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Excerpts: Aoun warns Israel re Lebanon sovereignty infraction.Syria

Sunday, February 19, 2017 16:27
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Excerpts: Aoun warns Israel re Lebanon sovereignty infraction.Syria peace
trickier than waging war. Hizbullah warned re threat to reactor. Haifa
Amonia storage tank February 19, 2017

+++SOURCE: Naharnet(Lebanon)19 Feb.’17:”Aoun:Any Israeli Attempt to Harm
Lebanese Sovereignty Will Meet Appropriate Response:,by Naharnet Newsdesk

SUBJECT:Aoun warns Israel re Lebanon sovereignty infraction

FULL TEXT:President Michel Aoun has slammed a recent Israeli letter to the
U.N., warning that any Israeli threats to Lebanon’s sovereignty will be met
with an “appropriate response.”

Israeli envoy to the U.N. Danny Danon’s letter is “a blatant Israeli attempt
to threaten security and stability” in south Lebanon, Aoun said, warning
that “any Israeli attempt to harm Lebanese sovereignty or expose the
Lebanese to danger will be met with the appropriate response.”

And warning that Danon’s letter contained a “threat to Lebanon,” the
president called on the international community to “pay attention to
Israel’s hostile intentions towards Lebanon.”

“It is Israel that should abide by the Security Council resolutions, seeing
as it is still refusing to implement Resolution 1701 or to move from the
phase of the cessation of hostilities to the phase of ceasefire although the
resolution was issued more than 11 years ago,” Aoun told visitors at the
Baabda Palace.

“It is also still occupying Lebanese territory in the northern part of the
town of Ghajar as well as in the Shebaa Farms and Kfarshouba Hills, not to
mention its daily violations of the Blue Line and Lebanese sovereignty in
air and sea. The displacement of half a million Palestinians hosted by
Lebanon also continues, which represents a continued aggression against
Lebanon and its people,” Aoun added.

The development comes days after Hizbullah and Israel exchanged threats.

“If (Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan) Nasrallah dares to fire at the Israel
homefront or at its national infrastructure, all of Lebanon will be hit,”
Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister of Intelligence, said Thursday in response
to threats launched earlier in the day by Nasrallah.

Nasrallah advised Israel to “dismantle the Dimona nuclear reactor,” warning
that it poses a threat to Israel’s existence if hit by his group’s missiles.

A 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah killed about 1,200 Lebanese, mostly
civilians, and around 160 Israelis mostly soldiers before ending in a United
Nations-brokered cease-fire.

The Israel-Lebanon border has remained mostly quiet since the 2006 war but
there have been sporadic outbursts of violence.

+++SOURCE: Al Arabiya News 17 Feb,’17:”Moscow finds brokering Syria peace
trickier than waging war”,by AFP ,Reuters

SUBJECT: Syria peace trickier than waging war

QUOTE:”Western diplomats, who say Putin’s campaign of air strikes has
worsened the conflict, have, in private, reacted to Russia’s tribulations.
“AFP,Reuters, AstanaFriday, 17 February 2017

FULL TEXT:With its show of military force, Russia changed the tide of the
Syrian civil war. It is finding the next phase – brokering an end to the
fighting – a tougher proposition.

A round of Syria peace talks sponsored by Russia ended on Thursday[16 Feb]
with no joint communique, usually the minimum outcome of any diplomatic
negotiation, and saw opposing Syrian groups exchanging angry tirades at each
other and the brokers.

With no concrete progress to report, media representatives at the talks
venue in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, were so hungry for a scrap of news that at
one point a crowd formed around an Arabic speaker who they thought was a
participant in the talks. He turned out to be another journalist. Western
diplomats, who say Russian President Vladimir Putin’s campaign of air
strikes has worsened the conflict, have, in private, reacted to Russia’s
tribulations as a peacemaker with variations on the phrase: “We told you
so.”

Russia proposed a series of negotiations in the Kazakh capital Astana late
last year with the expectation that, as the predominant outside power in
Syria following its military intervention, it could break a deadlock that
had defied the repeated efforts of the big Western powers and UN mediators.

Moscow’s peace drive started hopefully, with the first Astana meeting in
January. The Syrian rebels and government came together for the first time
in 9 months, and agreement was reached to consolidate a shaky ceasefire. But
by the second round this week, things had gone downhill. The Syrian rebels
debated until the eleventh hour about whether to attend at all, finally
sending a smaller delegation which arrived in the Kazakh capital a day late.

Russia’s efforts were hampered by the deep enmity between the rival Syrian
sides, but also by contradictions among its co-sponsors. One of them,
Turkey, is fiercely opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia and
the third co-sponsor, Iran, are Assad’s staunchest allies.

Syrian government negotiator Bashar Jaafari said on Thursday[16 ] that peace
talks in Astana had not produced a communique because of the “irresponsible”
late arrival of rebel participants and their Turkish backers which delayed
the joint session by a day.

He also criticized the rebels and Turkey for downgrading their delegations
from the previous meeting. “Turkey cannot ignite the fire and at the same
time act as a firefighter,” he told a briefing after the talks.

The rebels, in turn, accused the Syrian government and Iran of routinely
violating the ceasefire and Russia of failing to enforce it. “We know that
the Russians have a problem with those for whom they are guarantors,” rebel
negotiator Yahya al-Aridi told reporters, referring to Tehran and Assad’s
forces.

A step too far:According to two sources – a senior French diplomat and an
official present for the talks from a country not directly participating –
one of the main reasons progress had slowed were Moscow’s attempts to expand
the talks beyond the ceasefire and discuss political solutions to the Syrian
crisis. Moscow has offered the Syrians a draft of a new constitution,
Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentiev told reporters on Thursday.[16 Feb]

He also said the joint Russia-Turkey-Iran ceasefire monitoring task force
agreed upon in Astana in January could in the future expand its activities
to include a political settlement of the crisis. But the sources said other
parties resisted those efforts, because they were still more focused on the
fighting on the ground in Syria.

Iran, according to one of the sources, wants to push on with territorial
gains achieved by its allies in Syria, while Turkey is hell-bent on not
allowing any Kurds near its border. The rebels also indicated they wanted
the talks to focus on more down-to-earth matters such as air strikes on
their territory – which they said Russia has promised to stop – and release
of prisoners.

“We did not come here to make incorrect political decisions,” said rebel
negotiator Mohammad Alloush.

Caged parrots:Even the hosts for the talks, the Kazakh government,
downgraded their presence. A deputy foreign minister welcomed the delegates
instead of the minister himself, as was the case in January. The rebels sent
9 people, instead of the 15-person delegation that attended the previous
round.

Organizers cordoned off most of the lobby of the Rixos Hotel, venue for the
meeting, so negotiators could step out and have tea or coffee at tables
surrounded by plants and parrots in cages. Several ambassadors from Middle
Eastern countries kept walking in and out of a conference room where the
talks were being held behind closed doors, but mostly spent their time in
the hotel’s Irish pub, though they did not appear to drink any alcohol.

United Nations special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura attended the first
round of talks where he stressed that Syria’s political transition must be
discussed in Geneva rather than in Astana. He did not attend the second
round, travelling to Moscow instead for talks with Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov.

Originally, Thursday’s[16 Feb] talks were billed as a low-key technical
meeting. The co-sponsors then upgraded it last Friday[10 Feb], raising
expectations that real progress could be achieved. A successful outcome
would have handed a PR coup to Russia right before UN-led talks on Syria in
Geneva on Feb.23. But instead, Lavrentiev, the Russian negotiator, was left
trying to explain why the latest round had ended in acrimony.

“The level of mutual distrust is rather high and there were many mutual
accusations, but I think we must keep moving forward every time, step by
step,” he said.

+++SOURCE: Naharnet(Lebanon) 17 Feb.’17:”Israeli Minister Warns Hizbullah
after Threats to Hit Reactor:”,by Associated P ress

SUBJECT: Hizbullah warned re threat to reactor

FULL TEXT:Israel warned Hizbullah on Thursday[16 Feb] against attacking it
after Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah threatened to strike Israel’s
nuclear reactor in any future war.

The comments by Nasrallah marked the first time his group explicitly
threatened to target the reactor in the southern Israeli town of Dimona.

“If Nasrallah dares to fire at the Israel homefront or at its national
infrastructure, all of Lebanon will be hit,” Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister
of Intelligence, said in response to Nasrallah’s threats.

Earlier in the day, Nasrallah advised Israel to “dismantle the Dimona
nuclear reactor,” warning that it poses a threat to Israel’s existence if
hit by his group’s missiles.

A 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah killed about 1,200 Lebanese, mostly
civilians, and around 160 Israelis mostly soldiers before ending in a United
Nations-brokered cease-fire.

The Israel-Lebanon border has remained mostly quiet since the 2006 war but
there have been sporadic outbursts of violence.

+++SOURCE: Naharnet(Lebanon)16 Feb.’17”Israel Court Delays Deadline For
Emptying Toxic Tank Threatened by Hizbullah”,by Agence France Presse

SUBJECT: Haifa Amonia storage tank

An Israeli court Wednesday[15 Feb] postponed the deadline for a container in
Haifa capable of holding 12,000 tons of ammonia to be emptied of its toxic
content, judicial sources said.

The court gave Haifa Chemicals until February 26 to remove the liquid-form
chemical from its tank, located in the northern city’s Mediterranean bay,
the sources said.

An initial ruling on Sunday[12 Feb] had given the company until February 22
to clear out the container.

Lawyers representing Haifa Chemicals argued in an appeal hearing that data
put forward by the municipality to justify the container’s closure were
“exaggerated” and “intended to spread fear among the population.”

They also argued that a halt on ammonia supplies would paralyze activity at
“sensitive security installations such as the Dimona nuclear station” in the
south of the country as well as military companies.

But they did not give further details of how ending ammonia supplies would
affect activity at the Dimona plant in the Negev desert, which foreign
experts believe is key to Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal.

The Haifa municipality asked to close the ammonia tank after a decades-long
campaign by environmental groups.

The push received added urgency last year when Hizbullah leader Sayyed
Hassan Nasrallah said the ammonia tank would be like “a nuclear bomb” if hit
by his group’s missiles.

Nasrallah, whose group targeted the Haifa area in a 2006 war with Israel,
echoed warnings from experts and activists cited in Israeli media that “tens
of thousands of people” would be killed if the container was struck.

Ammonia, used in fertilizers, is poisonous to humans.
=============
Sue Lerner – Associate, IMRA



Source: http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=72200

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