|Says no return to 1967
|(BBC News) – Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected
US President Barack Obama’s call for peace with the
Palestinians based on borders drawn up in 1967.
After tense talks at the White House, a defiant Mr Netanyahu
said there Israel was prepared to compromise but there could
be no peace “based on illusions.”
Obama, who formally adopted the principle on Thursday,
admitted there were “differences” between the views.
But he said such differences were possible “between
In his speech to the State Department on Thursday, Obama
stated overtly for the first time that the peace talks
should be based on a future Palestinian state within the
borders in place before the 1967 Middle East War.
“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the
1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and
recognised borders are established for both states,” he
This proposal has been a key demand of the Palestinians in
But in a joint news conference in the Oval Office after
their meeting, Netanyahu flatly rejected this proposal,
saying Israel wanted “a peace that will be genuine.”
“We both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash
eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality, and that
the only peace that will endure is one that is based on
reality, on unshakeable facts.”
Israel was “prepared to make generous compromises for
peace,” he said, but could not go back to the 1967 borders
“because these lines are indefensible.”
He said the old borders did not take into account the
“demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44
An estimated 500,000 Israelis now live in settlements built
in the Palestinian West Bank, which lies outside those
The settlements are illegal under international law,
although Israel disputes this.
Obama said there were obviously “some differences” in the
“precise formulations and language” used by Israel and the
US, but that this “happens between friends.”
He did not bring up the matter of the borders in his joint
conference with Netanyahu.
But he said Palestinians faced “tough choices” following the
recent reconciliation deal between Fatah, which runs the
West Bank, and Hamas, which governs Gaza and still denies
Israel’s right to exist.
Obama said true peace could only occur if Israel was allowed
to defend itself against threats.
New York house arrest
(BBC News) – The former head of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) has been released from a New York City
jail after posting $1m (£618,000) cash bail.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who denies charges of attempting to
rape a hotel maid, is to be kept in home detention at a
temporary location in Manhattan.
He had earlier agreed to be confined to a luxury flat but
residents there refused to accept him, reports said.
He is to be kept under 24-hour guard and will wear a
He was released into the custody of a security firm with
ties to prosecutors, Reuters news agency reported.
Strauss-Kahn is charged with seven counts including four
felony charges – two of criminal sexual acts, one of
attempted rape and one of sexual abuse – plus three
misdemeanour offences, including unlawful imprisonment.
His accuser is a 32-year-old widow originally from Guinea in
West Africa who reportedly told authorities Strauss-Kahn
accosted her after she entered his hotel room to clean it.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, denies the allegations and on June 6 is
set to enter a formal plea.
|Syrian protests draw
(Al Jazeera) – Syrian security
forces have killed at least 34 people, including an
11-year-old boy, according to witnesses, in the latest
crackdown on anti-government protests.
Twelve people were killed in the central city of Homs, while
15 died in the town of Maaret al-Naaman, located near the
western city of Idlib, activists said.
Two protesters were shot in the southern region of Deraa,
one person was shot in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and one
in the port city of Latakia.
Two more died in the eastern town of Deir Ezzor and one
person killed in the central town of Hama.
The dead in Homs included two boys, named as Aiham al-Ahmad,
11, and 16-year-old Ahmad Bakr, witnesses said.
A witness told Al Jazeera they were shot when police
officers opened fire on Friday, after their vehicle crashed
into a wall and was attacked by protesters.
The attack took place after officers drove police cars into
a crowd of about 2,000 demonstrators in an attempt to
disperse them, a second witness said.
After hitting several protesters, one of the cars crashed
into a wall, prompting the officers to jump out and open
fire. Four other protesters were also killed, while at least
seven others were wounded.
In a separate incident, three residents were killed when
security forces attempted to storm a hospital in the al-Wa’r
neighbourhood of Homs, according to a witness.
Locals responded by forming a human chain around the
hospital, in an attempt to prevent the police arresting
wounded protesters inside. The witness said some locals had
shot at the police using handguns.
Al Jazeera is unable to verify the reports because of
restrictions on reporting imposed by Syria’s government.
Security forces also opened fire on protesters in Berze, a
suburb north-east of Damascus, killing four protesters and
wounding tens, a witness told Al Jazeera.
“The protesters have all been shot in the legs and stomach,”
The protest began after Friday prayers when around 1,000
people marched through the streets, chanting “peaceful,
peaceful” and calling for the toppling of the regime.
The witness told Al Jazeera that security forces had first
attacked and beaten protesters with sticks and had then
fired tear gas at them.
“Then they opened fire on us,” he said, the sound of
gunshots audible over the phone line as he spoke.
After the killing, security forces began detaining people,
he said. “People are afraid to go home for fear of being
Berze was surrounded by police checkpoints and electricity
to the town had been cut, he said.
|Deadly NATO tanker
explosion in Pakistan
(BBC News) – A NATO oil
tanker has exploded in northwest Pakistan, killing at least
15 people, say officials.
Police said the tanker, transporting fuel to NATO forces in
Afghanistan, was hit by a bomb overnight near the town of
Landi Kotal in the Khyber region.
People gathered to collect spilt fuel when another fire
broke out, said one senior police official.
At least 14 other NATO tankers have been damaged in a
separate attack near the border town of Torkham.
No-one was reported to have been injured in that incident.
The region is a crucial transport route for supplies
destined for NATO forces in Afghanistan but the convoys
frequently come under attack from militants and criminals.
Local official Shafeerullah Wazir said the Landi Kotal
tanker was hit by a small bomb in the early hours of the
“The oil tanker caught fire after a blast caused by a small
bomb before dawn,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.
“Villagers from nearby houses rushed and started collecting
oil coming out of the destroyed tanker after the fire had
“Suddenly the fire erupted again and at least 15 people
including five young boys who had been collecting oil in
their buckets were burnt to death.”
An official in Torkham, Iqbal Khattak, said the tankers
there appeared to have been hit by a remote controlled bomb.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but
there has been an increase in Taliban activity since
al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed in the Pakistani
town of Abbottabad on May 2.
|Lagarde out in front
as favourite for IMF post
WASHINGTON (AFP) – French Finance Minister Christine
Lagarde has emerged as Europe’s choice to lead the IMF,
getting a boost when a Turkish favourite ruled out his
candidacy for the powerful job.
Even as leaders in emerging economies clamoured for one of
their own to take a job monopolized by Europeans since 1946,
analysts called Lagarde the odds-on favourite to replace
Dominique Strauss-Kahn as IMF managing director, after
Strauss-Kahn resigned to face sexual assault charges in New
The institution, meanwhile, said the nomination process
would be opened on Monday until June 10, with the aim of
completing the process by June 30.
Lagarde is “practically a shoo-in” as the European Union’s
candidate to succeed Strauss-Kahn, an EU source said.
“We should get such a signal at Deauville,” said the source,
referring to the French resort where the world’s eight top
industrialized powers will meet on May 26-27. The G8 gathers
Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and
the United States.
Meanwhile, respected Turkish economist and former UN
Development Programme chief Kemal Dervis ruled out his
Dervis had been widely perceived as acceptable both to the
emerging economies and to the EU.
“I have not been, and will not be, a candidate. I am fully
engaged in, happy with, and focused on my global work at the
Brookings Institution and look forward to continuing my
research and policy work, including work on Turkey,” he said
in a statement.
That left Lagarde, who has not personally declared her
interest, with no clear challengers.
“She’s the front-runner at this stage, but the race has not
yet begun,” said former IMF economist Michael Mussa, now at
the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Ahead of the formal nomination process, “it’s premature to
say that it’s decided,” he said.
(AFP) – Montek Singh Ahluwalia, 67,
India: Planner, former World Bank star and director of the
IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office. He may lack the backing
of Asian neighbours like China.
Agustin Carstens, 52, Mexico: Central bank governor and
former finance minister who has the confidence of Washington
and the G20. But a Mexican already leads the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Trevor Manuel, 55, South Africa: Former finance minister who
proved his talents at a young age trusted by Nelson Mandela.
Needs the broad support of the African continent, where a
lot of IMF money goes.
Leszek Balcerowicz, 64, Poland: Former finance minister and
central banker who pioneered Poland’s transition from
communism to the free market.
Stanley Fischer, 67, Israel: Rhodesia-born ex-World Bank
economist is now the head of Israel’s central bank. He
served as IMF deputy managing director from 1994-2001.