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Poll: 49% of Palestinians Would Recognize Jewish State


Almost half of all Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem would agree to recognize Israel as Jewish as part of a peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state, but 48% object to this, a survey published by Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday has found.

But in June, before direct peace talks began, results were more positive. At the time, 58% of the Palestinians said they would be willing to accept Israel as a Jewish state under the aforementioned terms, while just 39% objected.

Peres: Mideast Peace Can Help U.S. Battle Iran Threat

By Ha'aretz

Israel could aid the United States in its attempts to thwart Iran's nuclear program by pushing forward with peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, President Shimon Peres said Thursday, adding that he believed the Islamic Republic posed the greatest threat to both Israel and the United States.

Speaking at a meeting of worldwide Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, Peres said that while "Israel cannot give America what it gives us, we, in our small way, can help the U.S. by putting an end to the minor conflict with the Palestinians and allowing it to focus on the main threat – Iran."

However, in a more critical note, Army Radio also quoted the president as expressing his disapproval of American attempts to establish democracies in Arab states such as Iraq, saying that the question was "where is the Muslim world heading?'

"I appreciate [former U.S. president George] Bush's attempt to expose them to democracy, but is that possible?" Peres asked, adding that it was "very difficult to come to a king and tell him to go to elections. It would be like inviting a turkey to a Thanksgiving feast," the president said, adding he believed "Muslims should be able to choose their own path."

Clinton Reaffirms US Commitment to Middle East Solution

By Mohamed Elshinnawi (VOA-Washington)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. She said the path to security and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis lies in negotiations that result in two states, living side by side in peace.

"We remain convinced that if they persevere with negotiations, the parties can agree on an outcome that ends the conflict; reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps and Israel's goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel's security requirements," Clinton said.

Clinton spoke Wednesday to the American Task Force on Palestine, a non-profit group advocating a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She also reaffirmed the Obama administration's position that settlement construction in the occupied territories should be frozen. The Palestinians fear continuing Jewish settlement will deny them a viable and contiguous state. "Our position on settlements is well-known and has not changed. And our determination to encourage the parties to continue talking has not wavered."

The Palestinians have said they will not return to negotiations until Israel suspends settlement activity in territories it seized in 1967. Arab League Ambassador in Washington, Hussain Hassouna, said he is concerned about what Clinton did not say.

"I would have loved her to speak more about the obstacles to peace now, which we all recognize are in the continuation of the settlements and the position of the Israeli government, which makes direct negotiations impossible," Hassouna said. "We do not only need nice words, I think we need deeds and achievements."

Israel's embassy did not respond to a request for comment. But American Jewish Committee Director of Communications Ben Cohen said settlements are just one issue in the negotiations. He blames the Palestinian Authority for not taking Israel's self-declared moratorium on settlement building seriously. That moratorium expired last month.

"It is very clear that the U.S. government does not regard Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a positive contributor to this process, but that does not necessarily mean that the Palestinian Authority approach is the right one," Cohen said. "And it is very clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu has sent numerous signals that he is prepared under certain conditions to extend that moratorium."

Cohen welcomed Clinton's reference to 1967 borders with agreed upon swaps and defining Israel as a Jewish state, but he said the Palestinian Authority should have the political will to make these terms work.

UAE Court: Wife-Beating OK, But Not 'Too Much'


A court in the United Arab Emirates has convicted a Muslim man for having gone a little too far in beating his wife and 23-year-old daughter because the punishment "left marks."

According to court documents, the man slapped and kicked his daughter, leaving bruises on her right hand and right knee. He also slapped his wife, injuring her lower lip and teeth.

In a ruling reported this month in the English-language publication The National, Chief Justice Falah al Hajeric decided the man had the right to punish his wife and children, but only up to a point. Moreover, such punishment must come only after other alternatives have been tried and failed, such as reprimands and withholding marital relations.

Al Hajeric stated in his decision that "Although the [Islamic law] permits the husband to use his right [to physically discipline], he has to abide by the limits of this right. If the husband abuses this right to discipline, he cannot be exempted from punishment."

The daughter was too old to be disciplined, he ruled, and the wife was beaten too severely.

Although the Koran 4:34 says, "Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other... As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them... and beat them", this has different interpretations. The Islamic authorities quoted after being contacted by CNN News following the report emphasized that wife-beating under Islamic or Sharia law is considered "absolutely unlawful."

Among those quoted was Jihad Hashim Brown, the head of research at Tabah Foundation, which specializes in the interpretation of Islamic law. "When a situation in a marriage reaches the point where people feel like they need to hit someone, that is time for divorce," Brown commented. "Anyone who would abuse, injure or even insult the dignity of their wife, this has now become a criminal offense which can be prosecuted in a court of law."

Nevertheless, Arab women – in Gaza and elsewhere -- are often terrorized by Arab men, and beaten or worse for minor infractions such as neglecting to wear a hijab (scarf) to cover their hair in public.

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