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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Carter: Arafat fought for just causes
Former US president visits Ramallah gravesite of deceased Palestinian leader, embraces senior Hamas official. Israel dodging implementation of Annapolis agreements, he says.,7340,L-3532211,00.html See also: Jimmy's World (WSJ)

Livni speaks at Qatar conference

Qatar has low-level trade relations with Israel, but no formal diplomatic ties [AFP]

Israel's foreign minister has become the most senior Israeli official to visit the Gulf state of Qatar, speaking at Doha's annual democracy forum.

Tzipi Livini said at the conference on Monday that Arabs need not wait for Israel to reach an agreement with the Palestinians before normalising diplomatic ties. She said that both Arabs and Israelis were "members of the same camp", facing threats from groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. She also said she hoped "other Arab states will follow the example of Qatar" in maintaining ties with Israel.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem said talks with Livni would focus on ways of calming the situation in the Gaza Strip. "This, of course, will be our main preoccupation and the main issue we will discuss with Livni," he said. "But I don't want to put this in the context of a mediation," he said, when asked if Livni's presence meant that Qatar was trying to mediate between Israel and Hamas.

While in Doha, Livni also held a meeting with Yusef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, her Omani counterpart, to give him "an update on the negotiations with the Palestinians", according to an aide. The Israeli foreign ministry said that Livni's meeting with Oman's top diplomat was their first public encounter. Contacts between the Gulf and Israel do happen, but are uncommon at such a high level and in such a public forum. On the other hand, Doha has good diplomatic relations with Tehran.

Morris: It was always Jihad.
In his new book, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, historian Benny Morris insists that the religious dimension of Arab opposition to Jewish sovereignty, the rejection of Israel as an "infidel" and "alien" presence, was overwhelming from the earliest days of the struggle for statehood. Many, if not most, in the Arab world, he writes, viewed the war against Israel's establishment as a holy war.