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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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23 April 2008


UNRWA running out of fuel to feed hungry Gaza
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/24/2008
GAZA CITY: The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will have to halt the distribution of food to the Gaza Strip within 24 hours if it does not receive fresh fuel supplies, its Gaza director said on Wednesday. "UNRWA will run out of diesel tomorrow, forcing it to shut down its food distribution," John Ging told a news conference. "Neither UNRWA nor the World Food Program, who together feed over 1 million Gazans, will be able to resume food distribution until they receive diesel for the trucks involved in transporting the food," he added. He also warned that local flour mills will run out of fuel starting on Friday and that farmers and fishermen were already hard-hit by the lack of fuel caused by the latest tightening of a siege by Israel. The Israelis had no immediate comment on the matter. Israel halted the supply of petrol and diesel and cut fuel supplies for Gaza’s power plant. . .

Israeli settler rams a Palestinians child with his car
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
A Palestinian child sustained critical wounds on Tuesday night after an Israeli settler hit him with his car near the city of Hebron in the southern part of the West Bank. Ahmad Al Titti, five years old, was standing beside his father on the main road connecting the city of Hebron to rest of the West Bank, when an Israeli settler rammed the child with his car. Local sources said that the Israeli army arrived at the scene and called a Palestinian ambulance that took the child to the public hospital in Hebron city. Medical sources said that the boy sustained critical wounds and fractures in his limps. [end]

Pollard prosecutor: Spy arrest shows Israel lied to US
Associated Press, YNetNews 4/24/2008
Pollard prosecutor Joseph E. DiGenova slams Israel, says Kadish arrest shows ’this was much larger espionage operation with sleeper cells in the United States than we understood or could have known at the time’ - The arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish, accused of passing US military secrets to the same handler as convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, confirms that the espionage ring was larger than previously believed and that the Israelis lied about it, a former US prosecutor says. " The similarities are quite eerie," said Joseph E. DiGenova, the US attorney who oversaw the 1980s-era Pentagon spy scandal that ensnared Pollard. . . Citing court papers, DiGenova said Pollard’s handler, Yosef Yagur, used the same methods with Kadish that he did with Pollard. . . DiGenova said the charges can be brought so long after the fact because the case can be viewed as a continuing conspiracy based on communications between Yagur and Kadish. "He was an agent in place then, and he’s an agent in place now," he said.

Haniyeh: Ceasefire must include West Bank
Ali Waked and AFP, YNetNews 4/23/2008
As Egypt awaits Hamas’ response to offer for truce with Israel, group leader hardens positions - A day before delivering Hamas’ officially response to the Egyptian ceasefire offer, group leader Ismail Haniyeh hardened his positions Wednesday. Speaking in Gaza, Haniyeh said that should a truce be reached withIsrael , it would bind the parties both in the Strip and in the West Bank. The talks mediated by Egypt currently focus on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip only, as a first stage. Israeli officials have strongly rejected a truce with Hamas in the West Bank at this stage. AHamas delegation headed by Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar and Said Siam recently returned to Egypt following a two-day visit to Damascus, where they met with the movement’s leadership. Egypt is awaiting Hamas’ response to the truce offer.

Israel ’ready for peace’ with Syria
Al Jazeera 4/23/2008
Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, has reportedly offered to withdraw from Syria’s Golan Heights in exchange for a peace deal with Damascus. Buthaina Shaaban, Syria’s minister for expatriate affairs, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the offer was put forward through Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister. She said: "The Turkish prime minister has conveyed to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad that Ehud Olmert is ready for peace with Syria on the basis of international resolutions and the return of the whole Golan Heights to Syria. " Erdogan is expected to visit Syria on Saturday to discuss the offer. Israel seized the Heights - a strategically important plateau - from Syria in the Six Day War of 1967, and annexed it in 1981.

The Israeli army kidnaps 13 Palestinians from several parts of the West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
During pre dawn invasions targeting several cities and towns in the West Bank, the Israeli army kidnapped at least 13 Palestinians civilians on Wednesday. Eight were kidnapped during an army attack in the villages of Dura and Al Majd near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Local sources said that troops stormed the two villages, searched and ransacked homes, and then kidnapped eight men and took them to unknown detention facilities. Among those kidnapped today were; Basheer Suliman, Taysseer Amro, Fadi Al Shahateet, and Isma’el Amro. The Palestinian prisoners society in the city of Hebron reported that, including those kidnapped by the army today, the number of Palestinians kidnapped by the Israeli army from the Hebron district since the beginning of 2008 has now reached 382. Moreover, three civilians were kidnapped on Wednesday from the northern west Bank city of Nablus.

Palestinian boy found mutilated in Israeli settlement
Palestine News Network 4/23/2008
Forwarded by Rana Al Arja - At 3pm on Wednesday, 16th April, the mutilated body of 15 year old Hammad Nidar Khadatbh was found in lands of the illegal Israeli settlement of Al-Hamra by his father, who was out searching for his missing son. Hammad had left the house at 9am on Tuesday, 15th April to work on the family’s land, located near the stolen agricultural lands of the settlement. As the second eldest son, he was picking cucumbers for the family rather than going to school, to help with the income of his struggling family. At evening he failed to return home, and so his father and other family members immediately went searching for him. They found nothing. They set out again the next day, Wednesday, and found his body in a place they had searched the day before - clearly dumped overnight. Hammadi’s body was naked, bloated, and tortured.

Five Palestinian teenagers injured by Israeli fire near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Five Palestinian teenagers were injured when Israeli soldiers opened fire on them as they threw stones at Israeli patrols near Deheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank on Tuesday evening. Palestinian medical sources identified the injured as 15-year-old Walid Rizq, 18-year-old Ahmad Muhaisin, 18-year-old Isma’il Shadhily, 16-year-old Muhammad Iraqi and 13-year-old Abdullah Afandi who was shot in the chest. Ma’an’s reporter quoted eyewitnesses as saying that three Israeli patrols passed near the camp, and Palestinian youths started throwing stones at them. The soldier sitting in the front seat of the third patrol started shooting indiscriminately at the youths injuring five of a group of about ten stone-throwing boys.

Five civilians injured in Bethlehem on Tuesday night
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
Palestinian sources reported on Tuesday night that five Palestinian civilians were injured during an army invasion targeting the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. Troops stormed the city, soldiers opened fire at the civilians in the street, local youth clashed with the invasion troops, witnesses said. Medical sources said that five civilians sustained moderate wounds and were moved to nearby hospital for treatment. [end]

Israel launches two airstrikes against Gaza Strip targets
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
The Israel Defense Forces launched two airstrikes late Wednesday night at targets in the Gaza Strip. One Palestinian militant was killed and three wounded in an Israel Air Force attack near the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, Palestinian security officials reported. Earlier Wednesday, a threatened shutdown of Gaza’s only power plant was averted after Israel agreed to pump one million liters of diesel fuel to the coastal strip. The IDF said early Wednesday that the fuel shipment had already begun. One million liters is enough to power the plant for at least three days. Kaanan Obeid, a Gaza energy official, had warned that the plant was in danger of shutting down Wednesday if fuel weren’t delivered. Israel is the sole source of Gaza’s fuel, but supplies have been sporadic since Palestinian terrorists attacked the Israeli. . .

Palestinian activists survive Israeli air strike in Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A group of Palestinian resistance fighters survived an Israeli air strike on the city of Bani Shaila east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip Tuesday evening. Muawiya Hassanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian health ministry told Ma’an that an Israeli warplane fired three missiles at a jeep the activists were traveling in. He confirmed that none of the activists had been hurt, but a bystander was wounded and was taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. [end]

Israeli troops shoot and injure Palestinian
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A Palestinian man was injured on Wednesday morning when Israeli soldiers opened fire on him in the central West Bank village of Qatanna in Ramallah district. Ma’an’s reporter quoted Palestinian security sources as saying that Israeli soldiers shot and injured Imad Hushiyya while he was near the separation wall in Qatanna. He received a gunshot to his foot and was taken to hospital in Ramallah. The same sources told Ma’an’s reporter that Israeli forces invaded Al-Bira city near Ramallah. No arrests were reported. [end]

IDF strikes in Gaza; several Palestinians hurt
Ali Waked, YNetNews 4/24/2008
Palestinian sources say Air Force fired attwo cells in northern Strip Wednesdaynight -Several people were wounded Wednesday night after the IDF targeted two groups of armed Palestinians in Gaza, sources in the Strip reported. According to reports, the Air Force initially fired a missile at Hamas military wing gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya. No injuries were reported in that strike. A few minutes later another missile was fired at gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. Some of the gunmen were reportedly hurt in the second strike. The IDF confirmed that strike and said that the targets were hit. The IDF has stepped up its attacks on Palestinian gunmen in the Gaza Strip in recent days. On Monday, the army killed three armed Palestinians in two separate strikes.

Israeli forces apprehend two teenagers near Qalqilia
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Hajja east of Qalqilia on Wednesday, apprehending two teenagers. Palestinian security sources said that a large Israeli force stormed the village at dawn and seized 18-year-old Sa’d Addin Yousif and 18-year-old Salam Basalat after raiding their family homes. [end]

Defense Min. yet to start court-ordered reroute of Bil’in fence
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
Eight months after the High Court of Justice ordered the state to dismantle the segment of the separation fence near the Palestinian village of Bil’in within "a reasonable amount of time," the Defense Ministry has yet to do so. It has not even begun to plan an alternative route there, in accordance with the court’s instruction. These steps are not included in the Defense Ministry’s work plan for 2008. A spokesman for the ministry, Shlomo Dror, said Wednesday that the omission stems from budget constraints, and said he hoped that planning the alternative route would be included in the work plan for 2009 - in other words, a year and a quarter after the High Court ruling, at the very least. In September 2007, the High Court ruled that a 1,700-meter segment of the separation fence near Bil’in must be dismantled and moved to an alternative route.

Carter: Rice statement untrue, I wasn’t warned not to meet Hamas
Reuters, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
Former U. S. President Jimmy Carter denied on Wednesday that the U. S. State Department warned him not to meet with leaders of the Islamist group Hamas before he made a recent trip to the Middle East. Carter said Hamas’ Syria-based political leader Khaled Meshal told him during meetings in Damascus on Friday and Saturday that Hamas would "accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if approved by Palestinians. "The United States brushed off the comments on Monday, arguing that Hamas’ basic stance, which includes a call in its charter for the destruction of Israel, had not changed. The State Department has said U. S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the top U. S. diplomat for the Middle East, urged Carter not to meet with Hamas, a position restated by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but Carter denied this.

IOA bars entry of Dutch reporter of Palestinian origin
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
Nazareth, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority refused to allow entry of a reporter from the Netherlands at the pretext that she was carrying a Palestinian passport as well, the Hebrew radio reported on Tuesday night. The journalist, Abeer Suras, said that she coordinated her visit with the Israeli foreign ministry. Suras who works for the international Dutch radio station was arrested immediately on arrival at Ben Gurion airport. The journalist was held for 24 hours before she was ordered back on board a Dutch airliner. Sources in the Israeli interior ministry said that inhabitants of Palestinian lands are only allowed into Israel through Allenby bridge. [end]

Dutch journalist deported from Israeli airport
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
A Dutch journalist who arrived at the Israeli Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday was detained by Israeli forces there for 24 hours, then deported to Holland and not allowed to enter Israel. The journalist, Abir Sarras, is employed by Radio Netherlands International, and was travelling to the Palestinian territories to report on the Catastrophe (Naqba) commemorations taking place in May. She was told by Israeli security at the airport that, due to the fact that she is part Palestinian, and carries a Palestinian ID in addition to her Dutch passport, she is not allowed to enter Israel through Ben Gurion airport. The Israeli Ministry of the Interior confirmed that any person who carries a Palestinian ID must travel the ’Palestinian route’ through Jordan. The experience of Sarras differed significantly from her counterpart, a white reporter for the same outlet, Radio Netherlands International,. . .

ISRAEL-OPT: Gaza fuel supplies on a knife edge
Shabai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 4/24/2008
The Nahal Oz fuel crossing had only been open for a few hours on two days since a 9 April attack by Palestinian militants -JERUSALEM/GAZA, 23 April 2008 (IRIN) - Israel once again pumped industrial diesel to the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant on 23 April, just hours before it was scheduled to stop operations due to a lack of fuel. An Israeli official told IRIN about one million litres would be sent in, provided no "security incidents" took place. The plant said it needed about 3. 5 million litres a week, though Israel has committed to transferring only 2. 2 million. The amount sent in on 23 April could only be spun out for a few days. Speaking to reporters in Gaza, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry called on Israel to restore sufficient fuel supplies to Gaza and allow the passage of humanitarian and commercial goods.

UN Agency: If Israel doesn’t supply fuel, food distribution will stop
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 4/24/2008
The head of the United Nations Refugee Works Agency commented on Wednesday that the Agency’s food distribution program in the Gaza Strip will have to be halted unless Israel supplies fuel to the Gaza Strip immediately. John Ging, the chief of the U. N. Refugee and Works Agency in Gaza, stated that the Agency’s fuel supply will run out on Thursday, and they will be unable to deliver needed food supplies to the 860,000 registered refugees in need. 860,000 of Gaza’s 1. 4 million people receive aid from UNWRA, and an additional 270,000 are serviced by the U. N. ’s World Food Program. Since Israel put the Gaza Strip under siege last year, completely sealing the borders of the occupied territory, the Israeli government has allowed just a trickle of fuel to enter the Gaza Strip. Since April 9th, that trickle has stopped completely, and any fuel that may have been available in the Strip has been completely used up.

MP Khudari: IOA fuel supplies not enough
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the chairman of the popular anti siege committee, on Wednesday asserted that the fuel supplies provided by the Israeli occupation authority for the Gaza electricity generation station were not enough and would be consumed within two to three days. Khudari, in a press release, said that stores of the Gaza electricity generation station could accommodate 20 million liters of fuel, which should be immediately filled. The IOA provided only one million liters of fuel on Wednesday. The Palestinian people in Gaza are still subjected to IOA arbitrary practices, he said, charging the IOA with creating the fuel crisis and "when it solves a small bit of the crisis it appears before the world as if it was offering big concessions". The MP also pointed out that the IOA did not allow entry of petrol or cooking gas into Gaza, which maintained the paralysis in all life aspects for the 14th consecutive day.

One million liters of diesel piped to Gaza
Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
Israel yesterday resumed piping industrial diesel fuel to the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel depot, transferring to the Gaza Strip about a million liters, enough to operate Gaza’s power plant for at least three days. The Nahal Oz depot was attacked on April 9 by terrorists who murdered two Israeli civilians employed there. The plant’s director, Derar Abu Sisi, confirmed that two fuel containers, paid for by the European Union, had reached the power plant, with enough fuel to meet basic electricity needs for the next few days. A large amount of diesel was also transfered last week, through the Alon Dor company. Defense officials stress that these shipments of industrial fuel are for operating the power plant, not for other uses. Palestinians complained yesterday about the ongoing shortage of gasoline, supply of which was not resumed.

OPT: Gaza’s fuel shortages start to bite – a view from the CARE field office
CARE, ReliefWeb 4/23/2008
Fuel cuts are affecting all aspects of life in Gaza. Very few cars are running and the now near-empty streets have been claimed by children playing football. Fuel shortages dominate all conversations: where to get it, how much it costs, how to pay for it, how to make do without it. The Government of Israel tightened all access to this tiny area of land since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Only food and medical supplies are allowed in and the fuel and electricity supplies have been reduced, leading to power shortages everywhere. People have re-adjusted their benzene engine cars so they can use cooking gas as fuel. Others are mixing cooking oil with engine oil and using it as a substitute to diesel fuel. Consequently, the price of cheap cooking oil has quickly doubled and there are now shortages of that as well.

Obaid: IOA allowed fuel into Gaza to operate electricity station for 3 days
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Kanan Obaid, the deputy director of the Gaza energy authority, has said that the Israeli occupation authority on Wednesday allowed entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip to operate the Gaza electricity generation station. Obaid, in a press release, said that the IOA allowed entry of around one million liters of fuel to operate the station, which, he said, would be enough to run the facility for no more than three days. The deputy director had warned in a press conference on Tuesday that the Gaza electricity station would close down by Wednesday evening because it was running out of fuel stock. The IOA tightened the siege imposed on Gaza since last June and stopped supplying it with construction and industry material other than reducing quantity of goods, fuel and other consumer products.

Gaza Strip fuel situation report as of 23 Apr 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 4/23/2008
There is currently no fuel available in the Gaza Strip on the open market and there are power cuts of three hours per day in almost all of Gaza. For months the fuel crisis has hampered vital humanitarian work, but the complete absence of fuel will dramatically worsen the humanitarian situation. KEY OBSERVATIONS- Provision of UNRWA’s food assistance to 650,000 refugees in Gaza will stop on Thursday. - 12 municipalities and solid waste management councils have stopped all their operations, affecting at least 500,000 Gazans. - Ministry of Health hospitals have between 33 and 170 hours of fuel supply. Hospitals managed by NGOs have fuel for less than one week. - The Central Drug Stores ran out of fuel on 22 April. Vaccines for 50,000 babies will be spoiled if power cuts exceed eight hours and will take six months to replace.

Israel says it resumes fuel deliveries to Gaza power plant
Agence France-Presse - AFP, ReliefWeb 4/23/2008
JERUSALEM, April 23, 2008 (AFP) -Israel on Wednesday resumed fuel shipments to the sole power plant in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army said a day after the utility warned that supplies were so low it would have to shut down. "A million litres of fuel for the central power plant are being transferred today through Nahal Oz, which opened this morning," said an army spokeswoman, referring to the fuel terminal on the Israeli border with northern Gaza. Israel cut fuel supplies for Gaza’s power plant by half and halted the supply of petrol and diesel after Palestinian militants attacked the terminal two weeks ago, killing two Israeli civilian employees. It resumed shipments of fuel for the plant several days later, but stopped deliveries again last week after another attack killed three Israeli soldiers near Nahal Oz.

Israel allows shipments of ’electricity’ gasoline into Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
The Israeli authorities began this morning shipping large quantities of industrial gasoline to the Gaza Strip’s power plant, after reports said the plant would be shut down by Wednesday due to lack of fuel. Deputy-director of Palestinian Energy Authority in Gaza, Kan’an Obaid, told media outlets today that the shipments of fuel are estimated at 800,000 to 1,000,000 liters of gasoline, which would mean a partial operation of the plant for the next three days. Trucks, loaded with gasoline, began shipping fuel and are expected to complete unloading by Wednesday afternoon, Obaid made clear. The Palestinian official confirmed no further promises from the Israeli side were made with respect to providing the plant with more quantities of fuel for the next couple of days. Yesterday, operations director of the Gaza power planDr. Derrar Abu Sisi, told IMEMC that the plant would be forced to shut down by Wednesday evening, if the fuel, needed to generate electricity, was not made available.

Fuel shortage forces UN to halt Gaza food aid
Rory McCarthy in Gaza City, The Guardian 4/23/2008
The UN is to halt food handouts for up to 800,000 Palestinians from tomorrow because of a severe fuel shortage in Gaza brought on by an Israeli economic blockade. John Ging, the director of operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees, said there had been a "totally inadequate" supply of fuel from Israel to Gaza for 10 months until it was finally halted two weeks ago. "The devastating humanitarian impact is entirely predictable," he said. A shortage of diesel and petrol means UN food assistance to 650,000 Palestinian refugees will stop tomorrow, and aid from the World Food Programme for another 127,000 Palestinians due in the coming days will also be halted. "The collective punishment of the population of Gaza, which has been which has been instituted for months now, has failed," said Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East.

Israel resumes shipments of industrial diesel to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Gaza – Ma’an’s Gaza reporters and Marian Houk in Jerusalem – Israel resumed shipments of diesel to operate the power generating station in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Kan’an Ubaid, deputy chair of the Palestinian power and natural resources service told Ma’an that tankers of industrial diesel had begun to arrive at the Gaza Strip power generating station in Gaza City. He said the Israelis have promised to ship 800 thousand litres of diesel into the besieged coastal sector. One million litres would be enough to operate the station for three days. However, Ubaid said that Israel did not ship any badly-needed cooking gas or other fuel products. Israel has reduced quantities of industrial diesel for the power station as well as cooking gas since April 9th after Palestinian fighters fired at workers in the Nahal Oz terminal used for fuel shipment killing two people.

UN: Collective punishment of Gazans has failed
Ynet, YNetNews 4/23/2008
Mideast envoy says Israeli siege has failed, calls for reopening of Gaza crossings - A United Nations envoy warned Wednesday against a deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In a joint press conference with the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), Robert Serry said that Israel should stop punishing the population, while Hamas must stop targeting Gaza border crossings. He called on Israel to restore fuel supplies to Gaza, and to allow the passage of humanitarian assistance and commercial supplies, sufficient to allow the functioning of all basic services and for Palestinians to live their daily lives. "The collective punishment of the population of Gaza, which has been instituted for months now, has failed," he said. "The immediate and common goal must be an end to violence and a reopening of crossings.

Palestinian - Jordanian trade agreement to bypass Israeli restrictions
Palestine News Network 4/23/2008
PNN / Palestine and Jordan are finalizing a free-trade agreement in order to combat Israeli restrictions. Both Jordanian and Palestinian officials have confirmed the information. The ministers of Industry and Commerce for both agreed to terms in light of the Israeli government’s continued imposition of trade tariffs on Palestinians with few exceptions. The two sides agreed to hold a trilateral meeting with Israeli officials during the coming period, the exact timing of which is undetermined, to inform them of their own expectations for growth without interference. The Minister of Industry and Trade, Amer Al Hadidi, said, "We are working hard to increase the volume of trade with the Palestinians. " He continued, "The Palestinian market is a key market for us and important, but under the rules established by the Israelis, trade is facing obstacles before it starts. "

King Abdullah meets Bush, calls for end to settlement activity
Associated Press, YNetNews 4/23/2008
Jordan’s king, PA’s Abbas want greater American involvement in Mideast peace process - Jordan’s King Abdullah II met with President George W. Bush on Wednesday, and said that stalled negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel should be based on "clear grounds and fixed timetables" as the United States pushes for reaching a Middle East peace agreement by next January. " King Abdullah said it is important that Israel refrains from measures that would jeopardize negotiations with the Palestinians and called for an end to all Israeli settlement activities, a lifting of the blockade and restrictions on the movement of Palestinians," The Jordanian Embassy said. Bush, beginning two days of Mideast diplomacy at the White House, met with the king over breakfast. Later, Abdullah met with Palestinian President. .

Jordanian king meets with Bush
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/24/2008
WASHINGTON: Jordan’s King Abdullah II met Wednesday with US President George W. Bush and urged him to set "clear grounds and fixed timeframes" for stalled Middle East peace talks, Jordan’s embassy said. Abdullah later discussed his White House visit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was due to meet Thursday with Bush as Washington pushes for a peace agreement before the US leader’s term ends in January 2009. The White House remained tight-lipped about what it insisted was the king’s "private" visit - a roughly hour-long working breakfast - but Jordan’s embassy released a statement describing the exchange. "King Abdullah said negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis should be based on clear grounds and fixed time-frames," said the embassy. A Jordanian diplomat denied media reports that the king had hoped to encourage Bush to cancel or pare back his upcoming tour of the region.

Abbas seeks US pressure on Israel
Al Jazeera 4/23/2008
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is in the United States for talks with the US president and senior officials on negotiations with Israel. Abbas met Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, on Wednesday at the White House in a bid to "move things forward" in negotiations, his spokesman said. On Thursday, the Palestinian leader will meet American counterpart George Bush and ask for the US and its partners in the Middle East Quartet group to press Israel to halt Jewish settlement building, said Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister. "We want a clear and forceful intervention by the Quartet so the two sides implement their obligations under the road map," al-Maliki said during a speech at a Madrid political forum.  Al-Maliki said Abbas would also push the US to ask Israel to ease checkpoint restrictions in the West Bank.

Abbas back in Washington for new peace plea
Ezzedine Said, Daily Star 4/24/2008
Agence France Presse - WASHINGTON: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was back in Washington in hopes of jumpstarting the stalemated peace process with Israel. Five months after multilateral talks in Annapolis aimed to breathe life into Middle East peace talks, negotiations have again stalled, and Abbas is hoping for intervention from the US to help achieve a breakthrough. "We are going to speak first about the course of negotiations with Israel and let it be known in all frankness our position on the main negotiated dossiers," Abbas told reporters in Washington, where he was due to meet later with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Abbas is scheduled to meet with US President George W. Bush, on Thursday, after talks with US lawmakers. Early Wednesday, Abbas met with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Washington - one of a flurry of meetings aimed to set the stage for a visit by Bush in May to the Middle East.

Israelis, Palestinians now engaged in most intensive final status talks in eight years, but grave risks to process not to be overlooked, Security Council told
United Nations Security Council, ReliefWeb 4/23/2008
Israelis and Palestinians were now engaged in the most intensive negotiations on the final status of their disputed area since the breakdown of the Israeli-Palestinian political process nearly eight years ago, Angela Kane, Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council this morning. ’The significance of this should not be underestimated, but neither should the grave risks to the process be overlooked,’ Ms. Kane said as she briefed Council members on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, during the past month. During the reporting period, efforts continued to advance the political process through direct bilateral negotiations, she said. There had been major episodes of violence, especially in and around Gaza, and continued ’creation of facts on the ground’ in the West Bank.

Brigades attack Israeli targets
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades along with Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility on Wednesday morning for firing five homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot in the western Negev. They said in a joint statement that the operation was a sign of unity between resistance factions, who will continue to retaliate against the Israeli criminal acts against the Palestinian people. Separately, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the National Resistance Brigades, and the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said a joint group of their fighters fired two homemade projectiles at an Israeli military base east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, a group affiliated to Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed. . .

Israeli forces seize 8 Palestinians in Nablus and Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces apprehended eight Palestinians during several raids on West Bank districts on Wednesday morning. Hebrew sources said the Israeli army seized eight "wanted Palestinians" in Nablus in the northern West Bank and Hebron in the south. The sources said that an explosive device was launched at the Israeli soldiers while they were arresting Palestinians in Nablus. No casualties were reported. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that Israeli forces arrested a woman from Balata refugee camp east of Nablus, 28-year-old Ranya Abu Khalifa. They also seized 23-year-old Ahmad Daghlas from the village of Burqa who lives in Rafedia in Nablus, as well as 16-year-old Abdul-Rahim Mabrouk from Nablus.

The Israeli army kidnaps three civilians near Tulkarem
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
Three Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by the Israeli army during two invasions targeting the Nur-Shams refugee camp located in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem and the nearby Qafeen village on Wednesday morning. Local sources said that troops invaded the village of Qafeen, searching a number of homes and taking Sa’eed Bikawi, 18, and Fathi Harshah, 17, to unknown detention camps. Meanwhile another force invaded the Nur-Shams refugee camp also searching homes there and kidnapping Sabri Masharkah, 22. [end]

PFLP’s military wing fires two projectiles at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades claimed responsibility on Tuesday evening for launching two homemade projectiles at the Israeli city of Sderot in the western Negev. They said in a statement that the shelling came in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people and as affirmation that they will continue resisting Israeli occupation. [end]

Palestinian boy injured in road traffic accident with Israeli settler
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – A 6-year-old Palestinian boy was injured in a road traffic accident with an Israeli settler on Tuesday evening at the main road near Al-Arrub refugee camp between Hebron and Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, local sources told Ma’an’s reporter. The sources added that an Israeli ambulance evacuated Ri’fat Titi to an Israeli hospital. [end]

Palestinian security seize 5 Hamas affiliates in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – The Hamas movement said on Wednesday that the Palestinian security affiliated to the West Bank-based caretaker government seized five Hamas affiliates in the West Bank on Tuesday evening. According to a Hamas statement, two affiliates were seized in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, one in Nablus, also in the north and two more in Hebron in the southern West Bank. [end]

Palestine Today 042308
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB ||Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Wednesday April 23rd, 2008. The Israeli army allowed fuel into Gaza, while in the West Bank troops kidnap 16 civilians, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast The Israeli authorities began shipping large quantities of industrial gasoline to the Gaza Strip’s power plant this morning, after reports said the plant would be forced to shut down by Wednesday due to lack of fuel. Deputy-director of the Palestinian Energy Authority in Gaza, Kan’an Obaid, told media outlets today that the shipments of fuel are estimated at 800,000 to 1,000,000 liters of gasoline, which would enable partial operation of the plant for the next three days.

Report: Israeli army killed 59 Palestinians and injured 105 in Gaza during the month of April
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
The Gaza-based Al-Mizan center for Human Rights issued its monthly report on Wednesday. According to the report, the Israeli army has killed 59 Palestinians including 15 children in addition to injuring another 105 in the Gaza strip during the month of April 2008. With the 59 killed this month, the number of Palestinians in Gaza killed by the Israeli army since the beginning of 2008 now stands at 340, the Al Mizan center reported. The center also condemned the continued Israeli siege of the Gaza strip, which started in June 2007. The center said this siege represents a policy of collective punishment and is in contravention of international human rights law. [end]

ICRC concerned by suspension of family visits to prisoners - IRIN report
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
JERUSALEM/GAZA - IRIN report - For families in the Gaza Strip with sons or daughters in Israeli jails, the past 11 months have been especially hard, as they could no longer visit their imprisoned relatives and have only had contact through brief written messages. "This issue is a humanitarian concern for us, for the families and the prisoners," Katharina Ritz, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Jerusalem, told IRIN. "It is very important the families have contact with the people in jail; and psychologically, for the prisoners, it is important to have contact with the family," she said, noting that families bring books and clothes for their relatives. According to the Israeli rights group B’tselem, over 760 Gazans, including four women, are in Israeli jails. They are all there for "security" crimes - anything from alleged membership of an "illegal group" to proven acts of militancy.

Gaza journalists mourn Reuters colleague
Reuters, YNetNews 4/23/2008
Memorial service held in Gaza for Reuters cameraman killed by tank shell while reporting from Strip; IDF investigating incident -Journalists in the Gaza Strip held a memorial gathering for Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana on Wednesday, a week to the hour since he was killed by a tank shell while filming in Gaza. The IDF is currently holding an investigation as to why a tank missile was fired at Shana’s press vehicle, killing the 24-year-old journalist and five other Palestinians. The investigation is expected to last until next week, at which time Reuters expects an explanation for the incident, captured in the moments before Shana’s camera was destroyed. At the memorial event in Gaza, dozens of local journalists vowed to continue reporting in the territory. Speaking on behalf of colleagues from many media organizations, Reuters senior correspondent. . .

Hamas denies internal divisions regarding calm
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, revealed that Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, former foreign minister, would leave for Cairo to follow up the Egyptian efforts regarding the prisoner swap deal and the truce with Israel, categorically denying the existence of any disputes or divisions within Hamas with regard to its current political stance. Commenting in a press statement to the Quds Press on Israeli allegations about the presence of disputes between moderates and hardliners within Hamas, Dr. Abu Marzouk stated: "I do not think that one of those people who talks about strong disputes in the political bureau attended our meetings. "The Hamas leader added that any decision issued by the political leadership of Hamas in Damascus is taken after considering viewpoints of all leaders of the Movement whether they were in Gaza, the West Bank or in Israeli jails.

United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees to be held in Paris, 29 - 30 April
United Nations General Assembly, ReliefWeb 4/23/2008
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People will convene the United Nations International Conference on Palestine Refugees at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris on 29 and 30 April, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 62/80 and 62/81 of 10 December 2007. The objective of the Conference is to assess the present situation of Palestine refugees and examine the role of the United Nations in alleviating their plight. It will also examine efforts at finding an agreed, just and fair solution to the refugee issue in keeping with relevant United Nations resolutions as a prerequisite for resolving the question of Palestine and achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 02 - 08 Apr 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 4/8/2008
Of note this weekGaza Strip: - The IDF killed three Palestinians and injured 14 others. These include a five-year-old boy killed and two injured by IDF tank shells east of Al Bureij Camp. - An assistant to the Israeli Internal Security Minister, Avi Dichter, was lightly injured by shots fired from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel when the minister and his entourage were visiting. - On 7 April 2008, the Economic Crisis Management Committee declared a strike to protest the Israeli restrictions on the import of benzene and diesel. - The IDF carried out five levelling and excavation operations in the Gaza Strip. - Due to the lack of fuel supplies, the Gaza City Municipality has been forced to decrease the frequency of solid waste collection rounds, resulting in the accumulation of 400-600 tons of solid waste in the streets.

The Kadish-Pollard link
News agencies, YNetNews 4/23/2008
Prominent US magazine Newsweek reports arrest of suspected spy Ben-Ami Kadish was made possible after secret intelligence monitoring of ongoing inquiries regarding Jonathan Pollard case revealed -The FBI arrest of 85-year-old Ben-Ami Kadish on suspicion of espionage Tuesday lends an unexpected twist to another, somewhat stale, espionage case in Israel-US relations’ history – the Pollard case, a senior intelligence source told Newsweek Magazine Wednesday. According to the report, the US intelligence services intercepted a telephone conversation between Kadish and his handler, referred to in the investigation as CC1 - in which he instructs Kadish to "say nothing. Let them do all the talking. You haven’t done anything. You can’t remember something that happened 25 years ago. " According to intelligence sources quoted in Newsweek, Kadish’s. . .

VIDEO - There was no second Pollard, says Eitan Haber
Jonathan Weber, YNetNews 4/23/2008
(Video) Man who served as Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assistant at the time of first espionage affair believes revelation of ’new Israeli spy’ aimed at thwarting any chances of seeing Pollard released. ’One would be a fool to believe that the timing is a coincidence,’ he says -VIDEO -Eitan Haber, who served as Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assistant at the time of the Pollard affair, believes that Tuesday’s revelation of a new "Israeli spy" was aimed at thwarting any chances of seeing Jonathan Pollard released before US President George W. Bush leaves office. Video courtesy ofInfolive. tv"One would be a fool to believe that the publication of this affair at this time is a coincidence," he told Ynet on Wednesday. "I assume that the timing is not coincidental, and is aimed at sending a warning signal to the White House -. . . "

The Timing / Conspiracy theories abound
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
Why now? That’s what everyone is asking after Tuesday’s arrest and indictment of Ben-Ami Kadish. That’s the key question, to which there is no clear answer and which is grist for the mill of rumors, guesses and theories, including conspiracy theories. The explanations can be divided into two categories. The first can be called the rational-bureaucratic camp. The FBI, the CIA and the Department of Defense believed after the Pollard affair that Israel had another agent in the U. S. , even more senior than Pollard, whose identity was never revealed. This assessment was reinforced by details uncovered during Pollard’s interrogation, according to which his handlers had given him very precise details - including catalog numbers - about the documents he was to download from U. S. intelligence community computers.

Israel tries to play down arrest of spy in America
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/24/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel on Wednesday played down the impact of an spy scandal after the arrest in New York of a US Army veteran charged with passing secrets to the Jewish state in the 1970s and 90s. "This affair is a momentary embarrassment, but it will not harm the privileged relations between Israel and the [US]," a government official told AFP, asking not to be identified. "Neither of the two countries has any interest in poisoning things," the official said, adding that US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were both due to visit Israel in May. "Their wish is to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian accord before the end of Bush’s mandate and a crisis would only compromise this project," the official warned. On Tuesday the US authorities announced the arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish, 84, on charges that he disclosed secret defense information, including. . .

U.S.: We expect full cooperation in Kadish case
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
The United States’ demands of Israel following the arrest and subsequent indictment Tuesday in the U. S. of Ben-Ami Kadish on charges of spying for Israel recalled similar demands following the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, American sources familiar with the case have told Haaretz. At that time, Israel announced its full cooperation and handed over information to the American investigators, in effect greatly aiding the case against Pollard. According to the American sources, Israel is currently refusing to repeat this mistake but it eventually will have to admit, to the U. S. government and perhaps also to the public, that Kadish was indeed working for official agents of the State of Israel. Yesterday’s Foreign Ministry statement, according to which Israel halted its espionage activities against the United States on U.

Israel denies US spy claims
Al Jazeera 4/23/2008
Israel has said it has not spied on the US since 1985, responding to the arrest of a former US army engineer on charges of being an Israeli spy. Ben-Ami Kadish, 84, is suspected of passing information on nuclear weapons and air defence to Israel while working as a mechanical engineer at an army base in New Jersey. "The events go back to the early 1980s. Since 1985 there have been clear orders from prime ministers not to conduct these kind of activities," Arieh Mekel, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday. Court papers say Kadish’s spying took place between 1979 and 1985, although he is alleged to have maintained contact with an Israeli official until this year. US authorities also accused Kadish, who was arrested on Tuesday, of illegally acting as an agent for Israel from 1979 to 2008 without notifying the US attorney-general’s office.

ANALYSIS: New espionage affair may be old story, but will greatly damage Israel
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
The new U. S. -Israel espionage affair revealed Tuesday is in fact an old story. Nothing in this fact, however, can reduce the gravity of damage it will cause Israel, nor lead to expectations that suspect Ben-Ami Kadish’s punishment will be eased - if he is indeed to be convicted in a court of law. A number of conclusions can be drawn from the case, which points to a pattern that has characterized Israel’s security and intelligence establishments for many years. First, the American judicial memory is very long, and the long arm of justice there does not withdraw, even after a quarter-century or more. Colonel (res. ) Aviam Sela, who was involved in recruiting American Jonathan Pollard to spy for Israel, and Jackob Nimrodi, who was involved in Irangate, the sale of Israeli arms to Iran, with U. S. cooperation, both know this well. Since the 1980s, both have avoided the U. S. for fear of being arrested upon their arrival.

Neighbors: Israeli brother ’patriotic’
Yigal Hai, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
The family of Ben-Ami Kadish’s brother Ehud declined to comment yesterday on Ben-Ami’s arrest in the United States on suspicion of spying for Israel. Ehud Kadish lives with his wife Ronnie and their son David on Moshav Neve Yarak, near Hod Hasharon. According to the indictment, it was Ehud who introduced Ben-Ami to his alleged Israeli handler, Yossi Yagur, in the 1970s when Yagur and Ehud both worked at Israel Aircraft Industries, now called Israel Aerospace Industries. Members of the agricultural community said the Kadishes had bought a 20-dunam farm on the moshav about 20 years ago and became involved in community life. "They are good, patriotic people who love the state very much. They are very polite and sociable and take part in all the events held on the moshav," one woman moshav member said. Another member, a man, said that "Ehud is a quiet, modest man in his 70s. . . "

At Kadish’s N.J. community, ’espionage affairs scare people’
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
Not a soul could be seen at midday yesterday in the Ponds retirement community in Monroe Township, New Jersey, where Ben-Ami Kadish and his wife Doris live. Kadish, a former U. S. Army engineer, was indicted in Manhattan on Tuesday on charges of conspiring to give U. S. military secrets to Israel in the 1980s. He is suspected of photographing and passing on to Israel classified information including restricted data about nuclear weapons, plans for upgrading the F-15 combat aircraft and the U. S. Patriot missile system. The entire area, an hour-and-a-half drive from Manhattan, is surrounded by lawns and undisturbed silence. In contrast to the scenery, the uniformed security guard at the entrance to the compound responds with hostility to this reporter’s questions. "Yes, I can imagine who you’re looking for," he says.

Hamas prisoners hail their leadership’s rejection of Carter’s suggestion
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Hamas prisoners in the Israeli Jalbo prison hailed Wednesday the position of their leadership against a suggestion tabled by former US president Jimmy Carter about the prisoners’ swap deal, expressing their rejection of concluding this deal without including prisoners of high sentences. In a press statement received by the PIC, the prisoners opined that Crater’s proposal for releasing 71 Palestinian prisoners in addition to MPs, women and elderly men was unfair, highlighting that priority should be for releasing prisoners serving long terms.   The prisoners stated that Hamas’s adherence to its previous position regarding the swap deal reaffirmed the national spirit of the Movement’s leadership and that it gives the national issues precedence over its factional interests. In another context, the IOF troops stormed at dawn Wednesday different areas of. . .

Nahal Oz terminal to reopen Wednesday
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 4/23/2008
Fuel depot closed following terror attack two weeks ago, which left two Israelis dead. For time being, Israel to only allow transfer of diesel to Gaza’s power station - The Nahal Oz fuel terminal will reopen Wednesday morning for the first time in two weeks, since the terror attack which left two Israelis dead. For the time being, the defense establishment will only allow the transfer of diesel to the Gaza Strip’s power station, while the transfer of petrol will not be possible. The terminal was partially opened last week for the transfer of diesel and heating gas, but Palestinian gunmen fired at the tankers, leading to a decision to leave the depot closed. Following the attempted infiltration attack at the Kerem Shalom crossing on Saturday, the defense establishment began looking into the IDF’s activity at the crossings.

Hamas hands Cairo its final stand on calm
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement is to deliver to the Egyptian leadership on Wednesday its final position regarding the proposed calm between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that the Movement drafted its stand in the light of answers received from Cairo on the issue. He stressed that Hamas demands an end to all forms of Israeli aggression, opening Gaza crossings and lifting the siege on the Palestinian people along with an adherence to reciprocity and simultaneity in accordance with specific mechanisms. The spokesman said that MP Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, the prominent Hamas leader and former PA foreign minister, would deliver Hamas’s response today after which calm would be dependant on the Israeli stance. Abu Zuhri denied any link between calm and the prisoners’ exchange deal or between it and the visit of former American president Jimmy Carter.

Palestinian FM sees Gaza ceasefire ’very close’
Middle East Online 4/23/2008
MADRID - Gaza, a strip of land still under illegal Israel occupation, is close to declaring a ceasefire under a deal proposed by Egyptian mediators, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said Wednesday in Spain. "I think we are very close to announcing a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that will allow the blockade of the border area to be lifted and also end Israeli incursions and the launch rockets of Hamas into southern Israel," he told a conference in Madrid. Malki was speaking one day before US President George W. Bush is to hold talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Washington as part of diplomatic efforts to try to revive the flagging Mideast peace process. Israel tightened its restrictions on the Gaza Strip, causing shortages in food and gas and other key commodities, dubbed by the international community as “collective punishment”.

Haniyeh: The ball is in Israel’s court
Ma’an News Agency 4/23/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister in the Gaza-based de facto government Isma’il Haniyeh on Wednesday reiterated that Hamas will only agree to a ceasefire with Israel if it is bilateral, and establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 territories. Speaking during inauguration of new children hospital in Gaza city, Haniyeh said, "Commitment to a ceasefire depends on the halting of Israeli aggression and ending the crippling siege on the Gaza Strip. " He also highlighted that Hamas would go ahead with the ceasefire deal on condition that all other Palestinian factions agree to it. "After Hamas reveals its final decision to the Egyptians, the ball will be in Israel’s court," Haniyeh said. Haniyeh said Hamas’ approval of a Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 was nothing new.

Palestinian Prime Minister of Hamas accepts a conditional ceasefire with Israel
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
In his first public appearance in several weeks, Palestinian prime minister of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, reiterated his party’s acceptance of a ’ comprehensive and mutual’ ceasefire with Israel on Wednesday. Haniya, who was speaking at an inauguration ceremony of a childrens’ hospital in Gaza city, told reporters that any truce or ceasefire deal with Israel should be conditioned on the halt of all Israeli actions, including lifting the Gaza blockade and reopening crossing points. He also said that a Palestinian national consensus should be secured in order for this ceasefire to come into effect, signaling necessary backing by Palestinian factions. "our response to the Egyptians today will put the ball in the Israeli court, with respect to the ceasefire", Haniya made clear. Cairo has been relentlessly involved in ceasefire mediation efforts between Hamas and Israel.

Syrian minister confirms: Olmert expressed willingness to cede Golan
Reuters and Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 4/23/2008
Syrian cabinet minister confirms Arab media reports, says PM Olmert agreed to withdraw from Golan heights in exchange for peace; meanwhile, Syrian foreign minister says nothing should stop resumption of peace talks - Official confirmation from Syria:Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has told Turkey that Israel is willing to cede the Golan Heights in return for peace with Damascus, a Syrian cabinet minister confirmed Wednesday. "Olmert is ready for peace with Syria on the grounds of international conditions; on the grounds of the return of the Golan Heights in full to Syria," Expatriates Minister Buthaina Shaaban told al-Jazeera television. Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Wednesday evening that there is no reason why peace talks between Israel and Syria should not be restarted. . .

Peace with Syria suicidal, MKs say
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 4/23/2008
Syrian report suggesting Olmert will agree to pull out of Golan Heights for sake of peace with Damascus inflames political area: Likud blames him for thinking of nothing but political survival; Kadima MK says will push forward referendum on area’s future -Prime MinisterEhud Olmert undoubtedly heard about the Syrian report saying he had agreed to cede Israeli control of the Golan Heights in exchange forpeace with Syria , while on vacation. The report by the Damascus-based website Shams Press was joined by a report in the Syrian newspaper al-Watan, which claimed that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephonedSyrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday and informed him of Olmert’s willingness to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace agreement.

Turkish PM tells Syria Israel agreed to a full pullout from the Golan Heights
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
The Sham Press Syrian News Agency reported on Thursday that the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, informed Damascus that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, agreed to withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria. The decision caused uproar among several members of the Israeli Knesset. Yet, Israel analysts said that they doubt that Olmert will be capable to make such a statement and stand by it. Olmert always conditioned peace talks with Syria with a Syrian halt of supporting Palestinian factions and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party, but recently he started talking about readiness to hold talks with Syria which will eventually lead to fulfilling these demands, Israeli sources reported. He stated that "Israel is interested in talks with Syria in order to lead Damascus away from the axis of evil".

Turkey reassures Syria on Israel peace feelers
Middle East Online 4/23/2008
DAMASCUS - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has assured Syria that Israel is ready to return all of the Golan Heights, reports said on Wednesday amid renewed peace feelers between the bitter foes. "Mr Erdogan telephoned President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday morning to tell him of the readiness of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to withdraw completely from the occupied Syrian Golan in return for peace," reported the Al-Watan daily, which, like all the Syrian press, reflects the official line. Damascus has consistently demanded as its price for peace the return of the whole of the strategic Syrian territory right down to the shores of the Sea of Galilee – which Israel is using as its main water source after capturing the Syrian Golan. Israel baulked at the demand in the last peace talks which broke off in 2000 but Israeli media reported last year that the government. . .

VIDEO - Syrian report: Olmert agreed to concede Golan Heights
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 4/23/2008
(Video) Damascus-based website Sham Press reports prime minister informed his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that Israel will fully withdraw from area in return for peace with Syria. Prime Minister’s Office declines comment - VIDEO -Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has informed Damascus that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agrees to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria, the independent Damascus-based website Press Shams reported Wednesday, quoting diplomatic sources. Video courtesy ofInfolive. tv The Prime Minister’s Office declined comment Wednesday on the report, saying that "we will not comment on the said report but we can refer everyone to the prime minister’s holiday interviews saying that we know what the Syrians want of us, and they know what we want of them.

Officials: U.S. vital to relaunching Syria talks
Yoav Stern and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
Officials following contacts between Israel and Syria say significant U. S. involvement will probably be necessary for negotiations to move ahead, and that Syria is still demanding such involvement. Both Israeli and foreign experts on Syria told Haaretz Wednesday that a change in the American position was not on the horizon, and that no details on the Israeli position had been included in Wednesday’s Syrian media reports on Israel’s willingness to withdraw from the Golan Heights. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Wednesday that if Israel were serious about making peace with Syria and withdrawing from the Golan, there was nothing to prevent the renewal of negotiations. But he added that Syria was not prepared for talks with Israel that would hurt the Palestinian negotiating track.

Mass rally in Brussels to demand urgent move to break Israeli siege on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- Masses of people from around the European continent flocked to the Belgian capital, Brussels, to participate in a picket held Tuesday in front of the European parliament, at the invitation of the European campaign to lift the siege and the Palestinian Awda center, in order to appeal for moving urgently to break the suffocating siege on Gaza. The protesters called on the European commission and the parliament to assist the Gaza people in restoring their freedom and right to decent life. They also carried banners written in Arabic, English, and French some of them read, "let Gaza live" and "where are the human rights of Gaza people? " A press statement distributed during the protest and circulated to different media outlets described the Israeli siege policy as a slow systematic murder, that turned Gaza, which is one of the most densely populated areas, into the largest. . .

UN: Gunmen blocked peacekeepers in Lebanon
Reuters, YNetNews 4/23/2008
UNIFIL patrol spots ’suspicious’ vehicle; UN chief: Incident ’gives cause for concern’ - Gunmen blocked a UN Peacekeeping patrol in southern Lebanon at the end of March in the first such incident since the Second Lebanon War, the Security Council heard on Wednesday. Two vehicles occupied by five people armed with assault rifles blocked the UNIFIL patrol for a few minutes on the night of March 30-31, "denying UNIFIL its freedom of movement," UN Assistant Secretary-general Angela Kane said. The patrol challenged the gunmen who left before they could be identified, Kane said in a monthly Middle East report to the council. "This was the first such incident since the end of the 2006 war that UNIFIL came across armed elements in its area of operations," she said.

LA Times: ''CIA to submit a report to the congress confirming Israel shelled a Syrian Reactor''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
The Los AngelesTimes reported on Thursday that officials of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) will inform the Congress that Syria and North Korea have secret relations, and that the construction which Israel shelled in Syria was slated to be used as a nuclear reactor. The paper stated that CIA officials will tell congress members that North Korea is helping Syria in building a plutonium-based nuclear reactor. A senior US official said that this issue would create new resistance to an American plan to ease restrictions on N. Korea. Also, Los Angeles Times said that the CIA officials intend to inform Congress members that they believe that this reactor will enable Syria to produce plutonium which is used for nuclear weapons. They added that Israel shelled the reactor and destroyed it before Syria was able to produce any weapons.

Israel asks not to detail IAF airstrike
Amos Harel Shmuel Rosner and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
The American administration is slated to provide today, for the first time, extensive details about the nature of the nuclear facility that Israel bombed in Syria on September 6. The Lost Angeles Times reported yesterday that Congress will hear from the Central Intelligence Agency that the facility destroyed in the Israel Air Force attack was a nuclear reactor for producing plutonium. Israel, however, does not intend to break the official silence it has maintained on the matter for the past seven months. Security sources told Haaretz last night that the government will not go public with new information in the case. The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the matter yesterday, and referred Haaretz to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s statements last week in his Pesach interview with media outlets, in which he said that "the Syrians know what our position is, and we know what their expectations are.

Gaza’s children use art to resist occupation
Yousef Joudeh, Palestine News Network 4/23/2008
Gaza - The children of Gaza are using their drawings and paintings in another attempt to reach out to the world. Supported by the Ministry of Education, school students of all ages gathered at the Ministry’s headquarters in Gaza in the presence of high ranking officials and dignitaries to open their Art Exhibition. The children’s paintings and drawings expressed the pain and suffering felt by Gaza’s students as a result of the Israeli siege. The paintings also expressed the different effects the siege has had on people’s lives, the problems they face, their sorrow and anger, and their hopes for the future. One of the paintings showed a mother holding her slaughtered child. Others showed children demonstrating and demanding the opening of borders, an ambulance driver riding a donkey stamped with the Red Cross sign with a wounded child on its back,. . .

Radio Free Palestine
CKUT Radio, International Middle East Media Center News 4/23/2008
Calling all community radio broadcasters: You are invited to join an international collaboration and historic radio opportunity. We would like to confirm your station’s participation on Thursday, May 15th. This important broadcast will be available in some pre-recorded segments, as a live stream from Midnight until 6pm on the 15th, and as a broadcast quality archive afterwards. Will you be airing any portion of this audio on May 15th or at any later date? Please let us know if we can confirm you station as a re-broadcaster of any portion. . . . RADIO FREE PALESTINE. . . 18 HOURS OF BROADCASTING ON 60 YEARS OF DISPOSSESSION - THURSDAY, MAY 15th, from Midnight until 6pm (EST) [end] -- See also: Poster

IDF soldier jailed for posting sensitive photos on Facebook
TheMarker, Ha’aretz 4/24/2008
A soldier from the elite Intelligence Corps unit "8200" was sentenced to 19 days in prison for uploading photos taken on his base without approval to the popular social networking site Facebook. This is the first time the Israel Defense Forces has sentenced a soldier to military jail for an offense of this sort. The Israel Air Force has recently instructed all servicemen under their command who are serving in sensitive units to remove any photos they may have uploaded to Facebook. The IAF order does not apply to soldiers from the rest of the IDF, many of whom have uploaded photos taken during their army service, including pictures that show not only the units in which they serve, but also depict the soldiers deployed with highly sensitive or classified weapons platforms.

United Islamic bloc wins Palestine polytechnic university students council
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- The united Islamic bloc on Wednesday won the Palestine polytechnic university’s students’ board after grabbing 15 seats while the Shuhada Al-Aqsa bloc, affiliated with Fatah, won 14 seats. Students reported that the difference in terms of votes was 200, noting that the united Islamic bloc, grouping an alliance of Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements’ supporters, gained 1,600 votes while the Fatah group secured 1,400 votes. They noted that the student bloc affiliated with the PFLP won two seats. Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, congratulated the Islamic bloc over its victory. The united bloc was quick to offer their victory as a gift for the besieged people in Gaza and declared readiness to form a students’ council of all blocs. The Fatah bloc had won the council elections in the Al-Khalil based university in the past couple of years.

Arafat bloc wins Birzeit student elections
Palestine News Network 4/23/2008
Birzeit, Ramallah / PNN -- In a major show of what the Palestinian street misses, the Yasser Arafat Bloc in Birzeit University’s student elections received 25 out of 51 seats. The Islamic Bloc won 19 seats, while the Democratic Progressive Student Pole received five seats. Most students at this major university just outside of Ramallah turned out to vote, however 72 of the papers were blank. Out of 6,347 students entitled to vote, 5,283 came to the polls. That computed to a percentage of 83. 24. The Dean of Student Affairs said that his own fears were assuaged as the voting process was calm, in full transparency and impartiality in accordance with the university’s Preparatory Committee criteria. He noted that these elections represent a real democratic win. He added that Birzeit students are "interested in building awareness of sense of security and a sense of responsibility,. . .

Hamas: Victory in W. Bank student elections strong signs of our firm popularity
Palestinian Information Center 4/23/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement said on Wednesday that the victory it has achieved in Al-Khalil polytechnic University’s students election was a strong sign of the Movement’s rising popularity in the West Bank despite IOF-PA aggression. The United Islamic Bloc, a union of the  academic wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad at the University, won the student elections despite attempts of Fatah’s Shabiba to spoil the victory. "This is clear evidence to all that Hamas was strong enough, and that all the attempts made to marginalize it in the Palestinian arena, particularly in the West Bank had totally failed", the Movement asserted. Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman of Hamas in Gaza Strip, underlined that Hamas and its political program couldn’t be erased from the hearts of the Palestinian people [as detractors of Hamas think].

Israeli firms report slowdown
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 4/23/2008
The Bank of Israel’s first quarter companies survey reveals that slowdown is affecting most sectors. Companies and businesses have reported a slowdown in growth and business activity during the first quarter of 2008, theBank of Israel quarterly survey reveals. The survey covered 542 companies and businesses. The slowdown has affected most sectors, save for the hotel and commerce sectors. The expectations for the second quarter (ending June) are for a slight improvement only in economic and business activity. However, most sectors saw a slowdown in local demand in the first quarter, which made it difficult for companies and businesses to expand their activity. Industrial companies reported a mixed trend in the first quarter, in contrast to the marked rise reported in previous surveys. The slowdown in industrial companies’ activity was highlighted by both weaker exports and even more so, weaker sales to the local market.

100 Israel-bound Eritreans caught in Sinia
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 4/24/2008
CAIRO: Egyptian security forces have arrested 100 Eritrean migrants near a southern coastal resort who said they were heading to Israel in search of work, a security official said on Wednesday. The Eritreans were detained on Monday south of the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, about half way between Cairo and Egypt’s border with Sudan. Also Wednesday Egyptian police shot and seriously wounded a Sudanese and a Ghanaian man who refused to obey orders to stop as they tried to cross the border. The 250-kilometer Egyptian-Israeli border has become a major transit route for migrants and asylum-seekers. [end]

US to brief on N Korea-Syria ’ties’
Al Jazeera 4/23/2008
The Bush administration is reportedly preparing to brief members of congress later this week on North Korea’s alleged nuclear cooperation with Syria. According to news agencies, citing unnamed US sources, the briefing scheduled for Thursday will focus on the current state of North Korea’s nuclear programme. The White House has said little in public the North’s alleged ties to Syria since Israel launched an air strike inside Syria on September 6. However, several reports have suggested that the Israeli strike was directed at a nuclear site built with North Korean assistance and similar in design to the North’s Yongbyon nuclear plant. The Yongbyon plant and reactor formed the centrepiece of North Korea’s plutonium-based weapons programme. While a handful of lawmakers were briefed on the allegations last year, the decision to widen the circle substantially comes as US officials ramp up efforts to persuade North Korea to provide a long overdue declaration of its nuclear programs.

Iran, IAEA agree to discuss nuclear allegations
News agencies, YNetNews 4/23/2008
UN nuclear watchdog’s spokeswoman says agency hopes Tehran will provide necessary clarifications about claims it tried to make nuclear arms. Ahmadinejad: Iran won’t yield to international pressure to halt atomic work - Iran has agreed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency investigation of allegations that Tehran tried to make nuclear arms. Mohamed ElBaradei’s, head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said Iran’s decision to discuss allegations it tried to make nuclear weapons was "a milestone. "IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says the agency hopes Iran will provide the necessary clarifications about the allegations in May. She said Wednesday that an agreement on the issue had been reached during talks in Tehran earlier this week between Iranian officials and IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen.

Saudi-Syrian feud ’main obstacle’ for Lebanon
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 4/24/2008
BEIRUT: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Wednesday that the strained relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia were reflecting negatively on the political crisis in Lebanon. "The dispute between Damascus and Riyadh is one of the main obstacles hindering a settlement in Lebanon," he said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. For her part, Merkel praised Egypt’s efforts to end the crisis in Lebanon while criticizing Syria "unconstructive role. "Mubarak reportedly asked French President Nicholas Sarkozy during an earlier meeting in Paris to exert pressure on Syria, urging it to facilitate a settlement in Lebanon. Also Wednesday, Premier Fouad Siniora contacted Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema to thank them for the support they showed. . .


Israeli soldiers do not shoot at children
Aya Kaniuk, translated by Tal Haran, from Mahsan Milim, Palestine Monitor 4/23/2008
      Israeli soldiers do not shoot children, said the manageress of a shop where I worked. But I have seen this, I told her. And once they murdered a child right in front of my very eyes, shot him with a live bullet to the neck.
     No, she said, don’t say murder. And she did not agree and she could not accept this, for she knows. For her sons have served in the army, and her spouse. For Israelis do not shoot children.
     But they did shoot. Omar Matar, fourteen-years old, from Qalandiya refugee camp. I was standing right there and saw the soldiers chase the children as these were running away, and they sniped away at them like hunters’ prey. And I saw how he fell, bleeding.
     It has been said that the devil himself cannot think up a proper revenge for the blood of a small child. A heart-rending saying, for it is true. The face of a child, the age of a child, the essence of a child is the one thing that crosses all conflicts and borders and races. One does not kill children. Nothing is more normative than that. A child is blameless. A child is a child is a child.

32 years in an Israeli prison cell

Luisa Morgantini, Palestine News Network 4/23/2008
      This article, written by the Vice President of the European Parliament, was published in the Italian newspaper ’Liberazione.’ The last time that Widad hugged her son was eight years ago, in a prison in Ashkelon, Israel: for many years since she was not allowed to see him, as the Israeli Authorities repeatedly denied her the permit for "security reasons."
     Widad Naief Mohammad Atabeh lives in Nablus, is 78 years old, suffers from hypertension, diabetes and her sight has strongly worsen since the last time she saw Saed, "He hugged me and said that in that moment he was born again to life. Those minutes for us were the most precious, but the moment we had to depart from each other was the hardest and most disappointing."
     This is what she writes today in an appeal to all mothers in the world, in an effort to put pressure on the Israeli Authorities to allow her to see Saed for the last time making her dream come true.

Israeli pressure on Gaza helps Haniyya at Abbas’ expense

Mohammed Omer, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 4/24/2008
      GAZA CITY: The one political result of Israel’s attacks and sanctions on Gaza has been that the Hamas leadership, and particularly Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya, have emerged greatly strengthened. Over the last three months, support for Haniyya has overtaken that for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party. Fatah rules the Occupied West Bank, and Hamas governs Gaza, the two main Palestinian territories.
     A poll conducted in March by the independent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research shows that Abbas has lost a 19 percent advantage over Haniyya over the past three months. Now, the poll suggests Haniyya would get 47 percent of the Palestinian vote, and Abbas 46 percent. The poll was carried out among 1,270 adults, 830 in the West Bank and 440 in the Gaza Strip, at 127 randomly selected locations.
     Popularity for Haniyya increased after the breaching of the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt, said Khalil Shikaki, head of the survey center. The breach is believed to have been the work of Hamas, and it helped Palestinians bring in badly needed provisions denied earlier by an Israeli blockade.

Borderlines and Frontlines

Dina Ezzat, MIFTAH 4/23/2008
      Quiet prevails on the border between Egypt and Gaza, for now. Below the surface, however, tension between Egypt and Hamas is seething. Statements made by Hamas spokesmen last week about a potential replay of January’s mass breakout of ordinary Palestinians over the border "inevitably" led to a firm Egyptian response, threatening "a harsh reaction" while beefing up visible security on the border.
     By Wednesday, Cairo’s fears, high at the weekend, about a potential breakout and its political and humanitarian consequences were somewhat relaxed. "But we are still on standby," insisted one Egyptian official. For its part, Hamas is not ruling out a possible breach of the border. It would be, the movement says, a simple reaction of 1.5 million Palestinians to suffocation via siege. Hamas appeals for Egyptian assistance rather than its fury, spokesmen say.
     In a recent briefing attended by Al-Ahram Weekly, the Damascus-based deputy chairman of Hamas’s politburo, Moussa Aboumarzouk, insisted that it is not in the interest of Hamas to undermine Egyptian national security. "We want to work with, not anger Egypt. This is in our interest and it is in the interest of the Egyptians as well," he said.

In his Death, a Truth was Told

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 4/23/2008
      One week ago, in yet another Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip which claimed 21 Palestinians in a day, Reuters photographer Fadel Shana lost his life. According to media reports, the 23-year old cameraman was filming invading Israeli tanks in Gaza City when he stepped out of his van, clearly marked with the word “press”, and was hit by the same tank’s fire. Later photos showed Shana’s blood-soaked flack jacket and his burning van as fellow Palestinians hovered over the young man’s lifeless body.
     Given that Shana worked with an international media organization, it is no surprise that Reuters has demanded an investigation into the death. Reuters Editor-in-chief David Schlesinger fell short of explicitly chiding Israel but got his message across all the same. “This tragic incident shows the risks journalists take every day to report news,” he said. “All governments and organizations have the responsibility to take the utmost care to protect professionals trying to do their jobs.” Later, he continued, “The markings on Fadel Shana’s vehicle showed clearly and unambiguously that he was a professional journalist doing his duty.”

Analysis: Oops, Jimmy Carter did it Again!

Claude Salhani, MIFTAH 4/23/2008
      Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter started out his latest Middle East trip with dark clouds hanging over him. Both the U.S. administration of George W. Bush and the Israeli government opposed his plans to include a meeting with the Damascus-based leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, otherwise known as Hamas.
     Although one needs to remain extra cautious until any deal is finalized and the ink on the paper is dry - and even then, there is always the risk of something going wrong - Carter’s talks in the Syrian capital seem to have gotten off to a good start.
     However, even Carter remained cautious, telling the New York Times in an interview: "I’m not claiming it’s a breakthrough. I don’t have any control over whether or not Hamas does what they tell me. I just know what they tell me."
     For the moment, however, it would seem that the former American president might have just done it again. For the second time in his life Carter has managed to draw the Arabs and Israelis away from the lines of confrontation and toward the negotiating table.

Actually, Israel’s Economy can’t do Well Without Peace

Bernard Avishai, MIFTAH 4/23/2008
      Does the Israeli economy really need peace? The prime minister’s office routinely boasts that growth in Israel has outpaced that of other "developed" countries for the past five years, even during 2006, when the country went to war against Lebanon. Business journals report on the more than 80 Israeli and global venture capital funds financing hundreds of start-ups. The April 5 issue of The Economist questions Israel’s economic fundamentals, but expresses doubts about such things as the comparatively thin research budgets of its universities, and the transparency of its bureaucracy. "The most serious threat," the magazine writes, is not political violence, but "the state of the education system." The Bank of Israel projects a slowdown to 3.5 percent growth in 2008, but the governor quickly adds that this is still better than the Western average, and blames sluggishness in the US economy. The sluggishness of the peace process, such as it is, doesn’t feature in his speeches anymore.
     It seems that almost everyone has bought into former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s argument that Israel can enjoy the fruit of its brainpower irrespective of its conflicts; that technology incubated by the Israel armed forces, and coupled with greater market freedom, is the only economic driver Israel really needs. "High-tech" is impervious to war, Netanyahu once told me in an interview, because "real assets are carried around in people’s heads."

Activists hang up on Motorola

Adri Nieuwhof, Electronic Intifada 4/23/2008
      In March of this year, the US Campaign to End the Israeli occupation launched its newest corporate accountability campaign: "Hang Up on Motorola." Motorola Incorporated and its fully owned subsidiary Motorola Israel benefit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Present in Israel since 1964, Motorola supplies the Israeli army with equipment. The campaign was launched because the company failed to respond to the concerns of US activists. Therefore, the campaign demands that Motorola ends its production and sales of all products to Israel that support the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, now in its 41st year.
     United Methodist Church In June 2007 the New England United Methodist Church issued a report on companies, including Motorola, which were identified as supporting the Israeli occupation. On the basis of well-documented research, the United Methodist Church came to the conclusion that Motorola supports the Israeli occupation of Palestine in a significant way. The report states that "Motorola is engaged in a $93 million project to provide radar systems for enhancing security at illegal West Bank settlements deep inside Palestinian territory. Motorola also has a $90 million contract to provide the Israeli army with an advanced ’Mountain Rose’ cell phone communications system. Its wholly owned subsidiary in Israel is contracted to develop encrypted wireless communications featuring vehicle-mounted antenna that will enable military use in the occupied territories and other remote areas. Motorola has operations in the Jordan Valley on occupied land."

Two Causes of Arab Political Incoherence

Rami Khouri, Middle East Online 4/23/2008
      BEIRUT -- How much are the Arabs responsible for their own political dysfunction, national fragmentation and rampant violence, and how much of their troubles can be blamed on foreign interference and military interventions in the region? Two recent articles in quality American journals highlight how low-class Arab politics that are widely dissatisfying to their own citizens can reflect both indigenous autocracy and foreign mischief-making.
     In an article in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs entitled “The price of the surge: How US strategy is hastening Iraq’s demise,” former US National Security Council official and current Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Steven Simon methodically discredits the year-old “surge” of additional American troops. He sees it as a short-term fix that will have negative long-term consequences for Iraq, because it promotes forces that can degrade national integrity.

US playwright Sarah Jones urged to cancel Israel performance

Open letter, PACBI, Electronic Intifada 4/22/2008
      The following is an open letter sent from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to playwright Sarah Jones:
     Dear Ms. Jones, With more than 600 military checkpoints and roadblocks in the occupied Palestinian territory, endless indiscriminate raids, and a medieval siege that prevents for long periods the passage of necessary food, medicine, fuel and all other commerce into or out of Gaza, in particular, Israel is trapping more than 3.5 million Palestinian civilians under occupation in their cities, villages and refugee camps, condemning many of whom into abject poverty. Tens of Palestinian women were killed while giving birth on Israeli military checkpoints for not being allowed to reach hospitals or ambulances waiting on the other side. Hundreds of Palestinian youth and children have been killed by the Israeli occupation army and thousands have been denied entry to their homeland.
     Yes, all prominent human rights organizations have recorded this terrible oppression by the Israeli military in occupied Palestine. Yes, these crimes and gross human rights violations are persistently committed by Israel, "the only democracy in the Middle East."

Sixty years after the Deir Yassin massacre - What we should remember

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 4/23/2008
      "At two in the morning they came and invaded our village of 750 inhabitants, eventually leaving at six o’clock in the evening.House by house, they rushed inside and shot all the people they could find," remembers Abd Al-Qader, one of the survivors.Today, at eighty-two years old, he is speaking to a group of people gathered to remember the massacre that took place in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin on 9 April 1948.
     The attack formed part of the execution of Plan Dalet, a strategy prepared by the Haganah (a Jewish paramilitary organisation) in 1947 with the purpose of conquering as much of Palestine as possible and to expel as many Palestinians as possible, in preparation for the creation of a Jewish state.The massacre has now become a symbol of the events of 1948 that led to Palestinian exodus and dispossession, and that lie at the heart of the Palestinian refugee problem.
     Organized by the Israeli group Zochrot ("remembering" in Hebrew), the annual ceremony seeks to remember both the massacre of Deir Yassin in particular, and the truth about the events surrounding the Nakba ("catastrophe" in Arabic) in general. This truth that has been consistently masked, revised and marginalized by Israeli historians, academics, political leaders, and others seeking to conceal the violence and dispossession that preceded the creation of the Israeli state.