Secretary of State John Kerry will be joining Obama and Rhodes on the trip, but will play a backseat role. In Rhodes’s words, Kerry will “be accompanying us” on the trip.
Rhodes is drafting the address Obama intends to deliver to the Israeli people, bypassing the Knesset in favor of connecting directly with the population, particularly the youth.
President Obama “has often spoken to young people,” Rhodes told reporters last Thursday while outlining the agenda for the trip. “He spoke to young people, for instance, when he traveled to Cairo. And in this instance, we felt like bringing together an audience of university students from a broad range of partners that our embassy has in Israel would allow him to speak, again, not just to political leadership, who he’ll be meeting with on the trip, but to the Israeli public and Israeli young people.”
Obama will also be visiting with youth in the West Bank after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad.
Rhodes said that the speech he is writing for the president to deliver in Israel “will focus on the nature of the ties between the United States and Israel, the broad agenda that we work on together on security, on peace, on economic prosperity. And I think he’ll have a chance to speak to the future of that relationship, so discussing not just the nature of the challenges that we face today, but where the United States and Israel are working to move together as we head into the future of the 21st century.”
As for other public appearances, Obama will view the Dead Sea Scrolls, which demonstrate, in Rhodes’s words, “the ancient Jewish connection to Israel.” He will also visit Yad Vashem and, according to Rhodes, “have a chance to lay a wreath and make remarks there, of course, marking the very somber and powerful history of the Holocaust.”
No doubt, there also will be ceremonial gestures and photos of Obama shaking hands with (if not embracing) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
All of this is very nice, but it is all for public consumption – an Obama charm offensive to assure the Israeli people that he is on their side and to make the Democratic Party Jewish constituency back home happy as well. However, since Rhodes presumably will “channel” what Obama really thinks about Israel and what he may try to pressure Netanyahu in private to concede to the Palestinians, it is worth examining the positions that Rhodes has advocated in the region.
Don’t expect such a critical assessment from the mainstream media. The New York Times profile of Rhodes was nothing short of a promotion piece, for example. And aside from its usual pro-Obama bias shared by the other major broadcast networks, CBS News is headed by Benjamin Rhodes’s brother, David Rhodes.
Thus, we will have to fill in some blanks in Benjamin Rhodes’s channeling, starting with President Obama’s June 2009 address to the Muslim world in Cairo that Benjamin Rhodes wrote. The speech was little more than a whitewashing of Islamist ideology and an apology for the historical wrongs inflicted by the West. Here are some of Rhodes’s nuggets, as delivered by Obama:
“And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”
“More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.”
Rhodes also managed to include in Obama’s Cairo speech a recitation of the Palestinian victimhood narrative. “For more than 60 years, they’ve endured the pain of dislocation,” Obama told the Muslim world, without mentioning the Palestinians’ own responsibility for rejecting the opportunity for a separate state of their own more than 60 years ago and several times since. “Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.”
When the so-called Arab Spring spread to Egypt, Rhodes urged Obama, according to the New York Times, “to withdraw three decades of American support for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.” The result is an autocratic Islamist government run by former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, who three short years ago referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers” and “the descendants of apes and pigs,” and added that “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.”
As many as 100,000 Christians have reportedly fled Egypt since the Islamist takeover of the country. A Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice was recently established to protect “Islamic morality.”
According to Moushira Khattab, the former Minister of Family and Population of Egypt as well the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, women are facing more intimidation than before the revolution. “Demonization of women as a sex object has intensified since the revolution,” Ms. Khattab wrote. “Sexual harassment has escalated to terrifying levels. This may be part of an attempt to push women back into their exclusively domestic role.”
Despite Egypt’s slide backwards into an Islamist dictatorship, Rhodes remains convinced that the Obama administration’s abrupt abandonment of America’s long-time ally Mubarak was all worth it.
Channeling President Obama once again, Rhodes told reporters last Thursday that “since the beginning of the Arab Spring, and in his speech in May of 2011, he has made this point that as governments in the region are more responsive to popular opinion and the aspirations of their people, it’s going to change the broader political dynamic in the region. It’s obviously a good thing that the people of the region are seeking to express themselves politically.”
Of course, Israel is the only true democracy in the region. It recently held elections which truly reflected the will of its people, including its Arab citizens who have equal voting rights. Women are able to exercise their right to vote, freedom of speech, and equal access to education and the workplace without the constant fear of harassment that women experience in Egypt and other Muslim countries supposedly liberated by the Arab Spring.
Yet Rhodes said on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Israel that it is the democratic Jewish state which must respond to the popular opinion prevailing in the undemocratic remainder of the region:
Israel, as it makes peace, is going to have to recognize the broader role of public opinion in peacemaking. In the past, the peace processes with a variety of countries and partners in the region were between Israel and individual leaders. And as you move towards more democratic, more representative and responsive governments, Israel needs to take into account the changing dynamic and the need to reach out to public opinion across the region as it seeks to make progress on issues like Israeli-Palestinian peace and broader Arab-Israeli peace.
Exactly what Arab governments does Rhodes have in mind that are purportedly moving towards “more democratic, more representative and responsive governments”? Syria is in shambles. Lebanon is under Hezbollah’s control. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are still monarchies, with the latter regime continuing to deny women the right to vote and other basic rights.
Egypt, as noted above, is not a functioning democracy despite its elections. It does not respect the opinion of all of its citizens, including women and Christians in particular, with respect to how they are to be governed by the Islamist regime, or grant them equal rights. It is led by an Islamist who has called for Egyptian children to be nursed on hatred for Jews.
Not that the Egyptians need any convincing to hate Jews. A Pew poll taken in 2011 found that only 2% of Egyptians had a favorable attitude towards Jews in general. That is even less than the favorable rating for Jews among Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, which was 4%.
According to Stratfor Global Intelligence, the “Camp David accords, which form the foundation of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, are widely disliked in Egypt, and public opinion toward Israel in general is also hostile.” A 2012 Pew poll indicated that 61% of those polled wanted to annul the treaty.
A solid majority of Palestinians polled in March, 2012 opposed mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Hamas, the terrorist organization which controls Gaza and is committed to destroying the Jewish state altogether, is viewed more favorably by many Palestinians than President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.
In short, it is preposterous to suggest that Israel will get anywhere in achieving a secure peace with the Palestinians, based on a viable two state solution, by following the popular will of Egyptians, Palestinians or other Muslims on the Arab street, whose rage against the Jewish state is manipulated by their leaders in order to hold on to their power.
If President Obama wants to put his vaunted charm offensive to good use, he should turn to his hosts in the West Bank and tell them to stop instilling the culture of hatred and de-legitimization of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in their youth.
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URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/joseph-klein/the-man-shaping-obamas-strategy-on-…
In an earlier post, I noted Chuck Hagel’s admiration for the 34th President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, specifically for Eisenhower’s handling of what’s known in Israel as the Sinai campaign (the 1956 war between Israel, Britain and France on one side and Egypt on the other). I also reported that Hagel had it all wrong, because Eisenhower later believed that making Israel withdraw from Sinai was the biggest mistake of his Presidency.
Lee Smith has a lot more details about Eisenhower’s regrets over the Sinai campaign.
In fact, Eisenhower came to believe that Suez had been the “biggest foreign-policy blunder of his administration.” In hindsight, it’s not hard to see why. He ruined the position of two longtime allies, effectively driving Britain out of the Middle East once and for all, and without any benefit to American interests. If Eisenhower expected Nasser to be grateful, he was sorely mistaken.
“From Nasser’s perspective, he played the superpowers against each other and came out the winner,” says Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. “What Ike thought he was doing was laying the groundwork for a new order in the Middle East, a third course between the re-imposition of European colonialism and the Soviet Union. But all Eisenhower did was strengthen Nasser and destabilize the region.”
Doran, a former George W. Bush Administration National Security Council staffer in charge of the Middle East, is finishing a book about Eisenhower and the Middle East that looks at how Eisenhower’s understanding of the region changed over time. “Eisenhower slammed his allies and aided his enemies at Suez,” Doran explains, “because his policy was based on certain key assumptions of how the Arab world worked. The most important of these was the notion of Arab unity. He believed they would respond as a bloc to certain stimuli.”
Chief among them, Eisenhower and his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles believed, was the Arab-Israeli conflict. They saw the role of the United States then as playing the honest broker, mediating between Israel on one side and the Arab world on the other. If this conceit is still popular today with American policymakers, says Doran, “it’s partly because some Arab officials continue to talk this way. The idea is, to win over the Arabs we have to stop being so sympathetic to Israel.”
But in the wake of Suez, Eisenhower came to see the region through a different lens. He paid more attention to what Arab leaders actually did, rather than what they said. “Between March 1957 and July 1958, Eisenhower got the equivalent of the Arab spring,” says Doran. “It was a revolutionary wave around the region and for Ike a tutorial on Arab politics. There was upheaval after upheaval, in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and then the Iraqi revolution of 1958 that toppled an American ally. All of them were internal conflicts, tantamount to Arab civil wars, and had nothing to do with Israel. With this, Eisenhower recognized that the image he had of the Arab world had nothing to do with the political realities of the Middle East.”
Read the whole thing.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Obama has the same mistaken conception of the Middle East that Eisenhower had in 1956. Today’s it’s known as linkage. By 1958, Eisenhower had dismissed it as a policy strategy. Don’t bet on Obama doing the same.
As Egyptians vote on whether to adopt the new constitution, Richard Spencer talks to those promoting the new rules – and those fearful of what is to come.Photo: REUTERS
When Alber Saber’s mother called police to protect him from a mob baying for his blood, something odd happened: they arrested him. They then threw him in prison, encouraged his cellmates to attack him, and finally took him to court where he was jailed for three months.
Mr Saber’s alleged offence was all the more significant in light of the new constitution – being voted on by millions of Egyptians on Saturday – that is at the heart of Egypt’s political crisis.
The mob in his Cairo suburb accused him of atheism and disrespect of the Prophet Mohammed, and demanded he be killed; a neighbour had alleged he had posted to his Facebook page the now notorious Islam-mocking video that triggered protests across the world in September.
His mother, Kariman Ghali, cries frequently as she describes visiting him in prison the day after the mob surrounded their apartment block.
“He had blood all over his T-shirt,” said Mrs Ghali, who claims her son was put in a wing reserved for dangerous inmates. “The policeman told the prisoners, ‘This guy insulted the Prophet, I want to see what you can do with him.’ Someone stabbed him with a razor.”
He was then taken to another cell where the inmates were urged to see if they could outdo the first set.
Some 250,000 police and soldiers were deployed across Egypt on Saturday to protect voting in the second half of the referendum on the draft constitution, which was drawn up by an Islamist-dominated panel from which Christians and liberals had withdrawn in protest.
Among the many charges levelled against the constitution by both human rights groups, secular and liberal activists, and the Coptic Christian minority, is that its defense of basic freedoms is heavily curtailed when it comes to religion and politics.
Specifically, it will forbid any law that would permit anything deemed insulting either of people or of religion, the Prophet Mohammed or the other figures considered by Islam to be God’s messengers. Such a clause could clearly have a chilling effect on free thinking and speech.
Demonstrations continued right to the eve of Saturday’s vote, which was expected to lead to a clear but not convincing victory both for the constitution – drafted by an overwhelmingly Islamist assembly – and for President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers, who have pushed it through.
In the first phase of voting in the split referendum last weekend, 57 per cent backed the document, albeit with a low turnout, and a similar result was expected on Saturday.
Yet many are alarmed that it will further enshrine an intolerance that is already on the rise.
“Things are definitely worse than under the old regime,” said Gamal Eid, of the Arabic Human Rights Initiative. “It is because of the Islamists having power – their sense that they have won.”
That is only part of the story. Despite regular descriptions of ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s old dictatorship as “secular”, it too made Egypt a country constitutionally obliged to follow the “principles of Sharia”. The laws it promulgated were wide enough and flexible enough to turn the Islamist tap on and off at will, according to the Mubarak’s regime’s short-term interests.
Blasphemy laws have been in place since 1937, and can be used to defend Christianity as well as Islam. But in practice the law was deployed regularly, both as a sop to the Muslim Brotherhood and also simply as a means of state repression.
Nevertheless, Mr Eid says there is a sense that religion can now be invoked to pursue any manner of grievances, in a way designed to emphasise a conservative vision of society.
In one case he has taken up, an 18-year-old girl from a provincial village was arrested for blasphemy after a row with her mother and brother, who had discovered she had met a boyfriend after going away to university.
It was the girl who had complained to the police first, alleging that her mother and brother had beaten her, but when questioned, the mother claimed the girl had cursed her and cursed her religion. That was enough for the police to switch the focus of their attention.
Until the start of the referendum campaign, it appeared that this tightening of personal freedoms was at least going to be kept within a legal framework. Events since have brought this into question.
A lot changed on the night of December 5. During the afternoon, a group of Muslim Brotherhood supporters swept down on a tent encampment outside the presidential palace, occupied by anti-Morsi protesters, and tore them down.
The counter-demonstration that evening was violent and bloody, with both sides hurling stones at each other, and the Muslim Brotherhood claiming that several of its members were shot dead.
But also disturbing was the role earlier of what appeared to be a Muslim Brotherhood militia who seized protesters off the streets and took them for their own “interrogation” before handing them over to police.
“After they caught me they dragged me away and started threatening me,” said Walid al-Ganzouri, no youthful stone-thrower but a 35-year-old, British educated engineer. “They said they were going to kill me, and started beating me up.”
Along with scores of others, he was eventually handed over, bruised and with cuts to his head, to the prosecution service, which released them for lack of evidence. This did not stop Mr Morsi, during a late-night address, saying that “evidence from confessions” obtained from some of those seized showed they were plotting against the government.
This talk of a coup has been used to heighten the atmosphere in ways that stretch beyond the politics of the constitution itself. A preacher linked to the Brotherhood, Safwat Hegazi, for example, was not disavowed by the movement after he threatened in a speech to “splash Christians with blood” if they tried to join in attempts to bring Mr Morsi down.
Gehad el-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood adviser, told The Sunday Telegraph that he accepted that there had been “inflammatory language” on all sides.
But he said the Brotherhood’s supporters had been forced to act against the protesters because the police had refused to do so.
It is true that the loyalty of the police has been in doubt since their leaders were arrested after last year’s overthrow of Mr Mubarak.
Some of those opposed to Mr Morsi, and the constitution, are undoubtedly prominent Christians. But a “no” vote of at least 43 per cent in last week’s part of the referendum vote suggests that opposition also runs deep among many Muslims.
Mr Saber is of Christian origin too, something that lends extra concern to his case. But his mother claimed that was less relevant than the active positions he took. She says he was really seized because he had posted a photo on his Facebook page of a banner in Tahrir Square accusing the Brotherhood of having hijacked last year’s revolution.
His jail sentence was imposed for atheism despite no evidence being found of his ever having posted the video. Last weekend, he was released on bail pending an appeal.
“The verdict was an absolute inquisition,” Mrs Ghali said. “They didn’t listen to the lawyers’ defence.”
She is now joining the protests outside the palace. “This is not only for my son’s case – but also for all our sons’ futures.”
America cannot serve two masters, she cannot keep downgrading Israel from a nation of freedom-loving people into a bargaining chip in order to satisfy any part of a political agenda that green lights the destruction of Israel.
By Stanley Zir, Never Again is Now
Although he has painted himself as a hero of freedom, in reality Obama’s foreign policy has enabled tyranny and terrorism to flourish. Perhaps he does not understand the following statements:
Fascism is the ultimate expression of absolute power; deception and the absence of accountability are its greatest allies. Since lies are the tools that fascists use to complete their circuitry of deceit, any statements issued from the leaders of these governments or their supporters can be never be believed or validated. The only thing that can be substantiated is the total absence of people’s inalienable rights.
Wake up America, the Muslim Brotherhood, a criminal enterprise that supports Hamas and the overthrow of Israel, is now your primary partner to broker peace in the Middle East. What happens when you do not challenge Obama’s foreign policy? You wave the white flag of surrender to Islam!
While Obama was traveling in Southeast Asia, half way around the globe, America‘s closest ally, Israel, was defending itself by launching an attack on Hamas.
Again‚ Obama waited before throwing Israel the proverbial crumb, “We support you all the way, ” all the way that is, until Israel launches a ground war, to finally vanquish an enemy that is determined to destroy the Jewish state.
Then Hilary Clinton flew in to broker a peace with Hamas and Israel through Mohammed Morsi.
Not one news agency at that time questioned the sanity of the Secretary of State promoting a peace agreement brokered with Mohammed Morsi, an enabler of Iran’s terrorist exploits against Israel and a champion of Hamas. On the contrary, the mainstream media praised Mrs. Clinton for achieving a cease fire agreement. “What agreement were the mainstream media so enamored with? One that would give Gaza open ports so terrorists can get more missiles in their quest to destroy Israel and provide Iran an advantage in her psychological war against the Jewish state. That, and the promise that Israel will not kill any more of their terrorist leaders. This equals suicide for Israel .
Lacking a historical overview, the Administration along with Congress, has long ignored a crucial fact concerning the reality of the enemy we face in our war on terrorism. The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, both terrorist organizations, are Sunni, while the Iranian population is 92 percent Shi’ite. The Sunni and Shi‘ites constantly war against each other in the name of the superiority of their God, a God who they both worship through acts of treachery and murder.
Yet, they are able to unite, despite their religious fanatical differences, when it comes to the destruction Israel, a point that Washington refuses to concede.
Tragically, they have lost sight of the fact that it is Iran that is the proverbial Alpha male of the Islamic world. Iran not only continues to hold America hostage with a threat of an economic meltdown (a manufactured threat) if it doesn’t agree to the creation of a nuclear armed Iran, but many of Iran’s immediate neighbors in the Arab League are also petrified at the thought of Iran becoming a nuclear armed terrorist state.
Iran and Iran alone is the epicenter of the ideology of Islamic supremacism and Israel eradication, not the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, not Afghanistan, Yemen, nor Al- Quaida and the rest.
Iran is the standard bearer for global sharia law advocacy. Her terrorist tentacles reach far beyond the Islamic world to South America, South Africa China, Korea, Russia, Europe, Africa, and the UN; all are now part and parcel of their war on America, Israel, and the West.
The fact is that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and their terrorist surrogates actively attack and kill American and Israeli citizens and soldiers around the world.
The bad news for Obama (and also for Israel and America), is that Egyptian President Morsi, who shares Iran’s determination to destroy Israel, has seized absolute power, dismissed the judiciary, and established a fascist Islamic constitution whose approval will be sought in a nationwide referendum. Unfortunately for the people of Egypt, the outcome has already been pre-determined by Morsi.
Where is Barack Hussein Obama, the hero who stood for freedom in Egypt and the Islamic World?
He said that Americans must respect the rights of the Islamic people and that their voices must be heard. Why is Obama hesitating? Why is he not asking Morsi, like Mubarak before him, to to step down? Isn’t there more than enough proof that Morsi is a dictator, or does Obama believe that the Muslim Brotherhood and their partner in crime, Ahmadinejad, can be honest brokers for peace in the Middle East?
But a larger question looms, where is the GOP, why are they not launching a national campaign to demand why Obama does not make his intentions known to the American people concerning Mohammed Morsi’s status.
If the leader of the free world does not emphatically declare what America stands against in all circumstances, then for what do we stand, and with whom? Certainly not those Egyptian people who are now again claiming they want to be a tyranny-free nation, not one that was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood though free elections.
Obama’s foreign policy follows a distinct pattern of behavior when dealing with the uprisings in the Islamic world. His commitment to giving support to those who are leading the charge, changes in direct proportion to those who are guaranteed to win.
In Egypt, it was only after Obama knew that Mubarak would fall, that Obama announced to the world he was calling upon the people of Egypt to overthrow their oppressor. In this case he was not willing to support the perceived victim until the outcome appeared guaranteed.
What he never committed to in the Arab Spring was a foreign policy that insists that a constitutional government be implemented that opposes tyranny, if they wish to continue to receive financial support even if it is not the will of the victors in a free election.
Obama manages to shuck his responsibility as the leader of the free world when it suits his purpose, proclaiming America will not interfere in the internal affairs of any nation, especially in the Islamic world. Ironically, now the people of Egypt are demanding that Morsi step down after free elections, but will Obama get involved as he did with Mubarak?
The protesters who have now taken to the streets against the Muslim Brotherhood may provide the ultimate solution against Islamic fascism, for they might be the first generation of Muslims to accept a guaranteed separation from a mosque/state tyrannical enclave through a democratic constitutional state mandate.
Will Egypt finally adopt the political ideology that America ‘s Founders designed that can end sectarian slaughter, by redirecting the people’s allegiance from religious fanaticism to one that protects everyone’s inalienable rights? This is the front line of defense that the Islamic world must adopt if they are to be free from tyranny’s hateful grip, and America ‘s Constitution fits the bill.
This is a chance that we must not squander and the GOP must take the lead, this is the opportunity for them to reestablish American’s identity as to why she is the nation among all nations that was created to bring about a peaceful co-existence among mankind.
The question becomes, how can the GOP support an American president who champions a foreign policy that aligns America with nations and political movements that are determined to eliminate our precious rights in Allah’s name?
Simply put, Obama paints America , the defender of freedom, as though she is the greatest offender. He treats Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and the rest of these renegades as if they were the victims of America ’s aggression, as if they need some special consideration, as if invasion, conquest, and nation building with the global jihad are somehow a defensive posture, an appropriate response to America ‘s foreign policy.
And the Obama Doctrine, “Terrorists are R’ U.S. ” completely exemplifies this erroneous position. For it is a foreign policy that contends that America ’s greed, racism, and exploitation of the Islamic nations is responsible for their hatred against us, not Islam’s addiction to tyranny’s hateful edicts and the murder of millions of innocent people over the last 1300 years.
America cannot serve two masters, she cannot keep downgrading Israel from a nation of freedom-loving people into a bargaining chip in order to satisfy any part of a political agenda that green lights the destruction of Israel- in the hope of establishing a peaceful co-existence with the oil-rich tyrannical nations of the Arabian Peninsula. Yet, that is exactly what is being done. This is a policy that not only dooms Israel to extinction, but will lead to the destruction of the moral fiber that binds America to its own humanity.
The GOP must emphatically declare its independence from the dictates of Obama‘s foreign policies which now bind our nation to tyranny’s diabolical edicts. They must commit to defending our nation from enemies both foreign and domestic, but it seems they cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.
If Americans are joined at the hip with the Muslim Brotherhood, how can we stop Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who must not be given the opportunity to accomplish his unequivocally-announced and pursued goal: a nuclear armed terrorist state.
America needs a new guideline; she needs a new point of departure, one that once again honors her nation’s eternal stance against the advancement of global tyranny. She must immediately embark on this new path, for it guarantees America ’s victory over those who have compromised our core beliefs at home and abroad.
America needs a Victorious America party.
(via mfs-theothernews.com) how many liberals want to move to Canada this year? …yeah shut your hole
Egypt Live Updates: Egyptian presidency sends messages of ‘compromise’ as thousands surround palace.(AO).20:30 Leader of the opposition National Salvation Front Mohamed ElBaradei calls on President Morsi to withdraw the constitutional declaration “tonight” and to postpone the referendum until national consensus is achieved.
“I ask President Morsi in the name of the Egyptian conscience to heed these two demands tonight. I am betting on president Morsi’s patriotism,” ElBaradei said in a live speech on private satellite channel ONTV.
21:12 Member of the National Salvation Front and ex-MP Amr Hamzawy says in a phone interview with private satellite channel CBC that members of the front will meet to discuss their stance after the announcement made by Mahmoud Mekki about Morsi’s readiness to hold off the referendum, describing the decision as a “positive step.”
21:10 Ahram Online’s Bel Trew describes the scene at the presidential palace right after President Morsi’s announced he is conditionally willing to postpone the referendum on the draft constitution.
“Protesters are celebrating the postponement of the referendum on the constitution,” she said.
“Meanwhile, some of them are discussing fortifying the area surrounding the presidential palace with barriers, out of fear that the Muslim Brotherhood’s rally in Naser City’s Raba El-Adawiya Mosque [three miles away from the presidential palace] will head towards them soon.”
21:08 Egypt’s vice-president Mahmoud Mekki read a presidential statement on Friday evening stating that President Mohamed Morsi is ready to postpone the constitution referendum.
However, “the political forces who demand the delay of the referendum must provide guarantees that there will not be appeals [against the delay] in courts,” the statement said.
Last year’s constitutional declaration, which was issued by then-ruling military council in March 2011 after a similar referendum, stipulates that a referendum on draft constitution must be held within 15 days of the date at which the president receives the draft from a constituent assembly.
The controversial draft constitution was handed to president Morsi by the outgoing constituent assembly on 1 December and the president set a referendum on the draft for 15 December.
20:42 Rights lawyer Ragia Omran confirms on Twitter that the 139 protesters captured on Wednesday during clashes at the presidential palace have been ordered to be released.
20:40 Ismail Fathy, head of Mahalla’s city council, denies that protesters have attempted to create a “revolutionary council” and rule the industrial city, located in western Delta governorate of Gharbiya.
“The demonstrations, which attracted around 3,000 people, were peaceful. Nothing of this sort happened,” he said in a phone interview with private satellite TV channel CBC.
20:30 Head of the Supreme Electoral Commission Samir Abu El-Maati officially confirms that the expatriate voting on the constitution referendum has been postponed from Saturday to Wednesday 12 December, according to Al-Ahram Arabic website.
19:55 In a fresh swipe at opponents, the Muslim Brotherhood said they would not let opposition “detail the path to democracy.”
“The Egyptian people will defend their democratic choice and will not let opposition to derail path to full democracy through intimidation and violence,” the group said on its English Twitter feed.
“If opposition is seeking change, the only way to do it through ballot box and earning people’s trust in upcoming elections. So far they have failed miserably.”More updates here.