.

A 180 is Political Rights: A 180 is fair elections in which every vote counts. A 180 is freedom of the press. A 180 is innocent until proven guilty. A 180 is a life without terror. A 180 is the ability to love freely, without fear. A 180 is equal rights for women. A 180 is speaking truth to power. A 180 is religious freedom for all – not just the majority.

A 180 is Freedom from Fear: A 180 is a world in which madmen do not possess nuclear weapons which threaten America and our friends. A 180 is when we stand together and say "enough."

Join Iran180, and raise your voice in support of a new direction.
Iran180: Human Rights. Not Nuclear Rights.

493 supporters have signed our Declaration.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How many F-85's is Jerusalem worth?

US may give Israel arms in exchange for concessions
Compensation for security assets lost in peace deal with Palestinians seen as a possibility.
Israel is looking into the possibility that it will receive an arms package as compensation from the United States in the event that it reaches a peace agreement with the Palestinians that entails significant concessions, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Israel's argument is that there is a need to compensate for security assets that would be lost under a deal that would necessitate a withdrawal from almost all of the West Bank.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on the eve of his departure on Tuesday to Washington to relaunch the talks, told Likud activists at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast in Tel Aviv that he would be cautious during the talks and insist on security guarantees, so an Israeli withdrawal would not be met by the firing of hundreds of rockets, as was the case when Israel left the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

"I am not naïve," Netanyahu said.

Then, referring to the 1979 peace agreement with Egypt brokered by Likud prime minister Menachem Begin, he said, "I know that there are two sides. I want to give this time and resources. I hope to find a courageous partner as Begin found in [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat."

Netanyahu pointedly did not mention the settlement housing-start moratorium that ends on September 26.

While many Likud ministers and MKs are calling for building to resume immediately when the freeze ends, the Palestinians have said that if Netanyahu does so, they will quit the talks.

Ahead of the launch of this long-waited round of peace talks, the IDF's Planning Branch formulated a paper outlining Israel's security requirements that was recently approved by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

In the plan, the IDF referred to three requirements necessary for any withdrawal from the West Bank: a commitment that rockets would not be smuggled into the West Bank, a commitment that the Palestinians will not resume terrorist attacks against Israel like during the second intifada, and a commitment that if Iraq were to one day pose a military threat to Israel again, the Palestinians would not allow it or any other country to deploy military forces in the West Bank.

In talks Netanyahu and Barak have held with US officials, there appears to be a readiness by the US to offer Israel an arms package if the direct talks succeed and result in a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority.

One example of what the package could include are additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets. Israel recently announced it was buying 20 JSFs for around $3 billion, but there is skepticism within the defense establishment as to whether it would have funds to purchase additional aircraft down the road.

Such a package could include additional funding for missile defense systems that Israel is planning to deploy throughout the country.

Earlier this year, the US Congress approved $205 million for Israel's Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system. The money is expected to allow the IDF to buy an additional six batteries for the system.

Netanyahu is scheduled to leave on Tuesday morning for the talks. He will meet with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, before attending a dinner hosted by Obama with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordanian King Abdullah and Quartet envoy Tony Blair. He is expected to hold separate talks with each of the other leaders as well.

On Thursday morning, Netanyahu and Abbas will launch the talks in the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

This ceremony will be followed by the first working meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas, and their respective teams.

The head of Israel's negotiating team, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, flew to Washington on Monday for preparatory discussions. Netanyahu's office said on Monday, in response to demands by women's groups, that it would appoint at least one woman to the negotiating team.

Also on Monday, Jordan continued its efforts to prod Israel to an agreement, by hosting Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog in Amman for discussions with the Jordanian leadership.

Herzog's visit followed a visit to the capital by Barak, who met with Abdullah.

In addition, the king gave an interview to Channel 1 over the weekend where his message was clearly that the Israeli people should compel its leaders to show flexibility in the upcoming talks.

Herzog, following a meeting with Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifaay, quoted the prime minister as saying Israel needed to do "everything possible" to ensure that the diplomatic process succeeded, including continuing with the settlement construction freeze. He said Jordan and Abdullah "are making every effort" so that this time the talks would succeed.

Egypt and Jordan led the efforts inside the Arab League last month to get that organization to give its backing to the talks.

Herzog said that Netanyahu was aiming for the success of the talks, and that Israel was committed to accelerated negotiations. He said that history would judge the leaders, who both needed to demonstrate "courage and responsibility."

Herzog also met with the Jordanian Social Affairs Minister Hala Latuf and Information Minister Ali Alayed.

According to Herzog, his Jordanian colleagues said that positive results from the talks in Washington would create a good opportunity for constructive movement between Israel and Jordan, and between Israel and the region.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office said it would update the public on developments from Washington using the new social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. The office recently launched a YouTube channel, including video clips in Hebrew and English on Netanyahu's activities.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

New Lebanese law on Palestinian Labor rights is worthless

New law on Palestinian worker rights just cosmetic

By andrew

Recent amendments to Lebanese law grant work permits to Palestinians in the private sector, and some welfare benefits, and are an important step in the right direction, according to the UN's agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), but many Palestinians say they fall short of what they had hoped for.

The new law, which took effect on 17 August, allows Palestinians to work in all professions open to foreigners; and work permits, which hitherto cost US$300, are free of charge.

Palestinians can also benefit from end of service payouts from a special account in the Social Security Fund and have the right to medical treatment in the event of work-related accidents.

However, a major grievance is that Palestinians are still barred from working in professions like medicine, engineering, law, real estate management, and accountancy.

The new law has changed very little, said Layla el-Ali, head of Association Najdeh (AN), a Palestinian NGO in Lebanon.

"Palestinians never took out many work permits, as they mainly work inside the [Palestinian refugee] camps or are self-employed." According to AN, 249 work permits were issued in 2007-2009 and of these only four were new.

UNRWA estimates that 425,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon, the UN website IRIN reports in a discussion about Palestinian reaction to the change in workplace laws.

"The socio-economic conditions in all 12 camps in Lebanon are deplorable," said Salvatore Lombardo, director of UNRWA affairs in Lebanon. "An increased number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are deprived of the enjoyment of a decent standard of living."

Lebanon's professional unions don't want Palestinians to compete as doctors, lawyers, engineers

The new law fails to address the causes for discrimination and inequality, Ahmed Moor wrote in the Guardian last week.

For instance, parliament waived work permit fees, but the process of applying for those permits remains prohibitively cumbersome. Before hiring a Palestinian, a Lebanese employer must demonstrate to the ministry of labour that a Lebanese national cannot perform the job. It's this bureaucratic hurdle that forces many unskilled Palestinian labourers to work without permits – and the new law does nothing to mitigate its effects.

Furthermore, many Palestinian professionals are prohibited from working as doctors, lawyers or engineers because the professional syndicates here disallow their participation. The government can remove all barriers to employment, but if organised labour doesn't do the same, the effect will be minimal. That's why the new law hasn't changed the status quo in meaningful ways.

Sixty years and still treated as foreigners

In Syria, where some 472,000 registered Palestinian refugees live in nine official and three unofficial camps, the refugees have the same rights and privileges as Syrian citizens, except citizenship.

In Jordan the 1.9 million registered refugees have full Jordanian citizenship with the exception of about 120,000 refugees originally from the Gaza Strip who are eligible for temporary Jordanian passports, according to UNRWA.

UNRWA has criticized Lebanon for not adhering to basic human rights such as allowing refugees to work in certain professions and own property.

"Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are regarded as foreigners and thus effectively excluded from civil and socio-economic rights," said Lombardo.

"This is in part due to the fact that several rights are conditioned on the principle of reciprocity, which in the absence of a Palestinian state creates an insurmountable impediment."

Although the new law has cancelled the reciprocity principle, the AN's el-Ali said it did not go far enough. "We wanted to cancel the reciprocity laws from social law, as well as lift the ban on becoming a member of professional syndicates," thereby allowing Palestinians permanent residency, the right to own property and access to all jobs, she said.

Fear of settlement

The granting of more rights to the mainly Sunni Muslim Palestinians, who make up about 10 percent of Lebanon's population, has met fierce opposition. Many fear permanent residency may lead to naturalization and permanent settlement, thus upsetting Lebanon's fragile confessional balance.

Ali Kasem, head of a group of Palestinian law graduates, disputes this: "Naturalization means you cancel your old nationality. Permanent residency means you keep your nationality until you return home. The biggest dream is to return to our Homeland."

El-Ali doubts Palestinian human rights will be addressed any time soon due to divisions in Lebanese politics. "I am afraid it will be hard to make any other changes in the near future."

Palestinian refugee Chehade Zaher is a doctor at the Palestinian Red Crescent clinic in the Bir Hassan area of southern Beirut. He has been offered a better paid job in a private Lebanese clinic, which he is considering. "The problem is that I would be working there illegally and if there is a problem I can face arrest."

Like many Palestinians, he worries about his pension eight years away. "My brother is a driver and he has money put aside. I have nothing. So if the clinic doesn't work out I am thinking of becoming a taxi driver when I retire."