Morning Report: February 7, 2005

Erekat: Israel, Palestine to announce cease-fire. A recent news report from CNN states that Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has said Palestinian and Israeli leaders will announce a cease-fire at tomorrow's (Tuesday) summit at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. 'Under the agreement, Israeli troops will halt incursions into Palestinian territories and Palestinian officials will urge all Palestinian factions to halt their attacks on Israel, Palestinian officials said. Erakat's statement came hours after leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to travel to Washington for separate meetings with President Bush. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- after talks with leaders from both sides -- said this is the most promising time for Mideast peace in years.' Debka reports: 'Rice announces Abbas and Sharon to go to White House in spring. At Ben Gurion airport, she disclosed a US security coordinator Lt. Gen. William Ward will be deployed to work with Palestinians, Israel, Egypt and Jordan on improvement of security in region. Rice ended two days of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah Monday. DEBKAfile adds: General is former head of stabilizing force in Bosnia.' The BBC profiles Ward: 'Gen Ward gained a master's degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor's in political science from Morgan State University before he was commissioned as an officer in 1971. His military service includes several overseas tours. He was a brigade commander in Mogadishu, Somalia, when two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. Nineteen US soldiers died during the now infamous subsequent rescue operation. For a year until October 2003 he commanded the Nato Stabilisation Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina. He has also toured in South Korea and Germany.' (CNN, Debka, BBC)

Debka: NATO to begin presence in Israel. Also from Debka: 'DEBKAfile’s Eilat sources report visit Sunday by NATO naval officers at Israeli Red Sea port and neighboring Aqaba in Jordan and inspection of their naval base installations. Sources expect NATO warships to begin docking in Eilat early next month, first instance of NATO sea cooperation with US as well as Israel and Jordan in Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba.' (Debka)

ITM: New tyranny "not that easy". Refuting earlier reports of an alleged statement by Sistani endorsing Shari'a law in Iraq, Omar reports: 'I chose to wait until the next news hour and of course until I chill out a little bit after the disturbing news and then I heard this update on the story "Haider Al-Khaffaf, a senior Sistani's aide says that no such statement was released". And going back to Friday's news, another senior aide of Sistani said from Kuwait that "the future constitution of the country is an issue that is left for the National Assembly to deal with".' Omar (agreeing with Baghdad Dweller) also sees a parallel with last year's infamous Resolution 137, which would have imposed Islamic law, and which was soundly rejected by the Iraqis. Omar also points to a system of checks and balances: 'there are rules and regulations that govern the writing of the constitution and these were agreed on by almost everyone (with a few reservations though) but there is a general agreement on these rules, and anyway, passing any legislation will require the approval of 2 thirds of the assembly's members.' The Belmont Club's analysis concludes that 'The question of whether it was right to deal with Chalabi or Allawi may in the end be dominated by the issue of whether it was right to trust the Iraqi people to select its leader. If that judgement is correct it is possible to be wrong in all else; if wrong nothing will avail.' (Iraq the Model, Belmont Club)

Barney Frank on Eason Jordan. Michelle Malkin recently spoke with Rep. Barney Frank (D - Massachusetts) on CNN official Eason Jordan's questionable allegations regarding US troops and reporters. Malkin writes: 'Rep. Frank said Eason Jordan did assert that there was deliberate targeting of journalists by the U.S. military. After Jordan made the statement, Rep. Frank said he immediately "expressed deep skepticism." Jordan backed off (slightly), Rep. Frank said, "explaining that he wasn't saying it was the policy of the American military to target journalists, but that there may have been individual cases where they were targeted by younger personnel who were not properly disciplined." Rep. Frank said he didn't pay attention to the audience reaction at the time of the panel, but recalled that Sen. Dodd was "somewhat disturbed" and "somewhat exercised" and that moderator David Gergen also said Jordan's assertions were "disturbing if true." I have a call in to Sen. Dodd's office and sent an e-mail inquiry to Gergen.' (Michelle Malkin via Instapundit)

France bans Iranian anti-regime rally. Iran Focus reports that French authorities have withdrawn their approval for a pro-Iranian rally in Paris, under pressure from the islamist regime in Tehran. 'Iran's main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, issued a statement today condemning the French government's decision to ban a peaceful protest by Iranian exiles in Paris against the dictatorship ruling Iran, despite prior approval. ... The NCRI revealed from sources from within Iran that France gave into the demands of the Iranian regime to secure economic deals for French companies, adding that Tehran was spreading its dictatorship thousands of kilometres to the heart of Europe.' (Iran Focus via Free Iran)