Israel/Palestine: Israeli CP presses political solution

In a statement on the 30th anniversary of the 1967 war, the Communist Party of Israel called the 37-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories “an ongoing catastrophe for both peoples.”

The Sharon government’s talk of “disengagement” hides its deepening of the occupation and expansion of the settlements, the CPI said. While the continuing occupation saps resources for education and health, perpetuates unemployment, and serves as the basis for attacks on democracy, workers rights and the Arab population, it is also an incubator for development of fascist, racist forces, the statement said.

“For the peace and security of both peoples, we must reach a political solution with the Palestinian leadership,” including withdrawal from the occupied territories, dismantling the illegal settlements, and resolving the Palestinian refugee problem in accord with UN decisions, the CPI said. “Only the withdrawal of the Israeli army from all occupied territories, and the turning of the Green Line into an international border will create the conditions for neighborly relations between Israel, whose capital is West Jerusalem and Palestine, whose capital is East Jerusalem,” the statement concluded.

Greenland: Inuits demand their land back

For the past 50 years the last surviving group of polar Inuit, the Iunghuits, have been struggling to regain the land taken from them for the U.S. Thule Air Base. Now they have come together under the name Hingitaq 53 – meaning “the deported” and the 1953 date of their eviction – and are taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights. The BBC quoted Hingitaq 53’s leader, Uusaqqak Qujaukitsoq: “I promised my father before he died that I would fight to get our people’s land back.”

Christian Harlang, the Copenhagen-based lawyer who is representing the hunters and their families, said, “These people have rights to this land; their survival is connected to their return.”

Last month Nordic Business Report said the U.S. and Denmark were close to agreeing on a further expansion of the base, considered vital to the Bush administration’s missile defense system plans.

Haiti: Flood takes huge toll

The International Red Cross said the recent floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic killed hundreds of people and left thousands homeless, destroyed fields and houses, and killed cattle, the Haitian news agency AHP reported. Eyewitness accounts indicate over 2,000 people died, including 1,500 in the southeast region.

The Red Cross, which is aiding the flood victims, said restoring the heavily damaged drinking water distribution network was a priority to avoid infectious diseases, and added that problems in gaining access to disaster-stricken areas made evaluating the situation difficult.

The UN’s World Food Program said humanitarian aid to flood victims should last two to three months. WFP representative Guy Govreau deplored the decision by the U.S. military to end helicopter flights that facilitated distribution of aid. He said senior U.S. officials had told him such flights were not part of their mission.

West Africa: U.S. carrier strike group to visit region

The Pentagon says the U.S. Navy expects to send an aircraft carrier strike group for exercises in the Gulf of Guinea, off the West African coast, later this year. Quoting unnamed Pentagon sources, said seven aircraft carrier strike groups are to be sent to five regions around the world during the next several months, as a massive demonstration of the Navy’s global quick deployment capacity.

Appearing in Washington late last month, Secretary of the Navy Gordon England said the Navy is looking to enhance its operations in what he called “the ungoverned areas of Africa.”

VOA News said defense officials are highlighting the need for security and stability in the Gulf of Guinea, where offshore oil operations are growing, and have likened the strategic importance of the tiny island nation of San Tome and Principe, in the gulf, to that of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

China: Economy keeps growing

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said June 2 that China’s economic growth is expected to top 9 percent for the first half of 2004, and fast growth is expected for the rest of this year.

The ministry said last year’s fast economic growth, reaching 9.6 percent and 9.7 percent in the third and fourth quarters respectively, had laid a good foundation for the current year. It noted that the demand is growing in the housing, auto, communications and tourism sectors, and that the international economic picture looks more favorable.

But the ministry warned of potential negative effects from bottlenecks in energy supplies and transportation, and rising costs for energy and raw materials.

International Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (