World Briefs 1-17-12

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Israel slams UK settlements barb as 'gratuitous bashing'

Click photo to download. Caption: British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Credit: World Economic Forum.British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused Israel on Monday of carrying out "deliberate vandalism" by continuing to build settlements on land the Palestinians hope will form part of their future state.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that Clegg's comments were "gratuitous and ill informed," and damaged chances for peace by giving more excuses to the Palestinians not to negotiate or compromise. Ayalon added that he would be delivering this message to his counterparts in London.

Clegg was speaking alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also was holding talks in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, both of whom have previously expressed concern over settlements.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Clegg's choice of language would do little to help attempts to restart peace talks. "It would be much better to contribute to peace by encouraging the fragile revival of Israeli-Palestinian talks rather than engaging in gratuitous bashing," Palmor said.

 -JointMedia News Service

Israel’s Wolf Prize honors world-famous Placido Domingo

Click photo to download. Caption: Placido Domingo is award Israel's Wold Prize. Credit: PD.Renowned Spanish Tenor Placido Domingo has been chosen to receive the 2012 Wolf Prize for the Arts in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reports. The Wolf Foundation in Israel has been giving out prizes in agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and the arts since 1978.

253 scientists and artists from 23 countries have previously won the award. Along with Israeli winners, this year Domingo’s fellow laureates come from the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. They include a mathematician, a biologist and a Philharmonic conductor

The Israeli Knesset will host the award ceremony on May 13th. Domingo’s new prize will be added to his nine Grammy awards, three Latin Grammies, US Presidential Medal of Freedom, key to the Venezuelan city of Caracas, Medal of Honor from Oman, and nine honorary doctorates.

 -JointMedia News Service

Islamists call for re-Islamization of Spanish region

Click photo to download. Caption: The Great Mosque of Cordoba, in Andalusia. Credit: Timor Espallargas.Islamists are calling to reclaim parts of Spain for their own rule as the number of Muslims rises in the country, the Stonegate Institute reported. Specifically, Islamists are calling for the Islamization of Andalusia, a region in southern Spain.

Andalusia’s name is of Arabic origin, from Al-Andalus; it was occupied by Muslims between the years 711 and 1492. According to the Stonegate Institute, Islamists believe that all territories once under Muslim rule, like those lost in the Christian Reconquista of Spain, must be reclaimed. Calls for Spain to be brought back under Islamic Sharia law are now rising across the country and throughout the Internet.


The rising Muslim population in Spain serves as the foundation for Islamists’ claim to the land. While the Muslim population has risen from just 100,000 since 1990 to an estimated 1.3 million in 2011, more than 150,000 native Spaniards left Spain in 2011 to seek better economic opportunities. 

-JointMedia News Service

Asian countries agree to reduce Iranian oil imports

The United States is urging Asian countries to reduce the amount of oil they buy from Iran in another effort to hinder Iran’s attempts to produce nuclear weapons, the New York Times reported.

Sixty percent of Iranian oil is exported to China, Japan, India and South Korea. Negotiations with these countries come in the wake of Iran’s decision to hold naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz.

South Korea and Japan have announced that they will try to accommodate America’s request while China already reduced the amount of oil it buys from Iran after a pricing dispute.

“It’s a global chess game. The major buyers are prudently beginning to make alternative plans to reduce their reliance on Iranian oil,” said Daniel Yergin, an energy historian, according to the New York Times. Saudi Arabia, a long-time rival of Iran, said it will produce more oil to make up in any decline in exports. 

-JointMedia News Service

India, Greece and Cyprus to cooperate with Israel

India and Israel are committing to cooperate more on issues of counterterrorism and trade, while both Cyprus and Greece have pledged to boost their defense ties with the Jewish state, news outlets reported last week.

Indian Minister S. M. Krishna visited Israel and said India and Israel must address the "scourge of international terrorism which has become the curse for the entire humanity." Prime Minister Netanyahu said the two countries are "two ancient peoples seizing the future in technology, in innovation, [and] in enterprise,” Voice of America reported.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also visited Greece and Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the two countries are trying to "make up for lost time." Greece was a pro-Palestinian country for many years, not recognizing Israel until 1991, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Cyprus also signed two agreements on defense cooperation and protection and exchange of classified information. Details of the agreements were not fully released, but they do include the monitoring of the island’s airspace, according to Cyprus Mail.

-JointMedia News Service

German agency could prosecute anti-Islam web critics

Manfred Murck, the director of the Hamburg branch of the German domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), said that the agency is monitoring websites that criticize Islam and Muslim immigration to Europe, the Stonegate Institute reported. If the agency determines that people who post such criticism on the Internet are spreading hate speech, these people could be found criminally guilty of violating the German constitution.

In a January interview with the Berliner Zeitung and Frankfurter Rundschau, Murck said that owners of anti-Islam blogs "have a disturbed relationship to the democratic constitutional state" and promote "infringements of human rights protected under our constitution…I also see evidence of criminal relevance, such as making threats and public invitations to crime."

Despite enormous support for cultural acceptance and immigrant integration among many

Germans, a survey conducted by the London-based Ipsos global research firm also showed that more than half of German citizens believe "there are too many immigrants" in the country. A Pew Research Center report showed that 79 percent of the Germans believe Islam is "the most violent" religion and that two-thirds are worried about Islamic extremists in the country.

-JointMedia News Service 

Reform candidate withdraws from Egypt’s presidential election

Click photo to download. Caption: Reform candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has stepped down from Egypt's presidential election. Credit: World Economic Forum.Egypt’s reform candidate for the presidency, Mohamed ElBaradei, stepped down on Saturday, the AP reported. ElBaradei’s withdrawal from the race adds to the concern held by many—that the upcoming election is solely an issue between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.

ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate, said that a fair election is impossible. "I had said from the start that my conscience will not allow me to run for president or any official position unless there is a real democratic framework, that upholds the essence of democracy and not only its form," he said.

He also had harsh words for the military council, which was set up as the interim government following Mubarak’s ouster, saying the council "has insisted on going down the same old path, as if no revolution took place and no regime has fallen," he said.

According to the AP, ElBaradei was seen as the most pro-revolutionary of the candidates, and had called for change within Egypt long before the Arab Spring. His withdrawal is likely to cause frustration with the military-run election process.

-JointMedia News Service


Posted on January 16, 2012 and filed under Briefs, World.