December 7 to 11, 2009

– La confiance par 122 voix sur 124 présents Hariri : « Les divergences ne doivent pas aboutir à une cassure nationale » (Confidence by 122 votes of 124 present Hariri: « Differences should not lead to a national split)  » (11/12/2009) –L’Orient le Jour

The Coalition Government set up by Saad Hariri received the confidence of the Parliament by 122 votes of 124 present. The new Prime Minister stressed that the differences that had emerged during the debates on the government statement was not a symptom of a future failure, but a sign of a healthy democracy. He however reiterated that his government would work for rehabilitation of Lebanon, and should remain united. If it became a government « of divisions and barricades, Saad Harairi said he would be the first to ask the vote of a motion of confidence. The Prime Minister concluded his speech by stressing four points of convergence on which all Lebanese agree: the duty to confront Israel and to defend the rights of the Lebanese is everybody’s business, Lebanon’s stability depends on a strategy of Arab solidarity, the respect for the Constitution and the Taif Agreement, and the needs of the Lebanese as a first point of the government’s programme.

– UK issues new guidance on labelling of food from illegal West Bank settlements – Ian Black and Rory McCarthy (10/12/2009) – The Guardian

Britain increases pressure on Israel for products from illegal settlements in the West Bank to be distinguished from Palestinian products. Now, the labeling « Produce of the West Bank » does not allow it. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also said it would be an offense to report settlement products as « Produce of Israel. » The Foreign Office said it was not a boycott policy, considered as counterproductive for the peace process. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, the differential taxation policy of the EU vis-à-vis the products from the settlement does not go hand in hand with a distinct labeling in supermarkets, which ultimate goal is the boycott.

– L’UE accuse Israël de jouer la division sur la question de Jérusalem-Est (The EU accuses Israel of playing the division card on the East Jerusalem question) (10/12/2009) – Nouvelobs.com (with AP)

The European Union accused Israel to try to divide the 27 so that they return on Tuesday adopted resolution, which is calling for Jerusalem to be the shared capital of two future states. Sources revealed that Israeli pressure had been exerted for that resolution not to predict East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. The Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, declared that Israel’s policy with the EU should not be that of « divide and rule ».

– The Copenhagen Summit: Balanced Measures are Needed – Randa Takkieddine (9/12/2009) – Dar Al Hayat

Randa Takkieddine underlines the vulnerability of developing countries and oil producing nations considering climate change, but writes they also suffer much of the measures taken by industrialized countries. In Copenhagen, Saudi Arabia is represented by a large delegation, chaired by the Minister of Petroleum Ali al-Nuaymi, who said that despite rumors, the country is calling for protection of the planet to prevent global warming, but wants the burden of measures to be shared equally by everyone.

– La Crise : bilan et impact sur le bassin méditerranéen (The crisis: assessment and impact on the Mediterranean) – (9/12/2009) – IPEMed

Abdeljellil Bouzidi, from Hiram Finance explained that the South Mediterranean economies experienced little or not at all the financial crisis because of their low interconnection to international stock exchanges. But when the financial crisis turned into a real crisis, these countries have been affected severely. Two indicators: the deterioration of GDP and current account. Abdeljellil Bouzidi recommends to these economies to base their recovery on domestic demand rather than on exports, and to this end, to improve the attractiveness of the country vis-à-vis foreign companies and to transform the savings into productive investments.

The South of the Mediterranean had made great efforts to restore macroeconomic stability, in order to attract foreign direct investment, which from 2000 to 2006 increased from 10 to 60 billion dollars. The 2008 crisis had the effect to significantly reduce this investment. The UNDP studies show that the Mediterranean region must create 100 million jobs in the next 15 years, which is unfeasible without intervention of the national and international private sector. Raddhi Meddeb, CEO of IPEMed says that: « The needs of the region are opportunities for investment and growth for northern investors and Gulf countries, but also new sources of growth for companies in the North » .