Arab world in one view

‎12/10/2011 18:19:30 Qatari emir hails Syrian opposition council
12/10/2011 15:40:16 Thousands turn out to support Syrian president
12/10/2011 15:04:33 Baghdad attacks kill 21 in worst day in a month
12/10/2011 14:55:15 Arab League welcomes Shalit prisoner swap
12/10/2011 14:39:01 Arab League hails prisoner release but calls for all to be freed
12/10/2011 14:14:14 EU warns of `serious` global implications in Iran plot in US
12/10/2011 14:09:59 Egypt general says army never fires on people
12/10/2011 13:34:31 Turkey welcomes Shalit prisoner swap deal
12/10/2011 11:41:14 French foreign minister welcomes deal to free Shalit
12/10/2011 11:07:45 Egypt denies transferring Gilad Shalit across Rafah border
12/10/2011 10:18:01 Israel closes Gaza border crossing until Sunday due to Jewish holiday
12/10/2011 10:03:00 Abbas falls short of Colombian support for state bid
12/10/2011 10:02:15 Zawahiri calls for Algeria revolution in new video
12/10/2011 10:01:44 Suicide bombers kill 11 at Baghdad police stations
12/10/2011 10:01:35 US busts Iran plot to murder Saudi ambassador
12/10/2011 10:01:08 Shin Bet chief: Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Saadat won`t be freed
12/10/2011 10:00:52 Israeli cabinet approves prisoner swap to free soldier

Settlers ‘attack Palestinian near Nablus’

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man was moderately injured on Wednesday as a group of Israeli settlers attacked farmers in the Jit village near Nablus, witnesses said.

The settlers were armed  and they damaged farmland in the village, residents said. They also attacked a Palestinian resident while he was picking olives, they said.

The unidentified man was taken to hospital for treatment of moderate injuries.

(www.maannews.net / 12.10.2011)

Palestinian Pressure at the UN

The Palestinians’ campaign to get official United Nations approval of their bid for statehood status is proceeding on multiple fronts. Their application for full UN member state status, submitted with great fanfare to the Security Council on September 23rd, is making its way through the Security Council Committee on Admission of New Members, which consists of representatives appointed from each of the fifteen Security Council members. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are also pursuing membership in the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Palestinians’ UNESCO bid is on the faster track. It cleared a major hurdle by receiving the approval of forty out of the fifty-eight countries on UNESCO’s executive board to move forward with a vote by UNESCO’s entire 193 state membership later this month on whether to accept Palestinian membership in UNESCO. The United States, Germany, Romania and Latvia voted against. Fourteen members of the executive board, including Spain and France, abstained.

Elias Sanbar, Palestinian UNESCO observer representative applauded the executive committee’s decision:

“It’s the beginning of a new time. A time when Palestine, having had its name and its rights recognised and returned, will finally be able to exercise fully, responsibly, independently, freely and as a sovereign state, its activities in every field.”

The UNESCO executive committee decided to move ahead on a Palestinian UNESCO membership vote while the issue of full state membership in the entire United Nations organization was still before the United Nations Security Council. That should come as no surprise. The UNESCO executive committee is presently headed by Russia. While the United States and some other true functioning democracies are members of the executive committee, they are surrounded by the likes of Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.

The Palestinians know they have friends at UNESCO.  Its executive board has been complicit in the Palestinians’ drive to deny international recognition of the Jewish peoples’ unique religious and historic connection to holy sites such as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. With a stroke of the pen, UNESCO designated the Jewish holy site of Rachel’s Tomb as primarily a mosque. UNESCO also erased from the official record the remarks by Israeli representative Nimrod Barkan criticizing UNESCO’s decision. His remarks were deemed “too aggressive.” In the United Nations, telling the truth is considered too aggressive.

Allowing the Palestinian entity to become a full member of UNESCO would give them more standing to pressure the UN agency, which is supposedly devoted to culture, science and education, into erasing recognition of Jewish history and culture in extensive areas of the Holy Land. The Palestinians would do so by using UNESCO as their propaganda instrument to interfere with Israel’s legitimate archeological activities and to falsely re-brand Jewish historical sites as Muslim sites.

Thus, the moment that UNESCO votes the Palestinians into UNESCO, the United States must exit and take its 22 percent funding (about $87 million a year) of UNESCO’s total budget with it. As U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen put it, “the Palestinian leadership is shopping around the U.N. system for recognition. This attempt to rig the process needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. Our contributions are our strongest leverage at the U.N., and should be used to stand up for our interests and allies and stop this dangerous Palestinian scheme.”

However, UNESCO is a sideshow.  The Security Council is the center stage for the Palestinians’ campaign to become a full-fledged member state of the United Nations.

The Palestinians need nine members of the Security Council in favor of their application, with none of the five permanent veto holding members opposing it.  India, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, China and Lebanon are the Palestinians’ strongest supporters on the Security Council.

Bosnia, Nigeria and Gabon are non-committal so far. A claim by the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki that his delegation has secured eight votes in favor of their application has not been confirmed.

The Obama administration has promised to veto any Security Council resolution recommending UN membership for the Palestinians to the General Assembly. But it is trying to avoid having to exercise its veto power by locking down enough Council votes either against or abstaining on the Palestinian membership application to make the veto unnecessary. The U.S., along with its European allies, are also making a fresh attempt to revive direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. But that is a long shot, especially if the Palestinians think they can get what they want through the UN route.

The Palestinians’ application is presently being considered by the Security Council Committee on Admission of New Members, which met for the first time on October 7th to address a number of procedural issues. There is no formal deadline announced for the Committee to report back to the Security Council body.

The six Palestinian promoters on the Security Council are complaining that the European members, including Germany in particular, are deliberately trying to slow the committee review process down. They accuse the Europeans of raising unnecessary legalistic issues, according to sources cited by Inner City Press who are familiar with what went on during the committee’s secret deliberations. All that needs to be done, they argue, is to look at the short list of criteria for UN membership in Article 4.1 of the UN Charter, which the Palestinians claim they will comply with.

There is just one small problem, if the new membership criteria were taken seriously. The Palestinians do not come anywhere close to meeting them.

Article 4.1 states: “Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”

Palestine first has to be deemed a state under the standards of international law. And it has to accept all the UN Charter obligations. One of those obligations is “to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” (Article 2.4)

The Palestinians fail the statehood test. Under the “Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States,” used under international law in determining whether a new state has actually come into existence, the Palestinians must demonstrate that they have a defined territory and an established government. The Palestinians lack clear and settled territorial boundaries, which, under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242, must be agreed upon first between the Israelis and Palestinians in negotiations leading to a “just and lasting peace.” And, despite the attempt at creating a “unity” government bringing together the Fatah and Hamas factions, there are currently still two distinct governing authorities asserting jurisdiction over the West Bank and Gaza. That would be Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hamas respectively.

The Palestinians also flunk the UN Charter obligation test. The future “unity” government, if it is ever truly formed, would include the terrorist partner Hamas, which has threatened the UN member state Israel’s destruction and launched waves of rocket attacks against its civilians. And a senior member of the supposedly more moderate government partner, the Fatah Central Committee led by Abbas, recently bragged about Israel’s impending doom if Israel ended up agreeing to the Palestinians’ demands.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera satellite television channel translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute from Arabic, Abbas Zaki​ declared:

“everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go…If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall, what will become of Israel? It will come to an end. If we say that we want to wipe Israel out… C’mon, it’s too difficult. It’s not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don’t say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.”

On August 10, 2011, the Palestinian Authority broadcasted on the official television station a Palestinian Authority plan to construct Arab housing around the Western Wall “when they [Israelis] disappear from the picture, like a forgotten chapter in the pages of our city’s history.”

The Palestinian ambassador to Brazil, Alzeben Ibrahim, was quoted by the Brazilian media as telling a group of students recently that “Israel should disappear.”

(Joseph Klein / frontpagemag.com / 12.10.2011)

Hamas, Fatah to Meet in Cairo Today

Palestine, (Pal Telegraph) – Delegations from Hamas and Fatah will meet Wednesday in Cairo, said PLO Central Committee Member, Azzam al-Ahmad.

Al-Ahmad, speaking to Voice of Palestine radio, said he will meet Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and his deputy Musa Abu Marzouk.

“The meeting was scheduled before, but some Hamas officials and spokesmen’s negative statements in the Gaza Strip affected setting the date,” al-Ahmad said.

He added that the meeting will discuss the details of the prisoners exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, which will release Shalit in exchange for the release of more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. The meeting will also discuss the implementation of the reconciliation agreement.

Al-Ahmad noted that any obstacle against proceeding with the political process is gone, following the swap deal, since most Western countries had so far pressured the Palestinian leadership against the reconciliation because of the issue of the Israeli soldier, Shalit, held by Hamas.

(www.paltelegraph.com / 12.10.2011)

Not Enough is Being said About the Inequality for Palestinians in Israel

In a Middle East country, a minority is threatened. Around 30,000 face forcible relocation by the government, while elected officials talk of the need to change ‘demographics’. Public racism is routine, and the nation’s security services are clear that they will subvert even nonviolent dissent.

This is Israel, although you wouldn’t know it from reading the article published this week by BICOM’s Alan Johnson. In order to argue that a recent attack on a mosque in northern Israel “says nothing” about “deeper trends in Jewish-Arab relations in Israel”, Johnson omits and distorts in a way that is unhelpful for understanding the reality of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Systematic policies adopted by Israeli governments for over 60 years have been shaped by the priorities of colonialism and ethno-religious exclusivity. Compare condemnation of the mosque attack with the fact that, of the 160 mosques in Palestinian villages incorporated into Israel in 1948, fewer than 40 are still standing.

That destruction is part of a bigger picture of land expropriation, exclusion, and discrimination.
Since 1948, more than 700 Jewish communities have been established in Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and just seven for Palestinian citizens.

By the mid-1970s, the average Arab community inside Israel had lost 65-75% of its land. Around 1 in 4 Palestinian citizens are ‘present absentees’ (i.e. internally displaced), their lands and property confiscated by the state.

Residency in 70% of Israeli towns is controlled by ‘admissions committees’ that filter out those ‘unsuitable’ for the ‘social fabric’ of the community.

Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence agency, works to “thwart” efforts to challenge the Jewish character of the state, “even if such activity is sanctioned by the law”.

It is routine for public figures to talk of the Palestinian minority with a discourse associated in the UK with the far-right. PM Netanyahu, as finance minister in 2003, described Palestinian citizens as a “demographic problem”. In 2009, the current Housing Minister declared it a “national duty” to “prevent the spread” of Palestinian citizens, since in the Galilee “populations that should not mix are spreading there”.

Incredibly, for a piece pertaining to analyse the current ‘trends’ for the situation of Palestinians in Israel, Johnson says nothing about the plan approved just last month by the Israeli government to forcibly relocate around 30,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens from their homes in the Negev.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian citizens live in so-called ‘unrecognised villages’ in Israel (and not just in the Negev), whose residents suffer while Jewish communities of a similar size or smaller thrive with state approval. Now Netanyahu’s cabinet seeks to move many of unrecognised villages’ residents to authorised townships, to free up land for Jewish settlement.
While the government uses the language of ‘development’ to describe this mass transfer plan, the reality is far more unpalatable. Just listen to Avishai Braverman – note the previous Minister for Minority Affairs – who said: “if Zionism is a motivating force, then it needs to travel south to the Negev, so that Israel does not turn into a Palestinian State”.

We know from Wikileaks that President Shimon Peres told US officials in 2005 that action was needed to “relieve” what he “termed a demographic threat” in the Negev, referring of course, to Bedouin citizens. This is the language of the EDL, but in Israel, it represents official policy that has been going on for decades.

Netanyahu’s main coalition partner is Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman who campaigned on the basis that he ‘understands’ Arabs. A flurry of nationalistic and discriminatory laws has been passed by the Knesset in recent years, making, according to Israeli professor Zeev Sternhell, “ethnic inequality a legal norm” without “parallel in democratic countries”.

Palestinians, whether in the West Bank and Gaza or as Israeli citizens, face similar struggles for equality and justice from within a system that privileges one group over another. It is impossible in this short piece to comprehensively summarise how Palestinians in Israel are second-class citizens. The crucial point is that the inequality is about much more than poverty or budgetary discrimination – and so are the solutions.

(www.huffingtonpost.com / 12.10.2011)

Wake up Great Egyptian Nation

I write this Note for the great youth and the rest of the egyptian people who started the wonderfull Revolution.

before I write further i must admit that the situation in Egypt is very confuse, and this i say as an egyptian origin, because we dont know who is our enemy and who is our friend, sure is one that the military council dont rule egypt for the egyptian and that Tantawi should be beside Mubaraks sons, its a simple logic thinking anybody who got to a higher position in Mubaraks Time can only be a part of the system and a Triator, and his faith is for USA. The only positive in this situation is that it shows us that they dont control us yet and our Revolution is not yet lost

After the Attack of the Army on unarmed Civilians on the 10th Oktober, and after a lot of search for the Truth, I accuse the Military Council special Tantawi for Murder and Betrayal.

Before i continue i want to write the confirmed information which I got from Egypt

The protest had the permition from 17:00 till 20:00, but about 18:00 the Army started to Kill/murder the protesters, and not as said in the most of the west News that the clashes have been between the Kopt and Muslim, no, they were together in the protests and the military council used this situation to get the unrest in Egypt, and this gives us the reason why they dont want Al-Jazeera in Egypt, because the Egyptian TV is the Military Council propaganda, its a lie that 2 from the army have been killed, and that the kopt are armed, Al-Awa who is a candidate for the presidency Statement: “I was by the Protests and it was total peacefully till the thugs came and hit the protestors, then the accident with the Tank” (a Tank rolled over Civilians), Nawara Negm who is a known Aktivist confirmed the same ,

and the best is after over 25 dead and over 200 wounded the information Minister declares “we are not sure that who attacked the Army were the Kopt”.

The best result of this unrest is Clintons declaration to CNN that US offered the Military Council to send special forces to protect the church´s.

Slowly we are getting the puzzle complet, the Military council is working the out the Mubarak system perfect to get the unrest and have a reason to delay the election, till they get the OKI from the west.

Lets save Egypt and force the Traitor Tantawi and his gang to go, before we must wait again 30 years

Christ and Muslim are and will always be united we are all egyptian

I hope everybody would spread this ,

http://gazaconvoy.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/103/

(Raef El-Ghamri /12.10.2011)

Palestinians should vote in Jerusalem elections

We are the only democracy in the Middle East, but for Jews alone.

It was depressing to see American President Barack Obama’s weak appearance at the United Nations. It was depressing to see this talented man, who brought such great hope to the world, presenting the pitiable position of a feeble empire. It was embarrassing to see him defending positions and people whom only a few months earlier he had attacked with fury. His obsequiousness is shameful, and this weakness is a real danger to the world. Therefore anyone who wants peace cannot make do merely with accusing Obama. One cannot allow his desperation to have veto power over our hope.

It is strange, but we no longer have anyone on whom to rely but the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. If the current Palestinian move in the UN is successful, it will be wonderful. There will be two states between whom negotiations will be conducted – on an equal footing, and not as an occupying force and the vanquished – about their future and the relations between them. But if the move fails, because Obama has become a hostage in the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who himself is a hostage in the hands of the settlers and other Israeli extremists, we will be left merely to wonder what the next step will be.

In the past few years, there has been a change in the cast of players in the Middle East theater of the absurd. Israel has become big and clumsy, erring and intransigent. The Palestinians, or at least those among them who support the PA and the government in Ramallah, have taken over the role that was once ours: seeking peace, restraining violence, building a state, and initiating diplomacy. That is how things are in history – yesterday’s weak ones are today’s sated, decadent ones; the victim becomes the oppressor.

On the other hand, as has happened more than once in history, the hope for change lies with the weak. The weak side is the side that stands to gain most from change, and is therefore prepared to take great personal and political risks for change. Netanyahu is several times worse than former prime ministers – David Ben-Gurion, who established the state, or Menachem Begin who achieved peace with Egypt, or Yitzhak Rabin, who tried to follow the Oslo path and paid for it with his life. Abbas is several times better than PLO leader Yasser Arafat who preceded him. That is how things are. They are in a state of evolving and we are receding.

I realize that the commitment to democracy is an inseparable part of the PA’s leadership today.  (It is not possible to say the same for the Israeli leadership ). I hope it is a path of no return. If the idea of realizing this aspiration in the framework of a democratic Palestinian state does not bear fruit, the Palestinians must embark on a worldwide initiative demanding that they be allowed to vote for the Knesset. Yes, Israel’s parliament.

This initiative must be accompanied by a non-violent civil rebellion. It will attract a great deal of attention and will cast the spotlight on the paradox of Israeli hypocrisy which claims that we are the only democracy in the Middle East but forgets to point out that we are a democracy for Jews alone. Because we are also the only colonialist conqueror that is left in the Western world.

In order to prove the seriousness of their intentions, the Palestinians need a pilot project, so here it is. The Palestinian leadership must ask the Arabs of East Jerusalem to get organized for the next municipal elections. Since 1967, there have been about one quarter of a million Arabs who have the right to vote in the municipality of Jerusalem alone. In protest against the offensive annexation of the eastern part of the city, they have never realized their democratic right. However this protest does not really help.

The time has come for the anger to be turned into a constructive step. I have no doubt that the moment that one third of the members of the city council of Israel’s capital represent the residents of East Jerusalem, everyone will start to wake up.

Even Netanyahu, who is always the last to wake up, will make sure to stay alert. Because Palestinian political partnership in Jerusalem means one city that belongs to all its residents. That will be very different from the disgraceful situation of discrimination that exists today. One city that belongs to all its residents is only the prologue to one state that belongs to all its citizens between the Jordan River and the sea. That is the real price of the refusal on the part of Netanyahu and the right.

Anyone who is not prepared to do anything to promote two states today – and who is not prepared to pay the price by evacuating the settlements – will, in the end, have to concede all of the state of Israel. That is to say, the Jewish and not so democratic state will be renounced in favor of a legitimate democratic process in which everyone between the Jordan River and the sea has one basic right – the human and civic equality to elect and to be elected. They will have at least the very same rights that are enjoyed by Obama and his new friend who knows just how to manipulate him, Netanyahu.

(Avraham Burg / www.haaretz.com / 12.10.2011)

Amnesty urges Canada to arrest Bush II

Amnesty International has urged Canadian authorities to arrest and prosecute former US President George W Bush, for his authorization of torture practices in the US-led war on terror.

“Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former president Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture,” AFP quoted Amnesty’s Susan Lee as saying in a statement released on Wednesday.

Bush is expected to attend an economic summit in Surrey in Canada on October 20.

“As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring former president Bush to justice, the international community must step in. A failure by Canada to take action during his visit would violate the UN Convention against Torture and demonstrate contempt for fundamental human rights,” Lee added.

Amnesty has accused Bush of authorizing the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and “waterboarding” on detainees held in secret by the Central Intelligence Agency between 2002 and 2009.

Amnesty’s memorandum cites several cases of alleged torture of individuals detained in Afghanistan and in Iraq at Guantanamo Bay by the US military.

(www.presstv.com / 12.10.2011)

Hamas and Israel confirm prisoner swap

Celebrations in Jerusalem and Gaza follow deal to free Gilad Shalit in exchange for release of 1,027 Palestinians.

Scenes of celebration in the Gaza Strip and in Jerusalem have greeted the announcement of a landmark Palestinian-Israeli prisoner-swap deal.

More than 1,000 Palestinians are to be freed in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who has been held for more than five years, under the deal announced on Tuesday.

Shalit was captured by Hamas, the Palestinian faction which governs Gaza, in a cross-border raid in 2006. The Israelis have said he will be released within days.

The Israeli cabinet approved the deal after a late-night meeting, with 26 ministers voting in favour and three opposing it.

Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, confirmed in a televised address from Damascus, Syria, that 1,027 Palestinians in Israeli prisons would be released in exchange for Shalit.

“This is a national achievement that we should be proud of,” Meshaal said.

Reacting to the announcement, Palestinians poured out onto the streets in Jabaliya, a refugee camp in Gaza, where celebratory gunfire and car horns could be heard all around, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston said.

“It’s really important to remember that the first part of the siege on Gaza really started after the capture of Gilad Shalit and intensified after Hamas won the elections and took power in Gaza,” she said.

“The people in Gaza have had very much to bear the brunt of the capture of Shalit with a five-year-long siege, which means they haven’t been let out of Gaza, exports and imports have been severely restricted, and for some time hardly anything was allowed in.”

In two phases

Meshaal said the detainees will be freed in two phases: the first phase will see the release of 450 “in one week”, which include all Palestinian women currently in Israeli jails, and in the second phase another 550 will be freed “in two months”.

From the 450, 131 will be returned to Gaza, while 110 will be sent home to the West Bank. Six are Israeli Palestinians. Another 203 remaining prisoners will be deported, with 40 barred from Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The list of 1,027 includes 315 prisoners who have been sentenced to life, the result of negotiators giving “priority to those who have spent over 20 years” in jail, Meshaal said.

“We were very keen for this deal to include prisoners from across different categories, from different age groups and from the West Bank and Gaza, from Jerusalem and the Golan [Heights].”

He also stressed that the deal reflected the unity of the Palestinian people, and vowed to fight until “the day all Palestinians imprisoned in Israel are freed”.

Two prominent Palestinian prisoners – Marwan Barghouti, the influential Fatah leader, and Ahmed Saadat, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – will not be released as part of the swap deal, Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service, said.

Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, told Al Jazeera that while not all of the demands have been met, Hamas has “succeeded in reducing the number of people who will be deported or expelled” from the West Bank to Gaza or abroad.

“We succeeded in pushing Israel backwards in order to accept our conditions,” he said, referring to prisoners Israel has labelled as “dangerous”.

“This has given us hope and more power in that we have to continue our efforts in order to release all our prisoners from Israeli jails.”

Egyptian mediation

Meshaal’s address came soon after that of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in which he said “our son will be home in the coming days” in reference to Shalit.

Negotiations were initiated in Cairo on Thursday under the mediation of Egyptian security and intelligence officials, and an agreement was signed earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu said.

Later in a tweet, Netanyahu thanked “the Egyptian government and its security forces for their role in mediation and concluding the deal”.

Meshaal also thanked Egypt, as well as Qatar, Turkey, Syria and Germany which he said had all been involved in the negotiations.

Israel had made previous attempts to free Shalit through a prisoner swap with Hamas, but talks became bogged down over disagreements about who Israel might free, with both sides blaming one another.

Egypt is lapping up all the credit and praise, at a time when the interim ruling military council has been facing much criticism from its public, Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reported from Cairo.

“In previous times when we felt very close to a Shalit deal – especially a year ago – the major sticking point was that the Palestinians felt it was the Egyptians who had faltered on what they offered Israelis,” she said.

“But the Arab Spring in Egypt has changed dynamics to a point where both the sides felt they could deal with the Egyptians.”

The authorities in Cairo knew how important it was for them to have this kind of trust, and they could expect to make a lot of political capital out of the deal, she said.

‘Unifying moment’

Reporting from Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry said both Meshaal and Netanyahu had said “oddly similar things”.

“They both said that this deal was a unifying moment, both claiming a victory in their own right,” he said.

The swap deal comes at an opportune moment for Netanyahu, who is struggling with his country’s deteriorating relations with Cairo, he said.

Second, as prime minister of a country where military service is mandatory, Netanyahu had been under immense pressure from the Shalit family to secure his release, he said.

“Every Israeli rallies around the armed forces here and nationally it’s a huge issue – Shalit, the man himself, has become the issue,” Al Jazeera’s Perry said.

(www.aljazeera.com / 12.10.2011)