MonitorsPublished on Jul 24, 2013
After three years of being at a standstill, peace talks are to resume between Israel and Palestine, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry. He said in a statement, "I am pleased to announce that we've reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis."
Israel and Palestine to resume peace talks

After three years of being at a standstill, peace talks are to resume between Israel and Palestine, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry. He said in a statement, "I am pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis."

He also said that in the upcoming weeks he will be meeting PLO negotiator Saeb Erakat and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in Washington to begin the process.

Addressing the challenges ahead, he said, "No one believes the long-standing differences between the parties will be resolved overnight or just wiped away. We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because of the courageous leadership by President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here and both of them were instrumental."

US Secretary of State John Kerry has played an important role in this process. He has been in talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders from his base in Jordan since four days to reach this agreement.

On these peace talks, the spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry Abbas Araqchi has said that Tehran is against negotiations between Israel and Palestine as he believes that the talks are not based on principles of justice and human dignity and that Israel is incapable of reaching an agreement with Palestine.

He said that Iran believes the root of the crisis to be occupation of Palestinian territories and the rights of Palestinian people. He also criticised US for not addressing issues of al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Palestinian refugees.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Palestine Chronicle, July 19, 22, 2013, Press TV, July 22, 3013.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Israel warning to Iran over nuclear threat

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a warning to Iran as he believes it is getting close to building a nuclear weapon. He hinted that Israel may have to take military action against Tehran to stop it from building the weapon.

He encouraged the United States to warn Iran and believes Israel will be ahead of U.S. when the time comes to take action. He said that the U.S. and Israel have shared concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Iran’s nuclear drive has been a concern for the West for years. Despite assurances from Israel that their nuclear program is peaceful, western nations believe that their program aims to build atomic weapons.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Palestine Chronicle, July 15, 2013.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Revision of 2012 constitution begins

A 10 member legal committee has begun the process of amending the 2012 constitution. The committee includes 6 senior judges and 4 constitutional law professors. The committee has till August 21, 2013 to submit the revised draft. All political forces in Egypt have been given a week to submit proposed amendments for this draft.

Every article in the 2012 constitution will be reviewed for revision. The amendments proposed by the 10 member committee will then be submitted to a 50 member committee. The members of the 50 member committee belong from different sectors of society including intellectuals, professionals, farmers, unionists etc.

The formation of this committee has been criticised by the Muslim Brotherhood. They have denounced the committee and labelled it a "coup" against legitimate powers.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Al Ahram, July 21, 2013.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Hezbollah’s military wing on EU terrorist list

The armed wing of Lebanese group Hezbollah has been blacklisted by the European Union. This development comes after Lebanon urged EU not to put Hezbollah in the list.

A statement from the office of the Lebanese President had said, that they have "asked the foreign minister to notify the European Commission and member states of the government’s request, and not to place Hezbollah, an essential component of Lebanese society, on the list of terror organisations".

An official from EU has said that this step was based on allegations that Hezbollah has stepped up its activities in Europe. Other reasons include its activities in Cyprus, involvement in the Syrian war and involvement in attacks in Bulgaria on Israeli tourists that took place last year. The official has also said that these deliberations will not have an impact on EU policy and its engagements with Lebanon.

Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans praised this decision, saying, "It is good that the EU has decided to call Hezbollah what it is: a terrorist organization."

The blacklisting will result in visa bans and freezing of assets of Hezbollah associated organisations in the European Union.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Al Jazeera, July 19, 22, 2013.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Turkey-Kurdish peace process to resume

The peace process between Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is set to resume after PKK military headquarters in the Kandil Mountains received a letter from its jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan .The process had been in deadlock for sometime due to clashes in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakýr’s Lice district over building of posts and dams in the region.

According to Murat Karayýlan, former leader of PKK’s armed wing, the jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan has proposed establishment of eight different commissions to move forward the peace process. He said that the purpose of the letter is to urge the State to take steps towards resolution of issues and implementation of reforms in further stages of the peace process.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Hurriyet Daily News, July 11, 17, 2013.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Kurds seize near Syria-Turkey border by Kurds

A Syrian border town called Ras al-Ain has been taken over by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) after many days of clashes and has heightened Turkey’s fear of emergence of an autonomous region in Syria.

Concern has been expressed by Turkey’s foreign minister over violence that ensued in clashes. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) has been described as a "separatist terrorist organization" by the Turkish military. Measures have been taken by the military to increase security near the border.

Turkey is concerned that this development could threaten the peace process that has begun between Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey has also requested the U.N Security Council to intervene but the Security Council has not acted as it is yet to come to a consensus over Syria.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Al Arabiya, July 18, 2013.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rebel group protests in the capital

The Houthis, a Shia rebel group in Yemen, protested on the streets of Yemeni capital, Sana’a, to demand judicial and disciplinary actions for deaths of civilians in clashes between the rebel group and state security forces in June. The rebel group has accused the state security forces of not using reasonable force and shooting indiscriminately at civilian crowd during clashes.

Encouraged by Egypt’s second revolutionary movement, the Houthis have become more active in recent weeks to fight for their cause. They have demanded radical political and social reforms. They have also called for the fall of President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and are against US interference in Yemeni politics.

So far, the group has failed to attract mainstream Yemeni crowd due to the underlying radical nature of their movement.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Yemen Post, July 20, 2013.

(This monitor is prepared by Reena Sehgal, Research Intern, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

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