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The Middle East/Iran Inside Line: Hezbollah In, Lieberman Out, France-Germany Making a Difference?

Iran’s Nuclear Programme: Talks, Threats, and Propaganda
Israel-Palestine: After Mitchell Meeting, Netanyahu Presses His Advantage

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071012_HaririQA_hsmall-horizontalLebanon: Hezbollah in Government: Prime Minister-designate Sa'ad Hariri declared on Wednesday: "The national unity government will include the [ruling] March 14 alliance, and I also want to assure the Israeli enemy that Hezbollah will be in this government whether it likes it or not because Lebanon's interests require all parties be involved in this cabinet."

France and Germany Speak Out on Middle East, Iran: On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then reiterated Germany’s call for two-state solution: "We shouldn't let the window of opportunity pass… The time is absolutely right. Let us do everything to use it."

Meanwhile, spokesmen for the Germany Government emphasised, "The German government advocates that no further settlements in the occupied territories be built. The federal government has emphasized repeatedly this position, and it has not changed." The spokesmem refused to give details on discussions over Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held in Gaza, "strongly appealed to his kidnappers to release him as fast as possible [as] his martyrdom has already lasted too long".

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, also on the scene, endorsed the German call for a halt to Israeli settlement expansion. He then switched to Iran, publicly warned that France would support further sanctions on Tehran if it did not stop uranium enrichment: "These are the same leaders, in Iran, who tell us that the nuclear program is peaceful and that the elections were honest. Frankly, who believes them?"

Sarkozy is due to meet with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in Paris next week.

Israel: Foreign Minister in Trouble?: Haaretz’s Aluf Benn has pointed out the “damage” Foreign Ministry Avigdor Lieberman is causing to Israel's reputation and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to replace him with a “real statesman”.

Benn argues that Lieberman’s has not furthered his country’s national interests in diplomatic exchanges with other countries and has, indeed, alienated them thanks to his “aggressive” statements. Lieberman has put his Prime Minister in a “foolish” position and endangering the peace process by calling it a “dangerous folly”.

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