“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Historic Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap successful

Deutsche Welle, 18 October 2011 

Shalit returned home after five years
in captivity
Crowds in Israeli and Palestinian cities turned out to celebrate the success of a long-awaited exchange on Tuesday. After five years, Gilad Shalit is again in Israeli hands; 477 Palestinian prisoners are now home, too.

The swap went without a hitch and was carried out according to schedule.

Just under 500 Palestinian prisoners were released from Israeli jails Tuesday morning, the first stage in a historic deal that will see more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners exchanged for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Gilad Shalit was taken from Gaza first to Egypt, which brokered the prisoner exchange. He had been held at a secret location in Gaza for over 5 years, following his capture by Islamist Hamas militants, who tunneled under the border fence into Israel in a raid in June 2006. 

Netanyahu was at the base to greet
Shalit upon his return
After arriving in Egypt, Shalit was interviewed on state television. He appeared pale, emaciated and confused, and he admitted that he was nervous because he hadn't been with so many people in a long time. "I am looking forward to being with people again and especially to seeing my family, whom I have missed very much."

He said he had been kept alone, with some access to TV and radio, and he was able to describe world events, such as the revolution in Egypt. When asked as to why the swap came about now, he suggested that it was the result of good relations between Egypt and Hamas.

"I hope this prisoner swap does lead to peace. I hope the Palestinian prisoners released today won't return to fight against Israel," he said.

Once Shalit crossed into Israel, he was flown to an Israeli air force base in the center of the country. He stepped out of the helicopter wearing an Israeli military uniform and saluted the honor guard gathered there to greet him - Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Defense Minister, Ehud Barak and Israel's military Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz.

Shalit had fainted during the short flight, and apologized to the Prime Minister for feeling weak. An emotional reunion with his family followed. After a number of medical and psychological tests, he was allowed to return to Mizpe Hila, the small village in Galilee where his family lives. Yellow ribbons had been tied to trees along the roads to the village, and supporters surged around his family's vehicle as they drove in.

Yellow ribbons tied to trees lined the streets of Shalit's hometown in Galilee

Palestinian prisoners

The majority of the Palestinian prisoners - close to 300 - were released to Gaza. More than 140 went to the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the remaining 43 will be released into exile, in countries including Qatar, Turkey and Syria.

Hamas declared a holiday in Gaza, and regional leader Ismail Haniye greeted each of the returning prisoners personally when they crossed into the Gaza Strip. 

Green Hamas flags were flown
throughout Gaza
Massive crowds turned out to give the returnees a rapturous welcome. Thousands lined the route of the motorcade taking them from the border crossing up to the main rally in Gaza city. The crowds waved the green flags of Hamas and threw sweets. The drive which usually takes about 45 minutes took hour took longer than five hours.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not play a part in the swap - but certainly couldn't ignore it. He was at the celebration in Ramallah to welcome the prisoners returning to the West Bank. He told them they were heroes and used the occasion to push his vision of a two state solution.

"You will see the results of your sacrifices and suffering in the Palestinian independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Israeli colonial activities should be halted and the issue of the prisoners is a top priority of this leadership."

Implications for peace process

The prisoner swap has strengthened Hamas; it was Hamas that took Gilad Shalit captive, and it was Hamas that negotiated the deal - through indirect talks with Israel. In effect, by signing the deal, Israel has boosted its main Palestinian enemy, which does not recognize the Jewish state, at the expense of its main Palestinian ally, Fatah, the party led by moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Fatah believes in talking to Israel; Hamas does not. Indeed, earlier this year when the two estranged Palestinian groups began reconciliation talks, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Abbas, saying he had to choose between Israel and Hamas. 

Around 1000 Palestinian prisoners
are to be released
Now, in light of the historic prisoner swap, there are calls within Israel to reevaluate relations with Hamas, and to take advantage of the back-channels to the Islamist group that were developed over the five years during which the deal was negotiated. Opposition MP Nahman Shai called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "weigh the possibility that relations with Hamas may be open to change."

Shai suggested that one possible area for change was Israel's economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was partially lifted following Israel's deadly raid on the Turkish flotilla in May 2009.

"The blockade on Gaza was, in a significant way, dictated by Gilad Shalit's abduction and captivity," said Shai.

He also suggested that Israel should reevaluate its stance toward Hamas, "as part of a renewed attempt to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority."

"This is a small window of opportunity that forces the government to present a diplomatic initiative, and not to continue fortifying itself behind old stances," Shai said.

Hamas reaction 

Negotiations are underway for further
prisoner releases
Some Hamas politicians have said that their militant wing should now simply plan their next abduction of an Israeli soldier. However, Hamas leader Mahmoud Azahar spoke in Gaza Monday about negotiating further with Israel to obtain the release of additional Palestinian prisoners. Hamas' loss of leverage has led to suggestions that other issues may now be open - such as a long term ceasefire along the Gaza border.

The question for the future is whether this prisoner exchange could be a springboard to improving relations in this troubled region.

Author: Irris Makler, Jerusalem
Editor: Mark Hallam

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