From Der Spiegel

EU Terror List: Hezbollah Unlikely to Feel Sanctions

EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to put the military wing of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. But sanctions will have little impact on the “Party of God,” which has long since become Lebanon’s most powerful political force. {…}

On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to put this armed wing of Hezbollah on the bloc’s list of terrorist groups. The move marks a striking about-face in European policy regarding the Shiite militants. Previously, European leaders had argued that Lebanon, already in a vulnerable state, would be further destabilized if the influential group were declared outcasts.

Sanctions Won’t Be Felt

But Britain, the Netherlands and France have pushed just such a measure through, arguing that by interfering in the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah is now threatening the fragile peace inside Lebanon as well. European restraint on the matter no longer makes sense, they argue. {…}

Civil and Military Division Unclear

The fact that outsiders are unable to discern where Hezbollah’s civilian wing ends and the militant one begins is likely to mean that the organization will escape the EU’s measures unscathed, say Western diplomats in Beirut. The decision in Brussels was purely symbolic, serving only to appease the United States, which declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1995 after two devastating attacks against the Israeli embassy and a Jewish organization in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires. Since then, the US has been pressuring its allies to follow suit…

Now, in looking at the latest I/P Peace Farce being peddled by SoS Kerry, as I’ve written before: Talk is Cheap and The Freeze Farce Is Over, I’d adopted the same ‘wait and see’ attitude as longtime I/P blogger, Richard Silverstein…

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talk Charade

I’ve held off writing about John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy attempting to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, because I thought there was “no there, there” and figured it might collapse of its own weight. But developments in the past 24 hours indicate that while this is still likely, all parties have already been guilty of bad judgments which should be pointed out. {…}

They’ll supposedly be getting 100 freed Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails for decades. The Israel Broadcasting Authority says the prisoner release would happen in four stages and the first one would only happen during the second month of negotiations. A lot can happen in that time. And I’d say a guarantee of this happening is pretty thin. Furhter, the Palestinians seem willing to overlook that Israel, after past prisoner exchanges, promptly rearrested whoever it still wants behind bars.

Another issue the Palestinians would apparently give up is their efforts to win international recognition in bodies like the United Nations. That’s giving up a whole lot in return for very little. {…}

But today’s worst outrage, which sent me into a paroxysm of righteous indignation, was the report by Laura Rozen that John Kerry may plan to appoint Martin Indyk his “peace envoy.” You’ll recall that the estimable George Mitchell had that role towards the beginning of Obama’s first term. But Mitchell failed because Obama wasn’t willing to use the power of his office to pressure the Israelis to deal. Despite such a failure, at least one might say that Mitchell was truly an honest broker. He had no strong affiliation with either side nor any hostility against either side.

Indyk is an entirely different story: there seems to be a notion among U.S. presidents that to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace they need a former Aipac analyst on their team. That’s how they got Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and a number of other similar figures. They both are or were affiliated with WINEP, Aipac’s foreign policy think tank. Neither Ross nor Indyk has any special affinity or interest in the Palestinians, except as a means to an end (a peace deal that responds to and guarantees Israeli interests). The latter was also U.S. ambassador to Israel under Pres. Clinton. The NY Times calls the Brookings think-tanker “a seasoned hand,” which as usual for the Times is beside the point and misses the key reasons for his appointment and his political affiliations. {…}

This iteration of the peace process is dead on arrival. The sooner John Kerry realizes this the less political face he will lose. What is being proposed shows that Obama has no real interest in settling the conflict. He wants to be seen to be doing something. And what he’s seen to be doing he hopes will last for the next three years so he can kick the can down the road for the next guy. Or, as Mitt Romney so inimitably put it: “to kick the football down the field.”

Once again, Bibi pushed the Pollard canard…

‘PM asked US to free Pollard as incentive for entering peace talks’

Netanyahu reportedly wanted to present ministers with symbolic victory to ease opposition to restarting peace talks

The US reportedly refused an Israeli request to free imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners, ahead of new peace talks with the Palestinians…

…The Cabinet, on Sunday, will vote on the release of Palestinian prisoners ahead of a scheduled first round of talks between Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington.

Israeli officials have indicated the prisoners will be freed in phases, beginning at 4-6 weeks into the negotiations, and continuing at 6-8 week intervals, depending on the progress of the talks. Under Israeli law, the prisoners’ names will be published 48 hours before their release to allow families of their victims to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.

Israel has reportedly refused to release an additional 21 pre-Oslo prisoners, either because they are Israeli citizens or for other security reasons.

Kerry announced the resumption of peace talks, after a hiatus of almost three years, on Friday. “We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming negotiations,” he said.

While Israeli leaders had confirmed the talks would be taking place and have even boasted that Israel had not been required to cave in to Palestinian preconditions to do so, Palestinian officials said that the path to resumed negotiations had not yet been cleared, and that the imminent meetings in Washington were aimed only at seeking to finalize the terms for the new negotiations.

Seriously, as I’ve noted before… Bibi: There’s No Solution to The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is nothing but another stalling tactic as Israel continues to expand the Settlements and grow richer off the fruits of the Occupied Territories…!

Moving on to Syria…

U.S. plan to arm Syria rebels gains support in Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to provide vetted Syrian rebels with weapons and strategic military aid has gained traction in Congress, U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday…

Lawmakers have been split on the proposal, but on Monday House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers said a “consensus” had been reached among the panel’s members to accept Obama’s plan despite “very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success.”

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner also weighed in in favor of the committee’s approach, saying “their effort to help the right set of rebels in Syria is in our nation’s best interest.”

While not legally required, intelligence committee approval of U.S. military assistance has traditionally been key to administrations moving ahead with such aid.

Like the House panel, the Senate Intelligence Committee has held several closed-door debates in recent weeks on the merits of increased military aid to rebels in Syria, where a conflict now in its 28th month has killed some 100,000 people.

Senate intelligence chair Dianne Feinstein has refused to divulge what progress if any has been made in committee on backing Obama’s push.

But on Tuesday Senator Richard Burr, who sits on the panel and who supports arming the rebels, strongly suggested a logjam had been broken.

“The White House has all the authority they need right now,” the Republican told AFP…

White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to comment on any Syria debates in Congress, “especially ones that are behind closed doors,” nor would he catalogue the assistance that is being provided.

But “the president, as he made clear not long ago, is committed to ramping up that assistance as necessary, because of the circumstances that we find and because of the need for the opposition to further strengthen and unify,” Carney said…

In summing up, the intrepid Pepe Escobar penned another must-read… War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

*gah*