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Wednesday: April 2, 2014 

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Palestine (8)

Wednesday
Apr182012

Islamic States Announce Own Media Channel (REPORT) 

(PHOTO: Opening ceremony of the Information Minsiters meeting of the OIC, Gabon/IINA)(HN, April 18, 2012) - Today, Information Ministers of the member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) started the 9th Islamic Conference of Information Ministers (ICIM); a three-day meeting in the capital of Gabon, Libreville hosted by President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

The group is focusing its attention on  "Information Technologies in the service of peace and development” at the Conference Palace in Democracy City and is being attended by a group of ministers and delegates representing 57 member countries.

Morocco who is Chair of the 9th session, and other member representatives, made speeches in which they stressed the importance of the meeting being held during a time characterized by "a multitude of challenges in the world in general, and in the Muslim Ummah world in particular.  

Speakers urged broadcasters to counter stereotypes about Islam and Muslims in the Western media and asked that the adoption by the Seventh Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers held in Algeria in December of a resolution to create a new Islam media channel, be implemented as soon as possible.

Already the organization has been working on a comprehensive plan to combat prejudice against Islam and Muslim communities with a view to developing campaigns to foster respect for cultural and religious pluralism and diversity, while raising awareness of the positive contributions of Muslims to promote tolerance and understanding.

The OIC Secretary General Ekmelddin Ihsanoglu said, "We are keen to have an OIC outlet to present to the world the true picture of both the Islamic civilization and religion."

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) is also taking part in the conference and Dr. El Mahjoub Bensaid, presented how the organization can support the new OIC media efforts by offering training to journalists.

Concern by the Ministers centered on information programs which would support, in particular, the Palestinian cause and the issues of the sovereignty of Jerusalem, (Jerusalem is known in Arabic as Al-Quds) and Al Aqsa mosque, as well as highlighting the role of the African continent in Islam. A high priority for the group is in restructuring the process of the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) and the Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU), opening of OIC media offices in member countries and activating cooperation between the OIC and the Global Digital Solidarity Fund. The group is entertaining proposals for the establishment of an OIC Muslim journalists union, and the launching of an Islamic TV satellite channel to be called "OIC".

Malaysia is among 10 countries which have been selected to study the proposed establishment of an Islamic television station that will act as an important platform for highlighting Islamic issues and which will discuss Muslim issues globally, countering coverage that discredits Islam.

Besides Malaysia, the committee will be represented by Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Gabon, Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

The first meeting of the committee is scheduled to take place at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the middle of June.

The Gabon resolution says negative news in some Western media has resulted in stigmatized stereotyping, racial discrimination and victimization directed against Muslims. Stressing that the Islamic faith is based on the core values of peace, tolerance, moderation and peaceful co-habitation with all other religions and beliefs, the OIC labeled the emergence of Islamophobia as a “contemporary form of racism and xenophobia motivated by unfounded fear, mistrust and hatred of Muslims and Islam which manifests itself through intolerance and hostility in adverse public discourse.”

“As such, Islamophobia is an affront to the human rights and dignity of Muslims,” the resolution claimed.

THE PLAN

The Gabon conference has short, medium and long term goals for putting in place an action plan to fight Islamophobia it said.  It is asking member states to create funding for media campaigns, and discourage using expressions such as “Islamic” fascists or “Islamic” extremists for criminal terrorists. The OIC underlines the importance of developing Muslim's own narrative on daily issues such as the environment, climate change, social justice, development, poverty, etc.

For the medium term, the resolution asks member states to implement media literacy programs in schools to combat misperceptions, prejudices and hate speech. It aims to utilize success stories in the Muslim world “as a means to show that the interests of Muslims are similar to the rest of the world when it comes to democracy, good governance and human rights.” The resolution even plans to create awards for excellence in unbiased journalism, reporting, photography and publishing.

According to the long term goals of the OIC media resolution, professional media people in member states are called to “develop, articulate and implement voluntary codes of conduct.” It sets up scholarship programs for Westerners to study in the Muslim world and encourage reporter-exchange programs between the Muslim world and the West in order to disseminate this information throughout media outlets.

--- HUMNEWS

Tuesday
Nov292011

Google & Mercy Corps Partner to Help Young Palestinian Entrepreneurs (NEWS BRIEF)

(HN, November 29, 2011) - Google and Mercy Corps have formed a partnership to spark technological entrepreneurship among young Palestinians.

In an innovative venture called the Arab Developer Network Initiative (ADNI), the global private sector entity and NGO have come together to tap the "brain trust" of the vast numbers of young people in Gaza and the West Bank.

Says Mercy Corps: "Through a combination of training in technical and business essentials, peer-to-peer learning, mentorship, and an initial seed fund for high potential startups, capitalized at $500,000, ADNI will help build a critical mass of Palestinian youth who are competent in multiple programming platforms and able to create and run successful web-based businesses."

As in much of the Middle East and North Africa, the Palestinian population is young, well-educated, and chronically unemployed. The World Bank reports that at the end of 2010, unemployment among those between the ages of 15-29 was an estimated 26 percent in the West Bank and 53 percent in Gaza - though some reputable sources cite much higher figures of unemployment.

The potential is not lost on Google, which has commited $2 million so far to the territory.

"Palestinians have such a unique position," Gisel Kordestani, Google's director of new business development, told Fast Company. "They're well educated. They have strong English-language skills. With 88 million people in the [Middle East and North African] region getting online, they have the opportunity to build something for the Arab world."

Says Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer: "One of the biggest challenges to economic growth in Gaza and the West Bank is that people can't move freely or easily cross borders. But there's an incredible brain trust of educated young people in the region. Unlike most other industries, web-based businesses are not limited by the physical movement of goods or people. Fuelled by young talent, the tech sector here is just waiting to take off."

The Source of Hope Foundation and Google.org are the main backers of the project.

- HUMNEWS staff, Mercy Corps

Tuesday
Nov222011

'We back the people, not dictators' (BLOG/REPORT) 

By Teymoor Nabili in the Middle East 

On the day the White House announced yet another blow in its 30-year campaign against Iran, former State Department official and Middle East expert Martin Indyk was in Doha to argue that US policy in the region has undergone something of a transformation.

(On the same day, veteran CBS correspondent Bob Simon was visiting the Al Jazeera newsroom. “I’ve known Martin for 20 years “ he told me, adding with a wry smile “Ask him if he still uses the phrase “peace process.”  I did. He doesn’t.)

Indyk says he plays no real part in policymaking these days, or even advising anyone in the Obama administration, but the thesis he confidently expounded at the Brookings Doha HQ was that the entire calculation of US interests and values has been fundamentally recalibrated as a consequence of the uprisings across the Middle East.

An Obama administration was always likely to step away from President Bush’s focus on democracy promotion to a certain extent, he said, but it was the Arab awakening that really made the difference.

 “It’s very clear the US is on the side of the people now, and not the dictators.”

It was an interesting proposition, and one that was tested by members of the audience.

One mentioned Saudi Arabia. That, it seems, is an exception. The strategic interests are paramount in the case of Saudi, but the US is applying pressure for "values" reform behind the scenes.

What about Bahrain? Well, the problem there was that President Obama was so diverted by the events of Libya that he momentarily took his eye off Bahrain, and so he missed the narrow window of opportunity to make a difference.

And yes, perhaps the response to events in Tunisia was a little behind the curve; but certainly we can expect the new policy to be demonstrated soon with regards to Egypt, and President Obama will surely stand behind the latest uprising against the military coup leaders that are now once again killing people on the streets. America had been naive in thinking the military would be custodians of a transition to real democracy.

And the reason why the Israel/Palestine issue is now off the Obama agenda is because of the polls in Israel.

Bibi eats poll numbers for breakfast, Indyk said, and as soon as he realised that Obama was polling badly in Israel, he knew he could challenge the US president with impunity.

It was all interesting stuff, delivered in the moderate and calming tones of the seasoned diplomat; but I’m not sure the audience went home believing that there has indeed been a fundamental change in the way Washington conducts its relationship with the Middle East.

A short while before his presentation, I sat down with Indyk in the Al Jazeera studio to talk about how this new approach might translate into action now, in Syria, Egypt and Iran.

He told me he thinks military action in Syria is a strong possibility, with Turkey best   placed to intervene. Obama, he says, is in “constant contact” with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that’s the best way the US can “exercise leadership” over Syria.

As for Iran, well, there’s no doubt in his mind that the IAEA report is a “smoking gun”. Obama’s done what he can, Iran has been utterly intransigent, and it was even Tehran that scuppered the Turkey/Brazil swap deal, not Washington.

Here’s the full thing.

Originally published by Al Jazeera under Creative Commons Licensing

Friday
Sep232011

Obama at the UN: What a difference one year makes (BLOG/ REPORT)

By Gregg Carlstrom in the Middle East

Palestinians marching in Ramallah on Wednesday in support of the PLO's statehood bid. [Gregg Carlstrom/Al Jazeera]

The reaction in the West Bank to US President Barack Obama's speech at the United Nations has been, as you might expect, frustrated. Frustrated - but not surprised.

The frustration was mostly with the tone of the speech, rather than its substance. The most offensive line to many, at least in interviews this morning, was Obama's declaration that "there are no shortcuts"; as several Ramallah residents reminded me, the Palestinian people have been dispossessed for 63 years already.

But the speech did not surprise anyone; it has been clear for months, after all, that Obama planned to veto the Palestine Liberation Organisation's bid for full membership at the UN. Mustafa Barghouti, the Palestinian politician and activist, called Obama's position "disappointing" in an interview before the president's speech.

I think it is very strange that Obama will veto a bid for Palestinian statehood, when a year ago at the UN General Assembly he supported the idea," Barghouti said. "The US talks about freedom and democracy, but Palestine is excluded."

Interestingly, many people I've spoken with in Ramallah believe Obama wants to support Palestinian membership at the UN, and that his promise to veto the bid is simply election-year politics.

Obama wants the Jewish vote, because he is going to elections," said Jamal Mansour, an employee at the ministry of youth and sports. "If it was at another time, we would get more, but right now, the Israelis will press Obama.

"He's not doing what he promised, because he has the Israeli lobby in the United States, and because an election is coming up," said Jacob Awad, a student holding a sign with a rather coarse message for the American president.

I can't guess at Obama's core convictions, of course. Many US commentators have argued that Obama needs to veto the bid to help his electoral odds. Then again, if Obama did support the PLO's bid, would he lose the Jewish vote to, say, Rick Perry?

It's worth noting that George W Bush, a vocally "pro-Israel" president, never won more than 24 per cent of the Jewish vote; American Jews are not the one-issue voters they're often made out to be. (Obamacontinues to poll better among Jewish voters than any other group.)

In any event, the reaction from Israel - or the Israeli press, at least - has been mostly enthusiastic. Ma'arivdescribed it as an "American embrace". Eitan Haber, a columnist for the popular daily Yediot Aharonot, quipped that the only thing missing from Obama's speech was "a nice photograph of Theodor Herzl", the father of modern-day Zionism.

It was as if he lifted words and entire sections out of [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu's planned address," Haber wrote.

There were a few dissenting views, the most pointed from Ha'aretz's Akiva Eldar, who criticised Obama for his "graceless courting of the Israeli government".

We'll see if Haber's assessment was true on Friday, when Netanyahu is scheduled to address the General Assembly. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will also speak, and then submit the PLO's formal request for full membership.

Originally published by Al Jazeera under Creative Commons Licensing 

Thursday
Jun022011

First Tunisia, Then Egypt, Next Palestine? (NEWS BRIEF/BLOG) 

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has a master plan to expedite Palestinian statehood /Photo: Wikipediaby Kristen Saloomey

With Mideast peace talks at an impasse, Palestinians have been looking for another route to statehood: the United Nations.

“We are taking our destiny in our hands,” the Palestinian’s top UN diplomat told a small group of reporters in New York on Tuesday.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour predicted millions of Palestinians would take to the streets come September, when the UN General Assembly meets, to support the cause. He drew parallels to the peaceful Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

“The battle for our independence is not only the battle of the Palestinian leadership. This is the battle of millions of Palestinians,” Mansour said.

“I believe the Palestinian people are capable and I believe also that they want to engage in this last chapter of the struggle of ending occupation.”

He said work is already underway behind the scenes at the United Nations, as he lobbies countries to recognize a Palestinian state.

Palestine is already recognized by 112 countries. But 130 would give them a 2/3 majority in the UN’s General Assembly - the number necessary to become an official member.

There’s just one problem; according to the UN Charter, a country cannot become a member state without first getting the support of nine members of the Security Council. The United States has indicated it will veto a statehood request, saying the only way is through direct negotiations with Israel.

Mansour said the Palestinians have “other options” but refused to elaborate.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki has said that the Palestinians will seek an emergency session of the General Assembly known as "Uniting for Peace" to override any veto.

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss and Security Council diplomats have all said that membership is not possible without a referral by the Security Council. The legal question currently open to debate is whether or not a vote of support in the General Assembly would be anything more than symbolic.

For now, the Palestinians’ emphasis is on building international support for their statehood - and by extension putting pressure on the United States.

“What would be the argument of President Barack Obama in trying really to disregard this wish,” Mansour said, pointing to the President's stated admiration for democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt. “Not only of the Palestinian leadership but the entire Palestinian population?”

Originally published by Al Jazeera on June 2, 2011 under Creative Commons Licensing 

Sunday
May292011

Palestinian Territory: A Spring Forgotten (PERSPECTIVE)

By Ronit Avi

Responding to the rising tide across the Arab world in his speech on May 19, President Obama aptly directed his focus away from politicians and toward the people, from the "raw power of the dictator" to the "dignity of the street vendor." It was a convincing argument, driving home the President's message that the United States has "a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals."Waiting for their Arab Spring: feelings of hopelessness and isolation among young people in the Palestinian Territory are well documented. CREDIT: M Bociurkiw

Yet when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Obama curiously fell back on language about governments and treaties rather than individual freedom and human dignity. While he acknowledged that in an increasingly democratic Middle East peace cannot be made by leaders alone, Obama failed to grant the same recognition that he gave to demonstrators standing up for freedom across the Arab world to the thousands of Palestinians and scores of Israelis who are doing the same on a daily basis in places like Nabi Saleh, Al-Walajeh, Bil'in, Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.

It was a striking omission in light of Obama's call in his Cairo Speech in 2009 for Palestinians to adopt nonviolence, and was particularly disheartening given the urgency of the moment.

Only a few weeks ago, Bassem and Naji Tamimi, two leaders of the nonviolent movement in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, were arrested on dubious charges aimed at crushing the resolve of a village that has been struggling without arms to prevent the encroachment of nearby Israeli settlements upon its land and water supply. These arrests come as part of a broader crackdown that the Israeli army has been implementing against nonviolent Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters. Faced with the prospect of a broadening unarmed movement against occupation, the Israeli military has apparently decided to hunker down and deter protestors through a process of intimidation, repression and attrition.

This is bad news for any of us who value the universal rights Obama laid out in his speech, and it is especially alarming given the highly charged atmosphere on the ground. As we've seen across the region, where nonviolence fails, bloodshed follows. Those of us who wish for a peaceful end to the conflict and to the occupation, and who oppose a return to the violence of recent years, cannot afford to ignore the voices of those in places like Budrus and Bil'in who assert that the most effective and courageous response to oppression is not suicide attacks or rockets, but rather unarmed protest and collective organizing.

In recognizing the bravery and resolve of these Palestinians and Israelis, President Obama would have sent an important message of support to those who believe that a nonviolent path is the most constructive way forward -- even in the absence of real negotiations. Instead, a fragile and increasingly threatened movement is met with silence from an American President who is willing to press Arab allies into uncomfortable corners. The same Obama who tells the leadership of Bahrain that "you can't have real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail" is seemingly looking the other way when unarmed Palestinian and Israeli protestors are routinely met with violence and face arrest, often without credible charges.

What's more, those protests taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem often bring Israelis and Palestinians together, creating powerful bonds around a common cause of justice, peace and dignity. The President was right to reference Israelis like Yitzhak Frankenthal of the Parents Circle-Bereaved Families Forum, profiled in our first film Encounter Point, and Palestinians like Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who despite unimaginably painful losses actively pursue reconciliation rather than revenge. Yet equally important, and especially crucial at this volatile time are the Israelis and Palestinians who join forces and take direct nonviolent action against injustices on the ground. Whether they succeed, as they did in the village of Budrus, or fail, the common struggle has an unmistakably humanizing impact. In places like the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which we focus on in our upcoming documentary film, Israelis from increasingly diverse political, social and religious backgrounds are joining Palestinian residents in a common struggle for justice. 

These are the kind of grassroots partnerships that will give real meaning to agreements signed on paper, and that will develop the trust necessary for any peace accord to endure. Rather than ignoring them, the President should be placing them front and center in his vision for the region. As he so eloquently stated, "we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just." This is true for all those across the region who employ nonviolence to bring about a better future, and Palestinians and Israelis certainly deserve no less. 

Ronit Avni is the Founder & Executive Director of Just Vision, which researches and documents Palestinian and Israeli nonviolence and peacebuilding efforts. She recently produced the award-winning film, Budrus. Her opinion piece is reproduced here with permission.

Monday
May232011

Change in a New World (PERSPECTIVE)

By Alina Vrejoiu

Many people have criticized Barack Obama for putting his reputation on the line by being the first U.S president to boldly declare that the Israeli border should go back to the 1967 lines and insisting that a Jewish state "cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation" of Palestinian lands.

The dramatic remarks were made only a week after Obama successfully caught one of the biggest terrorist masterminds.President Obama delivers the historic Middle East speech. CREDIT: White House

It is by no accident that Obama is carefully strategizing his move in terms of the juxtaposition events from the past - comparing the upheaval in the Middle East and Africa to the American Revolution and the Civil Rights movement - and present in order to make his next move in the Middle East. He knows that there is a thirst by the public for dignity and freedom and he is willing to move out ahead into the torrent of change. Israel, on the other hand, is not ready for this sudden change to happen even though a democratic approach would work in its favor.

Obama has reassured the Israelis in his recent meeting on May 19th with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, “Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakable. And we will stand against attempt to single it out for criticism in international forums.”

Obama was, unfortunately, criticized for siding with the Israelis instead of understanding that we are not going to take sides. Yes, the United States sees Israel as an ally because we are supposed to share the same values and because it is the only country in the Middle East that embraces democracy and freedom.

However, in Obama's landmark Cairo speech of June 2009 he strongly recognized the suffering of Palestinian people through dispossession, occupation, and refugee status.

Said Obama: "...It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."

With the Palestinian population steadily growing and technology and social networking playing a big role in revolution and change, there is an urgency like never before to establish peace between these two parties. The existing state of affairs is no longer sustainable; there must be agreement to conform to a peace process and Israel should take the lead in these negotiations.

Obama has made it clear that neither he nor the United Nations can force an agreement if face-to-face discussions don’t happen and there is no real determination for peace to occur. After all, the 1967 line settlement was supposed to be for Israeli defense purposes and we have seen Jewish family settlements put in place instead.

Transparency and open dialogues with a fair redrawing of state lines is the only way a peace process can begin to flourish. I hope we will not allow misconceptions to contaminate history once again.

Establishing a new government and a new state for Palestinians that will allow for freedom of speech, thought and free elections is better than one that imposes its ideology by force.  Israel needs to step up to the plate and recognize a Palestinian state in order to move forward into the new world.  Waiting for a peace accord is no longer an option in the Middle East.

Alina Vrejoiu is a faculty member of Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York and has taught international students for the last four years.
Thursday
Jan202011

IOC Nudges Palestinians and Israelis Closer - in Lausanne (Report)

(HN, January 21, 2011) -- Snow-covered Lausanne was the setting Thursday for top officials from the Palestinian and Israeli Olympic committees to try to bridge differences and seek common ground for cooperation.

Nader Al Masri - the only athlete from the Gaza Strip in Beijing, one of the four-strong Palestinian team.

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the two sides conducted cordial and productive discussions - to the point of the Israelis offering Palestinian athletes training facilities for the 2012 London Olympics.

"The representatives of the Olympic Committee of Israel said that they were ready to offer training opportunities to Palestinian athletes." the IOC said in a statement sent to HUMNEWS.

The IOC also confirmed that it would provide experts to work on a long-term sports development strategy in Palestine in order to continue to assist not only the athletes but also coaches and sports administrators, and to identify ways to better promote sport and its values at grassroots level, the statement said.

The two sides agreed to meet in Lausanne following IOC President Jacques Rogge’s visit to the Middle East last October. During that visit he must have seen the dilapidated state of sports and training facilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A second meeting will be scheduled in two months’ time to review the progress made, the IOC said.

There was also an indication that the Israelis agreed to ease access for Palestinian athletes, coaches, officials and sports material, as well as foreign visiting athletes.

Athletes from the Palestinian Territory were first represented at the Olympic Games at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

- HUMNEWS staff, IOC