Great news out of Egypt today… A Protester becomes Egypt premier…!

Egypt’s military rulers have accepted the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, seen by protesters as a symbol of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

The army said on Thursday he will be replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former transport minister who took part in the mass rallies in Cairo’s Tahrir Square which led to strongman Mubarak’s resignation on Feb.11 after three decades in power.

Sharaf, was transport minister from 2002 to 2005. He was sacked over differences with then-premier Ahmad Nazif who was sacked four days after the start of the protests.

Sharaf is popular with the youths who launched the revolt against Mubarak, having taken part in the huge demonstrations.

That is awesome news indeed, what’s shocking is how quickly it happened, and, the event that precipitated it…!

Egypt PM routed on live TV, sign of media upheaval

An unprecedented live television show featuring a shouting match between the Egyptian prime minister and opposition figures summed up the scale of the transformation sweeping the Arab world’s most populous nation.

A few hours after the Wednesday night show, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was out of a job and some commentators said his unconvincing TV performance had played a part in his downfall. Egypt’s military rulers replaced him on Thursday morning.

Ironically, that wasn’t the only Egyptian resignation of import today…

A Revolution In Egyptology: Zahi Hawass Has Finally Gone

For most people, Zahi Hawass, star of his own cable TV series, purveyor of his own line of Indiana Jones-style wide-brimmed hats, and most prominently the man in charge of all the top cultural sites in Egypt, personified the swashbuckling adventurer of yore, determined to protect and cherish the many wonders of Ancient Egypt.

There was another side to Dr. Hawass, however, and his reactionary and sometimes capricious rulings on who could visit and research the sites were the stuff of legend among Egyptologists outside of his approved, establishment allies.

I’m a little skeptical that his resignation is anything more than a power play and suspect that he may very well make a well-staged, dramatic comeback — but if he really has gone for good, I’m hopeful that we may enter into a new era of breakthrough research in Egypt…

Ta ta, Dr. Zahi Hawass…

Now, continuing along with recent resignations… A ‘veteran’ Diplomat in the Israeli Foreign Ministry had emptied his desk Tuesday and wrote a blistering diatribe on his way out…!

Veteran diplomat’s rebuke of Netanyahu, Lieberman strikes chord with colleagues

…[Ilan Baruch] wrote the letter on Tuesday, his last day at the Foreign Ministry. In it, he said: “Over the past two years the political and diplomatic messages by the state’s leaders, which have grown more pointed, have infuriated me and given me no rest. I find it difficult to represent them and explain them honestly.” [...]

“I felt I could not represent the government and so I retired. After my retirement, having ended my position as a state employee, I expressed my feelings.” [...]

He sensed an initial warning sign, he added, the day Lieberman took office as foreign minister and gave a speech in which he rejected the possibility of peace with the Palestinians.

“Lieberman completely denied [Israel's] role in the failure of the peace process,” Baruch said. “The outcome is not good and it is not only because of the Palestinians’ conduct.” [...]

“It has become impossible to explain Israel to others these days,” one ambassador said. “There is no clear policy and it is very difficult to respond to international criticism.”

Another ambassador said: “The diplomatic impasse is dangerous to the State of Israel, and it doesn’t seem as if the prime minister has a solution in the form of a diplomatic initiative. Under such circumstances, the international community will simply force a solution on us.”

Last year Lieberman told a group of ambassadors that “some ambassadors’ identification with the other side [the Palestinian side] is so great that they want to justify and explain it all the time.”

Ynet was more succinct…

Diplomat: I can no longer represent Israel

Veteran diplomat Ilan Baruch quits, says he can no longer represent government; Israel’s foreign policy is ‘wrong,’ he says, adds that blaming global anti-occupation views on anti-Semitism is ‘simplistic, artificial’

Foreign Ministry earthquake: A veteran diplomat says he has resigned from his post because he had a hard time defending the policies of Israel’s current government, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.

Ilan Baruch says he quit because “Israel’s foreign policy is wrong,” pointing to the Palestinian issue.

Should this trend continue, he warned, Israel will turn into a pariah state and face growing de-legitimization.

Baruch told Israel TV Wednesday that Israel’s standing was in danger because of its policies, which he said were “difficult to explain.”

“I can no longer honestly represent this government,” he said earlier. “As (Foreign Minister) Lieberman was elected by a large public in a legitimate manner, I cannot question him – but I don’t have to serve him, and therefore I’m quitting.”

“I have nothing against Lieberman the person,” Baruch added. However, he said he had a problem with the diplomatic messages conveyed by the Jewish state at this time and its dismissal of former understandings pertaining to the Road Map and the Palestinians.

‘Don’t blame anti-Semitism’

Baruch sent a personal letter to all Foreign Ministry employees Tuesday to explain the motives for his decision.

“Identifying the objection expressed by global public opinion to the occupation policy as anti-Semitic is simplistic, provincial and artificial,” he wrote. “Experience shows that this global trend won’t change until we normalize our relations with the Palestinians.”

Now, when one reflects back upon Avigdor Lieberman’s ascent to Foreign Minister and his subsequent faux pas’ on the international stage…! Avi was (is) an unmitigated disaster for the Israeli hasbara…!

Today, Bibi announced a renewed push for ‘direct’ Peace Talks with the Palestinians, but, then skips out on the Quartet’s scheduled I/P meet-up in Brussels…!

Israel skips Quartet meet, as PM eyes interim deal

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is considering pushing for a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinians in the absence of any moves to renew peace talks, press reports said on Wednesday.

The idea was splashed across all of Israel’s main newspapers as Palestinian negotiators held talks about resuming peace dialogue in Brussels with envoys of the Middle East Quartet of peacemakers — in a session which Israel declined to attend.

“The Palestinians are unwilling to enter into serious negotiations and therefore we should examine the idea of a long-term interim arrangement,” a senior source in the premier’s office told Israel Hayom, a newspaper considered close to Netanyahu.

“In light of the instability in the region, the only possibility is to go for an interim arrangement, on condition that it is a long-term one — and this is what we are currently examining,” he said, referring the unrest sweeping the Middle East.

Details of the plan are still sketchy but the idea is believed to involve the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders, while at the same time holding talks on the principles of final status issues, the Haaretz newspaper said.

Here is that Haaretz report…

Netanyahu to present new peace initiative in bid to break deadlock

After warning of the threat of a bi-national state, PM to put forward draft for peace which could mention East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

…In some of the drafts East Jerusalem is mentioned as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office say that in recent weeks Netanyahu has been talking with the Obama administration in order to formulate a program that would restart the peace process.

His adviser, Ron Dermer, flew secretly to Washington a week ago and met with senior White House officials. U.S. envoys Dennis Ross and Fred Hoff also visited Israel and met with Netanyahu.

“The prime minister has realized that the political impasse is not working in favor of Israel,” one of Netanyahu’s advisers said.

“Following a few weeks of revolution in the Arab world he is convinced that there are opportunities, not just threats, and that it is important to take advantage of the situation that was created in order to restart the peace process and put an end to the unilateral initiatives of the Palestinians.”

In private talks recently, Netanyahu has reportedly begun discussing the growing threat of a binational state.

“This trend will intensify and become stronger,” Netanyahu told his advisers. “However there are those in Israel who think that one state is a good idea. I think it is a disaster.”

Netanyahu would like to announce his peace plan in a speech in the coming weeks. One of the ideas being considered is that Netanyahu would speak before a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

A little more insight into Bibi’s true intentions…

Jerusalem – Israel: No Palestinian Peace Deal Possible Now

Israel has concluded that a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot be reached at this time and is weighing alternatives to try to prove that it is interested in keeping peacemaking with the Palestinians alive, officials said Thursday.

With popular protests shaking up the Mideast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under fierce international pressure to prove he is serious about getting peacemaking moving again, especially after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s West Bank settlement construction last month.

Israeli officials are meeting with international mediators, including U.S. envoy Dennis Ross and representatives of the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia — due to arrive in the region next week.

Government officials say Netanyahu is expected to deliver a major policy speech on peacemaking in the coming weeks, hinting at a change in direction away from direct talks on a peace treaty. [...]

“The consistent refusal of the Palestinian leadership to negotiate with Israel has made a negotiated agreement all but impossible to achieve, at least for the time being,” one government official said. “And so we’re looking at an Israeli initiative, and steps that we can take that would be a phased approach to a final status agreement.”

Even former PM, Ehud Barak, lashed out at Avigdor Lieberman’s and Bibi’s unholy alliance, which he had just joined, as he’d just deserted the Labor party…

Barak: Make-up of government is problematic for advancing peace

The defense minister says in an interview that government’s right-leaning coalition isn’t suitable for advancing direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Anyways, the Palestinians have flatly rejected Bibi’s weak gruel…

To put a little more perspective upon the plight of the Palestinians…

A Bedouin village that has been razed 18 times since last July, is being sued by the GoI for the demolition costs they’d incurred…

Israel to Sue Bedouin Residents of Demolished Village for Demolition Costs

Israel’s State Attorney’s Office is currently preparing a legal petition for more than NIS 1 million against the residents of El Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev Desert under increasing attack…

In other news, I don’t blame them one iota… UN delegates ‘walked out’ during Clinton speech…

Now, to sum it up…

Hamas arrests top global jihad man in Gaza
The leader of a group associated with al-Qaidawas arrested at home at a central Gaza refugee camp after spending 18 months on Hamas’ wanted list.

That oughta put a little crimp in the Neocon Chickenhawks’ usual meme…!