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MIDDLE EAST
CYPRUS, GREECE, ISRAEL ALLIANCE SERVES US INTERESTS Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 April 2019 08:42
by endy Zemenides  & David Harris, 28.3.2019

Long ago, the Mediterranean was known as the Middle Sea, because for centuries it provided the principal means of communication between empires and civilizations. Today’s Mediterranean is reclaiming much of that historic legacy.

The limitless potential of the region was on full display during the sixth trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Israel that took place in Jerusalem last week. The gathering was especially noteworthy because the United States, represented by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also participated for the first time.

American strategic interests face challenges around the Eastern Mediterranean basin. The Shia-Sunni divide that has helped put the Middle East in even deeper turmoil is playing out on its shores, with the involvement of both state and non-state actors.

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Next to the "Fence" by Victor Is. Eliezer*, a conversation with Danny Tirza, Commander of the unit that built the "Fence" which separates Israel from the Palestinian Authority territories Print E-mail
Monday, 17 December 2018 11:51
From the neighborhood of Gilo, built on a hill, one of the first districts the Israelis have built in Eastern Jerusalem after the six day war in 1967, one can easily spot the imposing church of Saint Nicholas, just some meters away from the refugee camps of Beit Jalla and El Aydah, which seem to have been built like real cities. Just there, together with 25 journalists from Europe, North and South America we met Danny Tirza, a retired Israeli Army colonel, who was the Commander of the unit that built the "Fence" which separates Israel from the Palestinian Authority territories.

The way to the "Fence"

Colonel Tirza has served in the army for thirty years and was part of the negotiations with the Palestinians for the transformation of the refugee camps into dwellings. Consequently, in the aftermath of Oslo Accords, he participated in the technical negotiations during the Camp David summit, in summer 2000, convened by Bill Clinton for the signature of the final agreement between Israeli PM Ehud Barak and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

It was there when I met Yasser Arafat at first. He came to embrace me, as he usually did: “No kissing, but working together”, I told him and we started to chart maps. Ever since the Palestinians called me by a nickname, "Abu Harita" which means "the father of the maps", colonel Tirza assured. He described how these negotiations were blown to pieces: "We had concluded with the mapping. Barak conceded to Arafat 94% of the lands on the West bank, on the Jordan river, the whole of Gaza strip and gave him sovereignty on the Holly Mosques of Jerusalem. That was to say the totality of the lands Israel occupied during the 1967 war and were previously ruled by Jordan and Egypt. Clinton asked Arafat to sign. Arafat left for consultations and came back three hours later declaring that he could not sign without the approval of the other Arab states. Clinton blasted him and the big chance for peace was lost. In September 2000, everything changed as the intifada started". 

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EUROPE: DO THE RIGHT THING ON HEZBOLLAH Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 May 2016 10:15

- Article by David Harris, CEO of the AJC, published on The World Post  (April 27, 2016) and on the Greek Huffington Post (May 9, 2016), on the EU policy on Hezbollah.

Nearly three years ago, the European Union finally overcame its longstanding resistance and addressed the issue of adding Hezbollah to its terrorism list.

The good news is that the 28 member states, prompted by the determination of Bulgaria, which experienced a deadly Hezbollah attack the year before, and Cyprus, which arrested a Hezbollah operative scouting out sites, took action.

The bad news is that the EU opted to bifurcate Hezbollah and place the "military wing" on the terrorism list, while leaving its "political wing" off it.

If ever there was a distinction without a difference, this was it. Don't take my word for it. None other than Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's Lebanon-based chief, said as much, stressing that no one could divide his organization.

Mocking the EU's decision, Nasrallah asserted: "A government [of Lebanon] without Hezbollah will never be formed. Just as a joke, I propose that our ministers in the next government be from the military wing of Hezbollah."

It's not often that I agree with Nasrallah, but on this occasion -give him his due - he was right about the EU illusion that there are two Hezbollahs.

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