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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  July 27, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT

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tonight on "worldfocus" -- in israel, secretary of defense, robert gates, warns iran -- america's attempt to engage over its nuclear program is not an open-ended offer. while israel indicates a military strike is still a possibility. expanding israeli settlements in the west bank. they have been a source of tension between the u.s. and israel. tonight, we take you to one of the largest where leaders say they would be happy to lead. china and the u.s. begin two days of critical talks on issues ranging from the world economy, climate change and nuclear proliferation. president obama says the outcome will shape the 21st century. and from australia, the latest baby pictures of a
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newborn that's packing on the crowds. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here is what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus." made possible, in part, by the following funders -- good evening, i'm martin savidge. as we told you friday, this is a critical week for u.s/israeli relations. no fewer than four prominent american officials are in israel to discuss iran's nuclear threat and to try to resolve differences between the two close allies about israeli settlements on the west bank. we're going to have extensive coverage on both of these stories tonight. we begin with new, tough talk from israeli's defense minister ehud barak with robert gates. barak made it clear that israel is still considering military action against iran. this is as gates spoke about new tougher sanctions.
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the possibility of an israeli attack on iran, that's our "lead focus" tonight. we begin wit this report from "worldfocus" producer lion. >> reporter: robert gates made a short visit to israel today to make the case for nuclear negotiation with iran but after meeting with israel's defense minister, ehud barak there was little doubt that israelis are keeping the option of military strike on iran on the table. >> we're in no position to tell the administration of whether want an engagement with iran or not but if there is an engagement, we believe it should be short in time, well defined in objectives followed by sanctions. we clearly believe that no options should be removed for -- from the table. this is our policy. we mean it. >> reporter: three times during the press conference, barak repeated that no options are off of the table.
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making it clear israel is sticking to its hardline approach to tehran, despite u.s. pressure not make a preemptive strike on iran's nuclear facility. during a stop later in amman, jordan, secretary gates threatened new, tougher sanctions if iran doesn't agree to talk soon. >> if the engagement process is not successful, the united states is prepared to press for significant, additional sanctions. our hope still remains tha will respond to the president's outstretched hand in a positive and constructive way. but we'll see. >> reporter: but sanctions and talks aren't reassuring israelis who are in iran's line of fire. ben cover the military for israel's channel 10 news. >> if you look at the israeli force efforts, any way that iran had dispersed its nuclear facilities, you realize that the israeli's options are very limited.
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however, you have to assume that is preparing such a military option. because there might be a time when israel sees that nobody's doing anything to stop iran. and israel has to defend itself. if we not do anything in the coming months, anything that might interrupt the american effort to engage iran. but at the end of the year, i think both washington and jerslimit will have to make some kind of preassessment the way that the iranian program is going through and what it needs to be done to stop it. >> america's envoy to the middle east george mitchell is also in that part of the world and during the weekend he became only the second american diplomat to visit syria in the past four years. then after talks in israel, mitchell traveled to egypt where he met today with egyptian presidbarak. and the secretary-general of the arab league. >> the steps, the policy, the efforts made by the obama administration. and while not -- at all. in fact, we are frustrated and
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angry. because of the israeli position and the israeli escalation. >> estimates are that nearly 300,000 jewish settlers live in the west bank and perhaps another 180,000 live in east jerusalem. both areas claimed by arabs. the obama administration, which says it's seeking a comprehensive middle east peace deal, has been pressing israel to stop building settlements. but israel says the settlements must continue to grow to accommodate what it calls "the natural growth of families." nowhere is that growth faster than at baytar elite orthodox settlement near east jerusalem. our "worldfocus" spotlight story comes from our reporter from "the new york times." >> reporter: on a balmy summer night in the west bank, the ultraorthodox jewish residence of the baytar elite settlement revel in a completion of a new handwritten torah. competition is fierce for the young boys who wish to get their hands on a torch.
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thanks to extraordinary baytar elite and the other ultraorthodox settlements have quickly become the most populous settlements in the west bank. with mounting political pressure the curve of the growth of jewish settlements in the west bank, these ultraorthodox settlements are stuck in limbo while other settlements may wish to expand for political gain, residents here hope to enlarge their area only to accommodate their surging populations. and they say just as happy to live on the other side of the pre-1967 orders. >> they should either move all of baytar to another line. >> baytar is lead not in the heart of the west bank but on the outer edge of it. it is six miles from jerusalem and less than a mile from the green line. the 1948 armistice line dividing israel from the west bank. in the likely borders of reference for any potential agreement between israelis and palestinians.
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ultraorthodox or haredi jews consider it a commandment by god to reproduce and birth control is frowned upon. the average woman here will give birth to between six to seven > translator: other 40,000 souls we have nearly 30,000 childr. this is the city of children. >> reporter: the city's mayor a 36-year-old rabbi with ten children of his own, like many of the adults here, he moved to the settlement from jerusalem. >> translator: everyone here wants to live in jerusalem. the problem is that it's more expensive there and there are no apartments. that is why they let us move here. >> reporter: this place doesn't fit the common perception of israeli settlements which are often smaller and more politically engaged. fully functional west bank city with businesses, schools, shopping malls and even an internal bus network.
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residents here are typically not zionists. and some openly question the tenants in which the state of israel was created. everyone was on the outskirts in the city of a small army base. these settlers didn't move to the west bank because of ideology but because the government offered them cheap housing in a closed ultraorthodox community. while land politics may not be a paramount importance, to the settlers, this is hardly the case with their palestinian neighbors. >> translator: it's a matter of principle. they came and stole our land and setled on it. the settlers should go back to israel and live there. >> reporter: just a few hundred yards away in the shadow of baytar elite, sits the village of the tranquil agriculture town of only 1,100 residents. the villagers mostly live off of their cucumbers, zucchini.
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>> translator: how can anyone eat these crops knowing that they are watered with sewage? >> reporter: if there is some semblance of coexistence between baytar elite, one peculiar example is the group of palestinian farmers from neighboring hussan who still own farmland right in the middle of the settlement. they cross the highway, show their i.d. at the gate, and then go through this pedestrian tunnel designated for palestinians. this farmer walks through the tunnel every workday at 4:00 to take care of its crops. he's had this land in his family for generations. and he hopes to one day pass it down to his son. >> translator: i have figs, olives, peaches, i've got it all. i never have to go to the market. >> reporter: he claimed that before the settlements, he used to have more land. >> translator: what can i tell you? it's good luck we have something left. >> reporter: today they are
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picking green beans. after supplying his family, the surplus is then sold in the village. it is well known that many families from baytar elite shop in his village where prices are cheaper. palestinian construction workers from nearby villages helped build baytar elite. and now they're finding fewer opportunities to work there. when the freeze on new construction went into effect here during the last year of the bush administration, unlike in many other places, they respected it. now that president obama has taken an even stronger stand including the prohibition of the so-called natural growth of settlements, residents here are alarmed. >> translator: i'm certain that as soon as obama and the u.s. government will come and see this city and how close it is to the green line, they will understand that there is no stopping this city. >> reporter: over the next ten years, baytar elite's population is expected to double. with their lives dedicated to
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the strictest interpretation of jewish law, there is little chance that residents will change their reproductive habits. with political negotiations stalled, it remains to be seen what will become of these incidental settlers and the even larger generation on the way. i'm reporting for "the new york times" in baytar elite. and that brings us to our newest segment here on "worldfocus." are we're calling it "how they see it." the, neeks perspective we can sometimes bring you from our broadcast partners. you just saw a story about ultraorthodox jews on the west bank and now we want to show you r view about life on the west bank from the palestinian point of view. it's getting better because israel has been making movement easier within the west bank. yes, a huge while to stop create terrorism still exists but checkpoint restrictions have been eased because deaths from suicide attacks have dropped dramatically from 220 in 2002 to a small fraction of that today. from the palestinians, you can see these changes by taking the bus om the west bank town of
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ramallah to nablus. and that's what our reporter from al jazeera did. >> reporter: a journey bus driver hated making. the 50-kilometer trip from ramallah to nablus, two of the west bank main cities, would take him and his palestinian passengers hours, if not the whole day, because of israel's checkpoints along the way. but in recent months, israel has eased restrictions of checkpoints surrounding nablus. reportedly in response to u.s. pressure. now, the road ahead seems brighter. >> translator: our biggest nightmare is drivers where the checkpoints leading to nablus. i take passengers and always worry about how to get them through and now it's much better with the checkpoints easing. >> reporter: but easing is not dismantling. the signs of israel's occupation are still as evident as ever.
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>> translator: until now, the israeli army still man the checkpoints. it's true, things are better. some days we don't notice the soldiers, but on other days, they stop us for one, two hours. they search the car using the excuse they're looking for wanted people. >> reporter: on the whole, palestinians are trying to move around their own territory, there's been definite improvement. it's taken us just 40 minutes to get from ramallah to here, the entrance point to nablus. this is the checkpoint. one the worst bottleneck in the west bank and now you can see israeli soldiers just waving cars past. the easing of restrictions here have transformed the city of nablus. the nine years nablus lived under a strict israeli siege, not just surrounded by checkpoints, but subjected to constant israeli incursion, raised and curfews. for the movement of goods and people seems to have boosted the economy as well as the morale of the city.
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a new cinema, shop, festivals have all contributed to a feeling of normalcy and security. >> you know it's a completely different life. we can move easily. universities, also easily. we can go by cars from nablus to the central of nablus to ramallah now. people are more cheerful nowadays. more happy nowadays. >> occupatioand political instability are a daily reality for all palestinians here. hundreds of israeli checkpoints and roadblocks and the separation wall still strangle the west bank. but loosening the rope around the neck of nablus shows the potential of the west bank when its given just a little space to breathe. reporting for al jazeera, nablus in the occupied west bank. now to help us understand all of these developments, we are joined again by daniel levy.
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a senior fellow and the co-director of the middle east task force at new american foundation. welcome back. >> thank you. >> let's start with the -- well, comments by ehud barak today. about keeping the military option against iran open. first of all, who is he speaking to? u.s., iran, the israelis? and what was he really trying to communicate? >> i tell you, all of the above. not least the israeli domestic audience. this is a long established israeli position, to keep all the options on the table. now, i think the israelis do see that the greater ability of the obama administration to build an international consensus of engagement but also sanctions is something the israelis are interested in helping, i think. there is, of course, a very fluid situation inside iran itself, politically. some conservative criticism of ahmadinejad in addition to the reformist protest.
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i don't other than -- i don't think it was a breakthrough by gates. i think it was more of a maintenance exercise and a handholding at this stage. >> do you think that israel, at all, would be satisfied with these promises coming about the prospect of tougher sanctions against iran? >> look, i think it's a misconception to think that israeli's chomping at the bit to attack. i think that israel sees itself as playing the bad cop consistently on the iran issue, the head of the israeli massad recently said, no iranian nuclear arms capacity by 2014. so i think not an immediate sense of urgency but israel wants to make clear that the options there seen in. >> we mentioned that george mitchell went to syria over the weekend. how significant, first of all, that was visit onto itself and i will branch out from there and let's talk about the significance of that visit. >> well, it's very significant in the context of senior administration officials being there. mitchell's second visit. against the backdrop of the previous administration, which really disengaged from syria. you now see efforts to engage with syria. syria has an important role with
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iran. an important regional ally in iraq preventing militants from getting across the border. syria has played a constructive role recently with the lebanese elections. is moving closer again to saudi arabiya in working with that relationship. important on the internal palestinian front. i think that all of those issues are relevant. in particular, mitchell wants to see the israeli/syrian peace talks relaunched. syria's in favor of that but doesn't want to go back to square one. we've been talking for over 15 years on these issues. on the israeli said there is more division. the defense establishment understands the need for a deal and to withdraw from goran. prime minister netanyahu, his foreign minister, is far more antsy. >> well, you did cover everything. i wanted to know about that. and finally on the ongoing settlement dispute between the u.s. and israel. any progress being made between these two countries to see eye to eye? >> the obama administration has taken a principal stance of a complete settlement freeze and i think that they're making progress all of the time.
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today the israeli military announced that over 300,000 israelis now live in the west bank, up from 110,000 in '93 when the peace talks began. that's how important the issue is. i also think it's very difficult to get the arab states to move forward with normalization steps if you don't get a complete settlement freeze. so i think there is progress. where things are being held up, east jerusalem, thorny issue. it's over the green line. international law means you can't build settlements. netanyahu is trying to push back on that issue. i think we're moving towards a resolution on this but we're not there yet. >> daniel levy, thank you. >> thank you. >> and if you'd like even more insight on all of this, visit our website, worldfocus.org. some other news from around the world, there's been another deadly attack. a suicide bombing in chechnya. that's the russian republic for a prominent human right's defender was murdered two weeks ago, and where islamic insurgents and common criminals are increasing their attacks. yesterday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a concert hall after being stopped from
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entering minutes before the start of a play being watched by 800 people. four police officers and two workers were killed. and now to africa. today in nigeria, muslim rebels continue to attack police stations in the north as they attend to expand strict islamic law throughout that very large country. the gun battles that began yesterday have left at least 55 people dead, most of them militants, and some reports put the figure at more than double that. one-third of nigeria's 36 states are already under so-called sharia law. for a change today, north korea said it wants to talk, suggesting a new dialogue to reduce tensions over its nuclear program. the statement made by the foreign ministry was read on north korean television. in it the regime seem to be proposing direct negotiations with the united states and rejected a return to the
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six-nation talks that the united states maintains is the only appropriate way to engage north korea. the united states and china are among the six countries that have participated in those talks, along with north korea, south korea, russia and japan. for their part, the u.s. and china began two days of high-level meetings in washington today with nuclear proliferation and the global economic crisis among the issues on the agenda. in an address to the diplomats from both countries, president obama said that he was under no illusion that the u.s. and china will agree on every issue while underscoring the value of the relationship. >> the relationship between the united states and china will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world. >> for more on the talks going on today and tomorrow, we're joined once again by orville schell, a china scholar and a director of the center on the u.s./china relations at the asian society here in through york. welcome back.
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>> pleasure. >> we just heard president obama as he was talking about the importance of the bilateral relationship between the u.s. and china. how significant do you think his speech was? >> well, i think they're trying to merge these two extremely important families. the most-important families of the world -- china and the u.s. and i think, you know, if it failed, it would be catastrophic. what they're trying to do is build a different kind of relationship, a new relationship, where we have more areas of convergence and cooperation than disagreement and that's challenge. >> well the president outlines sort of four areas that he saw as priority. economic recovery, climate change, proliferation of nuclear arms, and what he called transnational threats, or terrorism. how likely are we to see eye to eye on all of these issues? >> well, we won't and there are many areas where we do have profound disagreements. but we're at a point in the world's history where, if we don't have an agreement on issues such as the global economy and climate change, we're not going to find
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remedies. so the whole chemistry has changed now with china. we must cooperate and collaborate despite different systems, different viewpoints and many disagreements on other subjects. >> what is likely to come out of this meeting? i mean, set agreements? something to be signed? or just, we had a good talk and we'll talk further in the future? >> well, i think that the baton has been handed off from the bush administration and what is now a strategic and economic dialogue. not the strategic economic dialogue. it's wider. and hillary clinton will do the strategy. and tim geithner will do the economics. so this is to kind of x-ray the entire relationship. and periodically send it in for a tune up. these meetings, twice a year. and this will keep, i think, what is often a very unstable relationship, on a much more stabile basis. two most contentious issues?e
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>> well, i think the issue that's really important now is climate change, because the copenhagen negotiations are coming up in december. and if the u.s. and china could make some agreements that would give heart to the world to show that they are now in the game in a serious manner, this would be an incredibly important move forward so that's going to be negotiated now. but they're much -- china's a developing country. we're a developed country. we have different obligations than they do. but how do we both consecrate ourselves to solving that problem? that's going to be one of the biggest questions under discussion. >> and then i presume when we talk about nuclear arms, we're talking about north korea? >> the internal subject of north korea. and the truth is, we love to think of -- if china would only do this, that and the other, we could trap north korea. but i think china does not have as much influence as we imagine.
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this is a very artartic independent state but it's extremely important. that we collaborate with china to do what can be done to bring them to heal, like iran. not an easy topic to have a clear solution for. >> orville schell, thank you once again. >> pleasure. there was one more sign today of improving relations between china and taiwan. their presidents exchanged messages today for the first time since the two sides split six decades ago. the exchanges were reported on china's state-run television. both leaders were said to call for continuing efforts to promote peaceful development of their relations. and one other note from today's meetings between u.s. and chinese officials in washington, both treasury secretary timothy geithner and china's top economic policymaker spoke of some hopeful economic signs. the chinese official said the world economy is at a critical moment, moving out of crisis and toward recovery. and then from britain, some leading economists have set an unusual message to queen elizabeth about the financial
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crisis. they said they were sorry. the observer newspaper reports -- in which she demanded to know why no one had anticipated the credit crunch. the letter says the financial wizards who believe they could manage risky debts and protect the financial system were guilty of wishful thinking combined with hubris. finally, tonight a story we found irresistible as you're about to see why. at the zoo in sydney, australia, there is big news in the elephant family. actually, it's small news. the first elephant ever born in that country. his parents came from thailand. his name is luk chai. it means son or male child in thai and was selected from more than 30,000 names entered in a competition.
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the youngster weighs in at about 240 pounds and growing fast at a diet of 21 pints of milk a day. well, he's got plenty of relatives to help him along. beyond the cute factor, his arrival is important because asian elephants are listed as endangered in the wild with only about 34,000 left. who doesn't love to show off baby pictures? that's "worldfocus" for this monday evening. a reminder, you can also watch us on the web and find much more global news at worldfocus.org. i'm martin savidge in new york. as always, thank you very muc for joining us. we'll look for you back here again tomorrow and anytime on the web. until then, have a good night. "worldfocus" is made possible, in part, by the following funders -- "worldfocus" is made possible, in part, by the -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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