Jerusalem council okays 600 new Jewish homes in Arab area

EAST JERUSALEM, Palestine (Haaretz) – The municipality of Jerusalem approved the construction of 600 new homes in Pisgat Zeev, east of the Green Line.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski approved the expansion in Pisgat Zeev – a Jewish settlement surrounded by Arab towns in the West Bank – as part of a plan to construct 40,000 more homes in the area as foreign interest drives property prices up.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised the spiritual leader of the Shas Party, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, that he would authorize construction on “Jerusalem envelope” lands which have been thus far frozen, sources from the ultra-Orthodox Party said.

Olmert Under Pressure to Resign
Suspected of accepting illicit funds from U.S. businessman

TEL AVIV (Haaretz) – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is suspected of illicitly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from Morris (Moshe) Talansky, according to the details of an investigation currently being carried out against him.

At the request of police and judicial officials, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court relaxed a sweeping media gag order that has prevented the reporting of details on the probe. Olmert was questioned under caution last Friday and the gag order was initially meant to remain in place until early next week.

Channel 10 TV reported that Morris Talansky was a middleman for illegal campaign contributions, and that he readily told Israeli interrogators everything he knew about the case.

U.S. losing political stronghold in Lebanon –
Hezbollah routs pro-government gunmen, controls Beirut

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah took control of the Muslim part of Beirut, tightening its grip on the city in a major blow to the U.S.-backed government.

The European Union, Germany and France urged calm and a peaceful resolution. Syria said the issue was an internal Lebanese affair while Iran blamed “the adventurist interferences” of the United States and Israel for the violence.

The fighting, the worst internal strife since the 1975-90 civil war, was triggered this week after the government took decisions targeting Hezbollah’s military communications network. The group said the government had declared war.

The USS Cole deployed off the coast of Lebanon as political crisis deepens

(CSM) March 4, 2008 – Washington’s decision to deploy the USS Cole off Lebanon’s coast is kindling grim memories of a past conflict here – and fresh concerns over another war.

While the US State Department says the Cole and other warships are being sent to the eastern Mediterranean to support regional stability amid Lebanon’s political crisis, the move seems to have embarrassed the besieged Western-backed administration of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and provided ammunition for the pro-Syrian opposition, led by the militant Shiite Hizbullah, to accuse the government of being a US pawn.

“It has done Hizbullah a huge favor,” says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb of the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Center in Beirut. “It’s a sign of political bankruptcy on the part of the US. They have failed to achieve anything in Lebanon; all they have left is military muscle-flexing.” Analysts here are divided over whether the USS Cole’s presence is intended as warning for Hizbullah or Syria.

In September 1983, midway through Lebanon’s 16-year civil war, US warships shelled the Druze-dominated Chouf mountains south of Beirut in support of the Lebanese Army, then battling pro-Syrian militias. The shelling further convinced those Lebanese who were opposed to the then US-backed Lebanese government that Washington was not a neutral peacekeeper in Lebanon.

1987 – U.S. Navy Bolsters Mideast Presence Off Lebanon and in Persian Gulf

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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