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Peres: Syria Knows What Israel Would Give for Peace


President Shimon Peres opened his visit in London by encouraging Syria to choose peace. He said, "Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel and they received in return all of their territory. If Syria changes its path and proves it is ready for true peace, she knows what she will receive."

He also praised the Saudi Peace Plan. Peres said, "It is possible to achieve an almost all-inclusive peace— except with Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah— in exchange for the price of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, but even so we must continue the negotiating process with the Palestinians."

Obama Pledges State to Palestinian Leader


President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and pledged to work to establish a Palestinian state as soon as possible, a senior PA negotiator told WND.

"Obama expressed his full support for a Palestinian state. He told the president (Abbas) he will continue to promote the peace process, which will end with a two-state solution," said the PA's second most senior negotiator, Saeb Erekat.

"Obama said he will keep working in collaboration with the Israeli government and PA to reach a final solution. He said he'll do everything in his power to help create a Palestinian state as soon as we can," Erekat told WND. It was the first phone call between Abbas and Obama, Erekat added.

Obama's transition spokesman Nick Shapiro did not immediately return a WND e-mail and phone request seeking comment.

The call comes two weeks after a reported flair-up on Election Day in which a senior Palestinian official told WND the Obama campaign urged Palestinian officials to deny an Arab media report that the then-Democratic nominee confided to Palestinian leadership that he supports their right to a capital in eastern Jerusalem.

The episode began after a Lebanese newspaper story Nov. 3 quoted sources in Ramallah who claimed that in a meeting in July with Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the two heard from Obama "the best things they ever heard from an American presidential candidate."

The report in the Al-Akhbar daily, known to have close contacts to Palestinian leaders in Lebanon, claimed Obama told Abbas and Fayyad he "supports the rights of the Palestinians to east Jerusalem, as well as their right to a stable, sovereign state," but he petitioned them to keep the remarks confidential.

Asked for comment by WND, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the time would neither confirm nor deny knowledge of Obama's purported remarks. Abbas political adviser Namer Hamad subsequently issued a denial to reporters.

But a senior official confirmed to WND that Obama said in a July trip to the region he favored a "negotiated settlement" that may grant the PA control over sections of Jerusalem.

The official, a longtime reliable source, claimed to WND that Obama advisers on Election Day engaged in a series of intense conversations asking that Abbas' office issue a denial.

The Lebanese report echoed a similar exclusive WND article immediately following Obama's meeting with Abbas and Fayyad in which a senior Palestinian source said Obama informed the Palestinians he supports a "negotiated settlement" that may grant the PA control over sections of Jerusalem.

"He assured us there was a misunderstanding when he said in [June] he supports the Israelis' rights to hold on to Jerusalem," the PA official, who took part in the meeting with Obama, told WND at the time. "He told us he corrected this right away and that he supports a negotiated settlement that will give the Palestinians territory."

The official was referring to a speech Obama delivered in June to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in which he stated if he is elected president, "Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."

Immediately following the speech, Obama reversed himself during a CNN appearance, explaining he meant Jerusalem shouldn't be physically divided with a partition. "Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations," he said in response to a question about whether Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the city.

Obama said that "as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute" a division of the city. And I think that it is smart for us to, to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city."

PA to Publish Ads in Israeli Media


The Palestinian Authority will try to influence public opinion in Israel ahead of the general elections in February by publishing advertisements in Israeli newspapers. The ads, which outline the Saudi peace plan, will appear in the papers as of this Thursday.

This is the first time that the PA is using this channel to communicate with the Israeli public. A source said that similar ads will be published in American and European newspapers as well.

The Saudi peace plan, which was adopted by the Arab League Summit in 2003, calls for a comprehensive peace agreement and the establishment of full diplomatic ties between Israel and the Arab world, in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.

The decision to run the ads was made following long deliberations between senior Palestinian leaders and Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al.) Tibi, who is considered in the PA an expert on Israeli media, was chosen to promote the project vis-à-vis the press.

"This is the first time that something like this is being done. The Palestinian Authority is saying to the Israeli public through these ads – please read the details of the Arab peace initiative thoroughly, this is an opportunity you can't afford to miss," Tibi said on Tuesday.

In the ad, which is signed by "the PLO's Negotiations Team," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ask to present to Israelis the main principles of the peace plan.

"Abu Mazen (Abbas) believes that this initiative is the best mechanism for resolving the conflict and he thinks that the Israeli public and political system have not been given a chance to get to know the details of the plan. He therefore decided to approach the public directly," explained Tibi.

Jail Time for Butt-Biter


Two passengers on an Israir flight from Moscow to Eilat were detained Tuesday upon reaching Israel, after rioting onboard their plane. One of the men apparently bit a flight attendant's buttocks, while the other punched his wife.

The two men were slapped with fines and sentenced to an eight-day prison term. They will later be deported to Russia, an Eilat court ruled.

The incident took place on Saturday after the passengers, Dmitry Tsintsdza and Dmitry Kazkow, had too much to drink, resorting to some reckless behavior onboard the plane. Tsintsdza yelled and broke chairs, and when a stewardess attempted to calm him he bit her rear-end. Soon after, Kazkow followed suit, punching his wife after she pleaded with him to behave.

Police officers were waiting for the two friends upon arrival, and led them to the nearest jail cell. Judge Erez Yekuel sentenced the two men to eight days in prison and a probation period of 12 months. In addition, Tsintsdza will have to compensate the stewardess to the tune of $500, and pay the airline $250.

Meanwhile, Kazkow had to sign a $6,300 promissory note, obligating him to refrain from hitting his wife again.

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