K.S. Rajan (5 Dec 2011)
"report by BILL KOENIG"


US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta , addressing a forum at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington, also warned Israel against viewing the Arab uprisings rattling the Middle East as an excuse to enter a defensive crouch.
"I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view," Panetta said.
He said Israel needed to take risks, including by breathing new life into moribund peace talks with Palestinians. When asked by a moderator what steps Israel needed to take to pursue peace, Panetta said: "Just get to the damn table."
"The problem right now is we can't get them to the damn table,
to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences," Panetta said.
Ultraconservative party to push for Islamic Egypt

Election campaign leaflets of the leading Salafi Al-Nour
Party are seen on the desk at the movement's offices
in Cairo. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images
Anticipating a strong presence in the new Egyptian parliament, ultraconservative Islamists outlined plans Friday for a strict brand of religious law, a move that could limit personal freedoms and steer a key U.S. ally toward an Islamic state.
The more pragmatic Muslim Brotherhood is poised to take the largest share of votes, as much as 45 percent. But the Nour Party, which espouses a strict interpretation of Islam in which democracy is subordinate to the Quran, could win a quarter of the house, giving it much power to affect debate.
A spokesman, Yousseri Hamad, said his party considers God's law the only law.
"In the land of Islam, I can't let people decide what is permissible or what is prohibited," Hamad told The Associated Press. "It is God who gives the answers as to what is right and what is wrong."
At least 23 dead as Syria violence intensifies
Activist group says death toll in 8 months of unrest against Bashar Assad close to 4,600, a quarter of whom are from Syrian security forces; regime claims military in clashes with "terrorists."