FROM Mustafa Barghouthi
Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Agree to Negotiating Plan There's been growing skepticism that Israel and the Palestinians could even agree on a framework for resuming Middle East peace negotiations. But today, after a lapse of seven years, President Bush said the time is right. With Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas at his side today in Annapolis, he read a joint statement , promising to address all the "core issues" and setting a deadline for a "two-state solution" by the end of next year. With negotiations scheduled to resume next month, today's agreement calls for implementation of the Roadmap established in 2003. At today's conference , attended by no less than 49 countries and international organizations--including Saudi Arabia, Syria and other members of the Arab League, President Bush set forth a formula that included obligations for Israelis, Palestinians and their Arab neighbors. What about Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran? Do weak leaders reflect what's really happening on the ground? Can the US play a decisive role, presuming it wants to?
In the Middle East, New Strategies or More of the Same? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced today that the US today will lift the embargo placed on the Palestinian Authority when Hamas won parliamentary elections 18 months ago. Also today, the European Union said it will resume direct aid to the Palestinian Authority now that Hamas is out of the government. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who will meet tomorrow in Washington with President Bush, has indicated that Israel might turn over tax money it's been withholding. It's all about bolstering the secular Fatah faction in the West Bank and isolating Islamic Hamas after last week's military takeover of Gaza. Since Hamas took control of Gaza, Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has formed a new government, excluding the radical Islamic group. What are the benefits and risks of further dividing the Palestinian people? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Hamas and Fatah, and what's at stake for the region as a whole?
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.