Arrival at Ben Gurion International airport
| Israel and U.S. launch indirect peace talks (click title to entry - thank you)
|By Natasha Mozgavaya, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service|
...The United States announced earlier Monday that Israel and the Palestinians have formally agreed to indirect peace negotiations brokered by its special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.
Mitchell, who is visiting the region along with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, said in a statement that he was "pleased" the two sides had accepted the proposal that will see him shuttle between Israel and the Palestinian territories over the next several weeks.
"We've begun to discuss the structure and scope of these talks and I will return to the region next week to continue our discussions," Mitchell said. "As we've said many times, we hope that these will lead to direct negotiations as soon as possible.
In his statement, Mitchell appealed to the two sides to be careful and void any actions that might jeopardize the talks....
Ban, EU foreign affairs chief Ashton will be able to visit Strip, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007
03.08.10, 21:38 / Israel News
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided Monday to grant a request by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and European Union High Representative of Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton to enter the Gaza Strip. According to the ministry's statement, the two wish to "closely monitor" humanitarian efforts in the Strip.
Israel has denied senior officials' visits to Gaza in the past, claiming that such visits could strengthen the Hamas regime and legitimize it.
A spokesman for Ashton gave the news a cautious welcome. "As you know the high representative has expressed her wish to go to Gaza and has been in discussions with the Israeli authorities about facilitating this visit," the spokesman said in Strasbourg.
"It is true that the Israeli government has so far reacted positively to this request. We are continuing to work on the final program for the trip and are continuing to talk with the Israeli government in relation to this."...
PLO forms negotiations committee (click here)
Published yesterday (updated) 08/03/2010 (March 8, 2010) 21:37
Ramallah - Ma'an - The PLO has announced the creation of a Supreme National Committee on Monday to discuss developments in US-brokered proximity talks with Israel.
Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muheisin said on Monday that the body would be formed under the auspices of Fatah, and would be comprised of leaders within the PLO and other national movements.
Although the movement is forming the new committee, it will be supported by the PLO at large, Muheisin told Palestine Radio. He added that Fatah was discussing the matter with other Palestinian factions....
Published: Mar 8, 2010 23:01 Updated: Mar 8, 2010 23:21
WASHINGTON: Iran and China have signed an agreement to allow China to set up an oil rig in the Gulf despite increasing international calls to enforce tougher sanctions against Iran.
In a deal worth $143 million between the Iranian North Drilling Company and China Petroleum Technology Development Corporation, the latter will be allowed to drill for oil in the Gulf, according to the official Iranian news agency Press TV.
"In recent months with the Chinese US bilateral problems, China is using Iran as a leverage against the US and not complying with the (United Nations) Security Council in applying sanctions against Iran," Mehrdad Khonsari, Senior Research Consultant, Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London, told The Media Line.
"The story is that in the field of oil China has become a vital part of the Iranian oil sector," he added. "China has previously signed deals for oil exploration on land that was taken over by Japan who backed out over Western pressure."
According to Press TV, China has commitments of more than $80 billion in the country's energy sector, receiving more than 15 percent of its oil from Iran....
The French navy has captured 35 piracy suspects off Somalia's coast - hailing it as the most successful mission since EU operations began in 2008.
French officials said four mother ships and six smaller boats had been seized in four operations since last Friday.
EU forces used helicopters and fired warning shots to capture the pirates, France's defence ministry said.
The EU launched its anti-piracy mission in December 2008, but the pirates have since attacked ships in a wider area.
The EU's mission has focused on the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes which was being ravaged by pirates.
But recently, the attackers have struck hundreds of miles further south - near the Seychelles and even as far afield as Madagascar....