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IAEA Expected to Condemn Iran for Hiding Nuclear Secrets

By Melanie Sully (VOA-Vienna)

The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to condemn Iran for hiding its nuclear secrets and to warn Tehran it will not tolerate further violations of Iran's international obligations. The IAEA board of governors reconvenes Wednesday to conclude a debate on Iran's nuclear program. The United States now supports a draft resolution sponsored by key European countries that strongly criticizes two decades of deception by Iran in covering up its nuclear activities. A senior Western diplomat, who did not want to be named, said the resolution "puts Iran on notice that the international community will not accept or tolerate repeated violations in the future".


Talks Between Israel, Palestinian Leaders Face Obstacles

By Sonja Pace (VOA-Jerusalem) & IsraelNationalNews.com

Preparations for a summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia, are being stymied by demands and reticence from both sides. Qureia says he is ready to meet with Sharon, but only if Israel is ready to take tough action, including a halt to construction of the controversial security barrier being built around and through the West Bank.

Qureia says he wants any meeting to have positive results, and that he wants Israel to take concrete actions in other areas, such as a halt to settlement activity and an end to travel restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Sharon has already said he will not accept preconditions for any talks, and reportedly told members of his Likud Party on Monday that if Qureia wants to meet, that's fine, if not, so be it. Sharon has said that if efforts to organize peace talks fail, Israel might implement some unilateral peace moves. So far, he has not provided details, but media reports say steps could include removing some isolated Jewish settlements and drawing up a de-facto border.

Sharon's statement drew a sharp rebuke from Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, who said it shows the Israeli Prime Minister is not serious about implementing the road map peace plan. Israeli settlers and some right wing lawmakers are reported to be drawing up their own initiative, which does not include a Palestinian state as outlined in the road map, but would instead grant Palestinians administrative autonomy under Israeli rule.

And in other news, the future of Yesha - Judea, Samaria and Gaza - is on the line, as evidenced by several developing news stories Tuesday. For one thing, Sharon refused to promise not to uproot Yesha communities in the framework of unilateral gestures towards the PA.

Despite massive criticism from his Likud MKs during the party's weekly faction meeting Monday, Sharon said that it is in Israel's interest to take unilateral steps if the negotiations with the PA "meet up with a dead end." Education Minister Limor Livnat asked if these gestures include the uprooting of Jewish towns; Sharon did not answer, saying only that it's obvious that in the end, we will not be in all the places we are now. He said that he is still committed to the Road Map, which calls for a PA state.


Swiss Gov´t Funding Beilin Plan, Buying Coverage of Ceremony

By IsraelNationalNews.com

An investigative report has uncovered direct Swiss government funding of Yossi Beilin's 'Geneva Initiative' as well as a suspicious subsidy offered to journalists willing to cover the 'Oslo-style' ceremony in Geneva.

The Tel Aviv office of Beilin's Geneva Initiative, claiming private Jewish contributors financed the do-it-yourself accord, has issued numerous statements. However, an investigative report by David Bedein, Bureau Chief of the Israel Resource News Agency, has exposed that funding of the wildcat initiative came directly from the Swiss government. Bedein has also discovered that the Swiss government is covering travel costs for journalists, in an attempt to increase media coverage of the 'Oslo Accords-style' ceremony to take place in Geneva.

Bedein reported that one of the architects of the Geneva Initiative, Dr. Stephen Cohen, stated that the financier of the Geneva Initiative was the Swiss government, addressing a conference of the extreme-left Brit Tzedek V'Shalom organization in Boston on Nov. 19. Cohen described himself as a paid advisor to the State Department and replied to a question from the audience that knew of no major Jewish contributors to the Geneva Initiative.

On Monday, the Geneva Initiative organizers made an offer to fly journalists to cover the event in Geneva on a subsidized round-trip chartered flight for only $150. $800 is the average price for round-trip tickets to Geneva. The spokesperson for the Geneva Initiative told reporters that the flights were subsidized by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based Non-Governmental organization (www.hdcentre.org).

When asked if the Swiss Government financed this Center, the Geneva Initiative Spokesperson said that she did not know. Bedein contacted the CHD's office in the Palestinian Authority, but they were unaware of any involvement with the journalists' flight arrangements. Later, the spokesperson said, "Yes, it is the Swiss government that is subsidizing the flight for journalists."

Bedein commented that, "It seems highly unusual for a foreign government to finance the events and activities of another government's non-parliamentary opposition, but it is even more unusual for a foreign government to pay for reporters to cover such an event. So much for the notion that private Jewish contributors are behind the Beilin Geneva Initiative."

Former President Jimmy Carter will be taking part in next week's Geneva Agreement signing ceremony in Switzerland "Swissinfo" online reported. Carter is quoted as saying the new agreement will revitalize the Road Map process. And former President Bill Clinton has indicated he is contemplating becoming a signatory of the Geneva Agreement. According to a Channel 1 TV News report, Swiss government officials are contemplating sending a private plane to bring the former U.S. leader to the Geneva signing ceremony.


Netanyahu's Vision: Eilat-Ashdod Bridge

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers, Sunday, that he intends to submit a plan for a massive 'land-bridge' to the government for its approval. The proposed project would create a bridge from the Gulf of Eilat to the ports of Haifa and Ashdod.

According to Netanyahu, the Americans embraced the idea during his visit to Washington last week, where he received many enthusiastic responses. The 'land-bridge,' said the Finance Minister, will contribute greatly to development and stability in the region.


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