Israel/Palestine News and Information Links December 21-23 2003

Major portions of this document are sourced from from Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel - Other sources include Information Clearing House.

To subscribe to News Links, please e-mail your request:

December 23 2003

Sharon’s Wall a Threat to All Religious Groups
By Christopher Bollyn, December 2003
"Annexation by appropriation" ruins world's holiest cities for everyone -- The Israeli "separation barrier" is the culmination of Ariel Sharon’s long-planned settlement scheme to appropriate vast amounts of Palestinian land and water resources and impoverish the non-Jewish population to the point of expulsion.

Now Maher knows how angry the Palestinians are
Editorial, Daily Star 12/23/2003
The harsh treatment accorded Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher in Jerusalem on Monday should be interpreted as a warning. The people who assaulted Maher and his entourage may have been extremists, and their behavior was entirely inappropriate, but the anger they expressed is one that permeates Palestinian society. At all levels and in every town, village and refugee camp of the Occupied Territories, Palestinians are increasingly resentful of their fellow Arabs: They feel abandoned in their hour of need, a perception that carries no small amount of truth.

Bush has thrown open Pandora's box in a paradise for international terrorists
By David Hirst, The Guardian 12/23/2003
This was the year the Middle East became the undisputed, tumultuous centre of global politics. When, at dawn on March 20 the US and its British ally went to war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, they were intervening in the region on such a scale that Arabs everywhere compared the invasion, in its potential geopolitical significance, to that seminal upheaval of the last century: the collapse of the Ottoman empire. That led to the arbitrary carve-up of its former Arab provinces by the European colonial powers and, in 1948, to the loss of one of them, Palestine, to the Israeli settler-state.,2763,1112026,00.html

Children in Bethlehem under siege
By Rifat Odeh Kassis, Electronic Intifada 12/23/2003
When his alarm clock goes off every day at 6am, Saif, my 11-year-old son, barely moves his body out of his bed. His mother and I must go to extraordinary lengths to get him up and ready to go to school. This was never the case before.

Children represent nearly 50 percent of the Arab population
Arabic News 12/23/2003
Children represent almost 50 percent of the Arab population, that is nearly 140 million, the regional bureau of the World Health organization (WHO) said, in Cairo Sunday, in a report on the situation of children in the Arab states. Children under one year constitute 2.8 percent of the overall Arab population, points out the report that was drawn up by the Arab Council for Children and Development.

Kadhafi: N. Korea, Iran, Syria should follow our steps
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
Libyan leader such step will tighten noose around Israelis to expose their programs of weapons of mass destruction. -- WASHINGTON - Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi told CNN late Monday that his government had taken "corrective" action in renouncing weapons of mass destruction and that nations such as North Korea, Iran and Syria, suspected of having nuclear arms, should follow its lead. "In my opinion I should believe that they should follow the steps of Libya, take an example from Libya, so that they prevent any tragedy being inflicted upon their own people," Kadhafi said in an exclusive interview with CNN.

Jordan parliament approves new govt's agenda
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
AMMAN - After four days of debate, Jordanian lawmakers on Tuesday approved the policy agenda of the government of Prime Minister Faisal al-Fayez, which vows to revive the floundering economy and fight poverty. Eighty-five of the 110 lawmakers in parliament voted in favour of the government's agenda and 22 against, including all 17 Islamic deputies. Five lawmakers abstained. Fayez said in a speech that his government would strive to kickstart Jordan's economy, struggling under a foreign debt of some seven billion dollars and a high unemployment rate.

Khatami hopes talks with Egypt 'will bear fruit'
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
TEHRAN - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday he hopes negotiations between Tehran and Cairo, who have not had diplomatic relations for the past 22 year, will bear fruit. "Both sides want and intend to overcome the problems in their way and put an end to the relations cut. There are currently negotiations underway, and we hope in future they would bear fruit," he told reporters.

Britain plans 'tripartite' pressure on Syria
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
LONDON - Britain plans to combine with France and Germany to put pressure on Syria over weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and Iraq, a London newspaper said Tuesday. The report follows Libya's surprise agreement on Friday to dismantle its weapons arsenal and give up its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The plan, according to The Guardian, is for a joint initiative by Britain, France and Germany and is modelled on a similar tripartite effort which persuaded Iran to accept nuclear inspections.

Saudi Arabia, US in talks on WTO
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
Saudi Arabia is in the advanced stages of negotiations with the United States and is looking to enact legislation bringing the kingdom in line with the regulations and standards of the World Trade Organisation, a Saudi official said Tuesday. "The Saudi-US negotiations are well advanced and are progressively achieving results which we believe are conducive to the WTO accession," Fawaz al-Alamy, deputy minister of commerce amid industry and head of the negotiating team for the accession of Saudi Arabia to the WTO, said.

Gulf summits denounces terrorism, presses ahead with economic unity
Arabic News 12/23/2003
The 24th Gulf Cooperation Council GCC summit concluded its works in Kuwait following a close door meeting yesterday that lasted for two hours, by issuing a statement under the name "The Kuwait declaration." The declaration embarked on an agreement to coordinate efforts of the council member states to fight terrorism, and authorized the ministers of the interior to sign an agreement to this effect, later. It stressed the concern of the GCC member states over the acceleration of terrorist operations against certain countries in the region, and support for all efforts aiming at fighting this phenomenon.

Iran urges French scarf rethink
BBC 12/23/2003
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called on France to review its proposed ban on overt religious signs, such as headscarves, in schools. "I hope the French Government, which claims to be avant-garde in liberty, equality and fraternity, will cancel this wrong decision," he said. He told reporters that banning the headscarf would be "a kind of extreme nationalistic tendency". French President Jacques Chirac gave his support for the ban last week.

Saudis petition for speedy reform
BBC 12/23/2003
Some 100 leading Saudi Arabians have signed a petition urging the government to speed up political reform. The document, sent to Crown Prince Abdullah, is said to partly blame Islamic militancy on the lack of popular participation in politics. It is said to repeat calls for an elected parliament, an independent judiciary and equal rights for women.

Colombia hostage demands apology
BBC 12/23/2003
An Israeli backpacker who was freed after being held captive by Colombian rebels for three months has demanded an apology from the Colombian Government. Beni Daniel, 23, expressed outrage at comments made by the president of Columbia's Congress, who called for an investigation into alleged gun running. German Vargas suggested Mr Daniel and seven other tourists had been involved in arms trafficking or "shady deals".

Russian defense contractor eyes Middle East at Dubai Air Show 2003
Daily Star 12/23/2003
Sukhoi hopes to re-establish relations with 'old friends' Iran, Syria -- DUBAI: It can climb vertically at great speed, drop down and then glide along like a paper plane. Boasting unmatched performance, the highly maneuverable Sukhoi, one of the world's best strike aircraft, was at the Dubai Air Show 2003, available for discerning buyers in the Middle East and elsewhere. Sales for Sukhoi, the undisputed leader in fighter manufacturing from Russia, have been soaring. As many as 95 percent of its products are already spoken for by foreign orders for 2004, speaking volumes about its quality.

Strawczynski: Public debt will rise to 109.4% of GDP
Globes 12/23/2003
Bank of Israel Research Department deputy director Dr. Michel Strawczynski warns that Israel's public debt will continue to rise, reaching a record 109.4% of GDP. Israel's public debt is projected to rise by 4.2%, or NIS 21 billion, in 2002-04. At a Maurice Falk Institute for Economic Research in Israel conference at Hebrew University of Jerusalem today, Strawczynski said the government ought to meet its deficit target of 4% of GDP for 2004 and 3% of GDP for 2005.

Israel to 'ease Bethlehem restrictions'
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
JERUSALEM - Travel restrictions will be eased for worshippers and tourists wishing to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, although existing checkpoints will stay in place, Israeli officials said Tuesday. "Christmas will be celebrated in Bethlehem with the maximum attendance of worshippers, pilgrims and tourists from all over the world," foreign ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled told reporters here.

Hoteliers see Christian tourism doubling in 2004
Globes 12/23/2003
The Israel Hotel Association predicts 750,000 Christian tourists and pilgrims in 2004. -- Israel Hotel Association economics division head Raphael Farber predicts that the number of Christian tourists and pilgrims in Israel will double in 2004 to 750,000.Farber, who is also chairman of Royal Plaza Hotels Israel, said most Christian tourists in Israel came from the US, France, South America, Nigeria, Indonesia, Germany, and South Korea.

Morgan Stanley: Israel will not be next deflation story
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Israel's economy is struggling with deflationary pressures, but deflation is not a given situation as in Japan, writes Morgan Stanley in a special report on Israel. Titled "The Curious Evolution from Inflation to Deflation," the report suggests that low inflation is a "secular reality" in Israel. "Only a policy blunder could set off an inflationary burst via currency pass-through effects and deteriorating inflation expectations," as happened two years ago, writes analyst Serhan Cevik.

33 companies apply for NIS 2b R&D grants
Globes 12/23/2003
25 large companies submitted 184 applications worth NIS 1.7 billion in 2003. -- 33 companies have submitted 219 R&D grant applications for a total of NIS 2 billion, in the first applications round for 2004, Chief Scientist Dr. Eli Opper said today. Large companies, those whose R&D grant applications exceed NIS 30 million a year, submit applications to the Office of the Chief Scientist once a year, on November 15.

Mexico buys Israeli missile ships, helicopters for $90 million
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Mexico has bought two Israeli-made missile ships and transport helicopters from Israel Defense Forces surplus for $90 million, one of the largest sales of used Israeli equipment in recent years. The ships remain in Israel, and are undergoing renovations.

Latin Patriarch: Israel more at fault for violence than Palestinians
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, says that while both Israelis and Palestinians seek an end to war, the onus of violence belongs to the Israelis. "Truly, nobody, neither Israelis nor Palestinians, wants war and bloodshed," Patriarch Sabbah said Sunday at a pre-Christmas press conference in the Old City. He later added that the Israelis, however, are at fault. "The one who occupies the land of the other is more responsible," he said.

Marcel Khalifeh enthralls with musical journey
Daily Star 12/23/2003
Master of the oud performs at UNESCO Palace -- Sitting in his distinctively quiet posture and minimalist setting, Marcel Khalifeh took his audience on a two-hour musical journey Friday night at UNESCO Palace, through a richly varied program that included sequences from his new, innovative compositions to a selection of rearranged pieces from his past tunes, and ending with a flourish on his classic songs, which over the past three decades have established him as an internationally renown oud master.

UK plan to pressure Syria on weapons
The Guardian 12/23/2003Z
Britain is pressing to use the combined weight of the European Union's "big three" countries to put pressure on Syria over weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and Iraq, the Guardian has learned. The move follows Libya's dramatic agreement to dismantle its WMD arsenal and is designed to show that Europe, galvanised by Britain, has the clout to help the US deal peacefully with security issues in the Middle East. The plan is for a joint initiative by Britain, France and Germany and is modelled on a similar tripartite effort which persuaded Iran to accept nuclear inspections.,13031,1112091,00.htmlPalestinian right to return is key: Horani
Gulf News 12/23/2003
The recent Geneva Initiative brings an immense danger and negative impact to Palestinians fighting to return to their homelands, said a senior Palestinian official here. Abdullah Al Horani, chairman of the Palestinian National Council's political committee, was speaking in a press briefing at the Dubai Press Club. He explained that displaced people have always been at the heart of the Palestinian cause and were the major reasons behind starting the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. But while he warned of the 'dangers' of the Geneva Initiative, he said Palestinians should remain united and fight attempts to supress their claims.

Palestinian Cabinet Asserts Adherence with "Road Map"
International Press Center 12/23/2003
RAMALLAH, Palestine, December 23, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The Palestinian cabinet assured that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) remained in commitment to the full text of the internationally-backed "Road Map" peace plan and with literal implementation of its terms. The PNA accredited the US sponsored "Road Map", the relative UN resolutions and the Saudi Arabian initiative adopted in Beirut in 2002 as the sole option to start the peace process again.

UN Security Council extends for UNDOF in the Golan
Arabic News 12/23/2003
The UN Security Council yesterday extended the mission of the UN forces serving in the occupied Syrian Golan heights for 6 months. The 15 members of the UN security council voted unanimously for extension to UNDOF forces of more than 1000 troops for an additional 6 months that expire in June 2004.

Israel, Turkey to sign tomorrow a terrorism fighting agreement
Arabic News 12/23/2003
An Israeli source said yesterday that the minister of internal security Tsahi Hanighbi will sign tomorrow in Ankara a bilateral agreement in the field of fighting terrorism. A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy said that the visit of the Israeli official to Turkey came in response to the visit of the Turkish minister of the interior, Abdul Qader Akso, to Israel in September, aiming at strengthening relations in the security field.

Sheikh Yassin: Land of Palestine is not for sale or bargaining
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Al-Khalil - Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has asserted his Movement's insistence on resistance in a telephone address to the crowds that gathered yesterday in the West Bank city of Al-Khalil to commemorate Hamas' 16th anniversary. Sheikh Yassin said that the land of Palestine was not for sale or bargaining and that his Movement insisted on the liberation of the entire holy land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River and from Ras Al-Naqura to the Negev.

Bush counsels patience on Mideast in Chanukah meeting with the Jews
JTA 12/23/2003
"Arik has a job like mine: His job is to protect his people," the participant, who asked not to be identified, quoted Bush as saying. -- WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 (JTA) "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may have set a six-month ultimatum for the Palestinians – offering them partnership or pullout – but President Bush is counseling patience and adherence to existing peace initiatives. Bush met with Jewish lay and communal leaders at the White House on Monday for the traditional annual Chanukah celebration....Hoenlein said participants were especially impressed by Bush's concern about anti-Semitism. "He implied it's a U.S. responsibility to show Europeans the need to address it, he was forceful and talked about it as a fundamental value," Hoenlein said. Bush also related anti-Semitism to the issue of anti-Israel incitement among the Palestinians.

Hamas condemns assault on Maher in Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Gaza - The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has strongly condemned the assault on Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher in the holy Aqsa Mosque's plaza yesterday. A Hamas press release expressed deep regret over the incident and hoped that it would not negatively affect the Egyptian-Palestinian relations.

Alan Dershowitz to lead David Appel defense
Globes 12/23/2003
Dershowitz will hire top-tier Israeli lawyers to handle the case, but cannot appear in Israeli court. -- Sources inform "Globes" that famous criminal lawyer Prof. Alan Dershowitz will lead the defense of David Appel. Appel is accused of bribing senior public figures, mainly in the Israel Land Authority (ILA), and MKs. He is also accused of bribing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of Industry Trade and Labor Ehud Olmert.

Knesset panel to reduce cuts to culture, welfare budgets
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
The chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee Avraham Hirchson decided Tuesday, after meeting with officials from the treasury and the Labor Social Affairs Ministry to cancel the planned NIS 70 million cut to the 2003 welfare budget. The Finance Ministry will transfer NIS 35 million to the welfare budget, and the Ministry of Social Affairs will provide the rest of the money in order to prevent damage to weak sectors in the population.

Likud MKs blast PM on `disengagement'
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came under fire yesterday from both opposition and Likud MKs for the disengagement plan he outlined in the Herzliya conference. The most scathing attack was launched at an emergency meeting of the Likud's Knesset faction. "We shall try to block unilateral steps and have decided to act in Likud's institutions to obtain a majority for our moves," MK Ehud Yatom said. "When the hour of truth comes, don't expect our support if you go for a unilateral move involving the evacuation of Israeli settlements," said MK Gila Gamliel.

Sharon to make `historic' visit to Nazareth
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will make a "historic visit" to Nazareth today, say his aides. In his Christmas season visit, Sharon will meet with Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jeraysi, and also with the national committee of Arab regional council heads. Sharon will be the first prime minister to visit the historic Galilee town since the late Yitzhak Rabin made the trip in 1995. The Balad party will stage a rally protesting Sharon's appearance in Nazareth; demonstrators will hold placards declaring "Sharon is persona non grata in Nazareth." Officials in the Prime Minister's Office say that Sharon's visit reflects the "great importance he accords to promoting the Arab sector's interests."

Mofaz: Merkava 4 tank project goes on
Globes 12/23/2003
Israel Military Industries unveiled its 120 mm Kalanit shell for use in the Merkava Mark 4. The shell is designed to destroy bunkers and armored personnel carriers. -- "The Merkava Mark 4 project has not been halted; it will continue," Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said today in a meeting with employees working in the plant at Tel Hashomer that manufactures the tank.The Ministry of Defense said that Mofaz had decided to continue the Merkava project, despite the deep cuts in the defense budget.

Omri Sharon: I had no direct knowledge of corruption
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
When Likud MK Omri Sharon described real estate deals involving contractor David Appel as corrupt, he was speaking only on the basis of rumors, not direct knowledge, the prime minister's son told Army Radio on Tuesday. "It wasn't something that I was involved in," Sharon said. Sharon's reference to the dubious deals was videotaped in an October 1999 conversation with security firm owner David Spector, and the recording was released for publication Monday.

Youngest Palestinian prisoner released
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Ramallah - The Zionist authorities released yesterday the 12 years old boy Rakan Nusseirat the youngest Palestinian prisoner in occupation jails. Lawyer of the Palestinian Authority's ministry of prisoners' affairs Jawad Al-Amawi had asked for his release at the Zionist Ofer court last Thursday and his request was accepted. Amawi said that the release of Nusseirat was an accomplishment for all minors serving in Zionist jails. The lawyer explained that he contested the legality of detaining a 12 years old and referred to international doctrines especially the children rights agreement that was signed by the Hebrew state.

Palestinian Female Prisoners Call Satellite TV
Scoop 12/23/2003
GAZA -- The Palestinian female political prisoners at "Al Ramlah" lodged an appeal to all the Arab satellite channels, especially the Al Manar, Al Jazeera And Abu Dhabi channels, to address their harsh detention conditions inside the Israeli jails with special programs, after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officers have been prevented from visiting them inside the jails.

Matkal dissenters get mixed response from comrades
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
A day after disclosure of their letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the 13 reservists in the elite Matkal commando unit who refuse to serve in the territories were flooded by telephone calls. Two types of calls stood out: the reservists were inundated by requests to give interviews on all conceivable media outlets (at this stage, the dissenting reservists have decided to give interviews exclusively in Israel's media). Second, the reservists fielded a number of calls from their comrades in the Matkal unit.

Additional Israeli war crimes result in 5 Palestinians dead and more than 10 homes destroyed in Rafah and Deir al-Balah
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 12/23/2003
In another war crime perpetrated against Palestinian civilians and property, Israeli occupying forces, reinforced by tanks and helicopters, moved into Rafah refugee camp in the south of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, 23 December 2003.Israeli forces have remained in the camp through the early afternoon, using intense shelling and indiscriminate shooting to cover their actions.The Rafah refugee camp is one of the most densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip and attacks by Israeli forces inevitably result in massive damage.Already today, the Israeli occupying army has killed 5 Palestinians, including 4 civilians, and wounded over 27 others, including a number of women and children.In addition, 10 homes have been destroyed by explosive charges and armored Israeli bulldozers.

Watchdogs: Travel rules harm health of Palestinians
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Israel Defense Force roadblocks and checkpoints within the West Bank are denying Palestinians access to health care and endangering their entire emergency medical system, a report released yesterday says. The joint study was conducted by the human rights group B'Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. It says sweeping restrictions on movement within the West Bank is blocking ambulances from reaching patients and hospitals, even in urgent emergencies. B'Tselem says several dozen Palestinians have died during delays at checkpoints. The Israeli army declined to comment on the report, repeating its usual statement that delays are necessary for "security reasons."

Hamas sent message to U.S. via Qatar proposing truce
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Using mediators from Qatar, Hamas delivered a message a few weeks ago to American officials, offering to halt suicide attacks within Israel in exchange for an Israeli promise to curtail assassination strikes against its leaders in the Gaza Strip. More than two months ago, senior members of Hamas' political branch held a meeting in Doha, Qatar, say Palestinian and other sources. The meeting was held not long after an attempted strike (on September 10) against Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin....In addition to delivering messages to the Americans via channels in Qatar, a Hamas operative in Lebanon, Ossama Hamdan, met in Beirut with what Palestinian sources describe as "retired American officials."

Haneyya: We did not promise to spare civilians in return for sparing our leaders
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Gaza - Ismail Haneyya, one of the Hamas Movement leaders in the Gaza Strip, has accused unnamed parties of attempting to besmear the image of the Hamas Movement through circulation of rumors and fabricated news. Haneyya said that none of his Movement cadres had met American officials in Beirut and stressed that his Movement did not promise any Arab or other party to spare civilians in the armed attacks only in return for sparing Hamas leaders.

Palestinians Condemn Assault On Egypt's FM
Islam Online 12/23/2003
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, December 23 ( - The assault on Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher, as he was making his way through the esplanade of Al-Aqsa Mosque, drew immediate condemnations from Palestinian officials and resistance groups, chiefly Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. "Undoubtedly, we strongly condemn this assault on a dear brother like the Egyptian foreign minister, whose country has been standing up for the Palestinian cause. This act does not serve the interests of the Palestinians," said Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qorei....The Islamic Resistance movement Hamas described the attack as "deplorable and immoral". Sayed Siam, a Hamas official, told Hamas is keen on cementing the Palestinian-Egyptian time-honored relations.

U.S. expects Migron to be dismantled
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
The United States expects Israel to evacuate the illegal settlement outpost of Migron, a senior American official said yesterday. "Migron is an outpost, and it always appeared on both our lists and yours as an outpost that was included in the prime minister's commitment to evacuate the outposts," the official said in a conversation with reporters. Asked how the U.S. would respond if Migron were retroactively legalized, the official responded: "If an outpost ... suddenly receives a permit, that will raise many questions."

Annan Strongly Condemns Latest Incursion into Gaza Refugee Camp
Palestine Chronicle 12/23/2003
NEW YORK - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today strongly condemned the latest military incursion in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, which left at least eight Palestinians, many of them civilians, dead. "The Secretary-General reiterates that Israel, as the occupying power, must protect the civilian population and desist from using disproportionate force," a spokesman for Annan said in a statement, which noted that dozens more, including many children, were wounded and several houses destroyed.

Maher plays down assault at Al-Aqsa mosque
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
CAIRO - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher late Monday played down an incident in which he was assaulted by a group of Palestinians while he went to pray at Jerusalem's mosque compound and then hospitalized. "It was a simple incident which is not worrying," he told reporters on his return to Cairo after being treated at the Hadassah hospital on the western outskirts of Jerusalem for three hours. He said the incident "will have no impact on Egypt's" role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Cairo would "continue its efforts" for peace in the region.

Islamic Awkaf holds Zionist security responsible for Maher assault
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Occupied Jerusalem - The Palestinian Islamic Awkaf has held the Zionist security apparatuses responsible for the attack on Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher during his visit to the Aqsa Mosque yesterday. Adnan Al-Husseini, director of Islamic Awkaf in occupied Jerusalem, said, "We regret what happened" but affirmed that the Zionist security was fully responsible for that incident because it changed program of the visit. Hussein explained that the Awkaf officials were waiting for the minister at the Asbat gate but the Zionist police opened instead the Magharaba gate, the keys for which were seized by the Zionist entity on occupying the holy city back in 1967.

Ten dead in Gaza violence
The Guardian 12/23/2003
Eight Palestinians were killed today in an Israeli army raid on a Gaza refugee camp. The attack came hours after a Palestinian ambush killed two Israeli soldiers. Today's violence, the worst for over a month, came after yesterday's attack by an angry crowd on the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher. He had been in Jerusalem to discuss prospects for peace with the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Palestinian witnesses said between 20 and 40 Israeli tanks entered a refugee camp in the Rafah area early today....Forty-two people were wounded by Israeli gunfire, including nine children, hospital officials told AP.,2763,1112224,00.html

Arrests foil Hamas cell plan to kill, decapitate IDF soldiers
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Security forces have arrested 22 Palestinians believed to be involved in a Ramallah-area Hamas cell that planned to ambush soldiers on patrol near the West Bank city, cut off their heads and negotiate an exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli jails, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service released Tuesday.

Ben-Baruch acquitted of membership in Jewish terror cell
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday acquitted Yosef Ben-Baruch of being a member of the Bat Ayin Jewish terror cell, Israel Radio reported. Ben-Baruch has been under arrest for the past 19 months and was cleared Tuesday of all accusations against him, including involvement in murder and membership in a terror cell.

Shots fired at private car north of Eilat
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Occupied Jerusalem - Zionist security sources said that an unknown armed man earlier today shot at a Zionist private car to the north of the Eilat port south of occupied Palestine. The sources said that the gunman fired at the Zionist settler's car at dawn today around 12 kilometers to the north of Eilat.

Palestinian sniper wounds Zionist soldier
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Al-Khalil - A Palestinian sniper shot and wounded a Zionist border guard last night near a military position in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the old quarters of the southern West Bank city of Al-Khalil. Zionist sources said that the soldier was shot while on duty, guarding Jewish settlers in the Palestinian city!

Occupation forces arrest 11 Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Ramallah - Zionist occupation army command last night declared that eleven Palestinians were arrested in various areas of the West Bank on suspicion of affiliation with resistance factions. The army command said that the Zionist soldiers arrested seven Palestinians in north of the West Bank, four of whom were Hamas Movement activists.

10 Palestinians Killed and 40 Others Injured in a Brutal Israeli Carnage
International Press Center 12/23/2003
Rafah, Palestine, December23,2003 (IPC)--- 10 Palestinians have been killed, 8 of whom are civilians, and 40 others have been wounded, of whom 9 children and a woman seriously wounded,in a new brutal carnage committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the ongoing Israeli invasion ofRafah refugee camp, south of Gaza Strip....Early, Palestinians security resources reported in a phone call with IPC that IOF blocked Rafah crossing (the Palestinians only outlet to the outside world through Egypt.) The same resources added that IOF stationing in the crossing open fire at the Palestinians citizens using guns with silencers....Israeli bulldozers demolished a big number of the Palestinian-owned homes, cut off electricity and the phone lines and sabotaged the sewage pipes, the Israeli demolition of the Palestinian-owned property is still ongoing up to now.

Gaza Strip plunges in bloodshed
Middle East Online 12/23/2003
At least eight Palestinians and two Israeli army officers were killed in the Gaza Strip during one of the bloodiest bouts of violence in the region in recent months, sources on both sides said Tuesday. Six Palestinians were killed during a major incursion by the Israeli army into Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, which began hours after the two soldiers died in a grenade attack by a Palestinian militant in the centre of the territory. The Palestinian attacker was shot by other soldiers and during an ensuing search a second Palestinian as shot after he opened fire on troops, Israeli military sources said.

IOF Invades Rafah, Kills Five Palestinians and Wound 27 Others
International Press Center 12/23/2003
RAFAH, Palestine, December 23, 2003 (IPC)-- The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) invaded several areas in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, opening heavy gunfire at Palestinian citizens and their homes, killing five citizens and wounding 27 others. Palestinian security sources told IPC correspondent that large Israeli forces invaded the areas of Al Qassas, Yebna refugee camp and Bloc "O", accompanied by intensive gunfire and shelling of citizens' houses....The director of Abu Yousif Al Najjar hospital, Dr. Ali Mousa, said that the Palestinian medical crews were having difficulties in evacuating the wounded due to the intensive gunfire, and the local residents are forced to evacuate the wounded themselves.

16 Palestinian Children Killed and 23 Permanently Handicapped During the Intifada in Tulkarem
International Press Center 12/23/2003
TULKAREM, Palestine, December 23, 2003 (IPC) - - Even the children were never spared the atrocities of the oppressive Israeli occupation military attacks in Tulkarem governorate of the West Bank. Figures released by the Social Affair Directorate of Tulkarem indicated that the death toll of the Palestinian children (below 18 years) were 16, who werekilled through the Israeli occupying incursions, assassination operations against Palestinian resistant activists while the children were causally been in the area, and others were killed by shrapnel caused by Israeli combat helicopter bombardment of Palestinian civil structures or the cars of "wanted people" by Israel.

Two officers killed by Palestinian in Gaza gun battle
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Two army officers were killed in a gunfight with a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip yesterday, and in an ambush near Hebron, a border policeman was moderately wounded. The slain officers were Captain Haggai Bibi, 24, of Ma'aleh Adumim, who last month signed on for another eight years in the Israel Defense Forces, and Lieutenant Leonardo Weissman of Afula. They were the first Israeli fatalities in a month - the last fatal attack, which killed two guards near the separation fence in Jerusalem, was on November 22.

Family waits to bury boy, 7, as camp scorns Sharon's 'propaganda'
The Guardian 12/23/2003
Israel Army action breeds fresh hatred -- Mohammed was eating beans and bread when he heard the soldiers outside. He stood up and ran to close the door, but stopped and turned back when he saw the soldier. It is not clear what threat the soldier identified from the seven-year-old, but he fired and Mohammed fell dead, still clutching his piece of bread. Yesterday Balata was waiting to bury Mohammed and two other casualties of the Israeli army's week-long incursion into the West Bank's largest refugee camp, but troops continued to patrol the streets, confining everyone to their homes.,2763,1112055,00.html

Occupation forces demolish six houses in Deir Al-Balah
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Deir Al-Balah - Zionist terrorist forces demolished today six Palestinian residential houses to the south of Deir Al-Balah city in central Gaza Strip. Zionist occupation troops backed by armored vehicles and huge army tractors advanced from the Kisufim settlement into the Palestinian area and flattened the houses.

News Briefs: Detainees assulated by army, Balata invasion continues, many homes demolished in Rafah
International Middle East Media Center 12/23/2003
Several political detainees assaulted by the administration: The lawyer of the Palestinian prisoner club, Yacoob Abu-Na'im, said that the army entered the cells of some political prisoners in a detention center near Hebron and assaulted the detainees. Eyad Fannoun from Bethlehem, was transferred to a hospital after being attacked and beaten after the detainees announced Hunger Strike protesting bad treatment. / Troops continue invasion in Balata: The army intensified its procedures in Balata near Nablus, increased the number of checkpoints and intensified closure in that area which resulted in banning more than 200.000 person from entering Nablus. Meanwhile, the military invasion continued for the seventh day. / Troops invade Rafah, Kills 3, injures 25 and demolishes several houses: Meanwhile, the troops demolished huge number of houses south Rafah using military Bulldozers. Locals said that more than five Bulldozers started to demolish the houses near the Egyptian border, and shelled the area with bombs and heavy machine guns.

2 people hurt after Qassam rocket lands in Gaza settlement
Ha'aretz 12/23/2003
Two people were wounded on Tuesday night after Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket at the Nissanit settlement in the Gaza Strip. The rocket landed on a residential building. The wounded sustained light and light-to-moderate injuries and were taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. Earlier Tuesday, eight Palestinians were killed in Rafah during an Israeli search for weapons-smuggling tunnels, Palestinian sources said.

Aqsa Martyrs and Quds Brigades claim responsibility for killing Zionist officers
Palestinian Information Center 12/23/2003
Gaza - The Quds Brigades, military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, and the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, military wing of the Fatah Movement, have declared joint responsibility for the attack that left three Zionist soldiers dead last night north of Gaza Strip. A joint communiqué for both military wings said that the attack on the Kisufim road had killed three Zionist soldiers, including two senior officers, and wounded four others seriously.

Sharon's deputy warns of heartbreak Sydney Morning Herald 12/23/2003
Israel's Deputy Prime Minister has warned that separating Israel from the Palestinians might mean moving tens of thousands of Jewish settlers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and probably lead to confrontations with settlers and their supporters. Ehud Olmert warned on Sunday it would be "a very painful, difficult heartbreaking process and a confrontation of unknown proportion in the life of the country". "I expect it to be very emotional and very confrontational," he said.

8 Palestinians Killed in Gaza Strip Raid :
An Israeli raid on a Gaza refugee camp killed eight Palestinians on Tuesday in a flare-up of violence that came just hours after a high-level Egyptian peace mission to Israel.

Human Equality or Israel? :
Jewish people, American Jews in particular, must choose whether they support the notion that "all men are created equal" or they support Israel. The choices are mutually exclusive.

Torah Jewry has never ever recognized the Zionist state.

Rabbi Goldstein gives a historic overview of Zionism

Video: John Pilger: "Palestine is Still the Issue":
Why Has This Documentary, Never Been Broadcast On U.S. Media ?

Israel's nuclear programme:
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency recently urged Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and surrender its nuclear weapons in order to further peace in the Middle East.

Israeli invasion shakes Jenin :
Three Palestinians have been wounded, one seriously, during a major Israeli military invasion of Jenin on Monday.

Can Israel escape a binational future?:
How ironic that the kinds of statements made against Jews in Europe in the 1930s can now be freely uttered in a supposedly "modern" and "liberal" Israel, without a peep from those fretting loudest about what they consider is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.

December 22 2003

Autopsy Report Findings Mandate Appointment of Investigatory Judge to Examine Unnatural Death of Palestinian Bedouin Citizen of Israel
Adalah 12/22/2003
Based on new evidence obtained from an autopsy report as well as from police sources, on 11 December 2003, Adalah submitted a second motion to the Magistrate Court in Beer Sheva (Beer el-Sebe) seeking the immediate appointment of an investigatory judge to examine the circumstances surrounding the unnatural death of Mr. Meteb Al-Nebari, a Palestinian Bedouin citizen of Israel.

Palestine's neglected treasure trove
Al-Jazeera 12/22/2003
As home to the earliest known human settlements and the world's holiest cities, historical Palestine is literally a treasure chest of antiquities. Remnants of Canaanite temples and towns, Byzantine mosaics and monasteries and Mamluk and Ottoman mosques all stand witness to the region's long and colourful past. Many of the most important archaeological and historical sites are located in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. But years of conflict have left Palestinian antiquities in a sad state and in many cases out of Palestinian control.

A Plan Born Dead
By Ghassan Andoni, International Middle East Media Center 12/22/2003
Sharon, as he presented his "disengagment plan" trigered fears among both Palestinians and settlers. Settlers, wo stand on the fore front of the Greater Land of Israel camp, Likud hardliners, and relgous parties are seemingly preparing a counter attack to balance what they describe as "the international pressure on the prime minister." With the expectations that the publicly stated position of Sharon would introduce a significant public opinion shift in support of evacuating settlers, even by force, settlers and Likud hardliners are reverting to the old tactic of threatening with disobedience and warning of a civil war.

Who can say 'yes' to the Geneva Accord?
By Maher Mughrabi, Electronic Intifada 12/22/2003
What the Middle East needs, we are told, is democracy. Even George Bush seems convinced that after "60 years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East", democracy is an idea whose time has come.

Countdown to Armageddon?
By M. Raphael Johnson, November 2003
According to a recent article by veteran British military analyst Joseph Vialls, Russia has sent the most advanced and feared missile in the world, owned only by Russia and China, the P270 Moskit, also known as the "Sunburn," to Damascus and Tehran. This can only be understood as a counter to the Israeli threats to use nuclear weapons against their enemies.

The Geneva Accord and the Right of Return as seen from Al-Baqa'a Refugee Camp
By Stefan Christoff, Electronic Intifada 12/22/2003
Amman, Jordan -- Al-Baqa'a is Jordan's largest Palestinian refugee camp, located on the outskirts of Amman and home to more than 100,000 refugees. In the heart of one of Jordan's many desert valleys, at night, Al-Baqa'a is a beautiful array of lights sparkling below the wealthy hilltops of Amman. But, when visiting Al-Baqa'a during the day, it emerges as an impoverished Palestinian community of countless markets and shops lining small crowded streets of makeshift homes.

Iraq's Phantom 'Insurgents'
By Robert Fisk, Palestine Chronicle 12/22/2003
Schoolboy Issam Naim Hamid is the latest of America's famous "insurgents". In Samarra - for which read Fantasyville - he was shot in the back as he tried to protect himself with his parents in his home in the Al-Jeheriya district of the ancient Abbasid city.

Israel's nuclear programme
BBC 12/22/2003
While Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons, few international experts question the Jewish state's presence on the world's list of nuclear powers. Its nuclear capability is arguably the most secretive weapons of mass destruction programme in the world. Unlike Iran and North Korea - two countries whose alleged nuclear ambitions have recently come to the fore - Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, designed to prevent the global spread of nuclear weapons.

Maher Can Not Change Sharon's Agenda: Expert
Islam Online 12/22/2003
CAIRO, December 22 ( – Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher's visit to Israel can neither change the agenda of the right-wing Israeli government of Ariel Sharon nor force Israel to turn off its aggressive policies against the Palestinian people, a Palestinian political expert said Monday, December 22. The director of the Gaza-based Maqdis Center for Political Studies, Dr. Mohammad Hamza, told that Maher's talks with the Israelis, which took place earlier Monday, could by no means press the Israeli Premier into re-shaping his policies based chiefly on the much-hoped and long-awaited security.

Pressure on Israel to scrap WMD
The London Herald 12/22/2003
ARAB nations last night demanded that Israel follow Libya's lead on weapons of mass destruction and begin dismantling its nuclear arsenal, thought to number some 200 warheads, which they say is the main threat to the region. The call came as government ministers in Britain hailed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's unexpected move to scrap his country's illegal weapons programme as a "personal triumph" for Tony Blair....As the full meaning of Libya's move continued to sink in, Arab leaders called on Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, to begin scrapping his country's nuclear weapons. Israel has never confirmed it has a nuclear capability, but is widely believed to be the only Middle East country with the bomb.

50% of Palestinian mothers give birth at home
Middle East Online 12/22/2003
Israeli army's roadblocks force half of Palestinian mothers to give birth at home since start of intifada. -- The number of Palestinian women giving birth in hospital has dropped by around 50 percent since the start of the intifada as a result of Israeli army roadblocks, a report by rights groups said Monday. "The sweeping restrictions on Palestinian movement within the West Bank has severely impaired their access to medical treatment," a joint report by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and B'Tselem found. "The emergency medical system in the West Bank has difficulty functioning and in many cases ambulances are unable to reach their destination."

To Save Civilians The Agonies of The Crisis
International Middle East Media Center 12/22/2003
The Israel army ' Military Intelligence (MI) division believes that over the last 100 days, Hamas has refrained from carrying out terror strikes against Israeli civilians west of the Green Line. According to their research findings, Hamas's last attack within the Green Line took place at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem, on September 9, 2003. MI's research department, headed by Brigadier General Yossi Kupperwasser, views this as a significant change in the attack strategy of the Islamic group, saying that the change stems from Hamas' sensitivity toward Palestinian public opinion, which has become increasingly opposed recently to attacks on Israeli civilians.

Five year-old killed during fifth day of attacks in Nablus
Palestine Monitor 12/22/2003
A five year-old boy was killed by Israeli troops today during a fifth day of confrontations in the Belata refugee camp in Nablus. Mohammed Al Araj had just left his house and was standing at his gate when he was shot in the heart by a single live bullet from random Israeli gunfire. For the last five days, Israeli soldiers have conducted house-to-house searches for Palestinian militants. Typically these raids have involved soldiers firing with impunity and a number of innocent civilians have been killed or injured in the process.

Canadian's trial in Israel delayed
CBC News 12/22/2003
JERUSALEM - An Israeli military court has delayed making a decision on its authority to try a Gaza-born Canadian citizen charged with conspiracy to commit murder and with illegal military training. The decision to defer was made at the second pre-trial hearing, at an Israeli military base on Monday. Defence lawyer Jamil Khatib challenged the court's authority to try Jamal Akkal. Israeli officials have accused Akkal of being involved in a plot to carry out attacks against Israelis and Jews in North America.

Death Toll Climbs to Four Palestinians as IOF Continues Ravaging West Bank Cities
International Press Center 12/22/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 22, 2003 (IPC + Agencies) - - In what have developed to be a large scale military offensive on West Bank cities, especially the battered city of Nablus and its Balata refugee camp, the Palestinian death toll in the camp climbed to four citizens, including two children, as the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) continue rampaging through the camp....[An] elderly Palestinian citizen, Nazmi Aziz, 62, died today evening of a heart attack in Balata refugee camp when the Israeli soldiers blasted open the front door of his house without prior notice, under the false pretext of searching for "wanted" Palestinian resistance activists....Palestinian security sources told IPC's that more than 20 Israeli military vehicles supported by combat helicopters invaded the eastern part of Jenin City, opening heavy and indiscriminate gunfire at Palestinian citizens and their properties....In Hebron governorate, IOF arrested four Palestinian citizens from the town of Taffouh and the city of Hebron.

The Two Troublemakers: "Guilty of Being a Palestinian in Iraq" By Kathy Kelly, CounterPunch 12/22/2003
Saturday evening, in Amman, we met with Fadi Elayyan and Jihad Tahboub, two Palestinian young men who were imprisoned for two months, without charge, by US Occupying forces who seized them, in Baghdad, on April 10, 2003

Everyone sees no one to talk to By Danny Rubinstein, Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Recent public opinion polls reflect a familiar tale of a willingness to make concessions, but accompanied by a familiar complaint - "there's no partner, no one to talk to." The Israeli public, for the most part, realizes that a Palestinian state will be established, that settlements will be uprooted, and even that concessions will be made in Jerusalem, but they don't see anyone on the other side who can be relied on.

If Libya can do it, why not Israel? By Peter Preston, The Guardian 12/22/2003
We can no longer turn a blind eye to the fifth largest nuclear power -- There's a logic to these things. Muammar Gadafy, growing older, and his isolated Libya, growing poorer, were getting nothing worthwhile from the atomic bomb they hadn't built yet or chemicals they had scant residual use for. Logic - and common sense - meant changing tack. Good for logic. But logic doesn't stop there. What next? If weapons of mass destruction are a menace in unstable regions such as the Middle East, if their availability must be reduced, then logic begins to move us closer to the confrontation we never seek with the nuclear power we - let alone Messrs Bush and Blair - seldom mention: Israel.,10551,1111567,00.html

Tango of the blind By Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Since the disappointment of Camp David 2000, we have been hit by an epidemic of blindness of political leaders on the right, which has not passed by some members of the "peace camp" and the leaders of the security establishment -- How typical it is that the name of Libya was missing from the hundreds of headlines produced by the oh-so prestigious conference on the "Balance of Israel's Security" and the dozens of politicians and experts that swooped down on Herzliya. The preoccupation with terror and weapons of mass destruction that threaten Israel masked any signs of positive change going on right under our noses. Who even bothered to note that Muammar Gaddafi was one of the Arab leaders that last year supported the important decision made at the Beirut conference of the Arab League? Who mentioned the statement by the Jordanian foreign minister, Dr. Marwan Muasher, who recently said that he has learned that Libya belongs to the countries that continue to adhere to that decision?

Sharon's Speech: Decoded Version By Uri Avnery, Media Monitors Network 12/22/2003
He read out the written text of his speech, word for word, without raising his eyes from the page.

It was vital for him to stick to the exact wording, since it was an encoded text. It is impossible to decipher it without breaking the code. And it is impossible to break the code without knowing Ariel Sharon very well indeed.

Ex-president of Indonesia blasts Palestinian suicide bombings Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid condemned Palestinian suicide bombings at an interfaith gathering yesterday in Jerusalem designed to push the people of the region toward peace. Wahid joined Native Americans, Israeli lawmakers, imams, American Baptists and former world leaders yesterday to kick off a peace mission to the Holy Land of about 3,000 members of a U.S.-based peace group sponsored by the founder of the Unification Church.

U.S. kept Israel in the dark about Libya weapons talks Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
The United States did not let Israel in on its secret talks with Libya over the past few months that led to Libya's declaration last weekend of its intention to stop the development of weapons of mass destruction, according to senior political sources in Jerusalem. The sources say that about 10 days ago, Israel received intelligence information regarding "certain occurences in Libya," but that it was not briefed by the Americans on their talks with Libyan ruler Muammar Gadhafi.

Libya Opens Nuke Programs to Inspections The Guardian 12/22/2003
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Libya has agreed to open its nuclear activities to pervasive inspection by the U.N. atomic agency as early as next week, a key step toward honoring a promise to scrap its nuclear weapons program, the agency's chief said Monday. Also Monday, Pakistan acknowledged that some scientists participating in its nuclear program may have been involved in the proliferation of sensitive technology to countries including Libya.,1280,-3536778,00.html

Libya spies' secret deal to reveal terrorists The Guardian 12/22/2003
Libya provided detailed intelligence on hundreds of al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists as part of a deal to end its isolation as a pariah nation, The Observer can reveal....Musa Kousa, the head of Libya's external security organisation, was an enemy of Britain and America until the events of 11 September 2001 made Libya a useful ally in the war on terror....Last Tuesday, however, Kousa was negotiating the final details of the plan to bring Libya in from the cold in the Travellers' Club in Pall Mall with senior figures from the Foreign Office and MI6. ....London-based dissidents last night feared for their future and expressed their horror that Musa Kousa was allowed to enter the country.,14139,1111743,00.html

Key Arab summit postponed Al-Jazeera 12/22/2003
A key North African summit due in Algiers on Tuesday and Wednesday has been postponed due to regional disagreements. Algerian Foreign Minister Abd al-Aziz Bilkhadim said on Monday the much-awaited five-nation Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) summit, the first to be held since 1994, was postponed at the formal request of Libya. A senior Arab diplomat earlier told Reuters the summit had been indefinitely shelved due to the long-running dispute between neighbours Algeria and Morocco over the mineral-rich territory of Western Sahara.

Lebanese women hungry to be admitted to Order of the Freemasons Daily Star 12/22/2003
Discrimination in the modern age called an anachronism - Some trace the origins of the Masonic Order to the construction of King Solomon's temple in the 10th century BC -- What if you were a married man and you recently discovered that your wife was a member of a secretive sorority, but you could never join the group with her or know what it was all about · what would your reaction be? A number of women in Lebanon have strongly criticized the Masonic Order, a secret society of men that now allegedly has mainly a social function, because it continues to exclude women. They argue that this sexual discrimination is unjustified in the modern world.

Going back to the heart of the matter: Al-Bourj Daily Star 12/22/2003
Actor Rafik Ali-Ahmed opens new book store with a celebration of the glorious past of Downtown Beirut -- Al-Bourj, Martyrs Square, Place des Canons: all different names for the same place, Beirut's downtown area, its nerve center, its heart. In the middle of it all, a new bookstore has just opened. Located at the back of the new An-Nahar building, it carries the name of the square it overlooks: Al-Bourj. Proud of its name and what it evokes in people's minds either through personnel memory or folkloric tales of old Beirut, the manager of the bookstore, Chadia Tueni, decided to express this pride on its opening night.

Internet use in Israel soars Globes 12/22/2003
The TNS Teleseker TIM Internet survey found rising Internet use, including online shopping. Israel now has 2.5 million Internet users aged 13 and above. -- Israel now has 2.5 million Internet users aged 13 and above, up from 2.2 million in February 2003, according to the TNS Teleseker survey (TIM) for November 2003. The survey also found that 74% of Internet users go online daily, compared with 68% in February.

Knesset panel votes against lifting MK's immunity Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
The Knesset House Committee on Monday voted by a majority of eight to seven MKs against stripping Likud legislator Yehiel Hazan of his parliamentary immunity, as requested by Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein. The decision means that the lawmaker cannot be tried on charges of forgery, fraud and breach of trust for his part in the double-voting affair. Last week, Hazan surprisingly announced that he wished to forgo his immunity, contrary to the position of his lawyers, Asher Chen and Ilan Bombach, who sought to make every effort to persuade the House Committee members not to cede to Rubinstein's request. This is the first time in Knesset history that the panel overturns a request by an MK to lift his immunity.

Labor MK Avital calls for inquiry into naming of Hefetz as UK envoy Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Colette Avital, MK (Labor), is demanding that the appointment of businessman Zvi Hefetz as Israel's ambassador in London be examined by the Professional Appointments Committee. Avital, who held senior positions in the Foreign Ministry, sent a letter to the Civil Service Commissioner, Shmuel Hollander, stating that the committee must examine Hefetz's suitability and qualifications for the post.

Retail sales up 1.4%, food sales down 2% in November Globes 12/22/2003
Sales by retail chains and stores fell 2.4% in January-November and sales of perishable goods fell by 1.4%. -- Seasonally adjusted sales by retail chains and stores rose by 1.4% in November, while food sales fell by 2%, according to figures obtained by "Globes" today. The recovery in retail sales began in October. Seasonally adjusted sales by retail chains and stores rose by 4.6% in August-November. Food sales rose by 3.4% in August-October, but fell by 2% in November.

Gasunie unexpectedly withdraws from gas pipeline project Globes 12/22/2003
Dutch company Gasunie Trade and Supply opposes the authorization granted Yam Thetis to operate its own pipeline. -- Nederlande Gasunie NV subsidiary Gasunie Trade and Supply has unexpected notified the Ministry of National Infrastructures that it wishes to withdraw from Israel's natural gas pipeline project, in which hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested over the coming years....Sources inform "Globes" that Gasunie, which has been involved in the project for several years as a special advisor to the Ministry of National Infrastructures, decided to withdraw from the project after learning that part of the project would be based on the US standard, not the Dutch standard.

300 objections filed against gas pipeline Globes 12/22/2003
Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Eli Ronen: Not all the security problems have been solved. The pipeline will be ready only in late 2008. -- 300 objections have been filed to date against the overland section of the natural gas pipeline, according to a document by Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Eli Ronen. The pipeline will cost $400 million to build.

Netanyahu, Peretz to meet today, but few expect deal Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Histadrut labor federation chief MK Amir Peretz (One Nation), are due to convene this afternoon at the Kfar Hamaccabiah hotel in Ramat Gan for a "decisive meeting" to finalize an agreement to end labor sanctions by public sector workers. Netanyahu and Peretz will try to reach a compromise on the treasury's controversial pension reforms.

Truckers and haulers block off Ashdod port, set to snarl traffic Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Truck drivers blocking the entrance to the Ashdod port yesterday. The truckers and haulers union yesterday decided to strike, paralyzing all deliveries and transportation work around the country from tomorrow, following an emergency meeting in Tel Aviv with the taxi drivers' union. Only goods destined for the military will be delivered.

E-commerce up 15-20% in 2003 Globes 12/22/2003
500 Israeli vendors of food, textiles, cosmetics, office equipment, paper and other products sell online. -- Israeli e-commerce grew 15-20% in 2003, said Israeli Barcode Association chairman Yossi Shostak in advance of the association's general meeting tomorrow. He was referring to 500 Israeli vendors of food, textiles, cosmetics, office equipment, paper and other products who sell online.

Cooperative founded by land mine survivors celebrates 1st birthday Daily Star 12/22/2003
Members are involved in producing eggs, honey and herbs -- The Development Cooperative of Jezzine celebrated the first anniversary of the launching of its B-Balady eggs label Thursday. The cooperative was formed by land mine survivors, and has grown considerably in the two years since it was formed. "Our initial group of 21 participants has grown to a healthy 112 members," said Butros Bou Mansour, head of the cooperative, during the celebration at the Gefinor Rotana Hotel in Beirut.

PA security arrests PNC member for castigating "Switzerland document" Palestinian Information Center 12/22/2003
Ramallah - Well informed Palestinian sources in the West Bank city of Ramallah have said that Palestinian Authority’s security men had arrested on Saturday evening Mohammed Mukbel (Abu Ali) for castigating the capitulatory "Switzerland document". The sources said that PA security men arrested Abu Ali, who is member in the Palestinian national council (PLO’s parliament-in-exile) and member of the committee in defense of refugees' right of return, for exposing the document and its signatories in a recent political seminar organized by "Muwatin" institute for democratic studies.

Israeli defence head in India for talks on military cooperation SpaceWar 12/22/2003
The director general of the Israeli defence ministry held talks Monday with Indian officials on arms procurement and other cooperation, an Indian defence ministry source said. Major General Amos Yaron met with the chiefs of the Indian army, air force and navy. "He is leading the Israeli side in the delegation level talks. The meeting is focusing on arms procurement, joint military research and industrial cooperation in the defence sector," the source told AFP.

Ghassan Tueni Zeros In on "Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian Peace Triangle" An Nahar 12/22/2003
Lebanon is at a perplexing crossroad, which has nothing to do with a bridge completed on time, or a tunnel equipped with proper ventilation, Ghassan Tueni opined, referring to President Lahoud's recent interest in infrastructure works. His advice to Lahoud is to shift to broader politics and to capitalize on Syrian President Bashar Assad's offer to resume negotiations with Israel to turn Lebanon into "a bridge between war and peace."

Hamas questions Sharon's commitment to peace Al-Jazeera 12/22/2003
The main Palestinian resistance group Hamas has poured scorn on comments by the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that he remains committed to the international "road map" for peace. Sharon also told the visiting Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Mahir on Monday that Israel would halt its attacks against Palestinian resistance activists. A source close to Sharon said the prime minister had told Mahir that Israel would hold back from major military action if Egyptian efforts to persuade Palestinian resistance factions to lay down their arms succeeded.

Maher lightly injured by Palestinians who heckled, shoved him Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher was lightly injured Monday after being assaulted by young Palestinians during a visit to Jerusalem's Temple Mount. According to some witnesses, Maher was assaulted by Muslim extremists who attempted to strangle him. Other witnesses reported that he was shoved and heckled, and that items were thrown at him for climbing the mount via the Mugrabi Gate, which is generally an access route for non-Muslims. According to Channel 1 television, Maher suffered from shortness of breath, and was led to a Magen David medical service station in the vicinity for initial treatment by a doctor.

Egyptian FM rushed to Israeli hospital with light injuries after being attacked in Al Aqsa Mosque Al-Bawaba 12/22/2003
Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher was rushed to an Israeli hospital Monday afternoon with slight injuries after being attacked during a visit to al Aqsa Mosque, Israel Radio reported. Earlier, Maher, was meeting Monday with Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He arrived in Israel on Monday for the first time in two years. Sharon extended an invitation to Jerusalem to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and welcomed Maher's visit.

Israel warns Iran on N-weapons The Guardian 12/22/2003
The Israeli defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, has warned Iran that Israel may take military action to destroy its nuclear capabilities.Speaking on Israeli radio in Farsi to an Iranian audience, the Iranian-born Mr Mofaz said that if the need arose to destroy Iran's capability, "the necessary steps will be taken". Iran has been trying to develop a nuclear capability for about 18 years and scientists believe that next year it will reach the point where it can manufacture a nuclear weapon without outside assistance.,12858,1111570,00.html

Egypt and Israel stick to roadmap BBC 12/22/2003
The Egyptian and Israeli foreign ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to the roadmap peace plan. Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher is on his first visit to Israel for two years, aimed at reviving stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. At a joint press conference, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom thanked Egypt for its recent mediation efforts.

PM's son: if Greek isle succeeds, there'll be money for us all Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Omri Sharon told security firm owner David Spector in October 1999, that if the Greek Island project succeeded, "there would be enough money to pay us all and get out of here," according to a videotape acquired by "Haaretz" and released for publication on Monday. The recording contradicts Sharon's claim when investigated by police on the issue, according to which he was never involved in the Greek Island affair. In the course of the conversation, Sharon mentions dubious real estate transactions in which contractor David Appel was involved, going so far as to name them as corrupt. Sources in the judicial system believe that the recorded conversation implicates the entire Sharon family in the Greek Island affair.

Likud hard-liners meeting to oppose `unilateral steps' Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
A group of Likud MKs will meet today at the Knesset to chart a detailed course of action designed to put a stop to unilateral steps involving the evacuation of settlements discussed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Herzliya Conference last Thursday. Leading the group are MKs Gilad Erdan, Ehud Yatom, Yehiel Hazan, and Yuli Edelstein. The group may put pressure on Sharon and Likud ministers supporting his policies by breaking with party discipline on votes, as a means of showing their displeasure at what they perceive as a break with party principles.

PA wants media outlets to pay to cover Bethlehem Christmas Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
The Palestinian Broadcasting Authority has sent letters in the past few days to international and Arab television and satellite broadcasting networks, notifying them of an unprecedented decision by the Palestinian Authority to charge fees from any networks wishing to broadcast on Christmas from the area near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Fees will be charged all three dates of Christmas: December 24, for Catholics, Protestants and others; January 6 for Orthodox Christians; and January 18 for Armenians.

UN satellites eye Israeli barrier BBC 12/22/2003
The UN is keeping a close eye from space on the path of Israel's controversial West Bank barrier. It is using satellites to take images of the 700km (435 miles) barrier which cuts across Palestinian territory. The aim is to offer clear geographical data on a politically-charged issue. "It is evident by looking at this wall on the satellite imagery to see the damage done to Palestinian villages that are getting trapped," said Alain Retiere of the UN's satellite agency.

Jerusalem's Patriarch urges Palestinians, Israelis to make peace SpaceWar 12/22/2003
Jerusalem's Latin patriarch called on Palestinians and Israelis to work together for peace in a traditional pre-Christmas address Monday, saying the unofficial Geneva Initiative peace plan proved reconciliation was possible. "Nobody, neither Israeli nor Palestinian, wants war and bloodshed. Israelis are in seach of their security and Palestinians are in search of their land and liberty," Michel Sabbah told a press conference at his Jerusalem headquarters.

Sharon: Israel will respond positively to truce Middle East Online 12/22/2003
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Egypt's foreign minister here Monday that he remained committed to the US-backed roadmap peace plan and would respond in kind if Palestinian factions declared a truce. "I have heard a commitment by Israeli officials to the roadmap, according to which steps have to be taken in parallel by both sides," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said after talks with both Sharon and his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom.

Turkey Accuses Israel of Buying Oil from Kurdish Iraq Middle East Newsline 12/22/2003
ANKARA [MENL] -- Turkey has accused Israel of purchasing oil from Kurdish controlled areas of northern Iraq. Turkish officials said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has been alarmed by reports that Israel has purchased oil from the Kirkuk area. They said the oil being traded by Kurdish groups was meant to be exported to Ankara via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.

PNA Denies Statements Attributed to Bush on Arafat Palestine Media Center 12/22/2003
Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said Sunday several official US sources indicated to him that the statements attributed to President George W. Bush by the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot's, concerning President Yasser Arafat, were "untrue." US President George W. Bush reportedly told an Israeli journalist that "we must get rid of" Arafat, the Israeli daily reported Sunday. "We have made several contacts with our (US) friends who informed President Arafat that the statements attributed to President Bush are untrue," Shaath told Al Quds daily on Monday.

Iran warns Israel against striking nuclear sites Middle East Online 12/22/2003
TEHRAN - Israel "will dig its own grave" if it attacks Iranian nuclear sites, the head of the Iranian air force General Seyed Reza Pardis told a news agency close to the Islamic regime's hardliners. "The threats of the Zionist regime hold no value for us," Pardis was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency in reaction to statements by Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Egypt's Maher Assaulted in Jerusalem's Old City Reuters 12/22/2003
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Radical Muslim worshippers assaulted Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher in the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City Monday and he was rushed to hospital, witnesses, police and security guards said. Initial reports said Maher, 68, was beaten and taken unconscious to hospital but witnesses and police later said he was accosted, jostled and possibly struck several times by a hostile mob shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great)....Israeli medics said Maher, who had just completed talks on Middle East peace issues with Israeli leaders, was treated for shortness of breath and was in good condition.;jsessionid=ZR1JVRX

Egyptian FM Arrives in Israel to Revive Stalled Peace Process International Press Center 12/22/2003
GAZA, Palestine, December 22, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher arrived in Israel on Monday in a brief visit, to inject momentum into the deadlock between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Maher will hold, in his brief visit, talks with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, his counterpart Silvan Shalom and the Israeli President Moshe Katsav. Maher's visit likely comes in the course of Cairo's efforts with the Palestinian Authority to revive the internationally-backed "Road Map" peace plan.

Occupation authorities move Sheikh Hassan Yousef to Hadarim prison Palestinian Information Center 12/22/2003
Al-Khalil - Zionist occupation authorities have moved Sheikh Hassan Yousef, the detained Hamas Movement leader, to the Hadarim prison a few days ago in line with those authorities' policy of denying Palestinian prisoners any feeling of stability. Relatives of the Sheikh said that the occupation forces continued to prevent them from visiting him.

Israeli army refuseniks condemned BBC 12/22/2003
Senior Israeli officials have sharply criticised a group of army commandos who have refused missions in the Palestinian territories. Thirteen reservists from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying they would not be part of a "rule of oppression". Deputy Defence Minister Zeev Boim told public radio the group should "face judgement", AFP news agency reported.

13 Israeli Elite Commandos Join the "Refuseniks" International Press Center 12/22/2003
GAZA, December 22, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- In a new gesture of refusal of the Israeli oppressive policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, 13 soldiers of an elite Israeli military unit signed Sunday evening a letter refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories and objecting to their government's policies there. The thirteen reservist soldiers and officers, of the Israeli "Sayeret Matkal" unit -the Israeli General Staff's elite special operations unit- signed a letter Sunday evening and delivered it to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, in which they refused to serve in the Palestinian territories and continue to be a shield for the Jewish settlers there, reported Haaretz online edition.

13 elite reservists refuse to serve in territories Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Thirteen reservists serving in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit of the Israel Defense Forces yesterday signed a letter declaring their refusal to serve in the territories. The letter - signed by 10 soldiers and three officers - was delivered to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office late last night. Among the 13 signatories are nine who still do reserve service in Sayeret Matkal while the most senior is an officer with the rank of major. "We say to you today, we will no longer give our hands to the oppressive reign in the territories and the denial of human rights to millions of Palestinians," reads the letter to Sharon, "and we will no longer serve as a defensive shield for the settlement enterprise."

Report: Restriction of movement harming Palestinians' health Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
According to a report published Monday by the human rights groups B'Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights, Israel's siege policy and restriction of Palestinians' movement is disrupting every aspect of Palestinian daily life and especially harms people seeking medical treatment. According to the report, at least 38 Palestinians, including 14 minors, have died after IDF soldiers delayed or denied them passage at checkpoints. Seven of the deaths were of newborns whose mothers were prevented from reaching the hospital in time.

Medical Personnel Harmed - The Delay, Abuse and Humiliation of Medical Personnel by Israeli Security Forces B'tselem 12/22/2003
Israel's siege policy that has been implemented in the Occupied Territories over the last three years has unquestionably altered the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. As of early November 2003, the IDF had established fifty-six staffed checkpoints in the West Bank, as well as 607 physical roadblocks that prevent the passage of motor vehicles, 457 dirt piles, 94 concrete blocks and 56 trenches. These restrictions on movement impede the functioning of an emergency medical system. As a result of the physical roadblocks, ambulances must travel along winding, make-shift roads and patients must make their own way over mounds of dirt or be carried on stretchers to the other side. The absence of soldiers at these physical roadblocks makes it impossible for the sick to even explain the urgent nature of their medical problem. [Includes links to full report]

Ya'alon: Refusal letter signatories could be thrown out of army Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Thirteen members of a top commando unit who announced their refusal to serve in the Palestinian areas will be kicked out of the army if they do not back down on their decision, the IDF Chief of Staff said Monday. The letter - signed by Sayeret Matkal soldiers and officers - was delivered Sunday to the Prime Minister's Office, which refused to comment on the content of the letter.

Palestinian Female Prisoners Call Arab Satellite Channels to Prepare Programs about Their Plight International Press Center 12/22/2003
GAZA, December 22, 2003 (IPC)-- The Palestinian female political prisoners at "Al Ramlah" lodged an appeal to all the Arab satellite channels, especially the Al Manar, Al Jazeera And Abu Dhabi channels, to address their harsh detention conditions inside the Israeli jails with special programs, after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officers have been prevented from visiting them inside the jails.

DFLP escalates campaign accusing UNRWA of neglect Daily Star 12/22/2003
Medical, educational budget reductions blasted -- The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine pursued on Friday its campaign against the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), accusing it of reducing its budget for medical and educational assistance to Palestinian refugees in the country. More than 50 people staged a protest near the offices of the camp's UNRWA director-general, Richard Cook, raising banners to communicate their suffering and need for medical and educational aid.

Shehadeh bomb victims sue Israeli government Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
Twelve Gaza residents are suing the government of Israel for damages allegedly suffered during the bombing of the house of senior Hamas activist Salah Shehadeh. In July 2002, an Israel Air Force fighter jet dropped a one-ton bomb on the house, located in the A-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza, killing Shehadeh, his wife, his daughter, another Hamas activist, and ten civilians and wounding 78....The legal action of the twelve Gaza residents is one of the first suits for damages by Palestinians in the present conflict.

Hamas leader Mashal: Iraqi resistance inspires Palestinians Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
BEIRUT, Lebanon - The Iraqis fighting the U.S.-led forces of occupation are an inspiration to the Palestinians, a leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas said Sunday. Speaking in the Lebanese capital to mark the anniversary of Hamas' founding in 1987, Khaled Mashal said that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March and the early stages of the occupation that began April constituted a "point of weakness and a threat to the (Islamic) nation....But now we can deal with it as a point of strength, and a point of weakness for the American-Zionist plan in the region," he said.

Shin Bet, MI at odds over Hamas terror strategy Ha'aretz 12/22/2003
The Israel Defense Forces' Military Intelligence division believes that over the last 100 days, Hamas has refrained from carrying out terror strikes against Israeli civilians west of the Green Line. Hamas's last attack within the Green Line, according to MI, took place at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem, on September 9, 2003. Over the past three and a half months, Hamas has focused its attacks and attempted attacks on soldiers - both in the territories and in Israel - and settlers....The Shin Bet security service, however, does not share this assessment put forward by MI. According to data in the hands of the Shin Bet, Hamas activists have participated in numerous attempted terror attacks against Israeli civilian targets in recent weeks.

Breaking News: Two UNWRA workers among wounded in Khan Younis International Press Center 12/22/2003
12:00-- IOF soldiers wound three Palestinian citizens, two are UNRWA's workers, in the refugee camp of khan Younis. The soldiers fortified inside a military post at the Al Tufah barrier and in the vicinity of colonial Jewish settlement "Neve Dekalim" opened their gunfire indiscriminately towards a group of UNRWA worker trying to fix up a water pipe ripped by the Israeli bulldozers, WAFA said./ 11:45-- Two Palestinian citizens have been wounded during an Israeli fresh incursion into Jenin city of the west bank, WAFA said.

Subject: Haaretz - 13 top israeli commando units join 'about 600 refuseniks' condemning occupation pf palestine

Three Palestinians Slaughtered, Including Two Children in West Bank Refugee Camp International Press Center 12/22/2003
NABLUS, Palestine, December 22, 2003 (IPC + Agencies)-- The death toll of the Palestinian citizens killed on Sunday climbed to three, including two children in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus City, and the third suffocated by the tear gas canisters during the sixth day of Israeli military onslaught on the camp. Palestinian medical sources of Nablus City declared Sunday evening that Zuheir Ewaiss, 46, suffocated to death after intensive tear gas canisters were fired at the citizens' houses in Balata refugee camp by the Israeli occupying troops....Meanwhile, the Israeli occupying forces rounded up Monday morning 11 Palestinian citizens from Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah, led them all to an undisclosed destination, the local "Al Hurriys Voice" radio station said. As well, the Israeli occupying soldiers invaded the Rafah refugee camp, south of the Gaza Strip. Israeli D-9 military bulldozers demolished five homes in the camp and leveled 20 others that were destroyed earlier, Al Jazeera satellite channel reported.

Israeli invasion shakes Jenin Al-Jazeera 12/22/2003
Three Palestinians have been wounded, one seriously, during a major Israeli military invasion of Jenin on Monday. The occupation troops entered the northern West Bank town with 20 military jeeps and tanks backed by two Apache helicopters which opened fire, witnesses said. A local man who only wanted to be identified by his first name for fear of reprisals from the Israeli military told that tanks and the Apaches entered Jenin in the morning and opened fire on the house of a 29 year-old-man in Haleimah Al-Sadaia, eastern Jenin. "Apache helicopters were used to target the house of Aysar Abu Sroor, his pregnant wife and two children were in the house when the army started shooting from above. No warning was given to the family, so that they could leave the house", said Yousef.

Israeli troops kill Palestinian boy, 5, arrest prominent Hamas leader Daily Star 12/22/2003
Jewish settlers vow to fight any government attempts to remove them – Israeli troops killed a 5-year-old Palestinian boy and arrested a Hamas leader during a series of raids in the West Bank city of Nablus Sunday amid Egyptian efforts to salvage a teetering Middle East peace process. Also Sunday, an Israeli Army force destroyed five houses in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The latest violence came a day ahead of a visit to Israel by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, in what he has said is an effort to persuade the Israeli government to push forward with the "road map."

We're here to stay, say the front-line settlers The Telegraph 12/22/2003
Sheltered by the porch outside the Moyal household, home of one of Netzarim's 63 settler families, is a Hanukka menorah. At the start of the festival of Hanukka, when the candles of the menorah are lit, the scene is reminiscent of any Jewish house in Israel. But a week ago, the Moyal porch was hit by an improvised mortar fired by Palestinians from outside the settlement's perimeter. The Moyals' house has long been on the front line of the Middle East conflict. After a speech at Herzliya by Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, last Thursday it was also placed at the centre of the latest battleground in Israeli politics.;$sessionid$1TVVKXSFDA3TLQFIQMFSFG

Occupation forces storm two captives' houses Palestinian Information Center 12/22/2003
Ramallah - A Zionist army unit yesterday stormed the town of Silwad to the north of the West Bank city of Ramallah and broke into the houses of two Palestinian detainees. Local sources in the town said that ten border guards' patrols accompanied by a number of Zionist intelligence officers broke into the houses of Ahmed Mustafa Al-Najjar and Khaled Mu'ezuddin Hamed.

News Briefs: IOF re-invades Balata camp, three UNWRA workers wounded in Gaza International Middle East Media Center 12/22/2003
Troops reinvade Balata refugee camp, a few hours after withdrawing: The army repeated its invasion to Balata refugee camp east Nablus around 10 this morning, sever exchange of gunfire was reported at the entrance of the camp between the resistance and the troops. / Three UNRWA workers wounded in Gaza: Palestinian sources mentioned today that three Palestinians working with the UMRWA were wounded this morning in Khan-Younis south Gaza. The three men were fixing water lines which have been destroyed one week ago after the military supportted bymany tanks invaded that area, and demolished 18 houses. / Troops impose curfew on a village near Jenin, and invade Jenin's refugee camp: Today, the army imposed curfew in Sanour village near the city of Jenin at the north of the West Bank . According to the army, this procedure came after the military chased a car which the say that it contained a group of the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades.

Hamas Figure Arrested, 7 Homes Demolished Islam Online 12/21/2003
NABLUS, December 21 ( & News Agencies) – Hamas spokesman in the West Bank was detained by the Israeli occupation forces in the early hours of Sunday, December 21, as Israel continued its controversial policy of pulling down Palestinian houses. The U.S. President, meanwhile, renewed his call for getting rid of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Dr. Muhammad Ghazal, from Hamas' Nablus political command, told that Adnan Asfur, a prominent Hamas political leader and the official spokesman of the movement in the West Bank, was detained in a new Israeli incursion in the West Bank city of Nablus.

PFLP military wing attacks Zionist patrol Palestinian Information Center 12/22/2003
Gaza - The Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the PFLP military wing, declared today responsibility for attacking a Zionist occupation army foot patrol in the Beit Hanon city in the Gaza Strip yesterday. The communiqué said that the operation along with similar other attacks were the natural retaliation to the Zionist occupation's fascist crimes in lines of the Palestinian people.

Two children killed in Balata Al-Jazeera 12/22/2003
Two children have been killed by Israeli occupation troops in the besieged Balata refugee camp, which is experiencing its sixth day of a massive Israeli military invasion. Aljazeera correspondents in the West Bank reported that a five-year-old boy was killed on Sunday when Israeli soldiers opened fire in the refugee camp. The five-year-old has been named as Muhammad Naim Tesrida who was shot in the chest while playing near his house in Balata. Medics reported that Tesrida died shortly after he was shot.

December 21 2003

The Courage to Listen: Women of Iraq Tour U.S
Palestine Chronicle 12/21/2003
"When she was interviewed on NPR's 'Worldview' program, Jerome McDonnell asked Al-Mufti how the Iraqi people functioned during the sanctions.."-- Fifteen-thousand bombs have dropped on Iraq. Twelve years of brutal sanctions and two wars have killed 4 million Iraqi people. After the U.S. invasion of civilization's cradle, Amal Al-Khedairy and Nermin Al-Mufti are on their U.S. tour. The objective: to build an international nexus between Iraqis and Americans. "We can talk heart-to-heart, eye-to-eye," stated Al-Kheidary. "Iraq is not Saddam. It's generations, it's history, not one man." A well-known expert in Iraqi art, archeology, history, culture, and music, Al-Kheidary is founder and curator of Al-Beit Al-Iraqi (Iraqi House). In 1988, it became Baghdad's first arts and crafts center.

The blonde who snared Saddam
By Gordon Thomas, The Sunday Mail 12/21/2003
SADDAM Hussein was captured through the demands of the one woman he still trusted. She is Samira Shahbander, the second of his four wives. On December 11 she contacted Saddam from an Internet cafe in Ba'albeck, near Beirut...."The calls were affectionate. It was clear there was a close relationship still between them," said a high-ranking Mossad source in Tel Aviv after Saddam had been captured....And the Mossad analysts, as part of their work, began to ask intriguing questions: WHO were the two unidentified men armed with AK-47 rifles who stood guard over the hole? Were they there to protect Saddam – or kill him if he tried to escape?...."It may well emerge that Saddam, as such, was not actually in hiding, but was being held down there against his will," an Israeli analyst suggested.,5936,8223166%5E904,00.html

If Israel's Arab citizens indeed are a 'demographic bomb' can it be diffused?
JTA 12/21/2003
JERUSALEM, Dec. 21 (JTA) – There's not much on which right and left see eye to eye in Israeli politics. But one point they agree on is that Arabs represent a demographic threat to the Jewish state. The debate centers around whether that threat comes from within Israel or in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – and how to overcome the threat, with each side using the demographic issue to promote its own agenda.

Daily dehumanization By Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz 12/21/2003
Bashar Awis was dying in a hospital. Though there was no doubt that he only had a few hours left, none of his relatives were by his bed at Haemek Hospital in Afula. Awis, a 29-year-old father of two from the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, was a prisoner at Megiddo Prison. Circumstances surrounding his death on December 8 remain unclear.

The Political Legacy of Edward Said By Irene Gendzier, Palestine Chronicle 12/21/2003
"Said's recent writings speak to political realities in the Palestinian landscape that remain little known and inadequately appreciated. And they do so by giving voice to 'emerging alternatives', those that reveal the dogged determination of hope and human solidarity as the bases of a Palestinian and Israeli future, unlike the past .."

Chief rabbi accused of weakness on Israel and urged to stand down Middle East Peace/The Guardian 12/20/2003
The chief rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, was facing a call to resign last night from one of the most prominent figures in the British Jewish community for allegedly failing to provide firm leadership or sufficient support for Israel. Sir Stanley Kalms, founder of the Dixons electrical chain, who was formerly one of Dr Sacks's leading supporters, wrote in an article in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper that the chief rabbi was being battered between the fundamentalist right and the radical left in the community like a shuttlecock. "In this dangerous time for world Jewry, can we afford a low-key leadership?" demanded Sir Stanley, who is about to enter the House of Lords as a Conservative peer.

Ossuary may not be a fake, says expert Ha'aretz 12/21/2003
The heated controversy over the authenticity of the inscription naming Jesus on an ancient burial box discovered a year ago is flaring up again. American geologist James Harrell now claims that the Israeli findings, dismissing the inscription on a small 2,000-year-old limestone ossuary as a forgery, were flawed. Harrell published his opinion on Friday in the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR)....Harrell, a geologist at the University of Toledo and a member of the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity, did not examine the ossuary, but only the IAA report.

Migron settlers say they feel abandoned Ha'aretz 12/21/2003
Yesterday, the residents of the outpost of Migron, in the Judean desert about 20 minutes from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, had some peace and quiet. The last of the media crews had left just before the Sabbath, and the next arrived a few minutes after it ended. Last night, residents lit Hanukkah candles at home with their families, but tonight, the lighting of the candelabra will be more public....Many residents of outposts said this week that they would not stay against government directives. Ivri agrees with this view. "I represent the state in the settlement of the land of Israel. I have no interest in being here if the government doesn't want me here. It's nice to be here, but it's not nice to be here alone. We are not law-breakers."

PM plans national service for all Ha'aretz 12/21/2003
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning to institute national service for all sectors of the Israeli population, including the ultra-Orthodox and the Arab sector. In his speech at the Herzliya Conference last Thursday, Sharon placed national service at the top of the nation's agenda, and called for "an equal division of the burden, and an equal acceptance of rights and obligations by all sectors, via some sort of national service."

Mid-East call on Israel to disarm BBC 12/21/2003
Several states in the Middle East have responded to Libya's pledge to abandon weapons of mass destruction programmes by demanding that Israel do the same. Egypt urged Israel to eliminate any banned weapons, while Iran said the Israelis should be forced to follow Libya's example. Similar sentiments were expressed by the Gulf states of Qatar and Bahrain. Israel has never confirmed that it has nuclear weapons, but is widely believed to possess dozens of nuclear warheads.

PA wants Quartet to push Israel Ha'aretz 12/21/2003
The Palestinian Authority yesterday called on the Quartet, which consists of representatives from the United States, United Nations, Russia, and the European Union, to take measures that will bring about Israel's implementation of the road map peace initiative. The PA also called on the Quartet to intervene against the plan for unilateral disengagement, proposed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Herzliya Conference.

PM Qurie' Declares Willingness to Meet Sharon International Press Center 12/21/2003
Jerusalem, Palestine, December21, 2003. (IPC+ Agencies)-- Ahead of his talks with the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer at his office in the Palestinian village of Abu Dies near Jerusalem city, the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei' declared his willingness to meet his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon when conditions required for such a meeting are ripe. "We still did not set a date for the meeting yet, a meeting will be held between the Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, the director of our office Hassan Abu Lubada and the director of PM Sharon's office Dov Weisglass to prepare for the prospective meeting between us and the Mr. Sharon." Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei' told journalists.

Report: Qatar mediated between US, Hamas Al-Bawaba 12/21/2003
Qatari mediation efforts brought about the Hamas' decision to respond in favor to a request from the United States and to declare a halt last month against attacks on civilians, the Palestinian Al-Ayam daily reported Sunday. It added that currently, the US is demanding a complete cease-fire, but the Hamas has a list of claims it is asking for, in exchange. The Hamas' announcement last month with regards to a halt on attacks against civilians in exchange for an end to Israel's assassinations of the movement's leaders is the result of mediation efforts between the United States and the Hamas, initiated by Qatar, the Palestinian daily, quoting "reliable sources," said.

PM's plan will keep out Palestinian workers Ha'aretz 12/21/2003
The government will seek to reduce Palestinian economic dependence on Israel and to strengthen economic ties between the territories and the neighboring Arab states of Jordan and Egypt. These are the foundations of the economic chapter of the "disengagement plan" touted Thursday by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Herzliya Conference. Under Sharon's initiative, in the event of a failure to move forward with the U.S.-backed road map, and the implementation of the "disengagement plan," Palestinians from the territories will be prevented in the future from entering Israel to work.

Mofaz: No casualties if we strike at Iranian nukes Ha'aretz 12/21/2003
An operation to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities if necessary is under consideration, according to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. Speaking in Persian last week on Israel Radio, Mofaz said that if the need arises to destroy Iran's nuclear capability, "the necessary steps will be taken so that Iranian citizens will not be harmed." The bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981 was carried out on a local holiday when it was assumed that the facility would be empty or nearly empty, and one person, a French technician, was killed in the attack.

Israel protests Egyptian spy drones Jerusalem Post 12/21/2003
Israeli officials are expected to protest Egyptian drones, being used to spy on Israeli defense facilities, when Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher El Sayed visits this week. Amid growing military tensions, Israel reportedly threatened to shoot down the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which have been detected in recent weeks over the nuclear research facility at Nahal Sorek and the missile test site at Palmahim, south of Tel Aviv. The flights contravene the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt and are said to be fuelling the growing distrust between Israel and Egypt over a military build-up.

Bush chided for Arafat rebuke Al-Jazeera 12/21/2003
US President George Bush has been berated for comments calling for Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat to be removed from power. "President Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinian people and the US and Israel must respect that", chief Palestinian negotiator, Saib Uraiqat told He was reacting to Bush's remarks to an Israeli journalist that "we must get rid of" Arafat....Palestinian NGOs were even more critical of Bush saying "any interference by the US and Israel to try to get rid of Arafat will be met with confrontation by the Palestinian people".

Bush declares: "We must get rid of Arafat" Yahoo! News 12/21/2003
US President George W. Bush told an Israeli journalist that "we must get rid of" Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot daily has reported. Bush's comments came in a brief exchange with the paper's correspondent during a Christmas drinks party in Washington, several hours after a keynote speech by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Thursday in which he outlined plans for unilateral disengagement from peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israel planning Iran attack Al-Jazeera 12/21/2003
Israel is considering a military strike to destroy the nuclear programme of Iran, now regarded as Tel Aviv's number one enemy. The Israeli daily Haaretz cited defence minister Shaul Mofaz as telling Israel radio's Persian service last week that if a decision was made to destroy Iran's nuclear capability, "necessary steps will be taken so that Iranian citizens will not be harmed". Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq, Israel has come to regard the Islamic government in Tehran as its number one enemy.

13 Israeli reservists from elite unit refuse to serve the occupation Electronic Intifada 12/21/2003
Full text of the letter from the thirteen reservists: To: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; We, citizens who serve in active reserve duty, soldiers and officers, Sayeret Matkal veterans, have also chosen to join the front guard in the way we have been trained. With grave concern for the future of Israel as a democratic Zionist and Jewish state, and with concern for her moral image – we can no longer stand aside....

Palestinian Prisoner Cut off From the Outer World at "Eretz" Crossing International Press Center 12/21/2003
NABLUS, December 21, 2003 (IPC) - - The family of the Palestinian prisoner Mustafa Abed, 39, who remained imprisoned in Beit Hanoon crossing "Eretz" facility for two months, appealed for the relative legal and humanitarian societies to move immediately to salvage their son. The prisoner's brother told IPC correspondent that his brother is currently living in a solitary confinement cell at "Eretz" in a worsening health condition of the severe cold weather there.

Three Palestinians killed in Nablus as soldiers of elite Israeli unit refuse to serve in occupied territories Al-Bawaba 12/21/2003
A six-year-old Palestinian child was killed by Israeli fire in Balata refugee camp outside this northern West Bank city. Mohammad al-Araj was hit in the chest after being caught out in the street by exchanges between stonethrowing demonstrators and Israeli troops, Palestinian medics said Sunday....Overnight Saturday, Israeli troops demolished two buildings in the outskirts of Rafah, near the border between Israel and Egypt. Israeli security sources said that the buildings were used as a starting point for an underground tunnel that last week took Palestinians close to an Israeli outposts, where they detonated two explosive devices.

Israeli army makes two West Bank incursions Middle East Online 12/22/2003
JENIN, West Bank - Nine Palestinians were wounded Monday as Israeli troops carried out two incursions in the northern West Bank to arrest Palestinian militants, Palestinian medical and security sources said. In the northern West Bank town of Jenin, troops arrested a senior militant from the hardline Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an armed offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement....Further south, clashes erupted in Balata refugee camp in Nablus, with locals throwing stones at an army patrol, medical and security sources said. The soldiers opened fire, injuring five people moderately. One of them was injured by live gunfire, while the rest sustained rubber-bullet wounds.

Palestinian factions condemn arrest of Hamas spokesman Palestinian Information Center 12/22/2003
Nablus - The coordination committee of the Palestinian factions in the Nablus district has denounced the Zionist arrest of Hamas Movement's spokesman in the West Bank Adnan Asfour. A committee statement said that the Zionist arrest of the Hamas spokesman, who is also a member in the committee, fell in line with Sharon's declared war on the Palestinian people and their cadres and political leaders.

Israeli invasion of Balata continues Al-Jazeera 12/21/2003
The Israeli occupation army has stepped up the five-day military invasion of the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank. Local residents told that soldiers have occupied two new houses inside the camp and are firing rounds of teargas into residents homes. This is the fifth day of a major army invasion into the refugee camp and surrounding city of Nablus. Palestinian sources, including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) say this is one of the biggest invasions that the occupation army has launched in recent times in Balata.

IOF Detain 200 Palestinians in Week, 2 Die of Wounds Palestine Media Center 12/21/2003
Israeli Onslaught Continues in Nablus, Balatah Refugee Camp -- Two Palestinians, including a teenage boy, died early Sunday of wounds sustained earlier by Israeli Occupation Forces' (IOF) gunfire in Nablus and Qalqilya. IOF also detained more than 200 Palestinian activists in the West Bank in the past week and continued their siege of Nablus and the Balatah refugee camp in an invasion launched on December 16 dubbed "Operation Calm Waters."

Rafah: Every day the effects of the Israeli occupation shows more and more Rafah Today 12/21/2003
Every day the effects of the Israeli occupation shows more and more. It seems Israeli soldiers will not comforted if they stay for only one night without shooting. That is what's clear in Rafah where local human rights centers consider Rafah as the worst place which has received the most attacks. Gaza Strip has the professional Israeli soldiers who demolish houses while people are sleeping in them. Israeli Apache pilots shell houses while their inhabitants are sleeping in them, and that was yesterday's incursions which came only few days after the last attacks where International Israeli Bulldozers demolished on of the mosques in Al Brahama area in Rafah.

Bush declares: "We must get rid of Arafat":
US President George W. Bush told an Israeli journalist that "we must get rid of" Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot daily has reported.

Bush chided for Arafat rebuke:
"President Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinian people and the US and Israel must respect that", chief Palestinian negotiator, Saib Uraiqat told

Israel planning Iran attack:
Israel is considering a military strike to destroy the nuclear programme of Iran, now regarded as Tel Aviv's number one enemy.

Israel Kills 5-year-old Palestinian Boy:
Israeli troops conducted a series of raids in the West Bank city of Nablus Sunday, arresting a Hamas leader and killing a 5-year-old Palestinian boy.,1280,-3533150,00.html

Daily dehumanization :
Even in a hospital - a place where human compassion is supposed to be the sole operating norm - a Palestinian is still not on the same footing as other human beings.

Egypt says Israel should follow Libya's example and give up nuclear weapons:
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher called on Israel Saturd/ay to follow Libya's example and get rid of its nuclear weapons program.

Main Index >> Israel/Palestine Index