MIDDLE EAST PEACE EFFORTS: Hoping to revive Middle East peace negotiations, the Obama administration has spent the last three weeks attempting to persuade the Israeli government to stop building Jewish settlements on the West Bank, a Palestinian territory.
Israel turned down an incentive from the U.S. of 20 F-35 stealth fighters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement saying Israel is committed to direct peace talks with Palestinians without pre-conditions.
Palestine refuses to resume direct peace negotiations until Israel stops building settlements on the West Bank.
“We will not tolerate the continuation of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories,” said Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s chief representative to the U.S.
Washington has abandoned its attempt to freeze construction of Jewish settlements in Palestine, but it will continue to explore other ways to make peace between the two sides.
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will meet separately with American negotiators this week.
LEAKED CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS: WikiLeaks, an international whistle-blowing organization, has released on the Internet thousands of classified messages from U.S. diplomats over the past two weeks. Washington called the publication an “attack on the international community.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assanage claimed otherwise in an opinion piece called “Don’t shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths” published in “The Australian.” He wrote, “Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest.”
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said blame falls on the U.S., not on Australian native Assange.
“I think there are real questions to be asked about the adequacy of [U.S.] security systems and the level of access that people have had to that material,” Rudd said.
In light of the WikiLeaks releases, the White House has ordered U.S. government agencies to take more precaution in handling classified documents. The U.S. launched a criminal investigation into the leaks and said it would punish anyone found responsible.