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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
For those interested in keeping up with events in Palestine/Israel, there is no better digest than VTJP.

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17 March 2008


Israel approves the construction of settlers homes in West Bank settlements
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Mayor of Ariel settlement bloc, Ron Nahman, stated that the Israeli government decided to allow him to carry a project to build 48 houses for settlers in Ariel settlement bloc in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government froze the implementation of the project in October 2007 and yesterday an Israeli military spokesperson stated that the government recently allowed the construction and granted approval for several "small projects". He added that the government also approved the construction of 52 houses in Maali Admumim settlement, east of Jerusalem, 32 houses in Betar Elit, 32 houses in Shaare Tikva and 32 houses in Al Kana. Ariel settlement bloc is inhibited by secular and religious settlers. It is considered the fourth largest settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank. Settlers leaders reported that the approved projects are "smaller than the needs of. . .

VIDEO - Jerusalem police slammed for mishandling rightist riots
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 3/17/2008
(VIDEO) Former police commanders harshly criticize forces’ failure to prevent right-wing activists from storming east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber Sunday - VIDEO - Former commanders of the Jerusalem District police harshly criticized Monday the police’s poor treatment ofSunday’s riots in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. Hundreds of right-wing protestors managed to reach the neighborhood, where the family of the terrorist responsible for the shooting attack at Mercaz Harav yeshiva resides, and throw stones at locals’ house. "There was enough time to prepare for the events in Jabel Mukaber and it was clear to everyone what was going to happen," retired police commander Arieh Amit stated. "This incident was simply poorly handled. "Sunday’s riots in Jerusalem (Video: Infolive. )

Five Palestinians kidnapped in the West Bank, two among them children
Nisreen Qumsieh & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Israeli forces attacked northern and southern parts of the West Bank early Monday morning kidnapping five Palestinians, including two children. Local sources reported that a number of Israeli jeeps invaded the northern part of the West Bank, randomly opening heavy fire and sound missiles, particularly in the Balata refugee camp located east of Nablus city. Sources added that Israeli forces searched homes, confiscated property and kidnapped two Palestinians. Imad Issa and Anan al-Bishawe were taken to an undisclosed detention center following the invasion. Elsewhere, Israeli forces kidnapped three Palestinians, among two who were,children in a military attack targeting the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

"Terror" warnings ahead of Purim
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 3/17/2008
Shin Bet receives seven warnings regarding possible attempts by "terror" groups to launch attacks in Israel over the holiday; police raise alert level, full closure on West Bank expected- The security establishment is expected to impose a full closure on the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday ahead of the Purim festivities, this after the Shin Bet security service received seven warnings regarding possible attempts by "terror" organizations to carry out attacks over the holiday Israel is particularly fearful of a possible attack by Hizbullah to mark 40 days since the assassination of the Shiite group’s top commander, Imad Mugniyah, in Damascus. Other warnings relate to a possible attempt by Hamas to launch a "terror" attack in Israel during the holiday, which begins Thursday. The security establishment also fears Palestinian "terror" groups may launch rocket attacks on

Israel approves lawsuits against PA over suicide bombings
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 3/18/2008
Israel has cleared the way for its citizens to sue the Palestinian Authority over suicide bomb attacks, ruling that the Palestinian government does not represent a state that could avoid such suits. The Foreign Ministry made its ruling Sunday, allowing 55 suits pressing for damages to proceed. Since 2000, 541 people have been killed in 131 suicide bombings. Relatives of victims of one of the bloodiest attacks, when 21 teenagers were killed in a 2001 bombing outside a Tel Aviv night spot, have been demanding the right to sue for damages. Last year the Supreme Court ordered the Foreign Ministry to decide the matter. On Sunday the ministry released a statement approving the suits. The ministry said the Palestinian Authority does not enjoy immunity from prosecution in Israel over suicide bombings.

Arab MK to chief rabbis: Slam rabbinic calls to harm Arabs
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Ra’am-Ta’al Chairman MK Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur on Monday urged Israel’s chief rabbis to condemn Halakhic rulings by National Religious rabbis calling on Jews to avenge theattack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva earlier this month. Last week, a group of rightist rabbis last week exhorted Jews to avenge their enemies ’measure for measure’in retaliation for the shooting attack, where a Palestinian terrorist gunned down eight students in the Jerusalem seminary. Sarsur demanded the religious leaders take a firm stance against what he branded "deadly rulings," which many in the Israeli Arab community fear could be interpreted as permitting the assassination of their leaders. The Arab MK, who heads the southern wing of the Islamic movement in Israel, said these rulings could further harm the already tense Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, and warned of a racist campaign against Arabs.

Dialogue: Hamas and Fatah to Yemen for reconciliation
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Palestinian media sources reported Monday that representatives of the rival Palestinian parties , Hamas and Fatah will be heading for the Yemeni capital of San’a for talks over possible reconciliation. The meeting in Sana’a will be hosted by the Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has recently proposed an initiative for reconciliation between both Palestinian parties. Member of the executive committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Ra’fat Saleh, welcomed the Yemeni initiative but said the Fatah delegation is unauthorized to engage in a dialogue with Hamas. The Hamas’ delegation, formed mainly of exiled Hamas leaders, including Mousa Abu Marzouq, Sami Abu Khater and Mohhamd Nasser, will explore the Yemeni initiative, Ayman Taha, a Gaza-based Hamas spokesman told media outlets. Taha reiterated his movement’s declared position that any dialogue with Fatah should be unconditioned.

Hamas delegation to arrive in Sana’a next Wednesday to discuss Yemeni initiative
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, stated that a high-ranking delegation of the Movement including figures from inside Palestine and abroad will be heading on Wednesday to the Yemeni capital Sana’a to discuss the initiative of Yemeni president Ali Saleh, appreciating at the same time the Yemeni efforts to bridge the rift in the Palestinian arena. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Taha explained that the visit of the Hamas delegation to Yemen is aimed to prove that the Movement is keen on dialogue as the only language to end differences. The PA leadership and the Fatah faction had already announced its rejection of any dialogue with Hamas before it recognizes the Israeli occupation officially. For his part, Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press statement received by the PIC that Hamas would do its best to render the Yemeni efforts successful and that it is ready to discuss all issues openly on the dialogue table.

Hamas and PLO’s delegations to visit Yemen
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Two Palestinian delegations representing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Hamas movement are scheduled to visit the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, and to meet with the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Salih. Sources say that the visit is to resume dialogue between the Fatah and Hamas movements in an endeavour to bring an end to the rivalry in the Palestinian political arena. However, member of the PLO’s Executive Committee Salih Raafat, who is participating in the delegation, said that the visit is in order to express approval of the Yemeni initiative, rather than to hold negotiations with Hamas. Ma’an learned that Hamas’ delegation will be headed by Mousa Abu Marzouq, deputy chair of Hamas’ politburo in exile. The delegation will also comprise of Sami Khatir and Muhammad Nasr, Hamas’ leaders in exile, as well asJamal Abu Hashim from the Palestinian territories.

Tibi urges release of PLC member Maryam Salih
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Palestinian member of Israeli Knesset Dr Ahmad Tibi - Chair of the Arab Front for Renewal - on Monday sent a message to the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, demanding the immediate release of Maryam Salih, the female Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member. "Salih was democratically elected and the motive behind her apprehension was merely political as no bill of indictment was filed against her, and so she must be released immediately," Tibi stated in his message. [end]

IOA extends detention of the Palestinian female MP
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority ahs extended the detention without trial of MP Dr. Mariam Saleh for four more months after failing to level any charge against her, the Nafha legal society said. It denounced the "arbitrary, repressive" decision, describing it as an "assault on the Palestinian people’s right to choose their own representatives. " The director of the society stated that the IOA has stripped itself of all values of humanity, mercy and ethics, explaining that it "deals with the Palestinians not like human beings with rights, which the entire world had recognized, but rather like creatures that do not deserve to live". He stressed that the Palestinian people’s unity and steadfastness are the real guarantees for the return of their rights, liberation of prisoners and forcing the IOA to evacuate the occupied lands.

Hamas’s captives condemn IOA practices against female captives
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
TULKARM, (PIC)-- Despite their suffering in the darkness of the Israeli jails, detained Hamas members in Israeli prisons raised the issue of the Palestinian female captives in Israeli jails, urging Palestinian factions to pay more attention to their ordeal. In a letter they succeeded to leak from their detention cell, the Hamas captives explained that the Palestinian female captives are exposed to different kinds of physical and mental torture at the hands of their Israeli jailors that turned their life into "hell". Enumerating a number of the Israeli practices against them, the letter explained that the female captives were exposed to strip search, deliberate medical neglect, solitary confinement, high fines, and denial of family visits among other "vicious" Israeli practices. In addition, the letter asserted that many female detainees were beaten up at the hands of the Israeli. . .

Three Palestinian military groups claim they attacked Israeli soldier
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
(Ma’anImages) Nablus – Ma’an – Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad Al-Quds Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, claimed responsibility for shooting and injuring an Israeli soldier. The incident took place on Sunday evening at the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus in the southern West Bank. A spokesperson for Al-Aqsa Brigades telephoned Ma’an’s correspondent and said that a joint group from the three military Brigades shot an Israeli soldier at the checkpoint. He affirmed that the operation came in retaliation for the assassination of Ahmad Sanakrah and the four "martyrs" in Bethlehem. Israeli sources have not yet announced news of the incident.

Hamas: PA arrested five of its supporters in West Bank
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
The Palestinian Authority security forces arrested five Palestinians affiliated with the Hamas movement from Bethlehem, Nablus and Tulkarem on Sunday, a Hamas source stated Monday. The source said that Taher Deriyeh and Saleem Abu Sarhan, from Bethlehem, were arrested by Palestinian security forces. Deriyeh who was released from jail in Israel one month ago, was arrested from his home, meanwhile Abu Sarhan, who works at mosque was arrested after he was summoned to the PA intelligence service. In Tulkarem, security forces arrested Nidal al-Sabbah from the village of Qiffin and Nawwaf Abdul Ghani from the nearby village of Saida. [end]

Israeli General calling for full re-occupation of Gaza
Palestine News Network 3/17/2008
Gaza / PNN- The commander of the Israeli Air Force is calling for a full re-occupation of the Gaza Strip in order to stop projectile launches. Israeli Army Radio reported the news on Monday that Israeli forces believe a full presence in the Strip would stop production of projectiles. They are calling for an occupation similar to that of the West Bank. Another Israeli source reported that Israeli forces are considering using anti-missile devices against the projectiles. Sources in the Israeli military are also reconsidering placing a dome around the area, but that it would not be ready until 2010. [end]

Israeli forces seize Palestinian near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
(Ma’anImages) Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized a Palestinian man from the northern West Bank refugee camp of Nur Shams in the eastern Tulkarem district on Sunday evening. The Palestinian is named as 22-year-old Marwan MahajnaMa’an’s reporter quoted one of the arrestee’s relatives as saying that Israeli forces raided the camp and seized Mahajna on the main road. Mahajna is an accounting student at An-Najah National University. [end]

Palestinian activists hurl homemade explosive device at Israeli patrol
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – A homemade explosive device was thrown at an Israeli patrol near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Sunday evening. Israeli sources reported no casualties. Later, the military wing affiliated to Fatah claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was in retaliation for the assassination by Israel of Imad Mughniyya,the senior military leader in Hizbullah. [end]

Israeli forces apprehend Palestinian from east Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli forces apprehended on Monday a Palestinian young man from Al- ’Eizariyya in east Jerusalem. The director of Asrana information office, Munqidh Rumi, said that Israeli intelligence handed a warrant to 21-year-old Hazim Udwan that summoned him to the Shin Bet centre for questioning. Upon arrival Udwan was apprehended by Israeli forces. [end]

Islamic Jihad’s military group fire projectile at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to the Islamic Jihad movement - Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility on Sunday evening for the firing of a homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Sderot in western Negev. They claimed in a statement that the shelling was to reaffirm their resistance to Israel and its actions. [end]

Demonstration at Beit Furik checkpoint calling for its removal
International Solidarity Movement 3/17/2008
Nablus Region PhotosAt 10am on Saturday 15th March 2008 approximately 50 Palestinians and internationals gathered at the Beit Furik checkpoint near Nablusto protest against the checkpoint. Internationals and residents of Nablus joined villagers from Beit Furik and Beit Dajan to march to the checkpoint - one of seven that surrounds the city of Nablus, cutting the nearby villages off from the city. Organised by the Beit Furik municipality, protesters demanded the removal of the checkpoint, which is open only from 6am until 9pm each day, only allowing ambulances to pass through after 9pm. The checkpoint also only allows residents of Beit Furik and Beit Dajan to pass through, denying any visits by friends or family to the village. Even this is uncertain though, the mayor of Beit Furik, Abu Hakeem, explained - often the soldiers prevent the passage of any persons through the checkpoint, including those seeking medical treatment.

Israeli army invade Nablus and occupy house
International Solidarity Movement 3/17/2008
Nablus RegionPhotos At approximately 8:30am on Sunday morning Israeli army forces again invaded the northern West Bank city ofNablus. Israeli soldiers surrounded an apartment building in Al Ein refugee camp, before occupying an empty apartment on the top floor. Nearby residents advised that the soldiers occupied the apartment for approximately three hours, before withdrawing. Ayam, who lives on the bottom floor, reports that this happens so regularly now that they have become accustomed to it. It is common, she informs, for soldiers enter the building without harrassing the residents, but recounts an invasion four months ago where Israeli soldiers forced twenty of the occupants into one apartment and kept them imprisoned there for three days. This is the third time in the past three weeks that the refugee camp has been subject to a large-scale invasion; the last invasion occurring just five days ago.

Israeli refusal of right to enter
Palestine News Network 3/17/2008
Rasha Mukbil -- The Right to Enter Campaign issued a response to a statement recently issued by the Israeli government in which it places the onus of the siege and destruction of the Gaza Strip on the Hamas party. The Israelis wrote that, among other things, they are allowing medical patients in and out. However, now 130 have died awaiting permission to leave. The Israeli statement itself is a response to several reports issued by local and international human rights organizations regarding the humanitarian disaster facing the Strip due to Israeli practices. The Right to Enter Campaign focused on the status of families and foreign residents residing in the occupied lands. The response to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories statement regarding humanitarian situation in Gaza follows: The recently issued press statement by the Coordinator of Government. . .

Prominent rabbi to yeshiva heads: Don’t hire Arabs
Neta Sela, YNetNews 3/17/2008
Top Torah sage issues decision banning employment of non-Jews by rabbinical seminaries in light of Mercaz Harav terror attack. "After all, we are at war with them," he says -"According to Jewish law, it is completely forbidden to hire Arabs, especially in yeshivas; there is a concern of endangering lives," Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, considered a top Torah sage of the generation in the haredi-religious community, said Sunday. According to Yom Hadash, a free daily newspaper for the ultra-Orthodox community, several administrators of a yeshiva in Bnei Brak met the rabbi at his home in the central Israel city and told him of an Arab employee who they said was not suspected of involvement in any terror-related activity. The administrators asked the rabbi for guidance in the wake of the deadly terror attackat the Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem,. . .

Rachel Corrie play opens in Haifa
Rachel Shabi in Haifa, Al Jazeera 3/17/2008
Palestinian students commemorate Rachel Corrie’s activism. Palestinians regard the slain American as a heroine who sacrificed her life to raise awarenes of their plight - An Arabic-language production of My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play based on the writings of a young American woman killed by an Israeli bulldozer, premiered in Haifa, Israel on Sunday. Corrie’s parents attended the performance, which took place on the fifth anniversary of her death. "I can’t think of any more appropriate place to be. . . than with all of you. Even when we are back in the United States, our hearts are always very much here," Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, told the audience. Her 23-year-old daughter, originally from Olympia, Washington, was killed in Rafah, Gaza, in March 2003 while trying to prevent a house demolition during a period of heightened violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

VIDEO - Rachel Corrie - Interview
YouTube 3/17/2008
This is a video response to My name is Rachel Corrie | Remember Rachel Corrie [end]

Health Action in Crises - Highlights No. 199 – 10 to 16 Mar 2008
World Health Organization, ReliefWeb 3/16/2008
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY - Assessments and Events - The intensification of the conflict during the past weeks exacerbated the already precarious humanitarian situation. The evacuation of some critically injured patients through Rafah has alleviated the strain on Gaza’s hospitals. However, the ICRC reports that surgical facilities, particularly in the north, still deal with large number of wounded Gaza continues to suffer from electricity blackouts that force hospitals to switch on their generators, while the supply of fuel remains precarious. Electric shortages also impede the supply of drinking water for about half a million residents. Raw, untreated sewage continues to be discharged into the sea at the rate of 20 000 m3 each day Actions WHO is monitoring the health situation, including the evacuation of medical cases through Rafah and Erez crossings, and the availability of fuel for emergency generators and vehicles. . .

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel Update 16 Mar 2008
Physicians for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 3/16/2008
On the 23rd of March: PHR-Israel Closes the Open Clinic; Demands Responsibility of Israeli Health MinistryIn recent months, the number of refugees and asylum seekers requiring medical attention at PHR-Israel’s volunteer-run Open Clinic in south Tel Aviv has increased sharply. Over 70 percent of the patients seeking attention at the Clinic today are refugees and asylum seekers, and the Clinic, operated by volunteers, is on the verge of collapse due to heavy caseload. Despite the sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers in the State of Israel, and despite repeated requests, the Ministry of Health has avoided taking measures that would ensure the right to health of refugees and asylum seekers, and is blatantly ignoring the basic medical needs of this population. Moreover, the Ministry of Health has avoided taking necessary measures relating to public health, and, as a result,. . .

B’Tselem to Mazuz: Prevent demolition of home belonging to family of terror attack perpetrator
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, ReliefWeb 3/14/2008
During the last few days, the media has reported that Israel’s Minister of Internal Security has directed the police to demolish the family home of the Palestinian who perpetrated the attack on the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. According to the media, the Minister of Defense supports the intention to demolish the home. B’Tselem wrote to Attorney General Mazuz demanding that he prevent the demolition. In its letter, B’Tselem pointed out that the demolition of houses as punishment is a grave breach of international humanitarian law. The declared objective of this policy is to harm innocent persons – relatives of suspected perpetrators, who are not accused of any criminal wrongdoing themselves. The demolition of houses is a clear case of collective punishment, which violates the principle that a person is not to be punished for the acts of another.

Under your wing - Refugees and asylum seekers at Physician for Human Rights-Israel’s Open Clinic
Physicians for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 1/31/2008
Introduction: The Open Clinic – 2007 Since the inauguration of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Open Clinic on May 27, 1998, some 18,000 patients have been assisted by its services, telling the stories of stateless people living in Israel. In 2007 these stories focused in particular on the distress faced by those who arrive in Israel seeking asylum from persecution, war, and genocide. It is hardly surprising that these patients come to us on the verge of exhaustion, seeking our help as they attempt to rebuild their lives following the physical and emotional traumas they have experienced. In response, PHR-Israel has decided to offer a summary of Open Clinic’s work in 2007 and to present information about this field to Israeli society in general, and to decision makers in particular. A clear change was seen in 2007 in terms of the demographic profile, challenges, and community patterns of the clients using the Open Clinic.

Warning: IOA almost finished its most dangerous scheme to Judaize Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Islamic Christian Front for the Defense of Jerusalem and holy places warned that the IOA made such progress in preparing for the most dangerous and largest scheme aimed at Judaizing the Islamic and Christian holy shrines in occupied Jerusalem. Dr. Hasan Khater, the secretary-general of the Front, explained that the Israeli occupation finished drawing up a very detailed plan for the Judaization of Jerusalem which includes the Aqsa Mosque, its lands, garden, churches and all the area surrounding it. Dr. Khater added that the Israeli occupation, through this plan, is trying to replace the cultural and religious identity of the holy city with a Jewish image predominating over the Islamic and Christian image of the city, pointing out that Israel finished laying its schemes under the name of "Jerusalem interface" and now it is embarking on finishing some technical sides and securing the plan’s financial needs.

VIDEO - Conditions in the Gaza Strip continue to worsen - 17 Mar 08
AlJazeera, YouTube 3/17/2008
AlJazeeraEnglish video [end]

Palestinian PSS storms Ramattan Press Agency in Ramallah
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 3/17/2008
PCHR is deeply concerned over storming the headquarters of Ramattan Press Agency in Ramallah by members of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PSS) and the arrest of a Palestinian journalist on Wednesday, 12 March 2008. PCHR believes that this attack constitutes an assault on press freedoms and the right to freedom of expression, and stresses that the rights to freedom of expression and to receive and impart information are ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 12:00 on Wednesday, armed members of the PSS, accompanied by three officers in civilian clothes, stormed the headquarters of Ramattan Press Agency in al-Wehaidi Building in al-Masyoun neighborhood in Ramallah. They requested Nawaf Ibrahim al-’Aamer (48), an editor, to accompany them.

Activists to Waldorf-Astoria: Cancel Friends of IDF fundraiser
Press Release, Various Undersigned, Electronic Intifada 3/17/2008
As 13 organizations working for human rights, social justice, and peace, we demand that The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan rescind its agreement to host the 18 March fundraiser for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. The Israeli military has historically been a flagrant violator of human rights and international law as demonstrated by the recent attacks on Gaza that killed over 100 Palestinians, the 2006 attack on Lebanon, and the 60-year assault on and dispossession of the Palestinian people. We call on The Waldorf-Astoria to adhere to standards of corporate social responsibility that prohibit support for violators of laws and human rights. Among other activities, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces explains on its website that it helps to establish and renovate facilities on Israeli army bases. We are shocked that a respected institution like The Waldorf-Astoria would host a fundraiser

Palestinians in Gaza lose their livelihoods
Report, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 3/17/2008
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continues its tight siege and prevents movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip. This includes patients who are close to dying due to denied access to hospitals abroad. Sources from the Palestinian Ministry of Health have indicated that more than 100 patients have died since mid-June 2007. On top of this, the imposed siege has caused the economy to collapse, thereby robbing tens of thousands of Palestinians from their livelihoods. In a new development, the siege threatens the fishing industry, which employs 5,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Three thousand of those are fishermen. The severe fuel cuts by the IOF affect their work directly. Most of the fishing boats in Gaza have small engines running only on benzene. Larger fishing boats, of which there are sixteen in the Strip, run on diesel.

Israeli Extremists’ Attack on Palestinian Neighbourhood in Jerusalem Met with Indifference by Israeli Police
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 3/17/2008
Ramallah - "Yet another example of the nonchalance of Israeli police forces in the face of violence by settlers and extremists against Palestinians" was how PNI Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP described an attack by members of Israeli far right groups on the Jabal Al Mukaber neighbourhood of Jerusalem last night. Dozens of right-wing Jewish extremists and settlers stormed the Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem on Sunday evening with the express intent of demolishing the home of the family of a Palestinian man who killed eight Israelis at a Jewish seminary strongly associated to the Zionist settler movement on 6 March. The demonstration was organized by right-wing groups including Komemiyut and Women in Green, and was attended by settlers from the West Bank and figures associated with the Kach party, a movement outlawed by Israel, Canada, the European Union and the United States.

’Police allowed rioters to hurt us’
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 3/17/2008
Residents of Jabel Mukaber upset at police a day after rightists riot in village -On top of the already prevalent tension between Jews and Arabs in Israel, the residents of theJabel Mukaber village in east Jerusalem must deal with the fact that aterrorist has arisen in their midst, and subsequent rightist demands for revenge. On the day following Jewish rioting in the community, its streets have been almost totally drained of life. What do the residents have to say? The monument for tolerance that is being built at the entrance to Jabel Mukaber contradicts the present situation in this complex and divided area: On one side of the debate is a terrorist that has executed a murderous attack, and on the other, radical right-wing activists seeking revenge. Considering the Arab-Israeli tension already all too prevalent in the area, in addition. . .

Riots in Jabal Mukaber / Shin Bet worries about usuals who weren’t there
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Some new faces could be observed among the crowd of right-wing activists who on Sunday stormed the East Jerusalem house of the terrorist who killed eight yeshiva students earlier this month. The rioters did not all belong to the usual group of extremists who are all too familiar with the insides of interrogation rooms. For instance, there was a group of minors from the big urban settlement of Efrat. One of the slain students’ schoolmates was also present at the riot in the Arab neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber. Two other rioters were a young man who works for the Ministry of the Interior and a new immigrant who came here just a few months ago. But quite a few of the usual suspects were also there, especially those from the northern West Bank. The contingent from the settlements of Yitzhar and Ma’aleh Levona was especially noticeable, along with prominent extremists such as Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Police officials call response to right-wing violence ’farce’
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Senior police officers, both active and retired, are highly critical of the Jerusalem police’s conduct Sunday night when they failed to prevent Jewish rioters from pelting homes and cars in the East Jerusalem village of the Mercaz Harav terrorist. The police opted to let the Jewish demonstrators vent their anger after the terrorist attack at the yeshiva on March 6, in which eight youths and young men were murdered by a gunman from the village of Jabal Mukkaber. "Such an incident should not have been allowed in Jerusalem, at any price," a senior officer said. "Any confrontation of this sort is explosive. It was particularly ugly behavior on the part of the Jewish rioters that could have and should have been prevented. "The first failing was in the police’s decision to allow the demonstration, even though it was unauthorized.

Palestinian refugees in the West Bank protest against reduced UN aid
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
The Palestinian popular committees of refugee camps in the West Bank organized on Monday protests in the various refugees populations over there, to voice objection to UN’s aid reduction. Member of the Balata refugee camp’s refugees committee, Ahmad Douqan, said that such activitie came following relentless contacts with the United Nations Agency for Works and Relief of the Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to explore the recent reduction of the agency’s services. Head of the Askar refugee camp’s committee, Naser Alseer, explained that the basic services have been decreased. Other refugees’ local leaders spoke in the protests, expressing their protest against the reduction of services. The UNRWA provides services including health, education and social for more than 4 million Palestinian refugees including 1.

Nafha Society: "100 detainees under interrogation in Al Jalama prison, abused and isolated"
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
The Nafha Society for Defending the Rights of the Detainees and Human Rights reported on Monday that nearly 100 detainees are currently under interrogation in Al Jalama Israeli interrogation facility facing physical and psychological pressures. One of the lawyers of the society stated that he visited a number of detainees in Al Jalama and Petah Tikva prisons and observed the bad conditions and harsh treatment the detainees are facing. Detainee Ra’fat Yousef Awwad, from Awarta town near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, is gradually losing weight and his body is weakening by the day to the extent that he currently cannot stand or sit to perform prayers. Detainee Mohammad Radwan Yassin was recently moved to the prison clinic after suffering an acute infection in his stomach. He also suffered from a slipped-disc in his neck and back.

Palestinian doctors from 1948 territories visit Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A delegation of doctors from Palestinian territories occupied since 1948, from outside of the Green Line, on Sunday visited the Gaza Strip. They represented the association of doctors for human rights and met with the acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Ahmad Bahar, and other members. The delegation was headed by Salah Al-Hajj Yahya and comprised of Abd-as-Saalam Ghbariyya, Hasan Matani, Muhammad Mansour and Mustafa Yaseen. Dr Bahar expressed his gratitude and appreciation of Palestinians from beyond the Green Line for their support of their fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in light of the recent crippling siege led by Israel. For his part, Salah Al-Hajj Yahya stated his astonishment at the health situation in the Gaza Strip and the severe shortage of medicines and equipment available.

News in Brief
Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
The Home Front Command will test its warning sirens in in Netivot and Ashkelon this morning. At 9 A. M. a minute-and-a-half rising and falling siren sound will be heard in Netivot, and at 11:30 A. M. in Ashkelon. The Home Front Command said that following recent rocket attacks, the intention is to test the sirens and whether citizens hear them. (Yuval Azoulay) Compensation to businesses in Sderot and other communities near the Gaza border will be paid retroactively for the period from November 1, 2006 and until December 31, 2008, according to a compromise proposal approved by the Knesset Finance Committee yesterday. The treasury had wanted the money to cover damages starting only as of May 2007. The new proposal will cover indirect damages to area businesses. (Zvi Zrahiya)The High Court of Justice issued a temporary restraining order against the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA),. . .

Israeli concern about ability of West Bank resistance to launch attacks
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli security sources expressed its fears that the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank especially the armed wing of Hamas would be able to launch a big attack in the coming weeks on Israeli areas. The sources explained that Hamas is trying hard to strengthen their presence in all areas of the occupied West Bank, despite the ongoing joint campaign waged by the PA and Israeli security apparatuses against its fighters. "The calm we see now in the West Bank is deceptive because inside the Palestinian cities, there are, all the time, attempts to organize the ranks and carry out attacks against Israeli targets. In another context, a senior officer in the Israeli air force expressed his fears in a press release to the website of the Israeli Yediot Ahronot newspaper that the potential risks which threaten Israeli military aircrafts flying over Gaza could. . .

AUDIO - Palestine Today 031708
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4 m 0s || 3. 66 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Monday March 17th, 2008. In Gaza one Palestinian dies from wounds sustained over the weekend from Israeli shelling, while in the West bank the Israeli army kidnaps five among them two children, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast A Palestinian resistance fighter of the Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, died on Sunday of wounds he sustained earlier on Saturday. Mohammad Yousef Hammouda, 25, was pronounced dead after being hit, along with three other fighters, with an Israeli warplane’s missile in northern Gaza. On Saturday an Israeli warplane killed Basel Shabet, Mohammad aLSha’er and Hassan Shaqoura, from the media branch of the Al-Quds brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad.

B’Tselem: Israel demolished 667 Palestinian homes as mass punishment
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- B’Tselem, the Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied Palestinian lands, stated that the IOA had demolished as a mass punishment 667 Palestinian homes, since October 2001 until the end of January 2005, in the West Bank rendering more than 4,200 Palestinians homeless. B’Tselem pointed out that half of these demolished houses were next door to the house of the person(s) who had been suspected or wanted by the Israeli occupation. An ad hoc committee formed by Israeli general Moshe Ya’alon had recommended that demolition of houses of suspects in carrying out operations against Israel should be stopped because it is not an effective deterrence. In this regard, B’Tselem called for preventing the demolition of the house of Alaa Abu Dehim who carried out the Jerusalem attack.

Merkel to address Knesset as historic visit strengthens Israeli ties with Germany
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 3/18/2008
Israel and Germany agreed yesterday on a closer strategic relationship, with agreements on joint investments and defence cooperation, during a visit to Jerusalem by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Under the agreement the two governments will meet annually, a relationship that cements Germany’s role as one of Israel’s strongest allies in Europe and its second largest trading partner, after the US. Merkel, on her third visit to Israel as chancellor, brought with her seven members of her cabinet, who met jointly with the Israeli cabinet yesterday. She laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and both sides made careful references to the Nazi legacy. The text of their bilateral agreement spoke of "Germany’s awareness of its historic responsibility towards Israel" and said the German side reiterated "Germany’s responsibility for past history and for the shoah," using the Hebrew word generally reserved for the Holocaust

Merkel offers ’tough, decisive’ language on Iran nuke program
Barak Ravid and Anshel Pfeffers, Ha’aretz 3/18/2008
After a touching visit to Sde Boker on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s diplomatic mission turned into a full-fledged embrace Monday. The show of support by Merkel and her ministers reached its climax in a joint meeting with the Israeli cabinet. But most encouraging of all were the comments she made in an earlier meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about Iran. Merkel’s remarks about the Iranian nuclear program in that meeting were described by several of those present as being "tough and decisive. "During their joint press conference, Olmert and Merkel said their countries were united in their concern over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and that they agree on the need to stop its enrichment of uranium. Olmert said the two countries view Iran’s continued efforts to develop nuclear arms very similarly - "with grave concern.

MP Khudari asks Merkel to explain her stand regarding the IOA unethical siege
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the chairman of the popular anti siege committee, on Monday asked German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is currently visiting the Hebrew state, to explain her stand regarding the suffocating Israeli occupation authority siege on the Gaza Strip. He said in a message addressed to the chancellor that the IOA siege contradicts human ethics and civilization. He urged Merkel to pressure the IOA to immediately end that siege. He stressed that the Palestinian people are being "illegally targeted", which necessitated an international stand pressuring the occupation government. One and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are living under an "oppressive Zionist siege" that did not spare any of its economic, social, health or agricultural life, the lawmaker elaborated. He said that the hermetic blockade imposed on the Strip has led to the death of 110. . .

Ramon calls on Germany to sever ties with Iran
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 3/17/2008
’We expect the international community, and Germany in particular, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons of mass destruction,’ vice premier tells German Parliament members in Jerusalem - "Establishing ties with Iran is an immoral act," Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Monday during a meeting with German Parliament members in Jerusalem. "It is not only an inter-governmental matter. I expect German society to sever all of its ties, commercial and otherwise, withIran ," he said, adding that any country that calls for the destruction ofIsrael and attempts to arm itself with atomic weapons poses "a great strategic threat to Israel. ""We expect the international community, and Germany in particular, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons of mass destruction," the vice premier stated.

VIDEO - Israeli, German officials attend historic government meeting
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 3/17/2008
(Video) For first time ever, government holds session where nine corresponding ministers from Israel, Germany take part. Merkel reiterates Germany’s commitment to Israel’s safety, says Iran must exercise transparency - - The government held a special session Monday, in honor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "This is an unusual, landmark event in the history of Israeli-German relations," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmertat the beginning of the meeting, which took place after the German mission visitedthe Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. " This is the first time the Israel government is sitting across from the German chancellor and the senior members of the German government"¦ this reflects the two’s desire to maintain an unusual relationship," noted Olmert. Video: InfoliveFrom an historical point of view, Monday’s meeting was the. . .

German media ignore Merkel’s visit to Israel
Gil Yaron, YNetNews 3/17/2008
Leading newspapers focus coverage on Tibet riots, collapsing markets, but chancellor’s speech at the Knesset expected to grab headlines -German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit toIsrael has taken a back seat to the riots in Tibet and the collapse of stock markets around the world, which made headlines in most local media outlets. The reports that did come in stressed that Merkel’s visit, which comes 60 years after the Holocaust ended, marks a turning point in the relations between the countries, and several reporters expressed their astonishment over the Israeli public’s sympathetic attitude toward Germany. The influential Frankfurter Allgemeine stressed the "cordial relations" between Israel and Germany, while the pro-Israel Berlin-based Die Welt stated that the relations "have never been closer, and Israel has never been under a greater threat.

PA downgrades renewed talks to protest settlement construction
Barak Ravid and Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed halted peace talks on Monday, but the meeting was overshadowed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement that Israel would not cease disputed construction in aJewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem Ahmed Qureia, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said he downgraded the meeting to unofficial as a protest against the Israeli construction plans. "We completely reject the building, not only one room, but also one brick in any of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem," he said. As the two sides prepared Monday to resume the negotiations, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that terror could not be used as an excuse to suspend talks. "I am going to meet with the chief Palestinian negotiator," Livni said, after the Yisrael Beiteinu proposed a motion of no-confidence on the matter prior to the talks.

Ahead of resumed negotiations, Eriqat calls on EU to stop Israel’s actions
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Ahead of resumed Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, senior Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Eriqat, called yesterday on the European Union to pressurize the Israeli government to halt the military escalation and expansion of settlements. Eriqart’s remarks came ahead of negotiations between the two sides, expected to resume this week, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held them off temporarily following a Israeli deadly attack on Gaza, early this month. The Palestinian negotiator told representatives of the EU to the Palestinian Authority that Israel’s rhetoric as a state ’above law’, will help fail all peace-making efforts to realize peace by the end of 2008. He wondered as to how the Quartet committee, of which the EU is a member, allows continuation of such an Israeli policy, which is ’aimed at creating a de-facto situatio’, particularly with respect to the occupied east Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as their future capital.

Palestinian negotiators hold unofficial meeting with Israeli FM
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Head of the Palestinian negotiations teams, Ahmad Qorea’, stated on Monday at night that an unofficial meeting took place during evening hours between Palestinian negotiators and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni. Qorea’ added that this meeting came in protest to the recent statements by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who said that Israel would continue settlement construction and expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. He stated that he told Livni that the Palestinian team was angered by these statements and expressed total rejection to them. "We confirmed our rejection to any construction on any part of the Palestinian land either in the West Bank or in Jerusalem", Qorea’ said, "these constructions come in direct violation to the Israeli commitments to the Road Map Plan, they also violate the peace process and what we agreed upon during the Annapolis summit".

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to meet this week
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 3/16/2008
JERUSALEM, March 16 (Reuters)- Chief Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators plan to meet this week, restarting talks that were suspended after a deadly Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, Israeli and Western officials said on Sunday. The negotiations, led by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurie, have shown little sign of progress since they were launched at a peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November. An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity and a visiting Western envoy, who met with Qurie, said the chief negotiators have agreed to meet this week. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he was not immediately aware of a specific date for a meeting. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas temporarily suspended the negotiations earlier this month after an Israeli offensive in the Hamas-controlled. . .

Israel, PA renew core issue talks
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Israel and the Palestinian Authority last night officially renewed negotiations on the core issues of a final-settlement agreement following more than two weeks in which the talks were suspended due to the fighting in the Gaza Strip. During this time, although the heads of the negotiating teams - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia - did not meet, low-key meetings were held between the heads of the working groups on civilian matters. Yesterday’s meeting was carried out under protest on the part of the Palestinians, who complained about Israeli construction in Givat Ze’ev and East Jerusalem. The Palestinians demanded that the level of the meeting be downgraded and that it be held only between Livni and Qureia, without the extended working groups. Speaking at a press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merckel yesterday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that. . .

PM: No chance Israel will cede E. Jerusalem areas like Har Homa
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 3/18/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Israel would keep expanding a neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, defying international criticism and triggering a spat with the Palestinians ahead of a new round of peace talksThe premier was speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In one of the highlights of Merkel’s three-day visit marking the 60th anniversary of Israel’s creation, the two countries upgraded their ties, giving Israel a rare status in Germany shared by France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Russia. Olmert told reporters that Har Homa, a neighborhood in the section of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians, is an inseparable part of the capital. He said Israel would continue building in those areas of Jerusalem, including Har Homa, that it expects to keep under a final peace agreement.

Settlement freeze is over
Palestine News Network 3/17/2008
Jerusalem / PNN -- The Israeli government is going ahead with building 48 more units in Ariel, among the largest of all Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank. The construction had been frozen in the settlement, illegal as all are under international law. The Spokesperson for Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the "freeze" is over. Included in the settlement expansion will be 52 more units in Ma’ale Adumim, and 32 each in Betar Illit, Tikvah and Elkana. The Israeli government is being slammed from all sides, including the Americans, for continuing its illegal settlement policy which President Abbas has referred to as a "major impediment to the peace process. " Leaders in the settler movement want more as their population rises, particularly over the past three years. In a southern Bethlehem settlement, 90 percent of the population has come from the United States.

PFLP reiterates rejection of Sa’adat’s trial in Israeli courts
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) reiterated on Monday its rejection of the trial of its Secretary General Ahmad Sa’adat in Israeli courts. These declarations were made during a joint press conference between the PFLP and the Islamic Jihad, held in front of the Red Cross’ HQs in Gaza City, commemorating the second anniversary of the apprehension of Sa’adat. Members of the PFLP’s politburo Maryam Abu Duqqa called on the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to rearrange the Palestinian political arena and to resume nationalist dialogue. She described the state of rivalry in the Palestinian territories as an opportunity for the Israeli occupation to increase aggression towards the Palestinian people, especially those prisoners in Israeli jails. "Continuation of the detention of Sa’adat, Nora Hashlamoun and her husband from Hebron,. . .

Nazal: Cheney’s visit is an attempt to save the shipwrecked "peace process"
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Mohamed Nazal, the member of the Hamas political bureau, belittled the importance of the upcoming visit of American vice-president Dick Cheney to the region in making a substantial breakthrough in the course of the Palestinian cause, considering the visit an attempt to save the shipwrecked "peace process".  In a press release, Nazal opined that the main objective of Cheney’s visit is to pressure the PA and Arab parties to respond to the American vision for the future of the region, adding that the visit is not intended for pressuring Israel to stop its settlement activities or to fulfill its obligations. The Hamas leader underlined, in another context, that the Egyptian efforts to reach calm between the two sides is still in progress, despite the obstacles placed by the Israeli occupation. In another context, Israeli and western sources revealed that there was. . .

Livni: Negotiations do not give terrorists immunity
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 3/17/2008
In Knesset meeting deliberating vote of no confidence in government, foreign minister states that terror is no reason to terminate peace talks, but such negotiations do not offer immunity to terror groups - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated Monday during a Knesset meeting deliberating a motion of no confidence in the government submitted by theYisrael Beiteinu Party that "terror attacks are no reason to terminate peace talks with the Palestinians, but such negotiations will not provide immunity to the terror groups responsible. "  Addressing the current lull in Gaza, the foreign minister stated that Israelcan not delude itself because of a few days of relative calm. Even during this seeming lull, militant groups are arming themselves with the help of Iran, noted Livini. The foreign minister promised that "Israel will combat terror, whatever. . .

Emir of Qatar to press for the Gaza siege in the upcoming Arab summit
Rami Almeghari & Agecies, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Emir of Qattar, Hammad Ben Jasem Al-Tani, pledged to the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, whose government has been deposed by President Abbas in June of last year, that he will press for the issue of Gaza siege during the upcoming Arab states summit. Haniya initiated a phone call with the Qatari leader yesterday, in which the Islamist ruler voiced appreciation for what he termed ’ noble position’ by the government of Qatar, mainly the constant backing to the Palestinian people. Haniya also hailed the recent normalization of relation between Qatar and the Saudi Arabia, considering the move an Arab-Islamic interest. The Islamist Gaza-based leader emphasized on the importance of the upcoming Arab summit meeting, particularly the summit’s ability to break the Israeli siege on Gaza and alleviate the suffering of he Palestinian people.

Haneyya asks Arab leaders to break the suffocating siege off Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government in Gaza, has asked the Arab leaders scheduled to hold their summit conference by end of March in Syria to adopt practical steps to break the suffocating IOF siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for almost ten months. In a telephone contact Sunday night with the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the premier said that the Palestinian people were looking forward to the summit to pass "practical and serious steps in this regard". Haneyya discussed with the Amir latest developments in the Palestinian arena and the harsh conditions in the Strip as a result of the siege. He thanked the Qatari head of state for his country’s "noble stands", which was apparent in its supportive stands alongside the Palestinian people and their suffering.

Suleiman postpones Israel visit, says it is not committed to calm
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center 3/17/2008
Head of the Egyptian intelligence service, Omar Suleiman has postponed his visit scheduled this week because Israel is not living up to commitment it has made to Egypt last week, senior Egyptian official stated on Monday. During his visit to Egypt last week, Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli military strategist promised Egyptian officials that Israel will maintain calm in the region. Despite efforts made by Egypt to stop the home-made shells fired by the Palestinian resistance at Israeli targets, Israel assassinated five Palestinians last Wednesday in Bethlehem and Tulkarem, wasting all Egypt’s efforts, the official stated. [end]

Israeli security staff write blogs to attract recruits
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 3/18/2008
Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, has allowed some of its staff to blog in an attempt to win over hi-tech recruits. Four employees, none of whom appear to be frontline agents, have started blogs, although their offerings are more mundane than their profession might suggest. Shin Bet agents are routinely involved in surveillance, interrogation and armed operations against Palestinian militants inside Israel and the occupied territories. The bloggers have technical office jobs. Still, they guard their anonymity, using only silhouetted portraits of themselves. One, called H, says she is a quality assurance engineer and took the job as it allows her to spend more time with her family. "There are things that I can’t even tell my husband in detail," she writes. "At a family event someone asked where I work and had trouble taking a hint. "

Facebook face-off: Settlers win right to list country as Israel, not Palestine
Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Complaints by Israeli settlers angry at Facebook for listing them as residents of "Palestine" prompted the popular social networking Website to allow users to switch their location back to Israel. Facebook users living in Maaleh Adumim, Ariel and other large settlements in the West Bank protested when the site automatically listed their hometowns as being in "Palestine". A group of settlers accused the California-based company of having a political agenda. "I was surprised and disappointed to find that my hometown of Ariel is listed in Facebook as being part of a country called ’Palestine,’" wrote Ari Zimmerman in a posting on Facebook. "I am a citizen of Israel, as are all of the other residents of Ariel. We do not live in ’Palestine’, nor does anyone else.

Shin Bet workers’ secret lives revealed
Roee Shlomi, YNetNews 3/17/2008
Looking to boost manpower recruitment, secretive organization allows four of its workers to publish blogs describing their experiences at unusual workplace - The Shin Bet, one of the most highly secretive security organizations in Israel, has recently joined a popular internet trend by launching personal weblogs written by its employees. As part of its manpower recruitment efforts, the organization has allowed four workers from its information system department to share personal accounts of their experiences as Shin Bet employees, without exposing their identities of course. H, a QA engineer and the only female blogger on the new site, describes in her blog her experiences as a mother at a predominately-male workplace. "A friend told me about the opportunity to work for the Shin Bet. I was looking for a place that offers interest and stability, while leaving time for me to spend with my family," she writes.

MKs ask Peres to pardon Omri Sharon
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 3/17/2008
’Ariel Sharon may lose hope if his son won’t be by his side,’ MKs say in petition -Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee told Ynet on Monday that he has signed 30 fellow Knesset members on a petition calling onPresident Shimon Peres to pardon Omri Sharon. The request cites the medical condition of the former Likud MK’s father, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, as the main argument for the clemency request. About three weeks ago Omri Sharon began serving a seven-month jail sentence for lying under oath, filing false affidavits, and violating campaign laws. Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke in early 2006 and has remained comatose ever since. " We are not underestimating the severity of Sharon’s actions, but we believe that due to the fact that no one has ever been tried for a similar offense, and in light of the medical condition of Ariel. . .

Meretz goes to polls to choose chair to save party
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
After wrapping up a sleepy election campaign, 15,000 registered Meretz party members are set to vote today for a new party leader to replace Yossi Beilin. The three contenders in the primary are Knesset members Haim Oron, Zahava Gal-On and Ran Cohen. The winner will be tasked with pulling the leftist party out of its lengthy rut, and preparing it for the next elections. Under Meretz bylaws, the winner must get at least 50 percent of the vote. Should no candidate meet this criteria, a second round will take place in two weeks, on April 1. Oron, the presumptive front-runner, is working for a clear victory today, while his rivals are both striving for a result that will take them into the second round. All three candidates will focus today on raising voter turnout. Oron has the backing of the kibbutz sector, which represents about a third of party members.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi comes under fire over conversions
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Sephardic Chief Rabbi came under attack on Monday at his meeting with the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee as Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin told him that it should be the Interior Minister who decides who is Jewish and who is not, not a rabbi. "People belonging to other faiths who seek to marry a Jew and become Jewish themselves, I don’t want to send them to a rabbi," Beilin explained. MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) told the rabbi "you people do everything in the ugliest way, so as to make sure that others don’t join Judaism. My constituents are tired of your tricks. I urge you to say outright that you don’t want people who have Jewish blood and who paid in exile for this blood. "The head of Conversion Authority at the Prime Minister’s Office Rabbi Haim Druckman said that the conversion exceptions committee is "hell.

Living Experience: The enemy within
Diane Taylor, The Independent 3/17/2008
While conflict rages around them, one Israeli woman has taken a bold step by welcoming into her household a Palestinian man and his sick son- There has never been any love lost between the Israeli government and the Hamas-led administration in neighbouring Gaza, but this month has seen the violence escalate again. Following rocket attacks by Hamas on Israeli towns, Israel retaliated in a five-day operation that left more than 100 Palestinians dead. Last week, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister, Matan Vilnai, issued a warning that Palestinians faced a "shoah" (the Hebrew word for a great disaster, often used to refer to the Holocaust) if they continued to fire rockets into Israel. Commentators now say the aspirations of the two sides are so far apart that any sort of peace deal seems impossible. It is against this backdrop of hatred and carnage that a five-year-old boy and his father have found themselves living with the "enemy", an Israeli family in Ramat Gan, a town bordering Tel Aviv

Poll: Hamas leader’s popularity rises
Reuters, YNetNews 3/17/2008
Palestinian Centre for Policy’s survey shows Hamas support on rise as group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh gets 47% of the votes on Palestinian street, Palestinian president’s 56% approval rate drops to 46% - Israeli attacks in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have boosted the popularity of the Islamist group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh among Palestinians in the territory and in the West Bank, according to a poll on Monday. The survey by the West Bank-based Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research showed that if new presidential elections were held, Haniyeh would receive 47% of the vote compared with 46% for President Mahmoud Abbasof the rival Fatah faction. The figures represented a sharp strengthening of Haniyeh’s popularity. He served as prime minister in the Hamas-led government Abbas dismissed after Hamas seizedthe Gaza Strip from Fatah in June.

Poll shows unprecidented equation between president Abbas’ and Haniyeh’s popularity
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, revealed on Monday that if the Palestinian people were to choose between Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and deposed Prime Minister Isma’il Haniyeh, that Haniyeh would take the lead. The poll showed that Haniyeh received 47% of the votes, whereas Abbas received 46%. The poll was conducted from 13-15 March 2008, during the interim ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that followed the deadly Israeli invasion on northern Gaza, leaving 130 Palestinians dead. A poll conducted in December 2007 showed that Abbas would get 56% in contrast to 37% for Haniyeh. The gap between the two lessened after the Gaza Strip’s borders with Egypt were destroyed in January 2008 when Haniyeh’s popularity rose to 43% and Abbas’ became 51%.

Survey: Haniyeh more popular than Abbas in PA
Reuters, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Israel Defense Forces attacks in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have boosted the popularity of the Islamist group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh among Palestinians in that territory and in the West Bank, according to a poll released Monday. The survey by the West Bank-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that if new presidential elections were held, Haniyeh would receive 47 percent of the vote compared with 46 percent for President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah faction. The figures represented a sharp strengthening of Haniyeh’s popularity. He served as prime minister in the Hamas-led government Abbas dismissed after Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah in June. But the survey also found that Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, imprisoned in Israel and seen as a possible Abbas successor, would defeat Haniyeh by a clear margin.

Failed Aid Policy? A Majority of Palestinians Believe International Donor Aid to the PA is Contributing to the Political Paralysis
FAFO, MIFTAH 3/17/2008
A new Fafo survey says Palestinians believe Hamas should negotiate with Israel. A majority of Palestinians think Western financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is doing more harm than good; two thirds (69 %) of those polled in February and March by Fafo, a Norwegian research institute, believe that aid to the PA contributes to widening the rift between Fatah and Hamas. A similar proportion (63 %) thinks that aid to the PA promotes corruption, and the same number believes it has very little to no effect on poverty alleviation. Only a third of those polled felt aid to the PA had a positive impact on services. At the same time, Palestinians report steadily declining economic situations at home. As might be expected, the socio-economic picture is worst in Gaza. Overall, Fafo’s studies over the last year point to a constant decline in household economies, painting a picture of coping systems being pushed to the limits.

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. (27)
Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research - PSR, MIFTAH 3/17/2008
With Increased Dissatisfaction with the Performance of Mahmud Abbas and with the Government of Ismail Haniyeh Seen as Having Greater Legitimacy and Better Performance than the Government of Salam Fayyad, Hamas’s and Haniyeh’s Popularity Increaseand Fateh’s and Abbas’s Decrease 13-15 March 2008 These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 13 and 15 March 2008. This period witnessed a limited lull that prevailed between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Israeli incursion into Gaza in early March that left more than 130 Palestinians dead and after the bombing attack in West Jerusalem that led to the death of 8 Israeli religious students. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. For further details, contact PSR director, Dr.

Women bring green revolution to Arab sector
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Aziza Muadi, of the Lower Galilee town of Maghar, has a dream - to establish a large educational institute that will teach environmental conservation, recycling and ecology. But considering the low awareness of environmental issues in the Arab sector, Muadi decided to start small: She recently began coordinating a group of 17 women who are now promoting environmental education in Maghar. The women, aged 30 to 35, come from varied backgrounds - Druze, Moslem and Christian. They are being instructed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. "This is the first group of Arab women to learn about environmental issues," said Muadi. Explaining that in her neighborhood, environmental awareness is still in its infancy, she added: "We therefore decided to start with activities in the schools, because change has to begin with the students. . . "

Slain Jihad operative’s son:
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Instead of a Britney Spears ring tone, Shehadeh Shehadeh’s cell phone emits a recording of a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. "Our entire family has turned Shi’ite," he boasts. Last week, Israeli security forces operating in the West Bank town of Bethlehem killed his father, Mohammed Shehadeh, who was a senior commander in Islamic Jihad. "My father decided to become a Shi’ite after he was deported to Marj Al-Juhur in Lebanon in 1992," the son recounted. "He met there with all sorts of Shi’ite people and he saw that the oppression the Shi’ites have had to endure is very much like the oppression that the Palestinians have suffered. "According to the 19-year-old Shehadeh, his father eventually came to "respect the Shi’ite commentary on the Koran. "He equates his father’s actions with those of Imam Hussein, whom Shi’ites believe to be Prophet Mohammed’s true follower.

350 thousand litres of diesel shipped to Gaza: 100 litres of benzene expected Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 3/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Gaza Strip has received 350 thousand litres of diesel which were proportioned between gas stations in the Strip, said Mahmoud Al-Khizindar, head of the federation of gas stations in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Al-Khizindar told Ma’an that car owners can buy no more than 200 NIS worth of diesel each. He affirmed that 100 thousand litres of benzene will be distributed on Tuesday, and car owners can buy equal to no more than 100 NIS each. As for cooking gas, Al-Khizindar said 80% of the needed amount is available every day, and the same applies to diesel for industrial use. [end]

Chopper causes panic south of Tel Aviv
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 3/17/2008
Anxious residents fear terror attack after spotting police helicopter on operational duty - The residents of Rishon Lezion, just south of Tel Aviv, were surprised Wednesday evening to see a helicopter hovering above the city. Many anxious residents feared that the unusual sight was related to a possible terror threat in the area. However, as it turned out, the police helicopter was searching for suspects after a woman in the city was robbed. The police chopper flew above residential homes near a mall in town, prompting some residents to panic. "It was scary to see the helicopter flying right above our heads," said a neighborhood resident, Leah, in a talk with Ynet. She said it appeared as though the chopper was looking for something specific and kept on flying back and forth. "We didn’t hear about any (terror) incident, but we were stressed," she said.

Tel Aviv stock exchange loses 9% of its value in 3 trading days
Natan Sheva and Dafna Maor, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
Heavy losses in share prices continued on Monday on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, which has lost 9 percent of its total value in three days of trading. In the same period, the bank shares index fell by 6. 3 percent, the real estate index by 6 percent, the Tel Aviv 100 and Maof indices by 4 percent, and the Tel-Tech by 1. 5 percent. An ongoing labor dispute involving stock exchange employees curtailed the trading day, which ended at 2:15 P. M. The dollar also declined sharply versus the shekel, falling 1. 25 percent to trade at NIS 3. 42 shekels to the dollar. The dollar strengthened somewhat at the end of last week, following intervention by the Bank of Israel, which purchased dollars in order to stave off further economic injury to exporters. The Monday weakening of the dollar sparked speculation that the central bank would again intervene.

Dozens treated for breathing troubles
Zafrir Rinat Yuval Azoulay and Yigal Hai, Ha’aretz 3/17/2008
The elderly, children and pregnant women were the focus of a health alert yesterday that asked them to avoid any arduous activities that might strain their heart. The Environmental Protection Ministry issued the alert because of high levels of pollutant particles found in the cloud of dust that was covering the country. The cloud, which came in from the east, will be dispersed today by the westerly winds that are forecast by meteorologists. According to the measurements taken in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Be’er Sheva and in northern Israel, the quantities of pollutant particles in the dust cloud were 10 times higher than average. Magen David Adom emergency services reported yesterday that as a result of the dust they received an unusually high number of calls for assistance. The emergency services were called to resuscitate persons suffering from. . .

Shekel to be globally convertible
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 3/12/2008
The shekel will join the 15 current currencies that are traded and available at commercial banks around the world. Beginning in April, the shekel will be convertible on international markets, when the Bank of Israeljoins the CLS Bank. As part of the membership, two Israeli commercial banks will become clearing members, with clearing accounts in their systems. A third Israeli commercial bank will function as a liquidity supplier. CLS stands for "Continuous Linked Settlement". The two commercial banks will clear foreign currencies, while other Israeli banks with accounts of foreign banks that are members of CLS Bank will be able to provide those banks with clearing services in shekels using the Bank of Israel’s Zahav computerized clearing system. The Bank of Israel’s membership in CLS Bank will upgrade Israel’s shekel and foreign currency system of payments, which will become immediate and final for almost any currency.

Economy grew 5.3% in 2007
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 3/17/2008
GDP per capita rose 3. 4% to reach an all-time high of NIS 91,000 in 2007. Economic growth totaled 5. 3%, and business product grew by 6. 1% in 2007, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. Economic growth reached an annualized 6. 1% in the second half of 2007, and 6. 4% in the fourth quarter of the year. GDP per capita rose 3. 4% in 2007 to reach an all-time high of NIS 91,000. The Israeli economy has now completed five consecutive years of rapid growth, of which four saw growth of 5. 3% on average. Business product in Israel has grown by around 25. 4% since 2003, and stood at NIS 652 billion at the end of 2007. The Bank of Israelexpects the economy to grow by 3. 3-4. 4% in 2008, with an increased likelihood of reaching the upper end of the range. An official speaking yesterday at the Bank of Israel’s special press conference said that were it not for the financial. . .

Cairo grappling with bread crisis
Rachelle Kliger, YNetNews 3/17/2008
At least two Egyptians killed in riots related to increasing demand for subsidized bread, especially in low-income areas - Egypt is looking for rapid solutions to a bread crisis that has generated riots in which at least two people have been killed. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appealed to the army on Sunday, asking for help in manufacturing and distributing bread to keep up with the demand. He also asked for help from the government’s defense and social solidarity ministries. The authorities are trying to increase production and distribution to make up for bread shortages. There has been an increasing demand for subsidized bread in Egypt, especially in low-income areas. Two people were recently killed in a row that broke out in a congested queue of people waiting for bread. Other reports in the local press say as many as nine other Egyptians have. . .

Mubarak challenger loses appeal
Al Jazeera 3/17/2008
A Cairo court has rejected a request to set jailed Egyptian opposition politician Ayman Nour free on health grounds. Egypt’s supreme administrative court issued the decision against an early dismissal for his request to be set free on Monday, upholding an original sentence of five years. Nour, 43, a liberal who challenged Hosni Mubarak, the president, in Egypt’s first multi-candidate presidential elections in 2005, is diabetic and has had heart problems. Amir Salem, a human rights activist and Nour’s principal lawyer, said that Nour "has been awaiting his appeal in his prison cell, spending his time writing letters to human rights organisations". He also addressed letters to Fathi Sourour, head of Egypt’s parliament.

American magazine intends to hand out free books insulting Prophet Mohamed
Palestinian Information Center 3/17/2008
WASHINGTON, (PIC)-- In the context of the wild campaign waged by western extremists against Islam and Muslims’ beliefs and holy shrines, an American weekly magazine intends to distribute a free version of a blasphemous book offending Prophet Mohamed peace be upon him and linking Islam to terrorism. Human Events, the American weekly magazine that is close to the neo-conservatives in the republican party, announced that it will distribute free copies of the anti-Islam book titled, "The truth about Mohamed, the founder of the world’s most intolerant religion" by an extremist right-wing writer called Robert Spencer. Although, the book raised the ire of American Muslims when it was published for the first time in 2006, the magazine deliberately insists to distribute free copies in a step deemed as hostile by observers.


Book Review: "An Israeli In Palestine Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel"
Raymond Deane, Electronic Intifada 3/17/2008
      In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King wrote that he had "almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the ... Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ’order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice ..."
     Jeff Halper’s new book is, in part, the story of the evolution of a "white moderate" peace campaigner from Hibbing, Minnesota, to a radical Israeli campaigner for justice for the Palestinians. En route, he maps his development from "ethnic Jew to Jewish national to Israeli," disregarding his grandmother’s warning that "Israel is no place for a Jewish boy!"
     If to an ingenuous Gentile this might seem like a meagre itinerary, a quick look at the Kahanists’ indispensable "S.H.I.T. List" reveals, on the contrary, that Halper is seen by red-blooded ultra-Zionists as a "sick self-hating Kike" whose primary concern, and that of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) which he helped found, "is the demolition of Israel."

IOF shuts down two radio stations in Jenin

Report, Al Mezan, Electronic Intifada 3/16/2008
      On 11 March 2008, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stormed into Al Quds Radio and Al Majd Radio headquarters in Jenin, West Bank and confiscated most of the contents in the buildings. According to sources from Al Quds Radio, the IOF, which carried out an incursion into the town of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, raided the headquarters of the radio station. They seized the main radio transmission device and other appliances, archives, and all documents from the office. As a result, work at the radio station was suspended.
     That same day, the IOF raided and confiscated the contents of Al Majd Radio headquarters, also in Jenin. The IOF stormed in and searched the Al Maiseloni building, where Al Majd Radio is located. Al Majd was also forced to suspend its work as a result.
     On 10 March 2008, the IOF arrested Hassan Abdul Jawad, a board member in the press syndicate from his home in Bethlehem and assaulted his family.

Vilifying Arabs

George S. Hishmeh, MIFTAH 3/17/2008
      The most exhilarating idea emerging from the ongoing and fiercely competitive US primary election has been the likelihood of the Democratic party’s frontrunners - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - running jointly as members of a “dream ticket” in the upcoming national elections, regardless of who will be president or vice president.
     The point to emphasise here is that the pair, each very popular but with a different segment of the population, will mark the first opportunity for a white woman and a black man to run for the country’s two top positions, something unheard of previously because of the ubiquitous racism and sexism in the United States.
     Whether this will be the case will depend on many significant factors, not least of all the ongoing racist slurs that are hurled at Obama, the tenderfoot senator from Illinois whose father was a Kenyan Muslim who died in an automobile accident and whose mother, a white American, passed away from cancer. Despite his assertion that he is a practising Christian, he is often suspected by various groups here and overseas that he is a Muslim like his father, pointing that his middle name is Hussein.

How Many Generations of Palestinians are Expendable?

Elias H. Tuma, MIFTAH 3/17/2008
      Two and a half generations have already been wasted since 1948, the year of the Nakba or catastrophe for the Palestinians and of Independence for the Israelis. Unfortunately both people have been selfish, blindly nationalistic, driven by ideology, and oblivious to the suffering they have caused themselves and each other. In this issue of AVP I am addressing the Palestinians who have let more than half of their own people continue to live as refugees, stateless, in poverty, lacking in education, and dependent on others for survival. They have made that "sacrifice" in the name of what they consider their Right of Return, with little attention to the practicality of their return to their homes, villages, and country, which, since 1948, has been Israel. They quote UN General Assembly Resolution 194 to justify their Right, even though that resolution is not binding. It can be enforced by the Security Council only if it is passed by a majority, and unanimously by the five permanent members of that Council, which includes the US, Russia, China, France, and England. All the permanent members are supporters of Israel, and any one of them is capable of using its Veto power to prevent implementation.Since 1967 the Palestinians have cited Security Council Resolution 242 as another justification for the Right of Return. However, Resolution 242 addresses the whole issue of peace between Israel and its neighbors, and a "Just" solution to the refugee problem, with little indication that "just" means the Refugees’ Right to Return to their homes and villages, which are now within Israel.

Israel’s Execution of Realpolitik

Caelum Moffatt, MIFTAH 3/17/2008
      The Greek historian Plutarch documented that Alexander the Great, while on campaign, slept with a copy of Homer’s Iliad under his pillow. The Iliad, the epic account of the Trojan War, was an inspirational and popular work that promoted the valor, dignity, glory and heroism of the ancients. There is little substantial or conclusive evidence to suggest that the event even existed – viewed more as myth transcending history, not to mention that it ostensibly occurred five centuries before Alexander even crossed the Hellespont to confront the Persian Empire. Nevertheless, the man supposedly dubbed “little Achilles” used the epic poem to reminisce and idealize about the era of heroes, attempting to rejuvenate this standard of excellence in his own time and viewing the poem as a handbook for the art of warfare.
     One must only refer to Alexander’s epithet to decipher his legacy – “Great”. If the Iliad was the impetus or driving force behind Alexander’s success from which he extracted great influence and counsel, as some scholars maintain, then one must seriously laud this piece of literature as an integral component of Alexander’s modus operandi.

Resurrection and its Message

Bernard Sabella, MIFTAH 3/17/2008
      Easter in the folkloric traditions of Palestine is a season for celebration. The community celebrates itself as it goes through the rites and rituals of Holy Week. The blessed land of Palestine celebrates itself as the hills change colors to announce the coming of spring. But springtime in the Holy Land is also a season when occasional sandy storms from the desert remind all of us of the vicissitudes of geography and the problematic cohabitation of the sown and the desert.
     Mother Nature’s celebration at this time of year remains always associated with the message of resurrection. The heart beats happily at the sights of the greenery of the land and its kaleidoscopic scenery. Yet the heart is pained by the continuing unabated conflict and its many victims. As the desert sandy storms hurt the body and weigh down on the soul, the political situation with its many victims, one victim is too many, equally weighs down on body and soul.

Meet the Lebanese Press: US military "tourism"

Hicham Safieddine, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 3/17/2008
      A man smokes a water pipe outside a cafe in the Tariq al-Jadide neighborhood of Beirut. The densely populated Sunni neighborhood is considered to be a stronghold for March 14 leader Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, March 2008. ( Matthew Cassel Supporters of Lebanon’s March 14 movement tend to complain about the damage to tourism caused by the current status quo in Lebanon. Many of them cheered recently when the wheels of fortune seemed to swing their way as the US destroyer USS Cole approached Lebanese shores.
     But to many analysts, the arrival of the warship signaled to many yet another level of escalation towards an immanent break out of an all-out confrontation between Syria, Iran and Hizballah on one side and Israel and the US on the other. The destroyer may not have come with a specific mission other than a symbolic show of support for the March 14 movement that backfired as it undermined the group’s constant claim to protect Lebanese sovereignty. But attributing US military maneuvering to the desire for a symbolic gesture towards March 14 reveals a lack of understanding at best and conceit at most by those who make such claims. Amassing military power in the Mediterranean, if it continues, does and could seriously tilt things towards outright conflict and mobilizing these ships is likely to be linked to the further tying in of the regional crises.

Talking Like Meretz, Behaving Like the Likud

Akiva Eldar, MIFTAH 3/17/2008
      Judging by his declarations, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert could have run tomorrow for the Meretz party’s leadership. Judging by the behavior of his government in the territories, he could return to Likud. Even Zehava Gal-On, the most left-wing candidate contending for the Meretz leadership, did not say that if we don’t achieve a two-state solution soon, the country is "finished." Haim Oron would gladly sign the prime minister’s statement that the failure to evacuate the outposts is a "disgrace." Ran Cohen would unhesitatingly stand behind the decision of the Israeli government to evacuate several hundred internal roadblocks that are embittering the lives of the subjects of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).
     But for Olmert, saying is one thing and doing is another. Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu could learn from him how simultaneously to hold on to all the territories, bomb civilians, expand the settlements and greet all the world leaders in turn on the red carpet at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Will Israel honour a truce?

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/13/2008
      With an unannounced truce in place, attention turns to Israeli actions, given past precedent of ignoring all agreements with the Palestinians, reports in Gaza Click to view caption Palestinian anger at Israeli brutish oppression escalates as demonstrators hurl stones at Israeli soldiers during a protest in Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah Top Israeli television commentators competed last Friday night to justify reneging on positions they had held until three days earlier when they had believed that the only way of countering resistance operations in the Gaza Strip was through the use of violence. There is a consensus among Israeli commentators that Israel can only wait for the worst if Palestinians continue to fall victims to the fire of the Israeli occupation. This consensus was reached after a chain of operations conducted by Palestinian resistance movements in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem and the popular outcry in the West Bank following massacres Israel committed in the Gaza Strip at the beginning of this month that resulted in the deaths of 144 Palestinians with hundreds of others injured.
     Rafif Droker, political commentator on Israeli television Channel 10, considers what is currently taking place in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza as the "harbingers of a third Intifada". He said, "it is not wise for military operations in the Gaza Strip to contribute to the outbreak of a third Intifada. The government must study all the means possible for putting out the fire that’s raging in Gaza, or else not only the cities of the West Bank will burn, but there is reason to believe that our cities will turn into an arena for suicide operations once again."

’Anything is possible’

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 3/13/2008
      Negotiators from the Palestinian Authority and Israel resume "peace" talks today. Why?
     Just two weeks after Israel began its bloody incursions into the Gaza Strip Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed today under American auspices.
     Despite repeated decisions by the Israeli government to step up settlement and Judaisation activities in the West Bank, and a week following the attack on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, and the two sides are meeting against the backdrop of an un- announced truce that, with the exception of minor violations, appears to be holding.
     The level of US interest in what is currently taking place between the Palestinians and Israelis is reflected in the visits both Vice-President Dick Cheney and Republican presidential candidate John McCain intend to make to the region.

When Charity Ends at Home

Gideon Levy, MIFTAH 3/15/2008
      The ovens have been brought downstairs, into hiding. The two bagel and cake bakeries have already been closed by army order. The Israel Defense Forces confiscated the ovens in one of them, but the employees in the other bakery managed to rescue and hide theirs. The popular clothing shop Pretty Woman, in the heart of the bustling mall in Hebron, and its neighbor, Mama Care, the high-end shop for baby clothes, are about to close. The same is true of the new and spacious supermarket, the modern physical-therapy institute, the beauty salon, the barbershop and the library: Everything will be closed by order of the GOC Central Command. Local food and clothing warehouses were also emptied out by the IDF last week, with an inventory worth about NIS 750,000, designated for the impressive orphanages of the Islamic Charity Movement. The goods were loaded onto trucks and confiscated.
     In the well-kept orphanage we visited this week, the hundreds of children were eating only majadera (a rice-and-lentil dish) and yogurt for lunch: There is no meat, no chicken, no fish; everything has been taken away. The gates of the movement’s new school, a handsome stone building designed for 1,200 pupils, have also been welded shut by the IDF.