"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
(Matthew 17:20)

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Below are the "Middle East News Headlines" over the past week: Compiled by Luke

Russia sides with Palestinians on claim to east Jerusalem, demand for settlement freeze


Jan 18, 2011

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave a political boost to the Palestinians on Tuesday, backing their claim to east Jerusalem as a capital and their demand that Israel must freeze all settlement construction before peace talks can resume.

His visit came at a time of corrosive deadlock in U.S.-led peace efforts. Russia is a member of the so-called Quartet of Mideast peace makers, along with the U.S., European Union and United Nations.

In this vacuum, Medvedev affirmed the Palestinians' right to a state, with east Jerusalem as a capital, though he did not say what he believed the borders of the state should be.

Unilateral actions in Middle East peace process unacceptable - Medvedev


Jan 18, 2011

Dmitry Medvedev said Israel must stop expanding settlements in the Palestinian territories, after his meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The meeting was held in the residence of the governor of the city of Jericho on Tuesday. This is Medvedev's first visit to the Palestinian territories during his term in office. Vladimir Putin was the last Russian leader to visit, when he was President in 2005.

Medvedev stressed that the main focus of Tuesday's discussion was the peace process in the Middle East, with the most important issue being that Israel has to stop building homes in the Palestinian territories, especially in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leader thanked Russia for supporting the Palestinian Authority and acknowledged  Russia's important role in settling the Middle East crisis.

According to President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia reiterates its commitment to back a Palestinian state with the capital in East Jerusalem.

Russian president calls for Israeli freeze


Jan 18, 2011

JERICHO, West Bank -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave a political boost to the Palestinians on Tuesday, backing their claim to east Jerusalem as a capital and their demand that Israel must freeze all settlement construction before peace talks can resume.

The Palestinians, who say they are ready for independence, hailed the visit as a chance to showcase their progress toward building their state.

The ancient town of Jericho was decked out in Russian and Palestinian flags, and black-clad Palestinian troops with assault rifles lined the streets. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Medvedev were received by an honor guard in a red carpet ceremony.

Russia is a member of the so-called Quartet of Mideast peace makers, along with the U.S., European Union and United Nations. The Quartet is to meet in Germany next month to find a way out of the current quagmire.

Russia, Jordan vow to achieve an independent Palestinian state


Jan 19, 2011

The leaders of Jordan and Russia on Wednesday vowed to work together to achieve an independent Palestinian state and boosted cooperation in the energy sector.

"I have told my Palestinian friends that the eventual target will be the establishment of a modern, unified and sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in remarks before starting talks with King Abdullah II.

"Russia, as one of the sponsors of the Middle East process, will remain committed to the achievement of durable peace and is aware of its special responsibility in this respect," Medvedev said.

America, Russia implicitly recognize Palestinian state


Jan 19, 2011

The United States and Russia on Tuesday followed the example of a growing number of South American countries by taking steps to openly recognize a Palestinian Arab state on the ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria.

Speaking to the press in Jericho during his visit to the Palestinian Authority, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev noted that Russia had already recognized a Palestinian state when Yasser Arafat first declared independence in 1988.

"We have supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital since the last century, and we still support it," said Medvedev.

Hours later, the Obama Administration allowed the Palestinians to raise their flag over the Palestinian Authority diplomatic mission in Washington for the first time ever, symbolically transforming the location into a national embassy.

Republican officials were furious with the move.

Medvedev reaffirms support for Palestinian state


Jan 18, 2011

JERICHO, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed on Tuesday Moscow's commitment to an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, on a visit to the West Bank.

"The Russian position on the Palestinian issue hasn't changed and remains the same," Medvedev said at a press conference with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank oasis town of Jericho.

"Russia stated its position on this issue in the 1980s, in the last century, and we fully support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to the establishment of an independent, united and viable state with east Jerusalem as its capital."

UN Security Council to discuss Palestinian- Israeli conflict


Jan 18, 2011

New York, Jan.18(Petra)-- The United Nation Security Council will hold Wednesday an open debate to discuss the Middle East issues and the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

According to the UN, the Arab Group at the UN Security Council and the Palestinian envoy to the UN will present Tuesday evening a draft resolution that demands the council to condemn Israel over its illegal settlement construction activities on occupied Palestinian territories.

Lebanese ambassador, who represents the Arab group at the council, Nawaf Salam, said "more meetings would be held to decide when to press for a vote".

Jerusalem can never be surrendered, Khalifa says


Jan 20, 2011

Abu Dhabi: The UAE is pressing for taking a firm stand against countries which move their embassies to occupied Jerusalem or recognise it as the capital of Israel.

The Abu Dhabi Declaration confirmed recognition by the OIC member countries of the State of Palestine that includes all of the territories captured in 1967, including occupied east Jerusalem.

It demanded all member countries immediately recognised the Palestinian State and raise the diplomatic representation to an embassy level.

UN resolution draft demanding settlement halt submitted


Jan 19, 2011

NEW YORK - A proposed resolution put forward by Lebanon at Wednesday's UN Security Council meeting condemns Israel's settlement activity and demands that it "immediately and completely" cease all settlement activities "in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem." - - The draft resolution, sponsored by 120 countries, was introduced to place the issue before the Security Council's jurisdiction. However, it was not brought to a vote.

Sources said the proposal was brought to the table in order to show the Palestinians' and Lebanese' seriousness of intent on the issue of settlements, but with the idea that the resolution would not be brought to a vote until next month at the earliest. - - It condemns "the continuation of settlement activities by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem," as well as "all other measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Territory, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions." - - The matter was brought to the Security Council despite the opposition of the United States. America's representatives have repeatedly asserted their belief that the Security Council is not the proper forum for discussions of the peace process, and that bringing the matter up would not be a "productive step."

US rejects Palestinian resolution


Jan 20, 2011

UNITED NATIONS -- The Palestinians and their supporters presented a Security Council draft resolution yesterday declaring that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory are illegal -- despite a US appeal not to.

The document, sponsored by Lebanon, was circulated as the council engaged in open debate on the Middle East, including Palestinian issues. An additional 122 countries signed on as cosponsors.

The proposed resolution reiterates demands that Israel halt all settlement building in Palestinian territory. It says settlements built in occupied territory since 1967, including disputed East Jerusalem, "are illegal and constitute a major obstacle'' to peace.

U.S. envoys arrive in Israel in bid to advance peace talks with Palestinians


Jan 20, 2011

U.S. diplomats Dennis Ross and David Hale arrived in Israel Thursday morning in a renewed attempt to revive stagnated peace talks. - - Ross and Hale arrived a day after Arab nations submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. A vote on the resolution is not expected any time soon because of a likely U.S. veto, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The point of the resolution, diplomats say, is to highlight Washington's isolated position on the Security Council, show the Palestinian population that the Palestinian Authority is taking action, and to pressure Israel and the United States on the settlement issue.

For the Arab world, the revolution will be televised, on Al Jazeera


Jan 19, 2011

Reporting from Cairo -- In cafes and living rooms across the Middle East, the whirling montages and breathless journalists of Al Jazeera are defining the narrative of Tunisia's upheaval for millions of Arabs riveted by the toppling of a dictator.

The Qatar-based television network, as it does with the Iraq war and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is airing visceral, round-the-clock coverage in a region of authoritarian states that rarely allow government-controlled media to show scenes of unrest. Al Jazeera is a messenger, pricking the status quo, enraging kings and presidents.

It is the big voice in a multimedia landscape of Arab dissent that encompasses bloggers and online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Whereas strategies of revolt on the Internet are largely the domain of the young and educated, Al Jazeera has for years been the touchstone for the masses seeking insight into the wider, mystifying world.

Arab League chief says Tunisia is dire warning


Jan 19, 2011

CAIRO (AP) - The secretary general of the Arab League on Wednesday linked the upheaval in Tunisia to deteriorating economic conditions throughout the Arab world, warning Middle East leaders that their people's anger has reached unprecedented heights.

In impassioned remarks, Amr Moussa told an Arab economic summit in Egypt that "the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession."

"This is in the mind of all of us," Moussa said in his opening address to the 20 Arab leaders and other representatives of Arab League members gathered in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The unrest has helped inspire similar protests around the Arab world and calls for political change, though activists face the reality of vast security forces heavily vested in the status quo backing hard-line regimes ready to crack down on dissent.

"The Tunisian revolution is not far from us," Moussa warned. "The Arab citizen entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration." He called for an Arab renaissance to lift people from their frustration.

Saudi ends Lebanon mediation, says country at risk


Jan 19, 2011

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had abandoned mediation efforts in Lebanon between Shi'ite Hezbollah and Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri over the killing of his father and warned that the country's future was at stake.

Regional power Saudi Arabia and Syria had worked for months to resolve a dispute between Hezbollah and Hariri over indictments in the 2005 killing of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, which are widely expected to accuse Hezbollah members.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom had abandoned its efforts and that the situation in Lebanon was "dangerous."

"If the situation reaches separation or partition of Lebanon, this means the end of Lebanon as a state that has this model of peaceful cohabitation between religions and ethnicities and different groups," he told Al Arabiya television.

"It would be a loss for the whole Arab nation."

Arab nations submit draft UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements


Jan 19, 2011

Arab nations have submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but a vote on it is not expected any time soon because of a likely U.S. veto, diplomats said on Wednesday.

Israel's UN representative Meron Reuven said he would be absent from the meeting at which the resolution was submitted due to the Foreign Ministry strike.

"I do so with regret," Reuven told Haaretz. "I believe that Israel needs to have its voice heard in open discussion."

Before the UN makes a decision for us


Jan 18, 2011

On November 29, 2011 the UN General Assembly decided by a large majority to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. This scenario, despite American efforts (as of now) to prevent it, is becoming increasingly real.

It is even possible that the vote at the UN will take place earlier, and it is not impossible that it will include elements that are problematic for Israel, such as the return of refugees and decisions regarding Jerusalem and the timetable for implementation.

The decision of the General Assembly will create a new strategic reality. After the international community has its say, the anti-Israel wave will become stronger and there will be legitimacy for sanctions against Israel by organizations and countries. International public opinion is even liable to show understanding for violent acts against us.

Turkish FM: Iran-Turkey ties of importance for regional stability


Jan 18, 2011

Ankara, Jan 18, IRNA - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said relations between Iran and Turkey were of high importance in sustaining stability in the region.

He made the remark here Tuesday morning in a meeting with the Caretaker of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Ali-Akbar Salehi.

Salehi arrived in Ankara Monday night at a head of a political delegation.

Cooperation between Syrian and Lebanese Armies Discussed


Jan 18, 2011

Damascus, (SANA) - Syrian Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Ali Habib and Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Dawood Rajha on Tuesday separately met Commander of the Lebanese Army Gen. Jean Kahwaji.

Talks during the meetings dealt with the latest developments in the region and their consequences.

Cooperation between the Syrian and Lebanese armies and means of enhancing it to confront the Zionist enemy were also on the table.

'Russia won't change stance on Palestinian state'


Jan 18, 2011

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev said Russia will not change its stance towards Palestinian statehood during a visit with Palestinain Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.

Medvedev said the Soviet Union had recognized a Palestinian state in 1988 after Yasser Arafat declared independence.

The Russian president's announcement came after reports Tuesday speculating that his country would join several South American countries who have declared their recognition of a Palestinian state.

Russia supports Palestinians' right to set up own state-president


Jan 18, 2011

JERICHO, January 18 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia supports the Palestinians' inalienable right to establish their own independent state with the capital in East Jerusalem, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday after the talks with head of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

"Russia's stand remains unchanged: we have supported and support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to set up their own viable, territorially united and undivided state with the capital in East Jerusalem," he said.

"Everyone stands to gain from the establishment of the Palestinian state - the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the entire region; it is necessary to strive for this," said the head of the Russian state.

"We all look forward with hope to another meeting of the Middle East "quartet" due in Munich," the Russian President said.

Medvedev wants to discuss inter-religious dialogue in Mideast trip


Jan 17, 2011

MOSCOW, January 17 (Itar-Tass) - During his trip to Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expects to discuss issues of support for people of different nationalities and beliefs.

"Tomorrow I am heading for a visit to Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority," the president said at a meeting with the leadership of the Federal Assembly. He reminded the audience that over the recent years Russia has built and continues building churches, museums and hotels for pilgrims in the Holy Land.

"All that strengthens Russian traditions," the president believes. "We will also speak with colleagues about support for other nationalities and beliefs in our country," Medvedev said.

Ahmadinejad, Medvedev agree to boost ties: report


Jan 17, 2011

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev agreed to boost ties between their countries, in a a telephone conversation, state media reported on Monday.

The call came after Russia snubbed Iran's invitation to visit two atomic sites in the Islamic republic that were thrown open to a group of foreign diplomats on Saturday and Sunday.

Iran and Russia must always be "friends and colleagues," state television quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Medvedev. "The Islamic republic of Iran welcomes an increase of ties in all areas between the two countries."

"Russia is ready for all cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran," Medvedev was quoted as saying.

Palestinian U.S. mission raises flag in Washington for first time


Jan 18, 2011

In a symbolic gesture, the Palestinians raised their flag over their diplomatic mission in Washington for the first time on Tuesday, as they continue in their quest for recognition by the international community.

At a brief ceremony, the Palestinians' chief envoy to the United States, Maen Rashid Areikat, hoisted the red, green, white and black banner outside the PLO General Delegation office.

"This is a historic day," Areikat said, adding that it brought him "much pride" to raise his flag. "I will remember this moment for the rest of my life."

'European countries may recognize Palestinian state'


Jan 18, 2011

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin said on Tuesday that he believed that international recognition of a Palestinian state will spread.

In his remarks during a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee he said others including European countries could join the South American countries' recognition of a Palestinian state.

"The UN General Assembly may declare a Palestinian state within 1967 borders as early as September," warned Diskin, according to Army Radio.

Diskin's remarks come after South American countries, most recently Guyana, declared in recent months their recognition of a Palestinian state.

Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner said in response that the current situation "illustrates the fact that the political stalemate is harmful to Israel and is serving the interests of the Palestinian Authority, who understands that it has a more favorable standing among international institutions, and is able to use this to its advantage."

Russian President in First-Ever Visit to PA


Jan 18, 2011

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reassured Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that his country recognizes the PA as a state. He is on his first-ever visit to the PA, but an Israeli Foreign Ministry strike prevented the preparations for his planned trip to Israel and has barred him from meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Media touted Medvedev's recognition, but it was déjà vu. "Russia stated its position on this issue in the 1980s, in the last century, and we fully support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to the establishment of an independent, united and viable state with east Jerusalem as its capital," the Russian leader said in Jericho, where he dedicated a Russian-funded museum.

The Soviet Union was one of the first supporters of the PA from the time Yasser Arafat announced a declaration of independence in Algiers in 1988.

Iran: Sanctions won't stop nuclear drive


Jan 18, 2011

TEHRAN, Iran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Tehran is making steady progress in its nuclear program, and warned that not even 100,000 U.N. Security Council resolutions will derail his country's nuclear ambitions.

Ahmadinejad spoke days ahead of talks with world powers in Istanbul, Turkey. Tehran has hardened its position ahead of the meeting with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, and Iranian officials have said they will not discuss their country's right to enrich uranium at the Jan. 21-22 talks.

The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying "Iran is making progress in nuclear energy" while the U.S. and its allies "only issue resolutions."

"Let them issue 100,000 resolutions," he said. "It's not important. Let them say what they want to."

Netanyahu: Tunisia turmoil shows instability of entire Mideast


Jan 16, 2011

The civil unrest which resulted in the ousting of Tunisia's long-time president displays an instability prevalent in the entire Middle East, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, adding that the situation highlighted the need for security assurances in a future Mideast peace deal.

Massive street protests over corruption and unemployment forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country Friday night after 23 years of iron-fisted rule.

Saudi King Abdullah's palace confirmed early Saturday that the ousted president and his family had landed in Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom welcomed him with a wish for "peace and security to return to the people of Tunisia."

Speaking during the cabinet's weekly meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that recent turmoil in Tunisia was an example of "how unstable Israel's region is."

After Tunisia, the start of an Arab awakening?


Jan 17, 2011

CAIRO, Egypt -- An unemployed Algerian committed suicide by lighting himself on fire outside a government building in his North African country last week.

A few days later, and over a thousand miles away, thousands of Jordanians took to their streets to protest rising food prices.

Discontent among members of Egypt's typically weak opposition led to chanting in Cairo this weekend, calling for President Hosni Mubarak - one of the longest serving leaders in the Middle East - to take the next flight out of the country.

Events like these have become more common across the Arab world since the ouster of Tunisia's former president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, on Friday, following a month-long surge of unrest that intensified into a popular uprising across the tiny North African nation. Shock waves, albeit small in comparison, are still resonating in capital cities from Rabat to Cairo.

Anger and frustration over economic woes, from unemployment to the price of commodities such as sugar and bread, seems to be energizing opposition groups eager to promote financial and political reform across the Arab world.

PM: We're in unstable region, hope quiet will return


Jan 16, 2011

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Sunday cabinet meeting addressed the civil uprising in Tunisia that forced a 25-year dictator to flee the country over the weekend. Netanyahu said, "We are monitoring developments," referring also to the past week's instability in Lebanon.

The prime minister continued: "The region in which we live is unstable," adding, "We see this at several points throughout the Middle East.  I would say that there is a great island of instability in the geographic expanse in which we live." Netanyahu said, "We hope that there will be quiet and security."

Connecting the crises in Beirut and Tunis to a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said: "If there is one conclusion, one clear lesson that arises from all that we see around us, it is that we need to lay the foundations of security in any agreement that we make." The prime minister continued, "We cannot simply say 'We are signing a peace agreement', close our eyes and say 'We did it' because we do not know with any clarity that the peace will indeed be honored."

Norway says it will be first EU nation to recognise Palestine


Friday, Jan 14, 2011

Gulf News - Ramallah - Norway announced on Wednesday that it will be the first EU country to recognise a Palestinian state once the Palestinian institutions are set in place.

Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway said at a joined press conference with the Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad in Ramallah that his country will be a leading country in recognising the Palestinian state once the Palestinian institutions are set up as per the schedules and plans announced by the Palestinian National Authority.

"I have already informed the Palestinian officials that Norway will a leading country in recognising the Palestinian state once the new state's institutions and infrastructure are created and set up as per the programmes announced by the Palestinian Authority," he said. by"This hopefully is to be matched with a successful peace process. We should all recognise the new facts on the ground," he said.

"During the coming September and October, there will be a new situation and ground reality regarding the Palestinian state and that new situation should be handled and dealt with," he said. "We hope the Palestinian state will be a part of the international community by that time," he added.


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(John 3:16)


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