Palestine/Israel News and Information Links January 1-3 2003
Major portions of this document are sourced from from Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel - Other sources include Information Clearing House.

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January 3 2004
News from Rafah
International Solidarity Movement 1/3/2004
1) ISM’s Laura Gordon available to speak 2) ISM Rafah’s December Zine online 3) A photo exhibit about Rafah 4) Jerusalem Post on the arrest of soldier who shot Tom Hurndal
Act immediately to lift the siege off Nablus, Balata and Beit Foreek
Electronic Intifada/Nablus Residents 1/3/2004
Greetings from Nablus under siege, Nablus has been under siege for the last 10 days while Balata refugee camp has been under siege for the last 18 consecutive days. We have just heard that every single entrance/exit to Balata has been sealed off completely. No food or medicine is allowed in. Medical relief teams are being obstructed and at times completely prevented from passing through. Activists from ISM (the International Solidarity Movement) were attacked while carrying out their missions to observe and bear witness on what the Israeli occupation authorities are brutalizing the Palestinian population. Beit Foreek has been completely sealed off; its mayor reports that there are signs of starvation.
Wreaking Havoc in Nablus
Editorial, Miftah 1/3/2004
It has been 14 days since Israel embarked on its latest invasion of the occupied city of Nablus. The largest West Bank city, Nablus was founded back in 72 AD by the Roman Emperor ‘Titus’ in honor of his father, ‘Flavius Vespasian,’ on the site of the Canaanite ancient village of Maborta. It was called ‘Flavia Neapolis’, the ãNew City,ä until 636 AD when the Arabs took the town, changing its name to Nablus, but reserving its cultural and biblical significance.
New Year resolutions
By Hani Shukrallah, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 – 7 January 2004
2003 has been described as the worst year in modern Arab history by some pundits — on a par with, or even worse than, the two prime catastrophic events that have largely shaped the contemporary Arab world: the Nakba of 1948 and the equally crushing defeat of the Arabs at Israeli hands in June 1967. Yet as the year drew to a close, such assertions — made in the heat of the fall of Baghdad, the seat of the Abbassids, and birthplace of the glorious reign of Haroun Al- Rashid — appear to have lost much of their force. The anti-climatic capture of Saddam Hussein and the somewhat comic confessions of Muaamar Gaddafi, coming within a week of each other in December 2003, seemed to point to an alternative perspective on the year’s drama. Rather than being measured against 1948 and 1967, it would be more useful perhaps to see 2003 as underlining the fact that, strange as it may seem, contemporary Arabs continue to harvest the bitter fruit of their two “founding” catastrophes — indeed, continue to replay them in forms which are ever more absurd, if not as immediately devastating.
Eighteen Months to Disaster
By Amahl Bishara, Arabic Media Internet Network 12/31/2003
The soldiers, helmeted and armed, opened the wide yellow gate just about on schedule, and the family passed through the opening in the fence that now separates their house from the rest of the West Bank town of Jayyous . The gate closed. The soldiers rode off in their jeep. A British volunteer from the World Council of Churches recorded exactly when the gate opened and closed. We started to walk up towards town, on a pretty green path running through an olive orchard. Some boys picked up a handful of bullets, remnants of recent Israeli army shootings. The fence was behind us, not visible, but all around.
The furore over Tariq Ramadan
By Mohamed Sid-Ahmed, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 – 7 January 2004
The French daily Le Monde devoted the main story on the front page of its 23 December issue to Tariq Ramadan, the controversial Islamic activist and grandson, on his mother’s side, of Muslim Brothers founder Hassan El-Banna.
Israeli troops kill four in Nablus
Al-Jazeera 1/3/2004
Israeli occupation soldiers have killed four Palestinians in an ongoing invasion of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The latest fatality came after Israeli forces opened fire on a group of mourners marching at the funeral on Saturday of three Palestinians killed earlier in the day by Israeli fire, Aljazeera’s correspondent reported….Earlier, soldiers fired on Palestinians throwing stones at an Israeli “patrol”, killing three of them….Media reports stated occupation troops had dismantled roadblocks and tanks had been withdrawn [from Jenin], opening up routes between the city’s eight entrances and surrounding villages. However, residents painted a different picture. “They have been moving their soldiers and tanks into Jenin all night, the number of troops in the city has increased.”
IOF Bulldoze Palestinian History in Nablus, Reoccupy Jenin
Palestine Media Center 1/3/2004
PNA Appeals to UNESCO, UN to Save Palestinian Heritage — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Friday embarked on dynamiting and bulldozing the archeological heart of the Qasaba (old city) of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, claiming that “wanted‰ Palestinian activists are hiding in tunnels underneath, and killed a teenager, while reoccupying Jenin hours after declaring they were ending an 18-month siege of the town. Nablus, especially its Qasaba, has been under curfew for the past eight days. The IOF dynamited and bulldozed the wreckage of Al Sha‚bi house, next to the more than 500 old Qassre Al Abdul Hadi in the Qasaba, thus threatening the archeological heart of Nablus.
Israel To Dig New Tunnel Under Aqsa Mosque
Islam Online 1/3/2004
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, January 3 ( ˆ Israel is planning to dig a new tunnel under Al-Aqsa mosque ˆ Islam‚s third holiest site ˆ with eight million dollars donated by a Jewish American millionaire, a Palestinian organization revealed Friday, January 2. The tunnel is designed to tighten the grip of the Israeli occupation forces on the sacred compound, protect Jews who visit it and Judaize the Old City, said Al-Aqsa Foundation for Reconstruction.
Despite Israeli Propaganda: Jewish Settlers Expand the would-be Dismantled Settlements
International Press Center 1/3/2004
GAZA, January 3, 2004 (IPC + Ydeoth Ahranot)— Despite the recent Israeli propaganda speaking about dismantling several illegitimate Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the halt in settlement activities, a recent aerial tour organized by an Israeli peace group revealed that the settlement activities have been ongoing and never stopped, and that the settlements earmarked for dismantling have been actually expanding!
Two Palestinians wounded in explosion of Zionist leftovers
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Rafah – Two Palestinians were wounded yesterday when an explosive object blasted while they were trying to lift it off the road to the east of Rafah city. Samer Al-Najjar, 17, and Manar Al-Najjar, 19, were trying to set aside an object leftover by the Zionist terrorist forces in the area when it went off wounding both of them.
Zionist forces arrest citizens in Badors to check protests
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Ramallah – Zionist occupation forces arrested at dawn today two Palestinians in the village of Badors to the west of Ramallah city in a bid to check the protests that have been raging over the past few days in that small town against the Zionist separation fence. Local sources said that the troops arrested secretary of the Fatah Movement in the village, Naeem Ahmed Marar, one of the most prominent activists against construction of that racist fence.
Three Palestinian girls wounded in Zionist shooting
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Deir Al-Balah – Zionist occupation troops advanced into the Wadi Al-Salaqa in central Gaza Strip at dawn today and arrested nine members of a Palestinian family. Eyewitnesses said that Zionist armored vehicles stormed the valley at the early hours today and broke into the houses of Abu Maghasib family before arresting nine of its members.
Expanding A Settlers‚ Outpost Slated for Dismantling
International Middle East Media Center 1/3/2004
The Israeli Military Commander of the middle region in the West Bank Moshe Kiblanski signed an order to dismantle a settlers‚ outpost known as Ginot Arieh, near Ofra settlement north of the West Bank. The outpost accomodates 15 families. This order is based on the government‚s intention to remove four settlements outposts the government regards as “illegal‰. Israeli source revealed information that this site is being expand not removed. According to ArabYnet, their correspondent was flying over the region on a trip organized by the Israeli Peace Movement “Peace Now‰ saw the preparation for more mobile houses and maybe for permanent ones. She also revealed information about a road being built to link this outpost with Ofra settlement.
Palestinian al-Jihad movement vows to continue resistance
Arabic News 1/3/2004
Palestinians sources stressed that the Israeli occupation forces did not ultimately lift the siege imposed on the city of Jenin, in the West Bank. News reports said that the Israeli army removed the mobile barriers but continue blocking the northern entrance, and kept several barriers and iron gates at the entrance of towns and villages. The reports said that the withdrawal is a mere formal measure and an Israeli propaganda, as the sufferings of the Palestinians continue in Jenin. Earlier, the Israeli occupation army announced lifting the siege imposed on Jenin since August 19, 2003.
Zionist army commits 33 massacres in lines of Palestinian civilians in 2003
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Gaza – The Zionist occupation forces have committed 33 massacres in the Palestinian territories in the course of the past year of 2003 killing in each one of them more than three Palestinians. The Quds Press‚ annual statistics revealed that the massacres led to the slaughter of 224 civilians out of the total of 698 Palestinians murdered at the hands of Zionist terrorist forces in 2003.
New Year and new Palestinian victims of the Israeli policy
Jerusalemites 1/3/2004
Israeli troops opened fire on stone throwing demonstrators and wounded two Palestinians in Nablus on Friday. One of the youth was hit by rubber bullets and is in moderate condition. Another one, Majdi Qullab, 21 was hit in the stomach, arm and leg by live gunfire. The shooting took place near the city‚s old quarter. The Israeli troops continued operations in the West Bank although the media said that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) has lifted blockades and closures from Palestinian cities, the reality is another one.
Breaking News: Troops Arrest Palestinian Seekling Treatment, Nine Arrested in Dura
International Press Center 1/3/2004
17:40 Israeli occupying troops arrest a Palestinian patient from Tulkarem governorate as he was traveling to Jordan for treatment. The citizen was taken into an undisclosed location, WAFA / 17:00 Israeli occupying troops arrest nine Palestinian citizens during raiding and search campaigns in the town of Dura, southwest of Hebron, Palestinian security sources, IPC / 3:30— At least five Palestinian civilians have been wounded by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Nablus, IPC correspondent reported….
Aqsa foundation warns of Zionist continued demolition of mosques
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Um Al-Fahm – The Aqsa foundation catering for Islamic holy shrines in the green line (Palestinian lands occupied in 1948) has renewed warning of the continued “Israeli‰ policy of demolishing mosques in those areas. The foundation said that the Zionist policy currently focusing on the Negev area was “irresponsible‰ and would not weaken the foundation‚s determination to serve the holy shrines. It noted that “Israeli‰ tractors escorted by policemen, border guards and special forces demolished Al-Salam mosque in Far‚a village on 29/12/2003 along with 12 residential houses.
IOF Kills Three Palestinians, Including a Child, Demolishes Historical Buildings in Nablus and Re-invades Jenin
International Press Center 1/3/2004
NABLUS, Palestine, January 3, 2004 (IPC + Agencies)— The Israeli occupying forces (IOF), and as a part of its military campaign on the city of Nablus, dubbed “still waters”, killed today three Palestinian citizens, including a child, by sniper fire, and demolished several historical ruins and monuments in the city, at a timeIsraeli tanks re-invaded Jenin hours only after lifting the tight curfew on it….As well, eyewitnesses asserted that the IOF demolished several historical buildings and ruins in the old town part of Nablus, including the famous Abdel Hadi historical building, which was bombed by several missiles, not to mention other historical monuments that were blown up by explosives planted by the Israeli soldiers.
4 Palestinians Killed, Israeli Golan Plans Denied
Islam Online 1/3/2004
NABLUS, West Bank, January 3 ( & News Agencies) ˆ FourPalestinians, including two teenagers, were killed Saturday, January 3, by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank city of Nablus, while Israeli cabinet number two Ehud Olmert denied that Israel planned settlement expansion in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights….An Israeli military source said soldiers on patrol in Nablus had opened fire on a group of Palestinians “after they were attacked with stones”. “One Palestinian was hit,” the source said, adding that the soldiers had fired because they “felt themselves in danger”.
News Briefs: Three Palestinians Killed in Nablus; Israeli Sources: Outposts Expanding
International Middle East Media Center 1/3/2004
The military kills three Palestinians in Nablus: Troops killed three Palestinians in Nablus today, in clashes erupted in the city, Amjad Al-Masry, 15 years old was killed today when the troops shot him during clashes in the city, military sources claim that he was shot in the chest when the army fired towards a group of stone throwers. / Israeli sources: “Illegal settlements are being expanded instead of dismantled‰: Israeli sources revealed yesterday that some illegal settlement outposts are being expanded instead of dismantled after the commander of the middle area in the Israeli army signed an order to dismantle all illegal settlement outposts. / The military arrests 14 Palestinians in the West Bank this morning and invades several cities: In what became a daily event in which tens of Palestinians have been arrested, the army arrested today 14 Palestinians and different areas in the West Bank.
Four Palestinians killed by IDF in incidents in Nablus, Gaza
Ha’aretz 1/3/2004
Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot dead three Palestinians on Saturday in the bloodiest confrontation in at least two weeks in the West Bank city of Nablus while a fourth Palestinian was killed in the Gaza Strip. A fifth Palestinian, a 17-year-old pallbearer, was pronounced clinically dead in Nablus, after soldiers shot him in the head as he helped carry the coffin of his 15-year-old cousin, one of the three killed by the army….Palestinian witnesses said Amjed el-Masri, 15, was shot in the chest by a sniper as he threw stones at an Israeli armored vehicle from a rooftop in the old city area of Nablus.
From Nablus: Resistance Under Occupation
International Solidarity Movement 1/3/2004
Ringing in the New Year — In the midst of an already month-long invasion, the sheikhs announced over the mosques for everyone to yell from their windows and their roofs “Allahu akbar” (god is great) together for an hour. It began with the voices from the mosques, together, “Allahu akbar” again and again, the voices growing louder and prouder with each chant. Then, a chorus began from the old city, and then the mountains and the camps. Thousands of different voices, in different rhythms and tones, yelling and chanting together, their sound almost drowning out the noise of the tank fire around them.
Israeli Occupying Forces Implement Illegal Transfer Order against 18th Palestinian Detainee in Two Months
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/3/2004
PCHR is gravely concerned by the policy of unlawful transfers Israeli occupying forces continue to implement against Palestinian civilians.On 31 December 2003, Israeli occupying forces transferred a Palestinian detainee from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.Thus, the number of Palestinians transferred by Israeli occupying forces from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip in November and December 2003, increased to 18.Such transfers stand as stark violations of international humanitarian law, principally the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
Anti-fence demonstrations continue
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Ramallah – Inhabitants of the Badors village to the west of Ramallah along with scores of foreign activists continued to demonstrate against the Zionist separation fence construction in their village. Mayor of the village, Mohammed Khaled Ulayan, said that the occupation forces threatened the town inhabitants that anyone participating in those peaceful demonstrations would be arrested and that live ammunition would be used against violators. He said that a number of citizens and foreign activists were injured in yesterday‚s demonstration after inhaling the teargas fired in abundance by the Zionist troops at the marchers.
Israel Government Shuts Down Indymedia-Israel
Palestine Media Center/Scoop 1/3/2004
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) states in a letter to the Attorney General of Israel: ‘’The investigation against Indymedia Israel has turned into intimidation, harming Freedom of Speech on the Internet.’’ — Police investigators are attempting to throw responsibility on Indymedia Israel‚s operators, for publications appearing in the “open publishing zone‰ of the website. This is done illegally and against the recommendations of a professional committee of the Israel Ministry of Justice. The Indymedia Israel website provides a free and open stage for surfers on the Internet. Approximately three weeks ago, a surfer outside of Israel published a caricature in the open publishing zone of the website, in which the Israeli Prime Minister is portrayed passionately kissing the leader of Nazi Germany.
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories 25-31 December 2003
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 1/3/2004
8 Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces / 5 of the victims were killed during an extra-judicial assassination in Gaza city / Israeli forces conducted a series of incursions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip / More areas of agricultural land were razed in the Gaza Strip/ 7 houses and a school were demolished in the Gaza Strip / Houses were raided and a number of Palestinians were arrested / Construction of the “separation wall‰ in the West Bank has continued / Indiscriminate shelling of Palestinian residential areas continued and 2 Palestinian civilians were killed and dozens were injured / 3 Palestinian houses in Nablus were destroyed by Israeli forces as part of the continuing campaign of retaliation against the families of Palestinians accused of involvement in attacks against Israeli targets / In violation of international law and humanitarian law, a Palestinian detainee was transferred from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip / Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian civilians and property in Hebron / Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a total siege on the OPTs / A number of Palestinian civilians were injured or arrested by Israeli soldiers at military checkpoints and 2 newly-born twins died at an Israeli military checkpoint
Olmert: No ‘approved plan’ to increase Golan population
Jerusalem Post 1/3/2004
Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denied that Israel was implementing a national plan to increase the population of the Golan Heights. “There is no program, there is no policy, there is no expansion of Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights,” Olmert said on the BBC’s ‘HardTalk’ program. The plan’s announcement by Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz earlier in the week embarrassed the government as it appears to be a bad faith response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s recent conciliatory overtures.
Syria: Israeli Golan settlement plans undermine peace
Ha’aretz 1/3/2004
Syria accused Israel on Saturday of seeking to abort any chance for peace through an apparent drive to double the number of Jewish settlers in the occupied Golan Heights. The accusations followed statements by Agricultural Minister Yisrael Katz regarding Israeli plans to expand settlements and double the number of Israeli residents on the Golan Heights.
Egyptian Intelligence Chief in Ramallah for Ceasefire Talks
International Press Center 1/3/2004
RAMMLAH, Palestine, January 3, 2004 (IPC+Agencies)— Egyptian intelligence service chief Omar Suleiman is scheduled to visitRamallah on January 6 to hold talks with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei‚(Abu Alaa), helping to start a new round of inter-factional talks to reach a cease fire “ Hudna‰. Well-informed Palestinian sources said that calling the Palestinian factions once again to meet in Cairo is out of the agenda of the visit.
Arafat Says Sharon Blocking Peace Progress
Palestine Media Center 1/3/2004
Protests Persist Against Israel‚s Apartheid Wall As IOF Kill 3 Palestinians — In a televised address delivered on the Palestinian National Day, commemorating the 39th anniversary of Fatah, President Yasser Arafat blamed Israel for the stalled peace process and claimed that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not want to see any progress. Meanwhile Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) shot dead three Palestinians in Nablus, including a teenager, as protests persisted against Israel‚s Apartheid Wall. “Our hand is still extended for a peace of the brave, we strongly believe in this peace and this belief will not wane despite the grief and suffering endured by our people,‰ the veteran leader of the Palestinian people said in a televised address, as thousands of supporters took to the streets of Gaza City to mark the 39th anniversary of Fatah movement on New Year Eve.
USAID blackmails Palestinian institutions
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Gaza – The official USAID development agency has linked its financial assistance to any institution with an affidavit to be signed by those institutions declaring that they did not and would not extend any form of assistance or resources to terrorist organizations or individuals. Issam Younis, director of the Mizan human rights center, said that the campaign, which the American agency started last year, was designed to de-legitimize Palestinian institutions. He described the American institution‚s condition as a “cheap blackmail‰ meant to incriminate any Palestinian private endeavor.
Iran’s foreign minister: Israel should forsake nuclear weapons
Ha’aretz 1/3/2004
DAMASCUS, Syria – The world should put pressure on Israel to forsake nuclear weapons, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Saturday. Kharrazi was speaking to reporters after he held talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. Syria has proposed that the United Nations Security Council should declare the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons. “International pressure should be applied to Israel to eradicate its weapons of mass destruction, as this would be in the interest of the whole region,” Kharrazi said.
Israel in Golan U-turn
Al-Jazeera 1/3/2004
Israel’s deputy prime minister has said there are no plans to expand Jewish settlements in the Golan Heights. His comments have contradicted a fellow minister whose remarks had outraged Syria and the United States. “There is no programme, there is no policy, there is no expansion of Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights,” Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with the BBC. Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and annexed them in 1981, a move that was condemned internationally.
Palestine Mufti questions Zionist sincerity regarding peace
Palestinian Information Center 1/3/2004
Occupied Jerusalem – Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, Mufti of Al-Quds and Palestine, has ridiculed Zionist allegations of seeking peace and castigated Zionist colonialist plans in Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan heights. Sheikh Ekrema, addressing the Friday congregation in the Aqsa Mosque yesterday, said that those who claim to be peace-mongers were calling for an international day for peace. “What peace do they advocate while war threats were daily escalating against countries in the region,‰ he wondered.
Egypt to help press for end to attacks on Israel
Daily Star 1/3/2004
Egypt will send its intelligence chief to the Palestinian areas next week in a renewed effort to press militant groups to halt attacks on Israel, Palestinian officials said Friday. On the ground, meanwhile, the Israeli military lifted a more than four-month-long blockade on the West Bank city of Jenin on Friday, allowing residents to travel in and out of the town, the army said. But as the Israeli Army loosened the noose around Jenin, it continued house demolitions elsewhere in the West Bank.
Syria: Settlements harm peace prospects
Al-Jazeera 1/3/2004
Syria’s vice-president has accused Israel of deliberately undermining Middle East peace initiatives after it announced it was stepping up Jewish settlements in the occupied Golan Heights. “Aborting any peace initiative in the region is part of Israeli policy,” Abd al-Halim Khaddam told reporters. “This measure and the assassination of Palestinian leaders in the occupied territories shows that Israel remains hostile to peace and that it is pressing ahead with the Zionist project against the interests and future of the Arab nation,” he said after talks with a delegation of Iraqi tribal leaders.
Arafat Aides Comes Under Threat
Middle East Newsline 1/3/2004
GAZA CITY [MENL] — For the first time since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority nearly a decade ago, aides to chairman Yasser Arafat have come under repeated attack. Palestinian sources said several aides of Arafat as well as senior PA officials have been threatened by Palestinian insurgents connected to the ruling Fatah movement. In some cases, officials and aides were prevented from touring residential areas, blocked from entering their offices or even abducted.
Sanctions to continue despite Histadrut, treasury deal
Ha’aretz 1/3/2004
Labor sanctions are expected to continue on Sunday, despite the fact that Histadrut and Finance Ministry officials on Friday signed a draft agreement ending their dispute over structural changes in government offices. Treasury budget director Uri Yogev informed the Knesset Finance Committee of the breakthrough on Friday morning. Under the draft agreement, no employees at ministries or state-run entities will be fired in 2004.
Selling Israel
Globes 12/31/2003
Joey Low founded Israel at Heart to give Israel a positive PR spin. His next move: Israeli products on US shopping channels. —American evangelist Pat Robertson has congregations across the country and his own television station, with an enviable rating. He looks his viewers in the eye and says, “These roses,” referring to some red, dew-laden flowers behind him, “are grown in a kibbutz.” His pronunciation comes out as “Kubbutz”. “They are put on an El Al flight at two in the morning, and arrive fresh. You should buy them. Joey Low watches in delight. “I couldn‚t pay enough money to do this. I was stunned when I saw it.”
Extreme peace: enemies go to the ends of the earth to forge future for a land divided by hatred
The Independent 1/3/2004
Antarctica is a long way to go to prove a point. But yesterday four Israelis and four Palestinians were crossing the treacherous waters of the Drake Passage on small boats to get there. They are on an expedition that sounds as if it comes from the pages of a Tintin adventure. They are sailing some of the roughest seas in the world to reach their objective. When they arrive in Antarctica, they will walk for two to three days across the ice, roped together for safety, dragging their supplies on snow-sleds. Then they plan to climb a mountain that has never been conquered; it does not even have a name.
Who are we? Matrix of Lebanese emigrants‚ identity tackled by US professor
Daily Star 1/3/2004
Akram Fouad Khater‚s lecture examines roots of confusion surrounding expatriates‚ sense of self— Who are the Lebanese? Ask this question of any native and you will likely hear various answers: “We‚re Arab;‰ “we‚re Phoenician;‰ “we‚re European.‰ Why is Lebanese identity today such an intangible concept? What are the roots of this discord, and how long have we suffered from this crisis? These are all questions that Middle East historian Akram Fouad Khater tried to answer during his hour-and-a-half talk at the City University of New York on Dec. 11.
Famous clairvoyant predicts gloomy year for Lebanon
Daily Star 1/3/2004
The next year does not look good for Lebanon. A bridge will collapse, the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir will fall ill and Israel will invade once again. This is, at least, what renowned clairvoyant Michel Hayek sees happening.
Planned sabra-S. African town fails to attract olim
Ha’aretz 1/3/2004
The South African Jewish community came under fire last month when President Moshe Katsav blamed their educational framework for failing to encourage immigration to Israel. — South African Jews contemplating aliyah are not exactly swarming to buy homes in a part-sabra, part-new immigrant community being planned for them inside the Green Line, according to activists involved in the project. Indeed, not one family of potential immigrants from South Africa has as yet purchased a home in the planned community of Tzur Yitzhak, which is to be located near Kochav Yair and is designed to be home to 2,500 families.

Jewish leaders accuse European Commission of anti-Semitism
Ha’aretz 1/3/2004
Two Jewish leaders accuse the European Commission of encouraging anti-Semitism by releasing a “flawed” poll accusing Israel of being the most perceived threat to world peace and then by failing to release a report on the involvement of Muslim minorities in anti-Semitic incidents. In a piece to be published Monday in the Financial Times, World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman and European Jewish Congress President Cobi Benatoff said, “Anti-Semitism can be expressed in two ways: by action and inaction. Remarkably, the European Commission is guilty of both.”
France seeks inquiry into plane crash
Al-Jazeera 1/3/2004
France has asked prosecutors to open a preliminary inquiry for manslaughter following the crash of a plane in the Red Sea that killed 148 people, most of them French. The Justice Ministry said on Saturday the request “does not prejudge in any way the causes of the catastrophe”, but simply provides a legal framework for French and Egyptian investigators as they conduct their probe….Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Mahir categorically ruled out terrorism. “The incident is absolutely not the result of a terrorist act, but is linked to a technical failure of the plane,” Mahir told journalists.,12271,1115330,00.html
Rebranding Bush as man of peace
The Guardian 1/3/2004
The White House has retreated from its doctrine of regime change and pre-emptive military action and is returning to traditional diplomacy in an effort to repackage George Bush as a president for peace. Signs of the new strategy that have emerged in the past few weeks include:- North Korea, where authorities yesterday agreed to allow US inspectors to visit its nuclear complex next week. – Iran, where the US proposed, through UN channels, sending a high-level humanitarian mission after last week’s earthquake – although Tehran last night asked for any visit to be delayed. – Libya, where the US welcomed Muammar Gadafy’s surprise decision to give up weapons of mass destruction….
Remove Israel‚s WMD threat
By Julie Flint, Daily Star 1/3/2004
Much changed on the ground in the Middle East in 2003. Saddam Hussein was overthrown and it seemed possible, if not altogether certain, that the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) with which he once threatened Israel had been reduced to an empty boast by a decade of UN inspections. Iran signed a protocol giving UN inspectors the right to conduct snap inspections of its nuclear facilities. And Libya announced it would give up hitherto unacknowledged work on its WMDs.
1973 and 2003: why things must finally change
Editorial, Daily Star 1/3/2004
Thursday‚s declassified British intelligence files reporting that the United States had seriously contemplated militarily seizing Arab oil fields in 1973 raises important issues about the past and the present, in view of the fact the British, American and other troops now occupy and are remaking Iraq.

January 2 2004
Arabs Must Stop Dwelling in the Past
By Said Ghazali, Palestine Chronicle 1/2/2004
EAST JERUSALEM – The inability of Arab leaders to draw the right lessons from Saddam‚s rise and collapse ˜ after all, he was one of the Arab dictators himself ˜ leads me to contemplate the sterility of their regimes.
In the prairies of Isra-bluff
By Gideon Samet, Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
As the dogs bark, the covered wagons of Israeli officialdom wind their way confidently through the prairies of Isra-bluff. No one knows exactly where they are heading, but they assure us that they know. If the dogs would only have patience, and most importantly, quit barking, peace and security would appear on the horizon. That’s the way practically every important issue is handled in this country. But now the convoy is returning to one of the bogus back-roads it knows best – the one that pretends to lead to negotiations with Syria. Things are going to be lively. They already are. After all, pulling back from the Golan Heights isn’t even an option.
2003: A year of US and Israeli defiance of International Law – Part 1/2
By Laurie King-Irani, Electronic Intifada 1/2/2004
In attempting to sum up the key trends of 2003 in the Middle East in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, it is difficult to decide which, among a wide array of demoralizing events, was the defining news story of the year. Closer analysis reveals prevailing trends that have a global as well as a regional significance. Perhaps the most disturbing trend of the past year was the ongoing erosion of multilateral frameworks of decision-making and diplomacy in the Middle East, from Gaza to Baghdad, and the ominous marginalization of International Humanitarian Law (1) by the world’s hegemonic power, the United States, and its client Israel.
2003: A year of Israeli and US defiance of International Law – 2/2
By Laurie King-Irani, Electronic Intifada 1/2/2004
Top-down pressures: A narrowing of options — The primary catalyst for external, top-down pressures opposing Belgium’s Universal Jurisdiction law was the March 2003 filing of a case in Brussels by Iraqis who accused former President George H.W. Bush and other members of his administration with war crimes stemming from the deaths of 400 Iraqi civilians incinerated when a US missile penetrated a Baghdad bomb shelter in January of 1991. Overnight, US officials, past and present, began panicking over the possibility that they could be in the dock in Belgium.
Questions about disengagement
By Ze’ev Schiff, Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
No one in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) understood exactly what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meant by Israeli “disengagement” from the Palestinian territories if no progress on their part is forthcoming in connection with the “road map” and if the terrorism continues. Since Sharon delivered his speech in Herzliya two weeks ago, the IDF has not received even fragments of orders, and the prime minister’s intention remains vague. The army doesn’t know, for example, what Sharon meant when he spoke about the possibility of moving settlements. So the decision in the army is to wait and do nothing, not even preliminary staff work. Another internal decision is that in any event the IDF must not be involved in recommendations or decisions about which settlements to move or to evacuate. In the meantime, though, the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Ya’alon, has taken a step of his own by stating that the evacuation of the settlement of Netzarim, in the Gaza Strip, will be a prize to terrorism. No one in the political-security establishment is capable of drawing the prime minister’s disengagement map or of elucidating its main points. Even the experts on the territories are engaged in guesswork. It’s possible that Sharon has a plan, but if so, he is keeping it very close to his chest at this stage. It’s clear that disengagement is in essence a unilateral action. Sharon’s remarks also suggest that such an action would constitute punishment of the Palestinians as well as a warning.
West Bank Town of Budrus Becomes Center of Protest Against the Barrier
Arabic Media Internet Network 1/2/2004
For the past three consecutive days, hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals protested the building of the separation barrier near the West Bank town of Budrus. Protests began when the military started destroying parts of the town‚s olive groves on December 30. Tens of people were injured by teargas, rubber bullets, and beatings by soldiers. Several people were also arrested or taken into custody, including a Swedish parliamentarian. In Budrus, which is northwest of Ramallah, the separation barrier will cut through agricultural land and abut the town on two sides. Another barrier is also planned several kilometers to the east of Budrus, such that Budrus and eight other villages will be encircled and separated from Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank.

Hurndall’s mom: ‘the truth needs to come out’
Jerusalem Post 1/2/2004
On New Years day, Jocelyn Hurndall held her son Tom’s hand as he lay in a vegetative state in a London hospital and told him that the IDF soldier who shot him, had finally confessed. She did not expect any response from Tom, 22, a British photography student, who has been in a coma since he was shot in the head on April 11, in the Rafah refugee camp, in the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said he was pushing children out of the line of IDF gunfire, when a bullet hit him in the forehead.

Lapid to demand Kach outpost be demolished
Jerusalem Post 1/2/2004
Justice Miniser Yosef Lapid (Shinui) said he intends to raise the issue of reports that the government had funded a road leading to an illegal West Bank outpost run by followers of Meir Kahane. A seminary perpetuating the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the former Kach leader murdered by an Egyptian national in New York’s Marriot East Hotel in 1990, is under construction in the illegal outpost of Kfar Tapuah West near Ariel, Channel Two News reported Thursday. According to the report, the government funded the paving of an NIS 1 million access road which leads from the Kfar Tapuah settlement to the unauthorized outpost, located a kilometer and a half away.
How Israeli Plot to Kill Saddam Became a ŒTraining Accident‚
By Richard H. Curtiss, Arab News 1/2/2004
WASHINGTON, 2 January 2004 ˜ What has long been called a “training accident‰ has finally been revealed in Israel. The tale begins with an unbelievable botch-up which the Israelis never fully described.
Let‚s start from the beginning. The Israelis wanted to be involved in the war on Iraq in 1991. The United States desperately wanted to keep Israel out of the war because it might so anger all of the other Arabs that the carefully crafted coalition would quickly unravel.
Orthodox rabbis break ground in discussion on homosexuality
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Fear and denial have always characterized the relationship of the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox community toward homosexuals within their midst. However, during the past two years, there have been signs that the communities are more willing to recognize and come to terms with the phenomenon. One of these signs is that for the first time, Orthodox rabbis convened in Jerusalem yesterday to discuss their attitude to homosexuality.

Israeli army lifts its blockade on Jenin after four months
ReliefWeb 1/2/2004
JENIN, West Bank, Jan 2 (AFP) — The Israeli army loosened the noose on the northern West Bank city of Jenin Friday after more than four months of blockade, an AFP correspondent reported. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had announced Thursday that the blockade had been lifted but tanks were still blocking the entrances to the city on Thursday night. They pulled back on Friday morning, putting an end to a tight blockade which was imposed on August 19 following a suicide attack in Jerusalem….Israeli troops can still go in and out of Jenin and other cities as they please to carry out searches and arrests.
Tens of Palestinians Arrested In West Bank, Curfews Imposed West Of Nablus
International Middle East Media Center 1/2/2004
Tens of Palestinians arrested through the West Bank: Earlier this dawn, ten Palestinians were arrested from Al-Yamoon village near Jenin; these arrests came after the troops invaded the village and stayed in it for several hours. / Eight Palestinians killed last week, including two children: As a result of the Israeli policy of using excessive force against the Palestinians in the territories, eight Palestinians were killed last week alone. / Army impose curfew over several villages West of Nablus: The military imposed curfew earlier this morning over several areas located at the west of Nablus . The curfew was imposed after the army entered several villages announcing curfew over them.
New Year in the OPT: IOF Expels a Palestinian Prisoner, Arrests 24 Others in West Bank
International Press Center 1/2/2004
GAZA, Palestine, January 2, 2004 (IPC + Agencies) — — As the Palestinian people prepare to embrace the dawn of the new year 2004, the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) expelled a Palestinian prisoner to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, while arresting 24 others in separate raids on West Bank cities. Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli occupying forces expelled Mustafa Abed, 40, a father of seven children from Nablus City, to the Gaza Strip. Israeli military sources also confirmed the expulsion of Abed. …despite the news talking about the IOF uplifting the siege imposed on the Jenin governorate, Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli occupying forces arrested early this morning seven brothers of Palestinian resistance activists in the governorate….eyewitnesses said that the Israeli occupying troops arrested today 13 Palestinian citizens, mostly youngsters, in the city of Hebron, and led them into an undisclosed location.

IDF lifts blockades from all W. Bank cities, except Nablus
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Israel Defense Forces in recent days has lifted blockades and closures from all Palestinian cities in the West Bank, except for Nablus, Channel Two television reported Friday. IDF troops continued operations in the West Bank city on Friday, and were attacked in two incidents — shots were fired at soldiers and an explosive device detonated next to a jeep. Also, north of Jenin shots were fired at troops. There were no injuries in any of the incidents.

Israel Kills Palestinian Boy for Building Stone Barrier, Truce Efforts Resume
An Nahar 1/2/2004
Efforts toward a truce to stop three years of bloody Israeli-Palestinian violence were resuming in the shadow of Hamas threats for revenge after a botched Israeli air strike in Gaza, with Israeli security forces on high alert. Osama el-Baz, top aide to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was due in the West Bank on Thursday for talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, part of Egyptian efforts to forge a cease-fire….In the West Bank late Wednesday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian who was in a group of youths throwing rocks at Israeli cars on a road west of Nablus, relatives said. The military said the youth was building a stone barrier across the road.

2 officers wounded in Nablus
Jerusalem Post 1/2/2004
Two IDF officers were moderately wounded when a bomb exploded near their jeep while searching for fugitives in the Nablus casbah on Thursday. The officers were taken to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva. In an unrelated matter, after assessing the situation on the ground, the army lifted a four-month-old blockade on Jenin, which became the sixth West Bank city to be granted unrestricted access to its environs.,1280,-3578615,00.html
Roadside Blast Hits Nablus; No Casualties
The Guardian 1/2/2004
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) — A roadside bomb blew up next to an Israeli army jeep Friday night in the West Bank city of Nablus, where the military has been carrying out raids against militants, the army said. There were no casualties. The explosion reverberated throughout the city and knocked out power in the area. Witnesses said the Israeli army had closed off the area, and emergency military vehicles rushed to the scene. A helicopter hovered overhead.
Civilians in the cross-hairs/Just another day
By Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 — 7 January 2004
As Israel rages through the West Bank and Gaza, Bethlehem celebrates another dismal Christmas under occupation – The Israeli army killed Palestinian civilians in retaliation for two Palestinian attacks targeted mainly against Israeli soldiers. Israeli troops, backed by tanks, armoured personnel carriers and helicopter gunships, retaliated by attacking Palestinian towns and villages, killing and maiming scores of Palestinian civilians. / Just another day: As in the three previous years, Christmas joy is in conspicuously short supply in the birthplace of Jesus. As in towns throughout the West Bank, life is steeped in poverty and despair. Sealed within the town by a series of Israeli military checkpoints, with the memories of tanks rolling through the streets, it is difficult for residents to remember that "’tis the season to be jolly".
IOF Wounds a Boy in Tulkarem, Demolishes Four Houses in Khan Younis and Attacks 70, Including Internationals in Budrus Village
International Press Center 12/31/2003
WEST BANK, December 31, 2003 (IPC + WAFA) — — The Israeli occupying forces shot and wounded a boy in Tulkarem refugee camp and arrested several, fully demolished four houses west of Khan Younis refugee camp and wounded 70 Palestinians in Budrus Village of Ramallah. A 12 year old Mahmoud Aref was wounded today noon in Tulkarem refugee camp by a live bullet in the back, Palestinian medical sources said. Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli troops swooped on the camp day by day and opened a hail of gunfire indiscriminately and started to intimidate and traumatize the citizens there.,2763,1114910,00.html
Don’t serve in Gaza, soldier told
The Guardian 1/2/2004
An Israeli man has forbidden his daughter from serving in the Gaza Strip settlement of Netzarim, saying he would rather see her imprisoned than risk her life. Moshe Ofek, a major in the military reserves, said Gali, who was conscripted into the army about two months ago, had not received the necessary training to serve in the battle zone that Netzarim has become. The army said Ms Ofek had been stationed according to army rules, and was being treated as an AWOL soldier.
Occupation authorities arrest two brothers
Palestinian Information Center 1/2/2004
Ramallah — Zionist occupation forces arrested Thursday two brothers in the village of Qibya to the west of Ramallah city after ransacking their family house. Local sources said that Zionist soldiers in ten army jeeps stormed the village and broke into the house of Khaled Hussein Ghaithan, 28, and arrested him along with his brother Hassan, 21, and their nephew Osama, who arrived on a visit to his relatives from Jordan.
Settlers unmoved by Golan Heights politics
CTV News 1/2/2004
Although Israeli cabinet ministers’ approval of a plan to expand settlements on the occupied Golan Heights has angered Syria and threatened efforts to resume peace talks, Jewish settlers are applauding the move. Micha Vaadia is a winemaker at the Golan Heights Winery, established in the fertile, "disputed" highlands of northern Israel in 1983. The operation has grown to produce nearly four million bottles a year – staffed entirely by local Jewish settlers….Results of a poll commissioned by state broadcaster Israel Radio and released Thursday showed 53 percent of Israelis support an expansion of Golan settlements.
Photo Report: Home demolitions in Rafah
Rafah Today
The Israeli army has destroyed over 350 homes and damaged 500 in the Rafah neighborhoods. This is being done to make way for a gigantic steel wall along the Egyptian border, on which Israel began construction in October 2002.
IDF winds up five-month siege of Jenin
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
The Israel Defense Forces decided yesterday to lift the blockade of the West Bank city of Jenin for the first time since the hudna (cease-fire) collapsed in August 2003. The decision followed a decline in the number of terror warnings in the area. The IDF will remove some of the roadblocks surrounding the city and will enable Palestinian cars to pass through other IDF roadblocks.
Israeli army lifts Jenin blockade
Al-Jazeera 1/2/2004
Palestinians in a flashpoint West Bank city now separated from Israel by a controversial barrier have awoken to a rare sight — streets empty of Israeli forces who had lifted a long encirclement. The army said on Friday removal of the strict blockade it imposed on Jenin in August — after a truce declared by Palestinian factions collapsed under Israeli pressure — was "in keeping with assessments of the security situation"….Residents said routes were opened between the city’s eight entrances and surrounding villages after Israeli troops dismantled roadblocks and tanks pulled back.
Hundreds protest against separation fence at al-Garbiyeh
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Hundreds of protestors rallied Friday in the Israeli Arab town of Baka al-Garbiyeh against the contruction of the separation fence to the east of the town. Police at the scene of the demonstration say that there have been no untoward incidents recorded so far. The protestors are bitter about the erection of the fence, which they say divides residents from the Palestinian section of the town, Baka al-Sharqiya. Palestinians demonstrated on the opposite side of the fence. The protestors carried signs decrying the "Apartheid fence."
Swedish MP arrested during fence protest to leave Israel
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
member of Sweden’s parliament, arrested as he took part in a protest against the construction of the West Bank security barrier, is to be freed Thursday evening and fly home, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry said. Green Party lawmaker Gustav Fridolin, 20, was one of four foreigners arrested Wednesday during a scuffle with troops at Budrus, a West Bank village near the line with Israel southeast of Tel Aviv, where bulldozers are clearing ground for a section of a 750-kilometer (450-mile) barrier around the West Bank. All four were slated for deportation.

Court seeks more data on Palestinian deaths
Jerusalem Post 1/1/2004
The High Court of Justice indicated on Wednesday that the army’s refusal to investigate incidents of Palestinian civilian fatalities during the current intifada except in special circumstances was too sweeping. The panel of justices including Mishael Cheshin, Dalia Dorner, and Miriam Na’or, ordered the state’s representative, Attorney Shai Nitzan, to provide more details about the circumstances in which Palestinian civilians have been killed during the so-called Aksa intifada.

Tel Aviv expels four foreigners
Palestinian Information Center 1/2/2004
Occupied Jerusalem — The Tel Aviv authorities have decided to expel four foreign activists for participating in an anti-separation fence demonstration in the West Bank village of Badors on Wednesday. Hebrew sources said that the interior minister Abraham Poraz signed Thursday an order stipulating the expulsion of the four foreigners who grouped two Swedes and two American women.
Adalah to Israel Prisons Authority: Immediately Permit Sheikh Raed Salah to have Physical Contact with his Newborn Son
Adalah 12/30/2003
On 20 December 2003, Adalah sent a letter to the Director of the Kishon Detention Facility demanding that the Israel Prisons Authority (IPA) immediately permit Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, to have physical contact with his newborn son during family visits. This request is one of a series of interventions undertaken by Adalah during the last year challenging the legality of the IPA practice of preventing physical contact between "security prisoners" and their children.
Arafat, Egypt discuss peace process
Al-Jazeera 1/2/2004
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has met with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak’s top advisor, Usama al-Baz, to discuss reviving the flagging Middle East peace process. "What I heard during my meeting with the president has reassured me and given us hope for the future," al-Baz said after meeting Arafat on Thursday for more than two hours. "We hope that for its part Israel will also follow its commitments so that we can reach a compromise," he said.
Egyptian intelligence chief to visit W. Bank next week
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Egyptian security chief Omar Suleiman will travel to the West Bank next week, where he will meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and senior Palestinian security officials, including Jibril Rajoub. The planned meeting is part of Egypt’s intensive pressure on Palestinian factions to halt their terror attacks against Israeli targets, and follows a Thursday meeting between Arafat and Osama Al Baz, a senior aide to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in Ramallah.
U.S. criticizes Israeli plan for more Golan settlers
International Herald Tribune 1/2/2004
JERUSALEM The United States has expressed disapproval following Israel’s announcement that it plans a major expansion of Jewish settlements in the Golan Heights. "It has been our long-standing policy that there should not be settlement activity in land that the final status of which has not been determined through negotiations," said a State Department spokesman, Adam Ereli. He added, "The State Department supports direct negotiations between the Israelis and Syrians to resolve the issue of the Golan.".
US calls for halt to Golan settlement
Jerusalem Post 1/2/2004
The Bush administration on Thursday called for freezing Israeli settlement expansion, in response to comments by Israeli officials suggesting a plan to double the number of settlers in the Golan Heights over the next three years. "We have seen press reports. We refer you to the government of Israel for clarification. As the president has stated clearly and consistently, "Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and not prejudice final negotiations with placement of walls and fences," said Lou Fintor, a spokesman at the State Department.

PA: Egypt humiliates visiting Palestinians
Jerusalem Post 1/2/2004
The Egyptian authorities have imposed severe restrictions on the entry of Palestinians into Egypt, Palestinian travelers and Palestinian Authority officials said on Thursday. They complained that the Egyptians were deliberately seeking to humiliate them in response to the recent attack on Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher at al-Aksa mosque. Last week, hundreds of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were turned back at the Rafah border crossing.
Israel in no hurry to clear the nuclear fog
Sydney Morning Herald 1/3/2004
And the US is unlikely to apply much pressure, argues Craig Nelson in Jerusalem. – When the "brother leader and guide of the revolution" emerged from his burrow of international isolation last month and declared in essence, "My name is Muammar Gaddafi. I’m the president of Libya. I want to negotiate," Washington struck another name from the list of wannabe members of the doomsday weapons club. But Gaddafi’s announcement that Libya was ready to dismantle its nuclear weapons caused few, if any ripples in Israel, possessor of arguably the most secretive weapons of mass destruction program in the world.
Israel readies to join regional WMD clean-up after Libyan, Iranian moves
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Libya’s December 19 announcement agreeing to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and Iran’s acceptance of increased international monitoring of its nuclear facilities have reawakened discussion of weapons monitoring in the Middle East. Israel has begun to prepare for the day when it, too, will be asked to do its share. The Foreign Ministry and the defense establishment have already begun to feel the sea change. The question will soon be put to the test over whether Israel should "volunteer" to initiate monitoring of its weapons or wait for external demands and pressures.

Syria blacklists Italian ship for doing business with Israel
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria has blacklisted an Italian ship for dealing with Israel, in line with a call by the Arab League to boycott companies that do business with the Jewish state, a government-run newspaper reported Friday. The Ministry of Economy issued a directive ordering Syrian companies to refrain from doing any business with the ship, the Favola, upon a recommendation from the Damascus-based Central Boycott Office of the 22-member Arab League, Al-Thawra said.
Al Baz Visits Ramallah, Hold Talks With President Arafat and Palestinian Officials
International Press Center 1/2/2004
RAMALLAH, Palestine, January 2, 2004 (IPC + Agencies) — — The Egyptian President’s advisor, Dr. Osama Al Baz, arrived yesterday at Ramallah City and held talks with the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, in an effort to revive the deteriorated peace process. Palestinian sources in Ramallah said that the political advisor of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Dr. Osama Al Baz, convened Thursday with President Yasser Arafat at his Ramallah office.
Lapid demands gov’t discuss new $1 million road to illegal outpost
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Justice Miniser Yosef (Tomy) Lapid intends to raise at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting the matter of the new road recently paved to an illegal West Bank outpost near the Tapuah settlement, Israel Radio reported Friday. The road was paved after a seminary dedicated to the teachings of the former leader of the extremist Kach party, Rabbi Meir Kahane, was built at the site….Lapid will demand that the outpost be demolished by the Israel Defense Forces, and will investigate who gave approval for the road to be paved to the site, the report said. The $1 million cost of paving the road to the illegal outpost is being paid by the state.
As armed gangs terrorize PA, army considers letting Palestinian police force resume armed patrols
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
The mayor of the local council of Arabe, a Palestinian town west of Jenin, resigned this week with his council members, after gun-toting militants ordered him to do so. The gunmen accused him of stealing the townspeoples’ money. The fawda (anarchy) is running rampant in the territories, notwithstanding Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia’s statements about the need to fight it….Israel Defense Forces is also agonizing over what to do. Is the fawda threatening the PA’s existence? Should Israel make goodwill gestures to preserve the PA and enable it to establish its power in the territories?

Sharon to meet with every Likud Knesset member
Jerusalem Post 1/1/2004
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon intends to meet individually with all 40 Likud MKs in the upcoming weeks to try to persuade them to accept his plan for unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said Thursday. At last week’s Likud faction meeting, Sharon told the MKs they did not understand what he said in his December 18 diplomatic address at the Herzliya Conference.
Right Wing Gears Up for Clash With Sharon
Forward 1/2/2004
JERUSALEM ˜ Israel’s right wing is gearing up for a confrontation with the government in the coming days, in the wake of Prime Minister Sharon’s decision this week to start removing so-called illegal Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank. Sharon announced on Sunday that he had decided to remove four outposts, out of an estimated 50 to 100 such sites that he agreed to remove under the terms of President Bush’s road map to peace. The move was partly in response to public clamor for change and partly a response to growing signs of anger in Washington over his failure to move against the outposts until now. The announcement has prompted intense mobilization among settlers, who are expected to turn out by the thousands in an attempt to block the troops or at least raise the political price of the evacuation and thus discourage future ones
Knesset panel votes to dismantle religious councils
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Religious councils will be dismantled and the retirement age will increase by two years for both men and women, the Knesset Finance Committee decided in a 23-hour session on the economic arrangements law that ended Friday morning. The committee will continue voting on the rest of the clauses Sunday, when it will also be asked to approve the 2004 state budget….The committee decided Friday morning that new religious councils must be established by the municipalities within five months.

Who won the budget battle?
Jerusalem Post 1/2/2004
After all the late-night meetings at the Prime Minister’s Office, the hand-around-shoulder tete-a-tetes in the Knesset corridors, the threats and the reconciliations, after the smoke has cleared, who is the real winner among the three coalition members, not including the Likud, in the budget battle? It was clear at the outset that the National Religious Party and the National Union had a clear advantage over Shinui as negotiators ˆ they have concrete ideological platforms.
Netanyahu foils Likud proposal he and Sharon rotate posts
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday took steps to prevent the Likud party from discussing a proposal for a rotation arrangement between Netanyahu and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. It would have been discussed on Monday, when the Likud Congress is scheduled to convene. The proposal, which caused great embarassement to Netanyahu’s office, was presented on the eve of the last elections by then-MK Eli Cohen, who has since been appointed ambassador to Japan, and it appears on the Likud Congress list of proposal decisions.
Histadrut and treasury officials sign draft deal
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
Histadrut and Finance Ministry officials signed a draft agreement ending their dispute over structural changes in government offices, treasury budget director Uri Yogev told the Knesset Finance Committee on Friday morning. If a final agreement is signed Saturday night, civil servants will probably end three months of labor sanctions next week. Under the draft agreement, no employees at ministries or state-run entities will be fired in 2004.

An attack on the governor himself
Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
A special meeting of the Bank of Israel’s senior staff, which was called two days ago by the bank’s governor, David Klein, to discuss the situation within the bank, suddenly took a surprising turn and became a nearly unanimous attack on Klein. The senior officials — department heads and their deputies — sharply criticized both the governor and the manner in which the bank is managed.
Marketing to US Jewish communities will boost food exports
Globes 1/2/2004
Food exports to the US totaled $56.5 million in January-September 2003. – Food exports to North America are expected to be 30% higher in 2004 than in 2003, said Wissotzky Tea (Israel) president and CEO Shalom Seidler. Seidler was appointed chairman of the Israel Export Institute food division this week.
We have the weapons, and they are staying: poll exposes security fears
Sydney Morning Herald 1/3/2004
One in four Israelis believe their country should give up its presumed nuclear arsenal as part of a comprehensive move to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, a new poll has found. Widely believed to be the only regional nuclear power, Israel has come under closer scrutiny since Libya said it was abandoning its weapons program.
Half of Israelis back Golan expansion
Reuters 1/1/2004
JERUSALEM (Reuters) — About half of Israelis back plans to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied Golan Heights that have outraged Syria and fly in the face of U.S. policy, according to a poll. A three-year government scheme was disclosed on Wednesday that would mean increasing by some 900 families – or about one third – the number of settlers on the fertile, grassy highlands seized from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war. A poll commissioned by state broadcaster Israel Radio showed on Thursday that 53 percent of Israelis supported an expansion of Golan settlements, far more than recent surveys have indicated would keep all the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Man of the Year
Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 — 7 January 2004
Edward Said – "Speaking both as an American and as an Arab I must ask my reader not to underestimate the kind of simplified view of the world that a handful of Pentagon civilian elites have formulated for US policy in the entire Arab and Islamic worlds, a view in which terror, pre-emptive war, and unilateral regime change – backed up by the most bloated military budget in history – are the main ideas debated endlessly and impoverishingly by a media that assigns itself the role of producing so-called "experts" who validate the government’s general line. Reflection, debate, rational argument, moral principle based on a secular notion that human beings must create their own history have been replaced by abstract ideas that celebrate American or Western exceptionalism, denigrate the relevance of context, and regard other cultures with contempt." -Preface to Orientalism, 7 August, 2003. Edward Said died on 25 September, 2003.
Shifting visions
Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 — 7 January 2004
It is only after their formal beauty has left its mark that you realise the narrative power of Abbas’ photographs – Abbas, Iranian-born photographer and a member of the Magnum collective, strikes a precise balance between the terms compounded in the name of his profession – photojournalism. His books confront massive social realities – the Iranian Revolution, Christian resurgence, militant Islam – with an aesthetic virtuosity that reveals their most telling details.
Shots across the bow
Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Last month saw the start and conclusion of one of the more bizarre libel trials recorded in the annals of the Israeli press. Its origins lie in a check for NIS 3,000 that the Nazareth-based Arabic-language paper, Kul al-Arab, sent to Zaka (acronym for Identification of Disaster Victims, an organization made up largely of members of the ultra-Orthodox community, which has become known for its work at scenes of terrorist attacks). The paper viewed this as a donation to a worthy humanitarian cause. However, the recipients of the money took a different view.
Palestinian population in the world tolls 9.7 million, 3.7 million of them are in the west bank, Gaza
Arabic News 1/2/2004
The number of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Diaspora reached 9.7 million by the end of 2003. A population census study, published on Wednesday by the central statistical bureau of the Palestinian authority, said that some 3.7 million of those Palestinians are living in the West Bank and Gaza, and that one million of them live in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1948.
Palestinians, Israelis on peace trip
Al-Jazeera 1/2/2004
Four Palestinians and four Israelis, who plan to conquer and name a lonely icy peak in Antartica, have hoisted sails on an expedition for peace dubbed "Breaking the Ice." The expedition set sail aboard two ships from Puerto Williams, 2300 kms south of Santiago. "They were to leave on Friday, but decided to take advantage of calm seas late on Thursday," an official at the port city told reporters. The explorers set out to show that peace and cooperation is possible between Israelis and Palestinians as they sail and climb an Antarctic mountain.
News Report on Illegal Outposts Prompts Calls for Probe of WZO
Forward 1/2/2004
American Jewish communal leaders are calling for an investigation into the activities of the World Zionist Organization, a Jerusalem-based confederation of Diaspora Zionist groups, following an Israeli news report alleging that the body was funneling money to illegal settlement outposts. The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported on December 26 that Israeli government ministries were using the WZO as a conduit for government funds used to pay for trailers and permanent structures built on hilltops in the West Bank without government authorization. WZO officials denied the Ha’aretz report, saying that the body’s settlement division, which they say is fully funded by the Israeli government, only supports activities beyond the Green Line that are legal.
Software To Aid Military in Civilian Areas
Forward 1/2/2004
WASHINGTON ˜ The American military is looking to Israel for expertise in dealing with Iraq’s civilian population, possibly adapting Israeli software for use in teaching American soldiers how to minimize friction with occupied Iraqis. The IDF officer who initiated and directed the production of the educational software, Lt. Col. Amos Guiora, confirmed during a visit to Washington last month that both American and European officials have seen the software and expressed interest in it. The IDF is now translating the software into English.
U.S. Group Pushes Israeli Nutrition Bill
Forward 1/2/2004
WASHINGTON ˜ In a highly unusual step, the National Council of Jewish Women has called on its members and supporters to encourage Israeli legislators to support a bill that would provide every Israeli student with a daily hot, nutritious meal. American Jewish organizations rarely lobby Israeli Knesset members on legislation, and the NCJW is no exception to the rule, said Sandra Lief Garrett, executive director of NCJW, who admitted that calling members to launch an e-mail campaign to lobby Israeli legislators could trigger criticism for intervening in Israel’s lawmaking process. "But we feel that we have an appropriate role to play in influencing social policy and the social welfare of Jews wherever they might be, and in this case in Israel," she said.
Jewish knowledge reaches deep into Howard Dean’s past ˜ and his home
JTA 12/31/2003
Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean‚s closest connection to Judaism is his Jewish wife and the couple‚s two children, who have defined themselves as Jews. But Dean says his connection to the religion actually goes back decades. – CONCORD, N.H., Dec. 30 (JTA) ˜ In the middle of a rowdy rendition of "I Have a Little Dreidel‰ at the Sobelson family Chanukah party, Howard Dean walks in and declares himself the cantor. The Democratic presidential candidate recites the blessings over the candles in near-perfect Hebrew in a dining room crowded with campaign staffers. "It‚s another Jewish miracle,‰ Carol Sobelson exclaims.
Jews for Jesus Draws Opposition in Florida
Forward 1/2/2004
Under pressure from Jewish groups, local newspapers refused to publish the advertisements from the missionary group, but agreed to run a warning from the Jewish Federation about the campaign. – HOLLYWOOD, Fla. ˜ A fierce religious turf battle exploded in South Florida last month, as a Christian missionary blitz drew fierce opposition from Jewish groups. As part of its "Behold Your God" campaign, several dozen Jews for Jesus activists spent two weeks in mid-December attempting to win over members of the 225,000-person Jewish community in Palm Beach County. The missionary group held rallies, speeches and religious concerts at churches throughout the county, as well as an event at Florida Atlantic University.

Lebanon’s Health Bill is World’s 2nd Highest after U.S.
An Nahar 1/2/2004
Lebanon is spending up to $2 billion a year on healthcare — a 12.3 percent chunk of the Gross Domestic Product and an average that is topped world-wide only by the United States. It even exceeds the spending of all individual Arab and European countries, and, sadly, most of the money comes out of the pockets of the already financially strapped citizens as the government is shouldering only 23 percent of the burden through its National Social Security Fund and other social services.
The successful Palestinian dialogue
By Hasan Abu Nimah, Jordan Times 12/31/2003
EARLIER THIS month, a dozen Palestinian factions sent representatives to Cairo to discuss their next moves. The assembly covered the entire Palestinian political spectrum, from hardliners Hamas and Islamic Jihad, at one end, to Fateh, which forms the core of the Palestinian National Authority, at the other. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia joined the Cairo dialogue to add his weight to the Egyptian-sponsored effort.
The culture of factionalism
By Ze’ev Sternhell, Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
The right wing has always preached national unity, while at the same time developing and disseminating an ideology of civil war. This was the pattern throughout Europe and it is the pattern in Israel as well. For those on the right, the term "unity" has one practical meaning: falling into line with their opinions. They believe that anyone who holds an opposing view and does not make do with merely voicing it but also tries to implement it, is a traitor.
Racism repackaged
By Salman Abu Sitta, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 — 7 January 2004
The Geneva Accord was long ago scripted by Israeli Military Intelligence – The orchestrated media blitz, replete with approving noises made by those European and Arab politicians eager to be rid of Palestinian refugees, conveniently ignored the fact that the understanding reached between some Palestinians and Israelis on the shores of the Dead Sea, later dignified with the name Geneva Accord, is in essence no more than the blueprint produced by the Israeli intelligence service to "solve" the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Twilight Zone / An American dream
By Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
This is the story of another boy, the seventh in the past few months who was killed for no good reason, this time in the Qalandiyah refugee camp near Ramallah. It’s the story of another Palestinian who was shot with appalling thoughtlessness by Israeli soldiers, just as Gil Na’amati, a kibbutz member, was shot last Friday by Israeli soldiers while demonstrating against the separation fence — only in the case of the boy there was no public furor in Israel. It’s also the story of an American dream, between Qalandiyah and Jelazoun, which was almost realized but finally was brutally shattered.
Israelis against Sharon policies are right
By John Nichols, The Capital Times 12/30/2003
They say that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is a mission of oppression.
They say that Israel is denying basic human rights to millions of Palestinians.
Why I paint things black
By Yoel Marcus, Ha’aretz 1/2/2004
To the reader who wrote in to complain that I’m always criticizing Sharon and painting things black, I have two answers.
Number one: I’m critical of Sharon because he’s the leader of this country and the one who runs the show. If the tea lady were the head honcho, I’d criticize the tea lady. The only thing that counts, when push comes to shove, is results, and in that subject Sharon gets a big red "F."
Pouring Fuel on Israel’s Fire
By Leonard Fein, Forward 1/2/2004
Quite naturally, our attention when we think of Israel is principally focused on issues of war and peace: the intifada, the persistent terrorism, the halting peace efforts both governmental and private, the occupation and so forth. But there is, of course, another Israel ˜ not the Israel of the deadly headlines, but the Israel where people give birth, raise children, look for work, the Israel where life goes on. These days, that Israel faces a staggering array of very serious problems. Beyond a stagnant economy, with all its consequences, there is an education system that is in deep trouble, a rising problem of organized crime, a slackening support for democratic norms and a growing coarseness in the treatment of Israel’s Arab citizens.
Fenced in
By Eyal Ofer, Ha’aretz Friday Magazine 1/2/2004
They came and said — `You name the amount.’ But I’m not selling. You don’t sell a home," says Hani Amar, 46, from the village of Maskha as he looks at his house that, in recent weeks, has become a heavily fortified location. Like the rest of the village, this house, too, has seen better days. Every Saturday, Maskha used to be the embodiment of coexistence between Jews and Arabs:
Sharon’s old new year
By Graham Usher, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 — 7 January 2004
Palestinian options will vanish as rapidly as their lands under Ariel Sharon’s plans for the year ahead – On the eve of 2003 Ariel Sharon gave some flesh to his vision of a Palestinian state with "provisional borders", the second stage of the untested "roadmap towards peace". One year on – and at the same Herzliya venue – he gave vent to what might happen should the roadmap remain folded on the Bush administration’s shelf.
A bleak mid-winter
By Ibrahim Nafie, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 — 7 January 2004
What kind of state is being proposed in this "two-state" solution? – Ariel Sharon this week appointed Major-General Giora Eiland to head a new national security council charged with implementing his "unilateral disengagement plan". The plan, which calls for new lines of deployment and other so- called security measures that will establish new realities on the ground, is Sharon’s answer to an intensified Arab and international drive to create a climate conducive to the resumption of peace talks.
‘The other Israel’
By Omayma Abdel-Latif, Al-Ahram Weekly on-line 1 — 7 January 2004
A new NGO attempts to build a case against Israeli racism. Omayma Abdel-Latif talked to the founders – Where in the Middle East did a school principal get away with burning the New Testament in front of students? And in which country did a religious man say that a man’s life is more important than a woman’s? Was it Iran? Saudi Arabia?
The Occupation is Damned
By Robert Fisk, CounterPunch 12/31/2003
When the Innocent Die – Cigarette sellers don’t have names. They said he was called Fouad but even the shopkeeper whose nephew drove the wounded, screaming man to the hospital didn’t know his family name.

January 1 2004
Unilateral Separation Between Israel and Palestine
By Elias H. Tuma, Arabic Media Internet Network 1/1/2004
On Thursday, December 11, 2003, Mr. Ariel Sharon, delivered a speech in Herzelia in which he unveiled his “Unilateral Separation” Plan from the Palestinians, if the Palestinians “still continue to disregard their part in implementing the ‘Road Map’ within a few months.” The Separation plan would include redeployment of Israel’s military forces along “new security line” that would minimize the number of Israelis in “the heart of the Palestinian population.” Mr. Sharon invited the Palestinians to “abandon the path of terror and move together toward peace.” Since then he has indicated that the Palestinians would end up with less territory under this plan than they would through a negotiated peace and the Road Map. At face value, Mr. Sharon’s statements may be considered conciliatory. However, no one would doubt that Mr. Sharon has his priorities well established. He would try to acquire as much Palestinian land as he could. He would try to maximize the security of Israelis and Jews wherever they may be. And he would try to realize these objectives at minimum cost, especially in life and limb of Israelis. By now Mr. Sharon seems to have recognized that military action against the Palestinians will not deliver those objectives. He also seems to be convinced that the Palestinians will not achieve their goals of statehood and independence within the internationally recognized borders by force, violence, or terror.
Israel Seeks More Submarines for ‘Strategic Depth’
Reuters 1/1/2004
TEL AVIV (Reuters) – For years they cruised the shores of Tripoli, silent and unseen in the deep, radars monitoring inland munitions plants and torpedo tubes armed for combat. And though Israel’s submariners are breathing easier since Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to stop developing weapons of mass destruction this month, Israeli top brass predict an even greater role for the fleet in a changing Middle East. Above all is the idea that Israel, widely believed to have nuclear weapons, would use the sea for striking back in the event — however unlikely — that bases on land are overrun in a war.
People Talking from the Heart
Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
ERIC FINGERHUTof the Washington Jewish Week describes the scene at a recent dialogue session held at Georgetown University between Jewish, Arab and Muslim students.The dialogue was led by Len Traubman, a co-founder with his wife Libby of the Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue Group in California, and Mohammed Al-Attar, a participant in a similar dialogue group in San Antonio, Texas.The openness of these two leaders helped the students open up as well so that, by the end, “[b]oth Jewish and Arab students said that the dialogue helped to humanize each other and promoted respect.” [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: – Ed.]

Israel continues assassination policy:
In what appears to be a continuation of the Israeli policy of extra-judicial killings, Israeli helicopter gunships fired two missiles at a car carrying Hamas activist Jamal al-Jarah in Gaza city. Ten Palestinian bystanders were injured.
15 people injured in protest against W. Bank security fence
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
A member of Sweden’s parliament, arrested as he took part in a protest against the construction of the West Bank security barrier, is to be freed Thursday evening and fly home, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry said. Green Party lawmaker Gustav Fridolin, 20, was one of four foreigners arrested Wednesday during a scuffle with troops at Budrus, a West Bank village near the line with Israel southeast of Tel Aviv, where bulldozers are clearing ground for a section of a 750-kilometer (450-mile) barrier around the West Bank. All four were slated for deportation.
Israel continues assassination policy
Al-Jazeera 1/1/2004
In what appears to be a continuation of the Israeli policy of extra-judicial killings, Israeli helicopter gunships fired two missiles at a car carrying Hamas activist Jamal al-Jarah in Gaza city. Ten Palestinian bystanders were injured. The attack on Tuesday marked the first such attempt to assassinate a senior figure from Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, in over two months. Israeli security officials had recently indicated they would refrain from targeting Hamas activists after the Israeli army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon said the group appeared to have halted attacks inside Israel.
Palestinian boy succumbs to wounds
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Nablus – The 16 years old Palestinian boy Mohammed Jabr Sa‚eed has passed away at dawn today in the Rafidiya hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus after suffering serious gunshot wounds in confrontations with the Zionist occupation forces. Confrontations had taken place yesterday between the occupation soldiers and Palestinian citizens in the main road leading to the town of Osrin, near to Nablus city, resulting in the injury of a number of citizens.
Hamas denies that Daif was targeted in failed assassination attempt
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Gaza – Sources close to the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, have denied that the Zionist failed assassination attempt on Tuesday night was targeting the renowned Qassam commander Mohammed Daif. The sources said that the Zionist Apache missiles fired at a civilian car in Gaza did not target Daif, who is the general commander of the Qassam Brigades, military wing of the Hamas Movement. They also affirmed that Daif was not in the car at time of the bombing. They said that the Zionist attempt targeted the Qassam commander Jamal Al-Jarrah, who is one of the Qassam commanders in northern Gaza.
Violent explosions rock Qaryon suburb in Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Nablus – A series of violent explosions rocked the Qaryon suburb in Nablus shortly before midnight yesterday breaking the windows of all houses in the old city‚s suburb. Eyewitnesses said that they heard the sound of powerful explosions around 11.30 pm yesterday that smashed all windows in the suburb….The explosions targeted the houses of five families in the Qaryon suburb, which were completely razed to the ground while nearby houses were greatly damaged. The eyewitnesses said that Zionist soldiers blocked the entry of Palestinian Red Crescent, medical care and relief committees‚ ambulance cars into the suburb to evacuate the wounded and inhabitants of the devastated houses.
Occupation authorities to demolish house of wanted activist
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Nablus – Zionist occupation authorities have notified family members of the wanted Palestinian activist Yamen Faraj, 25, in Madma village near Nablus city that their house would be demolished if he did not turn himself in. Family members said that occupation forces stormed their two-story house at the early hours yesterday and handed them a notification written in Arabic and Hebrew stipulating that they had 48 hours to evacuate the house.
IDF lifts Jenin blockade; Palestinians: youth killed in Nablus
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The Israel Defense Forces decided Thursday to lift the blockade of the West Bank city of Jenin for the first time since the hudna cease-fire collapsed in August 2003. The decision was made due to a decline in the number of terror warning in the area. The IDF will remove some of the roadblocks surrounding the city and will enable Palestinian cars to travel through other IDF roadblocks. Jenin has been under an almost continuous blockade since September 2000, except for a month during the hudna. At the moment, Nablus is the only West Bank city under blockade.
Qassam Brigades fire missile at Zionist settlement
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Gaza – The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas Movement, today declared responsibility for firing a missile at a Zionist settlement to the north of the Gaza Strip. Local sources said that Qassam fighters fired Qassam-1 missile at the Nahal Uz settlement and shot at Zionist soldiers in Kfar Darum.
Jewish settlers to organize provocative march in eastern Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Occupied Jerusalem – A Jewish fanatic party led by Tsefi Handal, deputy to the education minister, is to organize a provocative march round the walls of eastern Jerusalem occupied in 1967 on Sunday. The party, joining the parliament within an alliance called national unionist bloc, published a statement on the website of the seventh channel calling on Jewish educational and religious institutions to take part in the march that would include songs, dances and trumpeting.
Terror alert causes massive police operation in TA
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
Security forces called a high alert in the Dan region yesterday that paralyzed traffic in Tel Aviv almost completely, following numerous warnings of an impending attack, possibly timed to coincide with New Year’s Eve. The alert, which in retrospect appeared to have been a false alarm, was called off yesterday evening.
News Briefs: Palestinian expelled to Gaza, Three arrested in Tulkarem
International Middle East Media Center 1/1/2004
Soldiers expel a Palestinian to Gaza:Yesterday night, the military expelled Mustafa Abed from the West Bank to Gaza, this act comes in conjunction with previous acts of expelling activists of the Palestinian resistance from the West Bank to Gaza Strip, the Israeli government approximately two years ago initiated such policy against resistance activists. / Undercover forces arrest 3 Palestinians in Tul Karm: Earlier this dawn, a group of Special Forces in the army arrested three Palestinians from Tul Karm and took them to an unknown location.

Background / A new arena of military refusal jolts Israel
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
It is the curse – and perhaps the saving grace – of the Gaza settlement of Netzarim to function as a crucial test case of Israeli military policy and a barometer of the conflicting moods of the war-battered population of the Jewish state. The powder keg settlement, a symbol for hard-liners both Israeli and Palestinian, has become the focus of a new arena of military refusal in Israel: a campaign by a decidedly non-pacifist father, a battle-seasoned major in the IDF’s combat reserves, to keep his recently drafted daughter from obeying an order to report for service in Netzarim.
2003 Retrospective: July – Rafah demolished; Video & Photos
Electronic Intifada 7/1/2003
EI’s Arjan El Fassed visited Rafah, which is located on the southern border of the Gaza Strip. Repeatedly, Israeli occupying forces have demolished hundreds of homes in this area. This has been the scene of large destruction and razing of lands and the place where Israeli forces killed American peace activist Rachel Corrie and journalist James Miller. Before October 2002, Israeli forces demolished over 350 homes and damaged 500 in the Rafah neighborhoods. This was done to make room for a steel wall along the Egyptian border.
Israeli troops ensure the Qasem family have a journey that they will never forget
Palestine Monitor 12/29/2003
After one day, Lamis went back to her village, but was accompanied by mourning cloths, not two baby girls. — On the 22nd of December 2003, the Qasim family lost their new born twins, after Israeli soldiers delayed their mother during her journey to hospital. Lamis Qasim (26), from the village of Der Balout in the Nablus district, was leaving the village to get to hospital. In spite of severe birthing pains, Lamis and her husband were very excited, as Doctors had told them that Lamis was expecting twins. The Qasim‚s car was stopped by Israeli soldiers, at the checkpoint to the entrance of the village. The soldiers started shouting at Lamis, her husband and the other two female passengers, who were relatives of Lamis and there to help her.
Deportation orders issued against 4 peace activists, including Swedish MP
International Solidarity Movement 1/1/2004
Israeli interior ministry issued a deportation order against 4 peace activists. The two Swedes, members of ISM, MP Gustav Fridolin and Freidrek are currently held in Ariel settlement police station. IWPS activists Kate and Kim are held in an interior ministry detention center in Khadera. Back ground information: villagers from Budrus, and their Israeli and International supporters, made a peaceful march onto Budrus lands that are set to be destroyed for the construction of the Israeli Apartheid Wall.
Updates on detained peace activists and the village of Budrus
International Solidarity Movement 1/1/2004
For the forth day in row, villagers, joined by international and Israeli peace activists demonstrated against the Construction of the separation Wall on Palestinian land in the village of Budrus. Army violently interrupted the peaceful demonstration, showering protesters with tear gas and firing at them rounds of rubber coated metal bullets. As a result 15 villagers and two international ISM peace activists were wounded. The wounded international peace activists are Henrick from Sweden and Saga from Iceland.
Israeli soldier arrested over ‘sniper’ shooting of unarmed British peace protester
The Independent 1/1/2004
An Israeli soldier has been arrested in connection with shooting the unarmed British peace protester Thomas Hurndall in the head, the Israeli army said yesterday. The incident in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, last April, left Mr Hurndall clinically dead. The 22-year-old, who is being kept alive in a London hospital, was trying to help Palestinian children who were trapped under fire to safety when he was shot, witnesses said. This is the first success for Mr Hurndall’s parents’ campaign for those responsible to be brought to justice.
2003 Israel attacks the Press
Electronic Intifada 12/30/2003
“To be a journalist and cameraman in a city of lost hope like Hebron requires great sacrifices,” Palestinian cameraman Mazen Dana said as he accepted an International Press Freedom Award two years ago for his efforts to report the news. “Gunfire, humiliation, beatings, prison, rocks and the destruction of journalists’ equipment are just some of the hardships.” On August 17, Dana was killed by American occupation troops in Iraq. He was filming the Abou Ghraib prison in a suburb of Baghdad. US officials said the soldier mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher….Looking back at journalists in danger in 2003, the words of Dana are unfortunately still true. Two journalists, a Palestinian cameraman and a British documentary filmmaker were killed by the Israeli army.
Ireland and UNDP assist communities affected by Apartheid Wall
Electronic Intifada 12/29/2003
While a great deal has been said and written about the separation barrier constructed by the Government of Israel, and its horrendous effects on the lives of many Palestinians, the Government of Ireland has formed a partnership with UNDP‚s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP) to do something about it. The Government of Israel began construction of the barrier a year ago, composed of a complex series of concrete walls, trenches, and fences within the western border of the occupied West Bank. The barrier has encircled and isolated many Palestinian cities and villages.
The day after the shooting of peace activists: A lot of fury, a lot of attention
Electronic Intifada/Gush Shalom 12/27/2003
International release, Tel-Aviv, 27 December 2003 — We just come back from a fiery demonstration — in protest at yesterday’s shooting at peace activists. Especially, the story of the seriously-wounded Gil Na’amati continues to make headlines. The 22-year-old kibbutznik had to be raced to hospital after he lost consciousness because of his heavy bleeding. Both his legs were operated on to remove bullets — in one leg the knee was involved. The nonviolent though militant protest at the Separation Fence was his first demonstration after he only two weeks ago finished his three years of military service. His father reported on TV that Gil had become so rebellious exactly because of what he had seen and had to participate in at the roadblocks in the West Bank.
Israel to deport Swedish MP
Al-Jazeera 1/1/2004
Israel has decided to deport a member of the Swedish parliament and three other internationals following a demonstration against the apartheid wall in the West Bank. Forty Palestinians and an Israeli were wounded as occupation troops fired teargas and rubber bullets to break up a protest close to the controversial barrier. Israeli police said four Israelis were also arrested at the protest near the Palestinian village of Budrus, near Jenin in the northern West Bank.
Occupation authorities claim foiling prisoners escape attempt
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Ramallah – Zionist military sources claimed today that an escape attempt of three Palestinian prisoners in the Beer Sheba prison in south of occupied Palestine was foiled. The sources alleged that the Zionist prison authorities yesterday detected a tunnel dug under the grounds of the prison walls to facilitate the escape of the three prisoners.
Golan settlement plan under fire
BBC 1/1/2004
There has been international condemnation of Israel’s announcement that it plans to increase the number of settlements in the Golan Heights. Israel says it will build 900 new homes on the plateau that it seized from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war. France urged Israel to drop the plan, saying it flouted international law and compromised the peace process….There has been no reaction yet from the United States – which is struggling to revive the wider Middle East peace process.

Egypt optmistic on truce after Mubarak aide meets Arafat
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
Osama el-Baz, top aide to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, held talks Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and other senior Palestinian officials, as part of Egyptian efforts to forge a cease-fire. With Egyptian help, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) has been trying for weeks to forge a truce agreement among Palestinian factions, but without success.
Sharon says Golan plan has no diplomatic significance
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is giving his backing to the plan to develop sources of employment on the Golan Heights, approved by a ministerial committee on the development of rural areas two days ago. However, Sharon has reservations about presenting the plan as having diplomatic significance, as if it were intended to expand settlement so as to make it more difficult to return the area to Syria….senior source in the Prime Minister’s Office: “Identical plans have been adopted in the past and have been approved for the Negev and Galilee.”
Saudi Arabia promises more aid to Palestinians
Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
The Palestinian delegation visiting Saudi Arabia received promises to increase the Saudi aid to the Palestinians and use the Saudi political leverage to encourage the Quartet increase its role in implementing the roadmap peace plan. Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei, along with Nabil Shaath, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Abdul Rahman el Hamad, Minister of Public Works and Housing, metwith King Fahed, and his Royal Highness, Crown Prince Abdullah and other Saudi officials on Tuesday in Riyadh to discuss the different aspects of the current situation in the Palestinian areas. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: – Ed.]
U.S. signals displeasure over Golan expansion
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The Bush adminstration has signalled displeasure over reports that Israel plans to double the Israeli population of the Golan Heights and establish nine new towns there, but Justice Minister Tommy Lapid said Thursday that the proposal was nothing more than the invention of its vocal proponent, Likud Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz. The United States said on Wednesday that it will seek clarifications from Israel on its decision to build new settlements on the Golan Heights, but noted that it currently has no credible information on the reported building plan….Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is giving his backing to the plan to develop sources of employment on the Golan Heights, approved by a ministerial committee on the development of rural areas on Tuesday. However, Sharon has reservations about presenting the plan as having diplomatic significance, as if it were intended to expand settlement so as to make it more difficult to return the area to Syria.,2763,1114571,00.html
Israel snubs Syria with Golan plan
The Guardian 1/1/2004
Israel plans to double the number of settlers on the Golan Heights, as Syria renews its pressure for talks on returning the territory, taken during the 1967 six-day war. The cabinet committee on settlements has approved a plan by the agriculture minister, Yisrael Katz, to spend about £40m on housing more than 10,000 settlers, who will be encouraged by land grants and tax breaks. Mr Katz told the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that the plan was conceived because Syria was seeking the revival of talks on the future of the Golan, which collapsed four years ago after the Palestinian intifada began.,1280,-3575038,00.html
Egypt Urges Palestinians to Move on Peace
The Guardian 1/1/2004
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – An Egyptian envoy on Thursday urged the Palestinians to lead the way toward ending more than three years of violence with Israel, saying he is hopeful that Israel will respond favorably to such moves. Egypt has been trying for weeks to get Palestinian militants to halt attacks against Israel to help restart peace talks. Osama el-Baz, a top aide to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, traveled to the Palestinian areas on Thursday as part of those efforts.

New Golan Heights settlement plan derails peace talks
The Independent 1/1/2004
In another blow to the prospects of peace in the Middle East, the Israeli government has approved plans to double the number of Jewish settlers living in the occupied Golan Heights within three years. The details of the $56m (£31.4m) project to expand settlements on the Golan Heights emerged yesterday, just weeks after Syria’s President, Bashar Assad, called for new peace talks with Israel. The settlement project could now put any talks in jeopardy. “The goal is for Assad to see from the windows of his home the Israeli Golan thriving and flourishing,” the Israeli Agriculture Minister, Yisrael Katz, who is responsible for the new scheme, said yesterday.
Zionist entity incitement against Saudi Arabia
Palestinian Information Center 12/31/2003
Occupied Jerusalem – Zionist security apparatuses have expressed fears over a big commando operation in the southern coastal resort of Eilat using a Saudi plane, according to Hebrew daily ŒYediot Ahronot‚ today. The paper noted that Zionist war minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday explained in a lecture at Tel Aviv University that his army was prepared for such a possibility but would not go into details.

Is Syria Flirting with Israel Behind Lebanon’s Back?
An Nahar 1/1/2004
A Parliament member from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Likud Party has been invited to Syria to discuss a recent proposal by Syrian President Bashar Assad to renew peace negotiations between the two rival countries Israel Radio reported Tuesday.The lawmaker, who was not identified, will visit Egypt to discuss the Syrian invitation with officials there, the radio said. It did not give further details on whether he would meet Syrian officials there or if he would travel on to Syria.
Likud MK gets invitation to visit Syria
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
WASHINGTON – Likud MK Majali Wahabi is expected to meet in Damascus with members of Syria’s leadership, American media outlets reported Wednesday. Interviewed in Cairo, Wahabi confirmed that he has been invited to Syria by its president, Bashar Assad, and that he intends to make the trip. However, he refused to relay details about the date of the trip, or its purpose. Lebanon’s Al-Bilad, which interviewed Wahabi in Egypt, reported that the Druze MK intends to head for Damascus straight from Cairo, and to meet there with Walid Mualem, former Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, who was involved in peace negotiations with Israel.
War of words over Golan
BBC 1/1/2004
The government of Ariel Sharon has again been accused of trying to pre-empt any future peace negotiations by strengthening Israel’s hold over territory it occupied during the 1967 Middle East war. Already condemned by the United Nations for building a controversial barrier through the West Bank which cuts into Palestinian land, Israel now faces more international criticism over its plan to expand settlements in the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967. The Israeli Government announced the plan after Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad offered to re-open negotiations.
Palestinian State Remains Bush’s Unfulfilled Goal
Washington Post 12/31/2003
If all had gone as President Bush planned, the Middle East would today witness the birth of the provisional state of Palestine. But in a stark symbol of moribund U.S. diplomacy, today’s deadline for the new state will pass largely unnoticed — with little progress in the ambitious “road map” for peace heralded dramatically at two presidential summits in the Middle East this year.
Top Mubarak aide el-Baz meets Arafat in new truce bid
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
Osama el-Baz, top aide to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, held talks Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and other senior Palestinian officials, as part of Egyptian efforts to forge a cease-fire. With Egyptian help, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has been trying for weeks to forge a truce agreement among Palestinian factions, but without success. El-Baz voiced some optimism after meeting with Arafat.

Documents shed light on row over Queen’s Israel forest
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
LONDON – A plan to dedicate a forest in Israel to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth sparked a diplomatic spat and threatened to sour Anglo-Arabic relations during the early 1970s, documents released on Thursday showed….The Jewish National Fund wanted to dedicate a forest near Nazareth to the British Queen “as a tribute from British Jewry on the occasion of her silver wedding anniversary” in 1973. It urged Britons to donate money to plant trees in the forest….But when news reached Arab diplomats and newspapers, they were incensed, suspecting the British of funding an expansion of Israel beyond its pre-1967 borders.
Prosecution: Gilad Sharon has not handed Kern documents
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The State Prosecution Service said Thursday at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court that Gilad Sharon is refusing to hand over documents related to the Cyril Kern loan affair, in defiance of a High Court ruling that the documents are not protected by a suspect’s right to remain silent. The prosecution argued that there were clear indications that Gilad Sharon is in possession of the Kern documents.
Paralyzed PA looks out on a bitter cold street
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
Things have been humming at the Muqata in Ramallah. Fatah regional committees from all the West bank cities were called to meet with Yasser Arafat. Palestinian Authority institutions were invited to lengthy meetings and members of the old-line institutions of the PLO and Fatah, the old guard around Yasser Arafat, have been sitting interminably – the Fatah Central Committee, the PLO Council and other entities….The government, like other Fatah and PLO organizations, is completely paralyzed and, above all, cut off from the street. PA agencies, and security services in general, receive no real instructions from Arafat or Qureia. Various Fatah factions in each city are occupied with infighting, some of it lethal.
“Yediot Ahronot”: From today, gov’t using Microsoft software illegally
Globes 1/1/2004
The Ministry of Finance did not renew its license with Microsoft Israel to operate the software. — Hebrew daily “Yediot Ahronot‰ reports that all Israeli government ministries and agencies have become software pirates as of today. The reason is that the Ministry of Finance did not renew its license with Microsoft Israel to operate the software. The three-year license expired last night, December 31, 2003.
PIB affair raises questions about senior PA officials
Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
In their bid to explain developments that almost led to the collapse of the Ramallah-based Palestine International Bank (PIB) at the end of 1999, Palestinian lawmakers have taken that opportunity to resume their open war against official corruption, and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) voted unanimously on December 30 in favor of recommendations that call for investigating two powerful Palestinian officials. A report written jointly by three committees of the PLC and discussed during a regular parliament session that convened in Ramallah with 62 out of 85 members present accused two powerful Palestinian officials, Jarar Al-Qudwa, head of the Monitoring Committee in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Amin Haddad, governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), the PA‚s central bank, of violating their work ethics and standing laws, according to lawmaker Hasan Khreisheh. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: – Ed.]
Still no funds available to bring Ethiopian Falashmura to Israel
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The government’s decision to bring 20,000 Falashmura from Ethiopia to Israel is being held up because the departments responsible for executing the plan cannot raise the funds needed for the operation….The lengthy delay in implementing the government’s decision, made in February 2003, has led to angry criticism from groups representing immigrants from Ethiopia. According to these groups, the Falashmura are being discriminated against on racist grounds.
Fatah celebrates anniversary amidst acute differences
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Gaza – The Fatah Movement, backbone of the Palestinian Authority, yesterday organized a huge rally on the occasion of its 39th anniversary that witnessed acute differences among its various wings. The Fatah cadres have been planning for weeks to organize a massive celebration following the terrible failure of past years’ attempts to bring about a successful ceremony. The incident started when bodyguards of Mohammed Dahlan, former PA minister of internal security, shoved one of the bodyguards of Fatah secretary in the Strip, Ahmed Hillis, who retaliated by beating one of them then fired his Kalashnikov rifle between his feet.
Legal center: PA democratic reforms still mere slogans
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Gaza – The Gaza legal center has warned that the issue of democratic reforms in the Palestinian Authority were still mere slogans as no practical steps were taken in that direction. The center in a detailed report on the question said that the popular demands for a democratic change to purge the PA of corruption and tyranny were voiced many years ago. The report recalled that the demands were urgently tabled after past years of experience displayed that dishonesty was deeply rooted in the PA institutions.
Owners of devastated houses in Rafah force PA officials tour their plagued city
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Rafah – Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrating near the Rafah crossing to the southernmost tip of the Gaza Strip have forced Ramzi Khouri, PA chief Yasser Arafat‚s office director, to accompany them in touring their devastated houses. The angry Palestinian marchers also forcing Gaza governor Mohammed Al-Qudwa, intercepted the cars of both officials on entering the Strip through that crossing. PA foreign affairs minister, Nabil Shaath, succeeded in evading the demonstrators.
Fatah activists demand rejection of Switzerland document
Palestinian Information Center 1/1/2004
Gaza – Scores of Fatah Movement activists have charged leaders in their Movement of caring about positions more than about the Palestinian people‚s sufferings. The activists were speaking at a march organized by the society of prisoners “Husam‰ on Tuesday on the 39th anniversary of the Fatah Movement and to express solidarity with detainees in occupation jails.
A promotion for female soldiers
Washington Times 12/31/2003
HATZEVA, Israel ˜ Israeli army units with the first female infantry soldiers in 50 years are being upgraded to battalion status, a milestone in the fight of female soldiers to be accepted into combat roles in the Jewish state. For the past three years, female ground troops from Israel’s Carcal company have patrolled the quiet desert borders with Jordan and Egypt, freeing up their male counterparts for duty in more dangerous areas. Now the military is appointing its first female company commander.

Israel Is Concerned About Whistleblower
New York Times 1/1/2004
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is concerned that a whistleblower who spilled Israeli nuclear secrets to a newspaper two decades ago might have more to say after his imminent release from prison, and is looking for ways to silence him, officials said Tuesday. Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for espionage after giving dozens of pictures and a description of alleged weapons from Israel’s top-secret Dimona nuclear reactor to London’s Sunday Times in 1986. He is due to be released in April.
Knesset panel freezes talks on lifting MK Peretz’s immunity
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The chairman of the Knesset House Committee MK Roni Bar-On decided Thursday to freeze the panel’s discussions on lifting the immunity of MK Yair Peretz (Shas) until further notice, following the approval Wednesday by legislators of a preliminary reading of a bill that states that an external body will rule on rescinding an MK’s immunity. Peretz is accused of fraudulently obtaining academic degrees from the Burlington University branch in Israel and Bar Ilan University. He is also suspected of copying essays written by another student to obtain a psychology degree.
Treasury to fork out NIS 1.33 billion to get budget passed
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The treasury will have to pay NIS 1.33 billion to various ministers, factions and MKs for their pet causes to have the state budget for 2004 passed by the Knesset. However, the sums will come from internal arrangements made by the Finance Ministry and the framework of the budget will not be broken open. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last night that the extra funds would come out of the reserves.
Dispute over defense holds up budget approval
Globes 1/1/2004
Netanyahu: The prime minister’s promise of a NIS 4 billion defense budget supplement cannot be kept. — A dispute over two conflicting legal opinions took place late last night in the Knesset defense budget committee. The dispute concerned a proposed solution for the impasse created by the lack of a majority for the proposed budget.
Police: Patriarch’s signature was likely forged
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The national fraud unit of the police has completed its investigation into suspicions that Greek Orthodox Patriarch Arianos tried to bribe MK Gideon Sa’ar when the latter served as a cabinet secretary. It has also completed an investigation into the suspicion that the patriarch’s signature was forged on a letter to Sa’ar. The investigation started in September 2002 after Sa’ar received a bouquet of flowers with a $1,000 check, and a letter supposedly signed by Arianos, then the candidate for the position of patriarch.
Economy in brief
Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
The Palestinian population has plunged desperately in dire poverty and food insecurity. — “Two-third of the Palestinians, nearly 60% of the Palestinian population are under the poverty line,” [UN Middle East Envoy,Mr. Terje Roed] Larsen said. “I would like to update you on some of the key indicators. Between 2000-2002, Palestinian economic losses amounted to an estimated $5.4 billion – one year’s worth of total income for the Palestinian economy. The Real GDP declined some 33 percent between 1999 and 2002. Total investment fell from $1.45 billion to $150 million in the same period”, Larson said. [See also: Mr. Larsen: 40% of the Palestinians Suffer Food Insecurity PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs –] [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: – Ed.]
Economic growth makes a comeback
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
Economic growth resumed in 2003 after two years of contraction, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday, based on preliminary data. Gross domestic product expanded by 1.2 percent in 2003, the bureau said, after contracting 0.8 percent in 2002 and 0.9 percent in 2001. However, since Israel’s population grew by 1.7 percent in 2003, GDP per capita fell once again – by 0.6 percent – after dropping 2.8 percent in 2002.
Foreign currency reserves reach all-time high
Globes 1/1/2004
Foreign currency reserves jumped $1.34 billion to $25.78 billion in December. — Israel‚s foreign currency reserves jumped $1.34 billion in December, reaching an all-time high of $25.78 billion, a 5.5% increase in a single month. The Bank of Israel said today that there were two main reason for the steep rise in foreign currency reserves. The first was the rise in the government‚s deposits at the Bank of Israel, after receiving money raised with the US loan guarantees, and the second was the revaluing of the Bank of Israel‚s investment portfolio, resulting from exchange rate changes.
2003 high-tech exports total $10.68b
Globes 1/1/2004
High-tech sales totaled $12.98 billion. Medical equipment exports grew 11%. — After a 20% [decline?] in two years, Israel‚s electronics and software industries are showing signs of recovery, Israel Association of Electronics and Information Industries director general Uri Har said. He added that sales and exports for 2003 remained at 2002 levels, while sales have grown in recent months. Har cited these figures yesterday, ahead of his organization‚s annual conference.

Court annuls huge tender HP won to make smart ID cards
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
HP Israel took a body blow Thursday morning, after the court annulled a tender it won to produce computerized smart identity cards (teudot zehut). Estimated to be worth between NIS 100 million to NIS 200 million, the Interior ministry tender was one of the biggest computer-related projects to be contemplated in Israel.
Yam Thetis completes temporary take-over of gas pipeline
Globes 1/1/2004
Ministry of National Infrastructures: Baker Hughes Inc. of the US will replace Nederlandse Gasunie NV. — Ministry of National Infrastructures has decided that Baker Hughes Inc. of the US, which is responsible for producing the natural gas at Yam Thetis’s concessions offshore from Ashkelon, will be temporarily responsible for operating the natural gas pipeline. Baker Hughes replaces Nederlandse Gasunie NV, which withdrew from the project two weeks ago, because the pipeline was built according to US, rather than the Dutch standards stipulated.

Settlers: Clinic closure leaves us without vital medical care
Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The Leumit health maintenance organization is planning to close clinics in the West Bank and the Jordan Rift valley, leaving residents of the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron complaining that the cost-cutting move will leave them without vital medical services, Israel Radio reported. Leumit, founded by and closely linked to the political predecessors of the Likud, is a leading supplier of health services in the territories.
Survey on the Perception of Palestinian Population Towards the Socioeconomic Conditions
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics December 2003
“The overall well-being of 39% of Palestinian households deteriorated in December 2003, and closure was an obstacle faced 48% of the Palestinian households during past six months‰ — PCBS conducted the first round of the survey on the perception of the Palestinian people about the socioeconomic conditions. Data collection took place during the period 1/12/2003 – 10/12/2003 on a sample composed of 1,303 households, (919 in West Bank and 384 in Gaza Strip).
Israelis urge nuclear disarmament
Al-Jazeera 1/1/2004
One in four Israelis believe their country should give up its nuclear arsenal to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass-destruction. A poll published on Thursday found that 77.4% of Israelis believe Tel Aviv has nuclear weapons, and 25.2% think these should be eliminated as part of any regional disarmament campaign. The poll of 504 Israelis, which was commissioned by the state broadcaster, also found that 56.1% of those surveyed were opposed to nuclear disarmament, while 18.7% did not express an opinion.
Paving roads for infrastructure and equality
Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
Each day the 29-year-old Palestinian civil engineer laces up steel-toed boots, puts on a hardhat, and dons an orange vest before visiting the work sites in 10 different Palestinian cities. While this may seem like a typical day, Maha Abu-Laban is not a typical Palestinian engineer. As both a woman and an engineer on a vital infrastructure-rebuilding project in the West Bank and Gaza, she shatters the traditional images that many people have of Palestinian women, including the images that Palestinian women often hold about themselves.
The children’s story
Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
Muhammad, 13, who lives in the Jalazoun refugee camp, heads for the Surda checkpoint every morning to work until the evening, bringing back what little he earns to help fend for his family. The young boy, who refused to disclose his last name, stands on the side of the road, advertising the service he provides ˜ a cart to carry groceries across the checkpoint. Muhammad faces strong competition in his field of work, but he does not care. Muhammad comes from a family originally from the village of Beit Nabala, destroyed by occupation forces in 1948….The story of Muhammad is a common example of the lives of children in refugee camps. [If unable to access this page, go to: then enter or paste this address: – Ed.]
US ready to invade Middle East in 1973
Al-Jazeera 1/1/2004
The US considered invading Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, newly revealed documents have claimed. Files released to the British National Archives on Thursday show that British spy chiefs believed the US would be prepared to invade the countries to seize their oilfields. The papers, made public under the 30-year rule for classified documents, reveal UK intelligence agencies estimated the US would take military action to prevent further disruption to oil supplies.
Heath infuriated by Nixon’s secret nuclear stand-off
The Scotsman 1/1/2004
THE full fury of the Tory prime minister Edward Heath when the United States staged a nuclear face-off with the Soviet Union without informing Britain or other NATO allies is disclosed in the secret files made public today. The decision by Richard Nixon, the then US president, to put his forces on worldwide nuclear alert after the Soviets threatened to intervene in the Arab-Israeli war of October 1973 marked one of the gravest moments of the Cold War….The files suggest that Mr Kissinger apparently misled the British ambassador in Washington, Lord Cromer, over the US alert, even though it covered American troops stationed in Britain.
Resettlement rejected
By Ali Samudi, Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
The Palestinians may have different opinions concerning different issues, but no such disagreement is found with regard to their national concerns, especially the issue of refugees and the right of return. Despite several plots woven against the issue of refugees over the years, the Palestinian stance concerning the plight of refugees has not changed.
The fence brings friction and hatred
By Israel Harel, Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
Some 24 years ago terrorists murdered six Jewish worshipers on their way home from the Cave of Machpela. Conspicuous among the responses to the murders were the words of then police minister, Haim Bar Lev. “If they had not been there,” he said, in a brilliant combination of wisdom and empathy, “they would not have been shot.” Even then, Bar Lev expressed the feelings of many who harbored ill will toward Yesha settlers and particularly the settlers of Hebron, indifference towards them, or worse, when Arabs murdered settlers. In the past 25 years there have been extreme expressions, both oral and in print, explicitly stating that the killing of settlers is not a crime.
A little bit of anarchy won’t hurt
By Meron Benvenisti, Ha’aretz 1/1/2004
The incident in which soldiers fired at demonstrators got immense media coverage. One detail however – marginal but symbolic – did not get the proper attention: the identity of the group of demonstrators, called “Anarchists Against the Fence.” Apparently the demonstration was not aimed only against the fence, which makes the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians a misery, but was also an ideological defiance of those who belong to the anarchist stream towards the very concept of the Israeli state and the sanctity of its laws. There is no need to overestimate the importance of this group, which represents a marginal left-wing stream, with almost no influence. But one should also not underestimate the ideological and intellectual challenge that anarchists set before a society that attributes to the “Jewish state” an absolute, sacred value, and worships “laws” as though they embody, by their very legislation, supreme moral and social values. There is no democratic state in the world in which statism and submission to the law are the main principles of faith, as they are in Israel.
The Dream of Return
By Muhammad Abu Khudair and Suhail Khalaf, Jerusalem Times 1/1/2004
A day in the life of the refugee camp — The holy month of Ramadan in refugee camps is difficult and miserable, especially when it coincides with incursions, attacks and assassination and when fear and deprivation reign supreme.
US opts for a failed Israeli strategy
By Sudha Ramachandran, Asia Times 12/25/2003
BANGALORE – With the Iraqi insurgency intensifying and United States casualties mounting by the day, the US is turning to its good friend Israel for inspiration and lessons. Increasingly, the tactics being adopted by the US occupation forces in Iraq appear to be modeled on those used by Israel in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank.
A peace-seeking country
By Doron Rosenblum, Ha’aretz 12/31/2003
Mazal tov! This is the fourth time in the past two weeks that President Assad has made overtures to Israel about opening negotiations with no prior conditions. Nu?… So?…
Negotiations! For peace! With no prior conditions!

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