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Ayatollah Tells Envoy To Stand Firm In Atomic Talks

Ayatollah Tells Envoy To Stand Firm In Atomic Talks

As Iranian envoys and representatives of world powers ended their last round of talks intended to define the scope of Iran’s contested nuclear program, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a gathering in Tehran Wednesday that Iran’s negotiators should not “give in to unjust demands.”

Talks are set to resume during the first half of May, possibly to draft a final agreement on an issue that has divided the two sides for more than a decade. Khamenei said that he had agreed to the talks “to break the hostile atmosphere” the West, particularly the United States, had fomented against Iran for decades.

Both sides could gain from some agreement: Iran would see an end to diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions — meaning a surge in energy exports; the West would realize business opportunities in Iran and, possibly, gradual rapprochement in regional affairs.

The reformist daily Arman characterized a possible final agreement as “one of the most important turning points in our history.” Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said the most recent talks were a “step forward” but toward “a more difficult, complicated and sensitive stage.” As in the past, Iranian officials publicly said that Iran would retain its installations and “achievements.”

Araqchi said during a Wednesday press conference that the Arak research reactor in central Iran would continue to operate. The reactor is concerning to the West because of the possibility that it could be used to make bomb-related nuclear weapons, though Iran denies it intends to produce nuclear weapons.

Khamenei said the talks “can continue” as long as all parties are clear that Iran’s nuclear activities “will absolutely not stop, and none of the nuclear achievements can be closed down,” the daily Jomhuri-e Eslami quoted him as saying.

— Ahmad Shayegan

Photo: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — Source: Sajed.ir/GFDL

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Palestinian Olive Trees Are Also Under Israeli Occupation — And That's Not A Joke

In the West Bank, a quieter form of oppression has been plaguing Palestinians for a long time. Their olive groves are surrounded by soldiers, and it's forbidden to harvest the olives – this economic and social violence has gotten far worse since Oct. 7.

A Palestinian woman holds olives in her hands

In a file photo, Um Ahmed, 74, collects olives in the village of Sarra on the southwest of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammed Turabi/ZUMA
Francesca Mannocchi

HEBRON – It was after Friday prayers on October 13th of last year, and Zakaria al-Arda was walking along the road that crosses his property's hillside to return home – but he never made it.

A settler from Havat Ma'on — an outpost bordering Al-Tuwani that the United Nations International Law and Israeli law considers illegal — descended from the hill with his rifle in hand.

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After kicking al-Arda, who tried to defend himself, the settler shot him in the abdomen. The bullet pierced through his stomach, a few centimeters below the lungs. Since then, al-Arda has been in the hospital in intensive care. A video of those moments clearly shows that neither al-Arda nor the other worshippers leaving the mosque were carrying any weapons.

The victim's cousin, Hafez Hureini, still lives in the town of Al-Tuwani. He is a farmer, and their house on the slope of the town is surrounded by olive trees — and Israeli soldiers. On the pine tree at the edge of his property, settlers have planted an Israeli flag. Today, Hafez lives, like everyone else, as an occupied individual.

He cannot work in his greenhouse, cannot sow his fields, and cannot harvest the olives from his precious olive trees.

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