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

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5 May 2008


Two women, a 13-year old girl, die due to the Israeli siege on Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
Three Palestinian women, including a 13-year old girl, died in the Gaza strip on Monday after being prevented by the Israeli authorities from leaving Gaza to for medical treatment abroad. Asmahan Al Jamal, 13, and underage patient from Gaza City and suffered from brain cancer, , Zakyiah Sa’dah, 59, with a heart condition, and Nathmiah Abdah, 55, a cancer patient, both from Al Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, died on Monday, medical sources reported. All were prevented by the Israeli authorities from leaving the Palestinian Coastal region from medical care aboard. The death of the three patients raises the number of Palestinians patients who died due to the Israeli siege on Gaza to 145. Israeli has placed the Gaza Strip under total Siege in June 2007.

Nablus residents storm warehouses demanding food aid
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Hundreds of Palestinians in the Bank city of Nablus attacked World Food Program (WFP) warehouses on Sunday, demanding that they have access to donated flour that the Palestinian Health Ministry says is unfit for human consumption. Ma’an received official laboratory documents which indicated that the flour was edible. Sources in the World Food Program told Ma’an that 21,000 tons of flour had been recently donated to the Palestinian people. Four thousand tonswent to Nablus, butthe Palestinian Health Ministry refused to distribute the flour to the residents on the pretext that the flour did not meet Palestinian standards. The international sources told Ma’an that the flour exceeded Palestinian standards. A Fatah-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker from Nablus, Najat Abu Bakr, warned of what she called "hunger rebellion" in Nablus,. . .

UN: Israel has given us enough fuel for 20 more days of Gaza aid
Haaretz Service and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
The United Nations relief operation in Gaza on Monday said it had received enough fuel from Israel to continue working for the next 20 days. UN spokesman Chris Gunness stated it was a disgrace that his organization would be deprived of fuel. On Sunday he said tanks were empty. Gaza residents rely on Israel for all their fuel. The Israel Defense Forces said it had to stop transferring fuel on Sunday after Palestinian militants attacked supply trucks. On Sunday, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said the lack of fuel would force its food distribution programs to be halted on Monday, affecting some 650,000 people. The Gaza fuel association said it went on strike to protest over Israel’s supply limits which were cut back sharply after Palestinian militants attacked the Nahal Oz depot last month killing two Israeli civilians.

One killed, five injured in collapse of tunnel under Rafah border
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian man called Rami Ash-Sha’r, who was in his twenties, was killed on Monday afternoon and five others were injured when an underground tunnel collapsed in Brazil neighborhood, near the border with Egypt in the Gaza Strip. A sixth man was missing. Witnesses said the tunnel was near area of the so-called Salah Addin Gate, a gap that was opened in the border wall by Palestinian fighters in late January. The director of Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Dr Ahmad Abu Naqira, said that five people arrived at the hospital suffering from suffocation. He affirmed that the injured were released from the hospital after they were treated. [end]

Inflation takes its toll on Palestinians
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 5/5/2008
In the midst of continued Israeli military attacks, crippling movement restrictions, wide scale arrests, land confiscations and the ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip, Palestinians now have yet another debilitating foe to contend with: inflation. Between January and March, prices in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) rose by 2. 28%, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. This was driven largely by the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip where the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the average price of consumer goods and services purchased by households, increased by 4. 65%. Omar, who owns a fruit stand in downtown Ramallah, said that one kilo of tomatoes, which sold for two shekels just six months ago, now costs six shekels." Before, families bought three kilos at once, and now they buy just one kilo and a half," he said.

IDF imposes full closure on West Bank ahead of IDF memorial day
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 5/5/2008
Barak orders army to seal off territories in light of specific warnings regarding possible terror attack attempts on remembrance, independence days; 1. 5 million Israelis expected at memorial ceremonies - In light of recent security assessments, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has instructed the IDF Tuesday night to impose a full closure on the West Bank ahead of the Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars. The closure will continue throughout the Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday and will be lifted Thursday night barring any unforeseen security developments. A similar closure imposed ahead Holocaust Remembrance Day was lifted on Friday. During the closure the passage of Palestinians was permitted only in humanitarian cases. The security establishment has received a number of specific warnings and dozens of general ones regarding possible. . .

Two people hurt as 7 rockets slam into western Negev
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least seven Qassam rockets into the western Negev Monday morning. One person suffered from shock as a rocket struck the Sha’ar Hanegev industrial zone, and later sustained minor injuries as he fled the scene. Another man suffered light shrapnel wounds in a separate strike. Several more people were treated for shock following the barrage. Two rockets in all hit the industrial zone causing damage to a water pipe. Three additional rockets hit open areas in the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council and one struck near the western Negev town of Sderot. No injuries or damage were reported. Several people were treated for shock Sunday after a salvo of Qassam rockets hit Sderot.

Palestinian factions continue shelling Israeli areas near the Gaza strip
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an- Palestinian military groups continued to attack Israeli military and civilian targets near the Gaza Strip with homemade projectiles on Sunday night and Monday in what they say is a response to ongoing Israeli aggression. The Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claimed responsibility for firing two homemade projectiles at the city of Ashkelon at midnight. The Abu Ar-Reesh brigades claimed responsibility for firing one projectile at Nahal Oz at 10:30pm on Sunday. The united military wings of Fatah claimed responsibility for firing one projectile at Kfar Aza, east of Gaza City, at 9:40pm Sunday night.

Israeli forces seize 25 Palestinian in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces seized 25 Palestinian on Monday morning across the West Bank, claiming they are "wanted," Israeli sources said. Witnesses said that a large number of Israeli military vehicles entered the village of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, and seized three Palestinians: 33-year-old Salti Ahmad Murshed Thawabta, 23-year-old Ibrahim Majed Thawabta, and 20-year-ol Ali Hamdi Takatka. Moreover, the Israeli forces claimed that they found weapons in a house in the town of Soreef, north of Hebron. [end]

Two Palestinian military groups fire mortars at Erez crossing
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing affiliated to the Popular Resistance Committees, An-Nasser Saha Addin Brigades, and the military wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, claimed responsibility on Monday morning for firing seven mortar shells at the Erez border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. They said in a joint statement that the shelling was in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Separately, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, said its fighters fired on two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Miftahim. They also said in a statement that their military action came in retaliation for the "ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people," and as act of renege for the assassination of the group’s senior leader Awad Al-Qiq last Wednesday.

Israeli forces raid town near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Hebron – Ma’an- Israeli forces raided a number of houses in the Kreissa neighborhood of the West Bank town of Dura, near the city of Hebron on Sunday night. Nemer Arjoub, the owner of one of the houses, said that the Israeli soldiers searched houses for more than two hours, breaking windows and rousing people from their beds, including children who he said were frightened by the raid. [end]

Two Hamas members ’arrested’ in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Hamas movement said on Monday that Fatah-allied Palestinian seized on two members of Hamas in the West Bank on Sunday evening. The security sources arrested a student at Birzeit University from a village near Ramallah for the second time, Hamas said. The other arrestee was the Imam of a mosque in the Tulkarem district of the northern West Bank. [end]

Israel closes Gaza’s only fuel-import terminal
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian sources said on Monday morning that the Israeli authorities have closed the Nahal Oz terminal east of Gaza City, the Gaza Strip’s only crossing point for liquid fuels. The sources told Ma’an that the Israelis claimed the crossing was closed after a number of mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip landed near the terminal. [end]

Al-Qassam Brigades ’launch nine projectiles’ in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for firing nine homemade projectiles at Israeli military vehicles near the Erez crossing and in the town of Abasan at noon on Monday. An Al-Qassam Brigades statement added that the attacks were retaliation for Israeli incursions in the Gaza Strip. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades fire four more projectiles at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility on Monday for launching four homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, which borders the Gaza Strip. The attack brings the number of reported projectiles launched by the group at Israeli targets to six on Monday morning. [end]

Al-Nasser Brigades launch two projectiles at Sufa
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Al-Nasser Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) launched two projectiles at Sufa, east of Rafah in the Gaza Strip on Monday. They said in a statement that the action came in retaliation for the "Israeli atrocities" in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. [end]

Video: Who burned Nahr al-Bared?
Ray Smith, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/5/2008
Since 10 October 2007, residents of the destroyed Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon have been gradually allowed by the Lebanese army to return to the ruins of their homes. However, the core of the camp, the so-called "old camp," as well as parts of the "new camp," which doesn’t fall under the mandate of the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, remain sealed off and are still under the exclusive control of the Lebanese army. On 31 March 2008, the Lebanese army made accessible a few dozen houses in Sahabe and Majles Street, close to Nahr al-Bared’s old camp. In Majles Street, 20 buildings on one side of the street were opened, while the other side remained fenced off by barbed wire and army checkpoints. Most of these buildings were home to at least three families as they were several floors tall.

Egyptian authorities reinforce anti-Palestine campaign
Serene Assir, Electronic Intifada 5/5/2008
Egyptian security covertly organized for the cancellation of a week-long series of cultural events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, or the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist forces in 1947-48. The events were planned by the Habitat International Coalition-affiliated Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), alongside a number of Egyptian organizations. HLRN is a human rights organization which focuses primarily on advocacy for the right to housing and land. The events, according to organizers and planned participants, were set to bring the Palestinian cause closer to Egyptian youth, to raise awareness on the centrality of the Nakba to their own lives, and to mobilize them to take action individually as well as collectively. "We had chosen to commemorate the Nakba by holding cultural events because we wanted the message to be accessible to as many people as possible, in particular youth.

Death of 3 patients raise the number of siege victims to 145
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Three more Gaza patients have died due to the IOF blockade that closed all crossings between the Gaza Strip and the outside world, the popular anti siege committee announced on Monday. Rami Abdo, the committee’s spokesman, said in a statement that lack of proper medical treatment coupled with the closure of all crossings had led to the death of those three patients a child and two old women. He quoted medical sources as saying that the 13-year-old child Ismahan Al-Jaal was suffering from brain tumor and was denied travel through Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing by the Israeli occupation authority. They said that Zakia Saada, 59, died of a heart ailment while Nazmia Abed, 55, died of cancer. Abed’s relatives said that they secured three medical transfers for her treatment abroad in Jerusalem, Egypt and Jordan but the IOA continued to deny her access.

IDF to impose general closure on West Bank until end of Independence Day
Jerusalem Post 5/5/2008
The IDF will impose a general closure on the West Bank starting at midnight Monday and ending at midnight Thursday, at the end of Independence Day. The army said that for the duration of the closure, those in need of humanitarian aid as well as doctors and medical personnel will be authorized to move to and from the territories. The IDF said it regards Remembrance Day and Independence Day as a highly sensitive time security wise.

Gaza residents say IDF soldiers looted their homes
Ali Waked, YNetNews 5/5/2008
Palestinians recount ’nightmarish’ searches by troops during counterterrorism ops. ’The mental scars will remain for a long time. We have never experienced such brutality,’ resident says - Gaza residents say they were subjected to inhuman treatment at the hands of IDF soldiers conducting searches in their homes as part of the army’s recent efforts to combat Palestinian terror. The complainants say they were confined to stairwells for hours on end without access to food, water or a toilet. The Palestinians further claimed soldiers vandalized and looted their homes. The IDF confirmed it had received complaints and said it had begun investigating the charges. Maher Abu-Daha’a says he will never forget the day soldiers stormed his house, located near the southern town of Khan Younis, just east of the border fence.

Amid continued IOF escalation, the number of victims rises in Gaza
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 5/5/2008
The number of victims killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has increased amid continued escalation of its attacks on, and incursions into, the Gaza Strip recently. According to Al Mezan Center’s monitoring and documentation, the IOF stepped up its human rights violations and committed breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) systematically in the Gaza Strip. According to Al Mezan’s statistics, 69 Palestinians have been killed by the IOF in the Gaza Strip since the start of April 2008. Of them, twenty were children and one was a woman. This brings the toll of Gazans killed by the IOF since the beginning of 2008 to 316; including 62 children and16 women. During the same period the IOF carried out 30 incursions into the Gaza Strip. During these incursions, 127 Palestinians were detained; 17 of them are still under detention.

Families of wounded Palestinians: Egypt maltreats our sons in hospitals
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Disgruntled families of wounded Palestinian citizens lying in Egyptian hospitals have accused on Sunday the Egyptian authorities of maltreating their relatives and dealing with them as security, rather than humanitarian, cases. In a statement they issued over the case of their relatives in Egypt and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, the families charged that the Egyptian security forces left the wounded Palestinians without medical attention, causing the instant death of at least three of them. They added, "Our wounded relatives are mistreated by their Egyptian hosts which badly affected their morale as they expected they would receive good medical care while in Egypt but it seems that Egypt deals with the file of the wounded Palestinians as a security file". Moreover, the families opined that the Egyptian step of permitting the wounded Palestinians to pass. . .

Detainees visitations suspended until further notice
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
An official at the International Red Cross stated on Monday that all visitations for Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel were suspended until further notice. The official added that the Israeli Authorities and the Israeli Prison Administration informed the Red Cross of this decision which will be effective on Tuesday until further notice. [end]

Israel gives fuel to UN aid agency in Gaza
Reuters, YNetNews 5/6/2008
UNRWA spokesman says fuel would be enough to continue food delivery operations for 20 days - Israel delivered fuel on Monday to a UN aid agency in the Gaza Strip, a day after the organization said fuel shortages would force it to halt food deliveries to many refugees in the Palestinians enclave. Peter Lerner, spokesman for Israel’s military coordinator for Gaza, said the fuel was piped into the Gaza Strip "as requested" by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to about a third of Gaza’s population. UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said the fuel would be enough to continue their food delivery operations for approximately 20 days. Gaza has been facing a fuel shortage because of Israeli restrictions on supplies and a strike by Palestinian fuel distributors in protest at those restrictions.

Panel: Modi’in Illit should be City, Despite Illegal Construction
Akiva Eldar, MIFTAH 5/5/2008
The ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi’in Illit in the West Bank should be granted city status despite suspicions that its council members were involved in authorizing illegal construction, an ad hoc committee set up by the Interior Ministry has recommended. The committee’s decision contradicts expert opinions that severely criticized Modi’in Illit’s council for its involvement in approving the construction of Matityahu East, a new neighborhood that borders the Palestinian town of Bil’in. Construction of Matityahu East was brought to a halt about two years ago after a petition filed by Peace Now and Bil’in residents to the High Court of Justice, claiming that the project lacked proper permits." [The petition] has exposed a serious phenomenon of building without plans or permits, or with permits issued devoid of a complete plan," the High Court justices wrote.

Gaza: Palestinian smuggler dies in tunnel collapse
Associated Press, YNetNews 5/5/2008
One killed, five wounded as cross-border tunnel under construction caves in. Officials say one man yet to be accounted for -Palestinian officials say a Gaza man has been killed after a cross-border smuggling tunnel collapsed on him. The Gaza Health Ministry says five more people were wounded in Monday’s collapse and one is still missing. Security officials say the tunnel was under construction at the time. Such collapses are common along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt. Smuggling tunnels in the area have become an important route for goods and a lucrative business. Palestinian smugglers use the tunnels to move weapons and contraband into Gaza, Israel and Egypt are blockading the territory in an attempt to weaken the Hamas government and end ongoing rocket fire at Israeli towns. The blockade has increased demand for smuggled goods.

Rocket salvo hits western Negev
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 5/5/2008
Color Red alerts mark beginning of yet another day under fire in western Negev; 10 Qassam rockets land in Eshkol and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Councils, Sderot. One person lightly injured in attack -Residents of the western Negev communities awoke, yet again, to the sound of the Color Red alert on Sunday, as 10 Qassam rockets fired from northern Gaza landed throughout the area. One person was lightly wounded and treated by Magen David Adom paramedics on the scene. Two teenaged girls suffered shock. Two rockets landed in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council around 9:00 am. No injuries or damage were reported. Several minutes after that, consecutive Color Red alerts began sounding in Sderot, as five rockets made their way to Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council limits. Three of them landed in the council’s industrial area; security forces are still trying to locate the landing site of the other two.

Militants: Gaza headmaster killed in IAF strike was Jihad rocket-maker
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
By day, Awad al-Qiq was a respected science teacher and headmaster at a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip. By night, Palestinian militants say, he built rockets for Islamic Jihad. The Israel Air Force strike that killed the 33-year-old last week also laid bare his apparent double life and embarrassed a UN agency which has long had to rebuff Israeli accusations that it has aided and abetted Palestinian militants. In interviews with , students and colleagues, as well as UN officials, denied any knowledge of Qiq’s work with explosives. And his family denied he had any militant links at all, despite a profusion of Islamic Jihad posters at his home. But militant leaders allied to the coastal strip’s ruling Hamas group hailed him as a martyr who led Islamic Jihad’s "engineering unit" - its bomb makers.

Palestinian Resistance factions continue to shell Israeli posts near the Gaza Strip
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
On Monday morning, several Palestinian armed resistance groups from Gaza continued firing home-made Qassam shells at nearby Israeli targets. The Popular resistance committees and the Al Aqsa Brigades of Fatah issued a joined press statement on Monday stating that they fired seven home made shells targeting military sites at the Beit Hannon crossing, located between the northern part of the Gaza Strip and Israel. Meanwhile the Al Aqsa Brigades of Fatah issued another statement on Monday staing that its fighters fired two home-made shells at a military site near the eastern Gaza-Israeli border. Bother statements said that the attacks come as a natural response to Israel’s ongoing attacks on the Palestinians in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Senior officers slam IDF’s lack of resolve in Gaza
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 5/5/2008
Officers serving in Gaza say limitations placed on army by political echelon prevent Israel from effectively fighting terror in Strip. ’Our activity carries no deterrence,’ one officer warns -Senior IDF officers serving in Gaza are frustrated over what they describe as the army’s lack of resolve and limited action against terror emanating from the Strip." This week I returned from another standby shift at the combat helicopter base where I do my reserve duty," lit. -Col. N told Ynet." Again we did nothing, despite a Qassam and mortar barrage fired by terrorists at the entire sector." N says that he feels obligated to warn that the IDF is not doing enough to counter terrorism from Gaza." The Gaza Strip is a narrow area, almost entirely closed off, the terrorist forces are relatively small and their weapons - although they are improving every day as a result. . .

Feature: Refugees find sympathetic, ambivalent welcome in Arab states
Weeda Hamza, Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 5/5/2008
Nahr al-Bared, Lebanon_(dpa) _ Nahr al-Bared seems to be rising from the ashes again. The Palestinian refugee camp on Lebanon’s northern coast saw more than three months of heavy fighting between the Lebanese Army and a Palestinian fundamentalist group loyal to al-Qaeda, Fatah al-Islam, in the past year. According to the Lebanese government, about 222 militants and 169 Lebanese soldiers were killed in the clashes. Palestinians officials have said that 47 Palestinian civilians also died in the camp, which is one of 12 official such camps in the country. Destruction is still obvious everywhere. Three-storey buildings were flattened to the ground, while others still standing are riddled with bullet and shrapnel holes. Most of the camp’s 31,000 residents are still absent. The United Nations Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA). . .

Temporary housing provides improved living conditions for Nahr el-Bared residents
Fadi Tayyar, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, ReliefWeb 5/5/2008
Joyfully cooking mojadarrah, the woman welcomed us into her shelter on plot 774 - next to Nahr el-Bared camp. She was smiling - as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders - and she was full of vitality, moving from one corner of the room to another, evidently very happy with her new home. "I have 5 boys and 5 girls. We were all forced to flee Nahr el-Bared. On 25 May last year, bombs hit the neighboring houses and everyone rushed out to seek shelter in the nearby mosque," explained Rihab Ghuneim (Um Saleh). She went on to tell us that the following day, when there was a lull in the shooting, the family got in a taxi and went to Beddawi camp. The family took nothing with them other than the clothes they were wearing. In Beddawi they found shelter in an UNRWA school - like most of the families that had fled Nahr el-Bared.

Fatah vows to control refugee camps on Lebanese soil
IRIN, Daily Star 5/6/2008
BEIRUT: Fatah’s security chief in Lebanon says his faction will extend security control over all Palestinian refugee camps in order to prevent the rise of Islamist radical groups such as the Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam, whose conflict with the army last summer destroyed the northern Nahr al-Bared camp." After what happened in Nahr al-Bared, [Palestinian] President Mahmoud Abbas asked me personally to take over security in the other camps to prevent it happening again," Fatah commander Mounir Maqdah told IRIN. The move comes as Al-Qaeda mastermind Ayman al-Zawahri called on followers in Lebanon to fight Israel and UN peacekeepers and as tensions continue between secular, nationalist factions and hard-line Islamists in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh. Though the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of which Fatah is the dominant faction, has long held sway. . .

Israeli sources say progress achieved in Abbas-Olmert meeting
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
Israeli political sources stated on Monday that the Monday meeting between Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, managed to achieve a progress on security related arrangements and borders issues. The sources added that the two leaders discussed issued regarding the borders of the future Palestinian state and security arrangements. According to the same sources, negotiations teams on both sides were instructed to advance in these issues. During the talks, Olmert vowed to inform Abbas and coordinate with him any steps regarding a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Yet, no progress was made on core issues such as the issue of Jerusalem and the Right of Return of the Palestinian Refugees. It is worth mentioning that Egypt’s Security Chief, Omar Suleiman, will arrive in the country next week in order to present the outcome of his talks with Hamas.

Olmert probe clouds Abbas talks
Al Jazeera 5/5/2008
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmud Abbas, the Palestinian president, have met following the latest attempt by the US secretary of state to encourage peace talks. Olmert, whose image has been hurt by allegations of corruption, hosted Abbas at his residence in Jerusalem on Monday for their third set of talks in less than a month. A few hours before the Israeli-Palestian talks started, Olmert held a second meeting in less than 48 hours with Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, who has urged Israel to take more concrete steps to ease movement and access for Palestinians in the occupied West BankMark Regev, Olmert’s spokesman, declined to provide any details about the meeting with Rice, saying only that "it was a one-on-one meeting that lasted about one hour."

Peace process shows signs of life after ’very serious’ Abbas-Olmert meeting
Ron Bousso, Daily Star 5/6/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel said significant progress was made on the thorny issue of drawing up the borders of a future Palestinian state during top-level talks on Monday, although the Palestinians remained cautious." We have made significant progress on the two issues of outlining the borders of the future Palestinian state and the security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian state," a senior Israeli official said. On the heels of a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the official spoke to journalists after attending a two-hour meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas." Olmert and Abbas have instructed the negotiating teams to move forward on these issues," he said, adding that "the teams were already working with maps during the talks.

Sources indicate that Abbas may resign over US position
Palestine News Network 5/5/2008
Gulf / According to some high level sources in the Palestinian leadership, President Abbas is seriously considering tendering his resignation. The sources include members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. The sources said frankly that Abbas is nearly ready to resign, regardless of having not completed his term. The stated reasons include what happened with US President George Bush during their recent meeting in Washington. Meetings with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were also mentioned. The source say that Abbas does not want to carry on with empty negotiations as Bush is going to attend celebrations for the 60 years of existence of the state of Israel and present a paper expressly affirming the lack of opposition to Israeli settlement expansion. It will also categorically reject the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees and secure complete umbrella protection for Israel by the US.

Middle East negotiations must be backed up with ’real change on the ground’, says Secretary-General to London meeting
United Nations Secretary-General, ReliefWeb 5/5/2008
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks to the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in London, 2 May: Let me thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Foreign Secretary, for bringing us together at such a crucial time. Prime Minister Fayyad and Foreign Minister Livni, I am delighted that you were able to attend. We meet at a vital juncture, just as the Quartet has issued a statement applauding the parties for their continued commitment to serious political negotiations. Now we must back up these negotiations with real change on the ground -- change that allows Palestinians and Israelis to believe in a positive future. Only in this way can we lend substance to the process, and send a clear message to people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel that it is meaningful and beneficial to each side.

President Abbas and Israeli PM Olmert meet
Palestine News Network 5/5/2008
Jerusalem / PNN - President Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert on Monday morning. Many critics expected the President to boycott the meeting in light of the serious attacks on the Gaza Strip and new settlement building in the West Bank. The meeting is considered part of the ongoing negotiations process, although the Israeli government has yet to honor its commitments from the Annapolis Conference held in the United States in November. Abbas also recently returned from Washington once again after a meeting with US President Bush, described as "fruitless." Livni and Qureia were present at this morning’s meeting. After Rice’s criticism of continued Israeli settlement building yesterday, Livni said that she understood the "frustration of the Palestinian people" regarding the matter. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended the latter half of the meeting.

Israel sets forth conditions for ceasefire ahead of Suleiman’s Visit
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
The Israeli government set forth on Monday three main conditions for a possible Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians. Spokesman of the Israeli government, Mark Regev, told the IMEMC in a phone interview, that his government welcomes the upcoming visit of Egyptian intelligence chief , Omar Suleiman, yet it has set forth three conditions for a potential ceasefire with the Palestinians. " first, hostile fire on southern Israel should come to a halt, second, terrorist attacks from Gaza on Israel should stop and third, the smuggling of weapons into Gaza must stop", Rgev explained. Asked whether there will be high expectations out of the upcoming visit by Suleiman to Israel for talks on the Hamas offer for ceasefire, Regev maintained " there have been good contacts between Israel and Egypt and General Suleiman is welcomed, then we will see".

US Diplomat Pushes for Progress on Israel-Palestinian Peace
Anne Gearan, MIFTAH 5/5/2008
JERUSALEM (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday she will ask Israel to remove more physical barriers erected in the West Bank as a bulwark against Palestinian militants. The Bush administration also would like to see speedier progress toward a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, a goal of President Bush in his final year in office, Rice said en route to Israel and the West Bank for weekend meetings. Bush’s top diplomat said it’s too early for pessimism, despite a lack of obvious accomplishment in talks Bush began with lofty ideals five months ago. Rice suggested she will lean on Israel to yank West Bank roadblocks that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says strangle the Palestinian economy." I understand that everyone - President Abbas, I, the president, would like to see things move more quickly," Rice said." That’s why we keep coming and pressing all the parties to meet their obligations."

Egyptian president personally pushing for Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is personally leading efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian groups, Egyptian sources told the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper. The sources highlighted that after a dozen Palestinian factions agreed to accept a ceasefire during talks in Cairo last Monday, President Mubarak phoned Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, urging them to accept the proposed truces as quickly as possible." Egypt’s formal decision has not been announced yet, and things will become clear after chief of Egyptian intelligence Umar Sulaiman completes his expected visit to Israel," the source added. The source pointed out that Israel could either accept or reject the Egyptian proposal. However, if they reject the ceasefire, they will face international criticism, and Palestinian factions will be desperate because the Israeli siege of Gaza will continue.

Hamas: Abbas-Olmert’s meetings waste of time
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday said that the repeated meetings between PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli premier Ehud Olmert were a mere waste of time. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that the meetings were held in response to American orders to market capitulatory projects intrigued by the Bush administration. He charged that the meetings further target gaining time through pre-occupying the Palestinian and international public opinions while the Zio-American projects are being implemented topped by endorsing Israel as a "Jewish state" on the usurped land of Palestine after liquidating the Palestinian people’s rights. Barhoum warned that the "difficult, complicated and catastrophic conditions" of the Palestinian people especially in the Gaza Strip might be exploited to implement such projects.

Moussa: Israel is trying to show its upper hand through committing daily crimes
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Yehya Moussa, the deputy head of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, stated Monday that the Israeli occupation is trying to show through its daily aggression on the Gaza Strip that it has the upper hand, highlighting that the Palestinian resistance would continue defending the Palestinian people everywhere in the Palestinian lands. In a press statement received by the PIC, Dr. Moussa underlined that the Israeli occupation is in an existential war with the Palestinian people, where it uproots every form of life from the Palestinian society whether it is a human, stone or tree. The lawmaker pointed out that the Palestinian resistance submitted an important message to the Israeli occupation namely that the resistance is able to cause panic in the ranks of its troops through carrying out qualitative attacks anywhere and anytime.

Dr. Barghouthi: ''Rice visit only for media consumption''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
Palestinian Legislator, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, said on Sunday that the visit of US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, to the region is only for media consumption. Dr. Barghouthi stated that this visit and other visits will not lead to a real progress unless the United States practices real pressure on Israel to stop its violations especially the ongoing settlement construction and expansion in the occupied territories. He added that "Israel welcomes Rice by announcing plans to construct more settlement homes in the West Bank", and said that the United States, if it is a fair mediator and willing to achieve progress, should practice pressure on Israel to stop its ongoing settlement activities. Dr. Barghouthi called on the Palestinian leadership to stop its negotiations with Israel as long as the Israel government continues its violations on the ground.

Livni claims settlements will not obstruct a permanent peace deal
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, claimed on Sunday that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank will not cause any obstruction to a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians, and added that Gaza Disengagement proved that settlements are not an obstacle. She said that settlements would not obstruct the creation of an independent Palestinian State. Livni claimed that Israel is committed to its obligations to the Road Map Peace Plan, and is not constructing any new settlements in the West Bank. It is worth mentioning that under the Road Map Plan, Israel will not build new settlements but will retain its large settlement blocks such as Ariel settlement block in the northern part of the West Bank, Maali Adumim east of Jerusalem and Kfar Azion settlement blocin the southern part of the West Bank. The statements of Livni came during a meeting with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Italian president defends book fair honoring Israeli writers
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/6/2008
Italy’s president on Monday defended his decision to open a book fair in Turin honoring Israeli writers, despite calls for a boycott by some Arab and Italian intellectuals angered by the event. President Giorgio Napolitano’s planned appearance at Thursday’s inauguration of the fair is in line with his participation in many cultural events, his office said in a statement. Controversy has been brewing for months over the event, mirroring similar protests against the Paris Book Fair in March, which also showcased works by Israelis. Italy’s presidency was reacting mainly to the Italian media quoting Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan as saying Monday that Napolitano’s plan to open the Turin fair is a mistake." His presence shows that this is a political event, and not only a cultural event," the ANSA news agency quoted Ramadan as saying at a news conference in Turin.

Palestine Today 050508
Ghassan Bannoura -Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
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 Thursday May 5th 2008. Four Palestinians killed in Gaza, while in the West Bank, the Israeli army kidnaps at least 6 civilians. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned. News Cast Three Palestinian patients were reported killed on Monday after being prevented by the Israeli army to leave the Gaza Strip to receive life-saving medical care. The victims were identified as 13 year-old Ismahan Al Jamal, a brain cancer patient from Gaza City, 59 year-old heart condition patient Zakyiah Sa’dah, and 55-year old cancer patient Nathmiah Abdah, both from the Al Maghazi refugee camp. With those three dead on Monday, the number of Palestinians patients who died as a result of the Israeli siege on Gaza has now reached 145.

16 Israeli civilians killed this year in terror acts, 1,634 since May, ’48
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
Sixteen Israeli civilians were killed in terrorist attacks in the first four months of the year, bringing the total of civilian terror-related deaths to 1,634 since the creation of the state 60 years ago, National Insurance Institute Director-General Esther Dominissini said Monday. An official ceremony to commemorate victims of terrorism will be held on Wednesday, Memorial Day, at the Mt. Herzl national cemetery at 1:00 P. M. Eight Israeli civilians were killed in 2007, and 133 wounded in 87 terror-related incidents last year. Most of the injuries were incurred in Qassam rocket attacks, Dominissini said in a statement released by the NII. A total of 14,000 have been wounded in terrorist attacks over the past 60 years.

Commissioner-General’s address to the United Nations Association of Germany: Humanitarian action and its challenges - a view from UNRWA
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 4/24/2008
Commissioner-General’s address to the United Nations Association of Germany: Humanitarian action and its challenges - a view from UNRWA. Berlin, 24 April 2008. Distinguished members of the UN Association of Germany; distinguished guests. I am honored to have the opportunity to share with you some reflections about the work of UNRWA and the situation of Palestine refugees my Agency serves. Allow me first a word of appreciation for the UN Association of Germany. I see your invitation as a reflection of your concern for the Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate and an indication of your wish to better understand the complexities of the refugee situation in the Middle East. I noticed that your mission statement asserts your resolve to inform the German public, in an impartial and critical manner, of the aims, institutions and activities of the United Nations and to encourage debate on these topics. I hope this evening’s discussion provides you with information and insights that contribute to the accomplishment of the UNA’s goals.

Father of Israeli bomb frets Iranian one
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/6/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli President Shimon Peres warned on Monday that if Iran becomes a nuclear power it will create a "nightmare" for the whole world and not just the Jewish state." Iran is a danger not only for Israel but also for the rest of the world," Peres said." A nuclear Iran will be a nightmare for the world," he said at a news conference. Peres said that Israel, the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, did not intend to carry out any military action against Iran, like that which it carried out in 1981 against the Osirak nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq." There will be no need for military action if the world community is united," he said. The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions against Iran over its refusal to heed successive ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the process that can produce fuel for civilian reactors or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

Peres: Fight terror - reduce global dependence on oil
Anshel Pfeffer and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/6/2008
President Shimon Peres on Monday hailed Israel’s new weapon against the threat of "terrorism" from its Middle East neighbors - the electric car. Outlining Israel’s development priorities in an address to foreign journalists to mark this week’s 60th anniversary of statehood, Peres said reducing global dependence on oil would curb oil-producing states’ ability to fund Israel’s enemies." Oil. . . is not only polluting the air, it is also promoting terror," said the 84-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has long promoted Israel’s now powerful high-tech industries. Peres argued that manifold increases in oil prices in recent years had contributed to a rise in financing for terrorism in the Middle East, and said an Israeli project to design a green car run on batteries, as well as plans to develop solar power, would in turn hit oil producing countries’ budgets.

Iran rejects intrusive nuclear inspections as unfair in view of Israel
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 5/5/2008
Iran on Monday rejected pressure to submit to intrusive nuclear inspections while Israel is outside the global treaty to curb atomic weapons." The existing double standard shall not be tolerated anymore by non-nuclear-weapon states," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told a meeting of the countries in the 190-nation Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He said nuclear armed countries such as the United States, France and Britain were practicing "nuclear apartheid" by clandestinely providing nuclear supplies to favored countries while denying or restricting peaceful nuclear technology to countries like Iran." Access of developing countries to peaceful nuclear materials and technologies has been continuously denied to the extent that they have had no choice than to acquire their requirements for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including for medical and industrial applications from open markets," Soltanieh said. This usually means the material provided is more expensive, poorer quality and less safe, he added.

Peres: Iran - the world’s nightmare
Ynet, YNetNews 5/5/2008
President Shimon Peres holds foreign press meet, speaks of Iranian threat, possible peace talks with Syria, fighting Hamas - President Shimon Peres held a press conference for foreign correspondents Monday. Peres began the meet by speaking of the Iranian threat, saying it should deeply concern every nation in the world. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call to obliterate Israel, combined with allowing a radical, crazed religious leader to reach nuclear capabilities has all the makings of a nightmare, he said." I’m not calling for military actions, but the world must form a coalition of strong, firm nations, willing to impose severe sanctions on Iran," he said, adding that Iran has proven itself a hub for world terror, financing and training terrorists. Addressing the Syrian issue, the president said: "If Syria truly wants to hold talks – Israel would be willing to do so.

Israel greets 400 olim in gala event marking Int’l Aliyah Day
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/6/2008
The Immigration Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency on Monday welcomed some 400 new immigrants from around the world in a gala ceremony marking International Aliyah Day. The ceremony was held at 3 P. M. at Ben Gurion International Airport in honor of the hundreds of immigrants who arrived from 23 countries including the United States, Canada, South Africa Russia and France. Immigrants who arrived Monday were eligible for a package of special immigration benefits, including extra baggage allowance, temporary free housing for young olim, 60 hours of guided tours around Israel, as well as a number of other excursions and events. Nearly 3 million people have immigrated to Israel since the country’s founding in 1948, roughly one third of which immigrated during the 1990s. Some 300 people immigrated from India in 2006 - a fivefold increase from 2005.

Hamas: The idea of sending int’l troops to Gaza is a useless prosthetic solution
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced the idea of sending international troops to the Gaza Strip and described it as a useless prosthetic solution, calling for lifting the siege as a solution to end the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Strip. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, stated that what is required is the departure of the occupation and lifting the siege and this proposal of sending international troops to Gaza is not intended for protecting the Palestinian people but for protecting the Israeli occupation. Barhoum underlined that the PA leadership’s approval of this proposal reflects its political bankruptcy because it has nothing to give to the Palestinian people after it became involved in defeatist surrendering projects, adding that the DFLP approved this suggestion due to its relationship with the PLO and the PA chief.

Hamas warns of popular revolt if Egypt’s efforts fail
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Monday that it spared no effort to make the Egyptian endeavors succeed in ending the siege and opening the crossings, adding that if these efforts failed as a result of Israel’s intransigence and arrogance, the Gaza people would not be blamed if they exploded in the face of the slow death inflicted on them. In a press conference, Hamas said that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is tragic and disastrous, especially in light of the suffocating Israeli siege and the consequent fuel crisis which led to a comprehensive collapse of all service sectors in the Strip, pointing out that the UNRWA decided to suspend its relief operations again after its fuel quota ran out. Hamas appealed to all concerned parties to move urgently to stop the Israeli crimes and the suffocating siege, warning "if the crisis is not addressed within days, it will be apt to explode".

Sweden participated in high-level meeting on support to the Palestinians
Government of Sweden, ReliefWeb 5/5/2008
On Friday, Sweden took part, for the first time, in a meeting with the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC). Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson represented Sweden at the meeting, which took place in London. "At today’s talks, I emphasised the importance of greater mobility, exchange and trade for the Palestinian territories. This is important for instilling hope for a better future and also enables our development assistance initiatives to have a greater impact," says Ms Carlsson. The AHLC is the main body for international coordination of support to the West Bank and Gaza. Participation in Friday’s meeting was a recognition of Sweden’s role, both at the political and development assistance policy levels. "At the meeting, it emerged that great steps have been taken in the Palestinian reform process under Prime Minister Fayyad. . . ."

Exhibition offers rare peek into IDF Intelligence activity
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 5/5/2008
After much deliberation, in honor of 60th anniversary, IDF Intelligence Corps decides to make exhibition showing surveillance units, weapons, Hizbullah operations publicly available -The Intelligence Corps plans to open its doors to the public in honor of Israel’s 60th Independence Day. An exhibition of IDF weaponry and activities will be displayed at the intelligence training base, allowing visitors a peek into the daily lives of soldiers and officers working for the most covert corps in the IDF. The exhibition will include a model describing the inner workings of Hizbullah, showing the way in which the organization’s operatives utilize Lebanon’s landscape to disguise their weapons, as was done during the Second Lebanon War. . . .

Timeline: War and peace
The Guardian, The Guardian 5/6/2008
1897 First Zionist Congress convenes / 1917 Balfour Declaration promises a "national home" for the Jews in Palestine. Britain seizes the territory from the Ottoman Turks / 1939-1945 Six million Jews are killed in the Holocaust by the Nazis / 1948 Israel’s war of independence, also known as the Palestinian "nakba" (cataclysm) / 1956 Suez war. Israel attacks Egypt with Britain and France, but the allies pull out after the US forces a ceasefire / 1967 Six-day war. Israel conquers West Bank, east Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Sinai and Golan Heights / 1973 Egypt and Syria launch October (Yom Kippur) war against Israel. Right, a Syrian soldier surrenders on the Golan Heights. / 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty / 1982 Israel invades Lebanon to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organisation / 1987 First Palestinian intifada. . .

US Jewish community a staunch defender of Israel
Middle East Online 5/5/2008
Israel has been able to count on the unwavering support of America’s Jewish community since the country’s creation 60 years ago. But a split is emerging within the community about how US policy should proceed in the Middle East, with a younger generation less convinced that Israel faces the specter of destruction. For the past five decades, the most prominent face of America’s pro-Israel lobby has been the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Last month, however, a new group called J-Street was founded as an alternative to AIPAC, billing itself "the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement." "We seek to change the direction of American policy in the Middle East and to broaden the public and policy debate in the US about the Middle East," J-Street says on its website." J-Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support. . .

An eye for an eye
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
In recent months, the Shas religious party was the great hope of "the Jewish prisoners" who murdered, assaulted, or planned to assault Arabs in the name of nationalism. Cabinet minister Eli Yishai has spoken to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann a few times about releasing Jewish terrorists in conjunction with a release of Arab terrorists. Yishai proposes Israel’s 60th Independence Day celebrations as a possible prisoner release date and suggests that "regular" prisoners might also be pardoned then. Olmert and Friedmann have not dismissed the idea. The state prosecutor has already ordered a preliminary process of examining, classifying and ranking the cases of Jewish prisoners. Last Thursday, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas’ spiritual leader, did his best to put pressure on the pardoning authority, President Shimon Peres.

VIDEO - News / IDF releases audio recordings from Operation Entebbe
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/6/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for May 5, 2008. The Israel Defense Forces releases audio recordings from Operation Entebbe. Despite the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres says he sees no reason for him to step down. The State Prosecution stands by its decision to try government employees in the case against Remedia. [end]

Hamas condemns Abbas forces’ assault on W. Bank municipal member
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Hamas Movement has categorically condemned the assault of the PA security forces of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas on the house of municipal member Khulud Al-Masri in Nablus city Sunday. According to reports from Nablus, elements of the infamous PA preventive security apparatus in the West Bank raided and ransacked the house of Masri before arresting her husband Ammar, who was arrested at the hands of the IOF troops in the past." Hamas is profoundly concerned over the PA security forces’ raid on the elected officials of the Palestinian people, including lawmakers and municipal officials among others because such raids denigrate position of the assaulted Palestinian officials in the Palestinian community. However, Hamas held Abbas fully responsible for the unwarranted acts of his security forces against representatives of the Palestinian people, urging him to immediately. . .

Abbas calls on Hamas to accept early elections
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 5/4/2008
RAMALLAH, May 4, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) --Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called on Hamas to accept early presidential and parliamentary elections. "We call on Hamas to step back from its coup, to accept the legitimacy and to immediately accept holding early presidential and parliamentary elections," Abbas told a news conference he held in Ramallah with U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, adding that "we are ready for the elections." Hamas, which won legislative elections in January 2006, ousted pro-Abbas forces from Gaza Strip and took over the territory last June. After sacking Hamas-led unity government, Abbas formed a Western-backed government based in the West Bank without the trust from the Hamas-dominated parliament. "We stress that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are a united geographical part," Abbas added.

Police say will appeal court decision to lift gag order on Olmert case
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 5/5/2008
After turbulent weekend of ambiguous reports, officials vow scope (and validity) of new investigation against premier will soon come to light. Meanwhile police threaten to contest any move to end media blackout as Knesset Opposition finally takes swing at Olmert - Even should the courts hand down a ruling to lift the gag order prohibiting the disclosure of details pertaining to the new investigation launched against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, police officials vowed on Monday that they would appeal against such a move. Maintaining a media blackout, they said, is imperative. Sources within the ranks of law enforcement have said a significant development in the case is imminent - one that may yet determine whether the affair is as grave as some in the political and judicial arenas have hinted, or whether, as Olmert has studiously reiterated, the surreptitious brouhaha will be exposed as incapable of holding any water.

Minister Majadele: Israel losing control over Arab sector’s youth
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/6/2008
Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadele, an Israeli Arab, warned on Monday that Israel is losing control over its Arab minority’s youth. The Labor minister said that if the current situation continues whereby 54 percent of Israeli Arab children grow up in homes below the poverty line, "it will be very bad." "We will not be able to control the consequences. These [will be] undesirable consequences for a democratic regime," he added, speaking at a conference held by Tel Aviv University’s Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation. While Majadele did not detail what these consequences would be, hestated at the conference, titled "Arab youth in Israel - between possibility and danger," that he preferred for the struggle against the circumstances which would bring them about to be "legitimate, democratic and through maintenance of the law.

Palestinian court reduces sentence of convicted collaborator
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – A Palestinian military court in Jericho reduced the sentence of a convicted collaborator to seven years in prison on Monday. Another court had previously sentenced the man, a Palestinian security officer, to death by firing squad. The sentence has been accepted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the Commander-In-Chief of the Palestinian security forces. The 23-year-old defendant was been arrested by the security forces since on 3 June 2007. He was accused of giving information to Israel. [end]

PA security begins third phase in Jenin
Palestine News Network 5/5/2008
Jenin / PNN -- The Palestinian Authority security forces began implementing their third phase of a new security plan in the northern West Bank’s Jenin. The idea is to "impose security and public order" in Jenin Refugee Camp. At least 600 members of the National Security and Presidential Guard are in place to "maintain order." Critics say that the PA is serving the interests of the Israeli forces by doing this, that they are "providing for the protection of the occupied." Major General Ali Dhiab "Abu Al-Fath", the commander of the National Security Forces in the northern governorates, said the public security forces began implementing the third phase of the security plan, as approved by the political leadership and senior security, to impose order and apply the law in the governorate of Jenin." Manifestations of chaos will not be permitted. . ."

Water shortage in Bethlehem should ease up soon
Palestine News Network 5/5/2008
Bethlehem / PNN - Palestinian Water Authority Chairman Dr. Shaddad ’Attil says the Bethlehem water shortage should be resolved shortly. He spoke with the Governor of Bethlehem, Salah Tamari, on Monday." The water problem in Bethlehem is on its way to a solution in the near future." ’Attil explained during a telephone conversation with the Governor that the Palestinian Water Authority is working hard to end the water crisis in all of Palestine in general, and Bethlehem in particular. He ensured that he is following Bethlehem issue personally and he was sure that the suffocating crisis afflicting Bethlehem will end soon. For his part, Governor Tamari said that he found considerable interest from Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad and President of the Palestinian Water Authority, Dr. Shaddad ’Attil after presenting reports calling for resolving the issue of water.

Bishara’s wife delayed at border crossing
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 5/5/2008
Rana Bishara delayed for several hours at Jordan River border crossing while en route to Israel, questioned by Shin Bet investigators. MK Zahalka files outraged complaint accusing security agency of taking out frustrations on ’innocent woman’ - MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) filed a complaint against the Israeli Port Authority on Monday claiming the wife of former MK Azmi Bishara, Rana, was detained at the Jordan River Crossing for several long hours." If the Shin Bet is frustrated it has been unsuccessful in imprisoning Bishara, it has no right to exact revenge on his wife and children," said Zahalka. Rana Bishara, who currently resides with her husband in Rabat Amon, was on her way to visit relatives in Israel. She and two of her children were let through the Jordanian side of the border but upon their arrival at the Israeli side, Bishara was informed she was being delayed as a person in contact with a recognized threat against national security.

Reform Jews open Israel’s first state-funded non-Orthodox synagogue
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/6/2008
Israel’s Reform Jews dedicated the first non-Orthodox synagogue to receive state funding on Monday, after a long court battle that accented the rift among streams of Judaism in Israel. The Reform Yozma congregation fought for the better part of a decade for state funding equivalent to what Orthodox congregations receive. After arguing their case twice before the Supreme Court, they got what they wanted: a prefabricated, two-room building on a plot of land in the center of Modiin, a new town between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv." This is a substantial step in recognizing different streams of Judaism in the state of Israel," said Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon, who leads the 240-family congregation. The government has long funded Orthodox synagogues, even paying rabbi’s salaries.

Treasury chief rejects spending cuts
Shay Niv, Globes Online 5/5/2008
Yarom Ariav: We will not cut government spending, even the deficit widens. The Ministry of Finance does not intend to cut government spending in 2008, even if the budget deficit widens, director general Yarom Ariav declared at a conference yesterday. He made the comments in response to a report by the Israel Tax Authority which predicts a slowdown in tax collections this year. Ariav, who was speaking at the first annual conference on public sector pay organized by Ministry of Finance director of wages Eli Cohen, explained that the economy has different mechanisms that can be adjusted without cutting spending, although the situation needs to be monitored closely. According to Ariav, while there had been NIS 1 billion in surplus tax collections over the last four months, economic indicators are usually delayed.

Photostory: The month in pictures, April 2008
Slideshow, Electronic Intifada 5/5/2008
The above slideshow is a selection of images from the month of April 2008. The month in pictures is an ongoing feature of The Electronic Intifada. If you have images documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to photos to electronicintifada. . . .

Al-Khader 3-day Festival of arts and culture begins
Ma’an News Agency 5/5/2008
Bethlehem - Maan - The Al-Khader festival of arts and culture began in the village’s sports stadium, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday. The three-day festival includes cultural and heritage presentations from Palestine, including singing, poetry recitation and performances by dance troupes. Al-Khader municipal council, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, organized the event to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, as well as the celebrations of Saint George’s memorial (Al-Khader in Arabic), where Christians and Muslim pilgrims visit Saint George’s Monastery. The celebration started with formal speeches and folk dances. Dr. Kholoud Daibes, the Palestinian Minister of Tourism, passed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ greetings to the audience. The mayor of Al-Khadir, Ramzi Salah, explained that the municipal council of Al-Khadir. . .

Gaza siege causing $70000 in daily losses for fishermen
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/5/2008
The Popular Committee Against the Siege reported that initial reports revealed that the daily losses of the fishing industry in the Gaza Strip is estimated by $70000 and that additional losses of $30000 are caused to the fishermen as they are unable to export their fish out of the Gaza Strip. Rami Abed Rabbo, spokesperson of the Committee said in a press conference in Dir Al Balah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, that the total losses fishermen encountered since the beginningof the siege is more than $27. 000. 000. He added that 70. 000 of Gaza residents depend on fishing as the only source of livelihood and that 3. 0 of the fishermen became unemployed. Nizar Ayyash, representative of the fishermen, said that the Israeli army targets fishermen by firing at them, barring them from fishing or reaching areas that are rich in fish, and added that Israeli military boats damages. . .

Agriculture ministry: Poultry sector collapses after depletion of natural gas
Palestinian Information Center 5/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of agriculture in Gaza warned Monday that the poultry and hatchery sector stopped completely because of the depletion of natural gas used for warming eggs and young chicken which threatens to deprive Gaza citizens from white meat after the red meat had already become scarce from the domestic food basket as a result of the closure of crossings for more than ten months. In a statement, assistant deputy minister of agriculture Dr. Ibrahim Al-Kudra stated that the natural gas needs of the poultry sector are estimated at 400 tons per month, as the Gaza Strip produces 10,000,000 birds. Dr. Kudra pointed that owners of poultry and hatchery farms started to execute hundreds of thousands of young chicken after strenuous attempts to procure their needs of gas, thus resulting in considerable financial losses.

Israeli Arabs left out of economic boom
Middle East Online 5/5/2008
JERUSALEM - The economic situation of Israel’s Arab population has deteriorated since 2003 despite the Jewish state’s economic boom in the past four years, an Israeli rights group said on Monday. Israel’s sustained economic growth between 2003 and 2007 "did not benefit all of the Israeli population in the same way, even among Jews. But among the Arab population, we found an economic regression," said Shlomo Svirski, director of Adva, a non-partisan centre for equality and social justice." The government and the business community have neglected the Arab population. We are looking for government to invest in developing the economic infrastructures of the Arab areas," Svirski said. The report published on Monday pointed to the 10. 9 percent unemployment rate among Israeli Arabs in 2007, compared with a rate of 7.

75% of population: War within next 5 years
YNetNews 5/5/2008
Poll taken among Israeli Jews, Arabs shows desire for peace, but not willingness to pay; fear of Iranian nuclear threat, support of Palestinian state. Majority also believe Israel failed in closing socio-economic gaps - As Israel stands on the brink of its seventh decade of independence, security issues continue to worry the majority of its citizens. Seventy-five percent of the Jewish population in the country assume that Israel will find itself at war with at least one Arab state within the next five years, 66% do not believe there is a chance for peace with Syria, and 70% do not believe an agreement with the Palestinians will be reached. The data were collected as part of the Index of War and Peace, an ongoing project first launched in 1994. It is based on a telephone survey of 600 Israelis.

Morgan Stanley Capital mulls ''developed'' classification for Israel
Yael Schwartzbart, Globes Online 5/5/2008
The investment firm is considering changes to its widely followed indices. Morgan Stanley may reclassify Israel as a developed market, rather than an emerging market. The change would affect prominent indices tracked by many international mutual funds and investors. HSBC Global Research has reviewed possible index changes in several widely used Morgan Stanley Capital International indices, including its Emerging Markets and Developed Markets classifications. Israel, as well as Korea and Taiwan, may be reclassified from emerging to developed market status. They would potentially be replaced on the emerging markets index by UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait. In September, FTSE announced that it would reclassify Israel as a developed market. The change will go into effect in June. Now it is possible that Morgan Stanley will follow suit.

Hurvitz, Brodet: Make Israel one of wealthiest countries
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 5/5/2008
The Israel 2028 plan is a strategic socio-economic vision for Israeli society. Teva chairman Eli Hurvitz, former Ministry of Finance director general David Brodet, and Shaldor chairman and CEO Samuel Friedrich presented the cabinet a plan, called "Israel 2028", which would place Israel among the top 15 countries in terms of GDP per capita within 20 years. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet that this was not a government initiative and that the government was in no hurry to adopt the plan." This plan isn’t a government initiative, and I do not expect that we’ll take binding decisions derived from this wide ranging plan at today’s cabinet meeting," he said. Olmert added, "However, the time has come that Israel should not only deal with day-to-day matters, but also set some kind of attempt at formulating a perspective that we’ll pursue over a long time. . ."

Fischer sees inflation over 4% by mid-year
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 5/5/2008
The Bank of Israel’s inflation report nevertheless sees interest rates remaining low. Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer predicts a risk of high inflation this year. The prediction is included in the Bank of Israel’s inflation report for the first quarter, published today. He notes that the rising salaries and rising prices for goods, food, and fuel worldwide are boosting inflation, preventing a return to the 1-3% inflation target mid-point of 2%, and may compel interest rate hikes. Fischer adds that, on the basis of trends of the past 12 months, food and fuel prices will rise by over 4% this year. Although inflation in the second half of the year will probably fall within the target range, inflation will return to the mid-point only in a year’s time. 12-month inflation expectations through April 2009 are 3.

VIDEO - English prostitution ring part of trend trafficking women out of Israel
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/6/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for May 5, 2008. A newly exposed prostitution ring, which brings Israeli women to England, may point to a growing trend of trafficking women out of the country. Meir Mizrahi, an Israeli citizen residing in Manchester, was recently arrested for heading that ring. Trafficking in women is not new to Israel. In 2001, the U. S. State Department placed Israel in the bottom category of countries ranked by their efforts to combat human trafficking. [end]

The first official victim of terror
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/5/2008
It is doubtful the name Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref, who was killed in Jerusalem in 1851, will ring familiar with most Israelis. Nonetheless, Tzoref was the first victim of terror recognized by the State of Israel. In two days, his name and those of over 3,000 victims of hostile acts will be read in commemoration. Tzoref managed to obtain from Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali, and then later from Turkish authorities, the permits to rebuild the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City, which Arab creditors burned down in 1721. Tzoref also discovered that the Turkish statute of limitations cancelled out all of the debts of Rabbi Yehuda Hahasid who purchased the land on which the synagogue was built. He managed, with the help of the court, to get back part of the land taken over by local Arabs for the Ashkenazi community, thereby sparking the Arabs’ anger.

2 youths convicted of Nazi affiliation
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 5/5/2008
State Prosecutor’s Office signs plea agreements with two more youths implicated in Nazi activities. Two convicted on multiple counts of assault - The State Prosecutor’s Office signed a plea bargain agreement Monday with two other youths accused of affiliation with the neo-Nazi group which operated in Petah Tikva. According to the plea, Arik Boanitov, 20, was convicted on 10 counts of racial assault, incitement, possession of racist paraphernalia, battery and assault with threat of bodily harm. He is expected to serve a four to 7. 5 year sentence. A 17-year-old-boy from Holon was also convicted on two counts of assault and was sentenced to 25 months in prison. In early April, as part of a plea bargain reached with the State Prosecutor’s Office, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted four of the eight youths involved in Nazi activities of conspiracy to commit a crime, assault and incitement.

US accuses Hizbullah of training Iraqis, in Iran
Associated Press, YNetNews 5/5/2008
Military says Shiite extremists undergoing extensive training at camps set up near Tehran -Iraqi Shiite extremists are being trained by members of the Lebanese terror group Hizbullah in camps near Tehran, a US military spokesman said Monday. The Iraqis are receiving the training at camps operated by the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps that has been accused of training and funneling weapons to Shiite extremists in Iraq. The group is also known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force, or IRGC-QF. The Quds Force is believed to operate overseas, helping to create the militant Shiite Hizbullah group in 1982 in Lebanon and to arm Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan wars. ’’We have multiple detainees who state Lebanese Hizbullah are providing training to Iraqis in Iranian IRGC-QF training camps near Tehran,’’ Air Force Col.

Iran refuses US talks until Iraq attacks stop
Middle East Online 5/5/2008
TEHRAN - Iran said on Monday that it will not hold a fourth round of talks with the United States on security in Iraq as long as US forces continue attacking Shiite militias in Baghdad." The focus of discussions with the United States is Iraq’s security and stability. We are witnessing open bombings by the US occupying forces in Iraq," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters." Given the existing circumstances, such talks would have no result and make no difference." Iran and the United States held three rounds of talks on Iraq last year despite mounting tensions over the Iranian nuclear programme. The talks have been stalled amid controversy over Iran’s role in its conflict-torn neighbour. Tehran, which strongly opposes the US military presence in Iraq, has been repeatedly accused by Washington of arming and training Shiite militia groups in Iraq.

Iran rejects incentives that ’violate atomic rights’
News agencies, YNetNews 5/5/2008
Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry announces it rejects incentive package offered my members of UN Security Council, Germany. Offer ’violates Iranian rights,’ it says - Iran will not agree to any package of incentives offered by world powers that violate Iran’s nuclear rights, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday." Incentives that in anyway violate our interests and our rights will not be supported by us," Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a news conference broadcast and translated on Iran’s Press TV when asked about a plan by six world powers to offer a new package to Iran. Tehran says uranium enrichment is a national right. Over the weekend, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that the six powers agreed on the incentives package, adding "we hope (Iran) understands the gravity of the situation and reply to our offer in due time.


Bomb Squads: To Survive a Gaza Refugee Camp
Ramzy Baroud, MIFTAH 5/5/2008
      The following are excerpts from Baroud’s upcoming book, "101 Ways to Survive a Refugee Camp."
     We waited breathless. Breathing heavily was hazardous under these somewhat exceptional circumstances. The army, my father often advised, was sensitive to the slightest movements or sounds, including a whisper, a cough, or God forbid, a sneeze.
     Thus we sat completely still. Muneer, my younger brother was entrusted with the mission of peering through the rusty holes in the front door. It bothered me that I was not the one elected for the seemingly perilous mission.
     My father explained that Muneer was smaller and quicker, he could negotiate his way back and forth, seamlessly, between the observation ground and the room where everyone was hiding. The house’s main door was riddled with holes; the upper half spoke of past battles between the neighbourhood’s stone throwers and Israeli soldiers.
     The holes on the lower half, however were not those of bullets, but rust and corrosion. These holes often served us well. Muneer would lie on his belly and peek through them; he followed the movement of the soldiers as their military vehicles often used the space in front of our house. They pondered their moves from there, and often used our house’s front step as a spot for lunch or tea. Worse, they often released their frustrations on the house’s helpless residents, that being my family.

Y-net: We didn’t mean to kill them

B. Michael, International Solidarity Movement 5/5/2008
      Israel says it doesn’t mean to kill Palestinian children, yet they keep on dying.
     We really didn’t mean to do it. Again we didn’t mean to do it. We have never meant to do it. Yet as usual, even though we didn’t mean it – we hit them. We hit them 1,000 times already without meaning to do it. We have killed a total of 1,000 Palestinian children since the second Intifada broke out on September 29, 2000. A thousand.
     We already have a special procedure for cases where a Palestinian child dies as a result of a misfired missile, a misaimed shell, an unfocused helicopter, or a distracted sniper. At first, we deny a child even died. Later we argue that his own people killed him. Later we issue explanations and excuses and scenarios that only become dumber with the passage of time.
     Then comes the turn of the “investigating officer” (it will never be an investigating judge, a scrutinizing observer, or an inquisitive civilian. It’s always an officer) who proceeds to issue some nonsense that clears us of any wrongdoing. Ultimately, we declare that the evil Arabs are at fault, because they take cover among civilians. -- See also: Original Y-net article

Israel’s Disregard for the Alternative

Caelum Moffatt, MIFTAH 5/5/2008
      “We feel great remorse for every single citizen that is hurt, but we are also saddened by the fact that Israeli citizens have been getting injured for years. We feel remorse when a boy from Sderot must have his leg amputated. We feel remorse that Israeli citizens have had to live under a ceaseless terrorist threat from numerous groups, a threat that has disrupted their lives”.
     These seemingly emotion evoking words from Israeli Prime MinisterEhud Olmert came in response to the news that Miyasar Abu Muatak[40] and her children Rudeynah [6], Salah [4], Hanaa [3] and Musad [18months] were killed as they sat down for breakfast in the northerntown of Beit Hanoun on April 28.
     The fact that the investigation launched by Israeli southern commander Major General Yoav Galant absolved Israel from responsibility in the incident is irrelevant. Israel conducted the attack and should be held accountable for the results and denied the luxury of shifting blame.
     What is abundantly clear is that the number of innocent victims, who have perished in this ongoing Palestinian/Israel confrontation, displayed at funeral processions and resided to the increasingly inundated hollow grounds of Gaza cemeteries are becoming disturbingly more frequent.

No holiday for Gaza’s labor sector

Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 5/5/2008
      "Closed because of the siege," a sign reads on the front door of the Al-Yazji factory on the main Salah al-Din road in Gaza City. Al-Yazji, the largest producer of soft drinks in the Gaza Strip, and numerous other manufacturers were forced to shut down due to the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip since June 2007.
     In Gaza City, owners of 3,800 local factories recently established a symbolic cemetery for their devastated businesses. The graves do not contain dead bodies, but rather the remains of factories, canneries, workshops and other businesses.
     More than 33,000 of Gaza’s laborers have been laid off recently as industries are now working at around 20 percent of their normal capacity.
     "The garment industry, for example, used to employ more than 16,000 laborers, yet as long as the Israeli blockade goes on, the Palestinian garment sector won’t be able to convince any Israeli companies to weave clothes, thus the situation will remain worse for such a significant sub-sector", stated Amr Hammad, the executive director of the Federation of Gaza’s Industries.

The Palestinian Rothschilds

Noam Ben Ze''ev, Ha’aretz 5/2/2008
      In 1929, a son named Abdel Mohsin was born to Hassan al- Qattan, a Jaffa man who made his living in the orange trade, and his wife, Asma, from a family from Lod (Lydd, in Arabic), who emigrated from Egypt, fleeing the forced-labor camps set up for construction of the Suez Canal. The parents, barely literate, made sure that their son received a good education, sending him first to the school of the renowned teacher Khalil Sakakini in Jerusalem and eventually to the American University of Beirut.
     But Abdel Mohsin al-Qattan’s plans changed when his father died and his mother, fearing the mounting attacks of the Haganah (pre-state Jewish militia), fled Jaffa with her younger children. He became the provider for his destitute family, and his search for employment led him to Beirut and later Kuwait, where he worked as a teacher, before going into business. Taking advantage of the surge of building in that country, he established a construction company. Business flourished; eventually, his company became one of the biggest in Kuwait, and al- Qattan grew rich.
     Omar al-Qattan, Abdel Mohsin’s youngest son, says his father liked to quote his own teacher, Sakakini, as saying: "Our fathers sowed and we reaped, now it is our turn to sow." That is why Abdel Mohsin al-Qattan decided in 1994 to establish a foundation supporting Palestinian culture and art. "Both of my parents were teachers," Omar al-Qattan explains, "and they were always obsessive when it came to culture and education. It was only natural for him to invest in this area.

What’s next, Abbas?

Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Spurned in Washington, can President Abbas defer any longer the imperative of re-establishing Palestinian national unity?
     A NEW ISRAELI OUTRAGE: The battered bodies of four Palestinian children killed by Israeli fire lay at a morgue in Beit Lahia, Gaza. The four children, aged one to five, and their mother were killed during Israeli military operationsThe obvious failure of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s latest visit to Washington has been reverberating through Palestinian society, with many intellectuals and pundits advising Abbas to "quit" or at least stop acting at the US administration’s beck and call. Some critics have even called for dismantling the PA and abandoning the two-state solution strategy in favour of the one-state solution of a democratic state for all its citizens.
     Abbas, in a frank and daring admission, told reporters following his meeting with President Bush at the White House last week that he failed to obtain a commitment from the US administration to pressure Israel into halting its wave of Jewish-only settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The intensive settlement expansion drive brazenly defies US-led peace efforts, including the Quartet-backed roadmap and last year’s Annapolis conference.

Our leaders or our failures

Curtis Doebbler, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Gathered in Cape Town, and despite pressing needs and issues, the world’s parliamentarians had little to say beyond platitudes
     Just days after the Hamas-Fatah clash last June in Gaza, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas looked firm and composed as he shook hands with members of his new emergency government. He made sure his move appeared as legitimate as possible, issuing decrees that outlawed the armed militias of Hamas and also suspending consequential clauses in the Palestinian basic law, which had thus far served as a constitution.
     The basic law stipulates that the Palestinian parliament must approve of any government for it to be constitutional. Abbas simply decreed that such a clause was no longer valid, effectively robbing Palestinians of one of their greatest collective achievements -- democracy.
     This system, when truly representative, is indeed precious and meaningful. Considering the impossible circumstances under which Palestinian democracy in particular was spawned and nurtured (military occupation, international pressure, extreme poverty), it was also historic. Contrary to conventional wisdom that followed the US occupation of Iraq, Arabs showed themselves as eminently capable of conducting a democratic process.

Sinkable Israel

Ayman El-Amir, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/1/2008
      Next week Israel will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its declaration of independence in the presence of an enviable number of dignitaries and heads of state. One week later, on 15 May, the Palestinians will commiserate their Nakba -- the day they were driven from their homeland by Jewish paramilitary settlers who established the state of Israel. While Israel will be showered with words of admiration and congratulation, principally by those countries that helped create it, the Palestinians will be huddled together in exile or under military occupation, encircled by the Israeli wall of shame that was probably inspired by the Nazi wall that enclosed the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw in 1940. The only statements making reference to them will be the empty rhetoric of Arab officials calling for peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state, and probably maligning Hamas. Victors will continue writing history, at least as long as they remain powerful.
     At 60, Israel appears solid, focussed, constantly expanding and basking in the adulation of its powerful supporters and the resignation of its intimidated neighbours. By contrast, the Palestinians, evicted from their homeland, appear weak, divided, starved, vulnerable and spurned by most Arab leaders. Israel, a warrior state armed to the teeth with conventional and nuclear weapons, represents a success for the great powers in more ways than one. Their most important achievement was offloading the centuries old "Jewish question" on the Arabs. Ever since, Israel has proved a belligerent state bent on aggression and expansion, which was also useful to the powers that nurtured it. However, Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians and other Arabs, and its extensive settlement under occupation of their land, makes it appear more like a giant on stilts than a peace-loving nation that lives by the norms of international law.

Looking at the End of Israel?

Jonathan Power, MIFTAH 5/5/2008
      Even Jimmy Carter, who single-handedly (without much Jewish appreciation) has done more to make Israel secure than any other living person, can’t change the march of demographics.
     Within the boundaries of the state of Israel and the occupied territories, there are 5.4 million Jews and 4.6 million Palestinians. The Palestinian birthrate is almost three times that of the Israelis. If anything, the Jewish population is starting to fall as an increasing number of Jews decides that Israel has no future for them and emigrate in significant numbers.
     The far-seeing Richard Nixon, when asked by Patrick Buchanan and his wife how he saw the future of Israel, turned down his thumb “like a Roman emperor at the gladiators’ arena”.
     Perhaps we are witnessing the death of Israel by a thousand cuts, the attrition of conflict and the attrition of population. Maybe after all, the rabbis of Vienna who were sent in 1897 on a fact-finding mission to Palestine to investigate whether it was a suitable place for Jewish settlement were right. They reported back that the “bride was beautiful but married to another man”.

Celebrating Apartheid in Israel

Omar Barghouti and Haidar Eid, MIFTAH 5/5/2008
      Open Letter to Nadine Gordimer
     In your response to our letters of concern and protest over your planned visit to Israel, to participate in a writers festival largely endorsed by the Israeli government, you brush off our criticism, citing the role of literature in "opening up the human mind" and claiming that "whatever violent, terrible, bitter and urgent chasms of conflict lie between peoples, the only solution for peace and justice exist and must begin with both sides talking to one another." So talking, in your opinion, has replaced resistance as the starting point for ending injustice and fighting apartheid and colonial rule? Is that what you and your fellow anti-apartheid colleagues did in your struggle in South Africa – talk to the “other side”?
     It is also worth reminding you that Palestinian writers in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), like all Palestinians under Israeli occupation, are denied their basic rights, including the “privilege” of freedom of expression which you -- and all of us -- so highly value. They are often denied their right to travel, sometimes even within the OPT; many are denied access to conferences and festivals where they can participate in a free exchange of ideas with their peers on an international level; and some are imprisoned, injured or killed by the occupation forces. By attending this conference you are helping to perpetuate this special form of apartheid that denies us our human rights.

Israel’s Persecution of Christians

Dr. Elias Akleh, MIFTAH 5/5/2008
      Greek Orthodox Christian celebrations of Saturday’s Holy Fire and Sunday’s Easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem late April were violated and spoiled by aggressive interruptions of Israeli army and police. Instead of Christian worshippers, armed Israeli soldiers crowded the entrance to the Church. Instead of lighted candles, police batons were raised. Instead of musical bands playing their instruments, Israeli soldiers brandished their automatic weapons, and instead of celebrating, Palestinian Christians were confronted by Israeli police thugs, were beaten, and many were arrested.
     Since the early hours of the day hundreds of armed Israeli forces descended on the old city of Jerusalem, erected steel barriers closing its gates, established checkpoints within the city’s narrow streets leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and installed closed captioned video cameras to monitor worshippers. The Old City was, again, under occupation by Israeli military and police. Palestinian Christian worshippers from West Bank, from Gaza Strip, from 1948 occupied Palestinian cities, and even local Jerusalemite Palestinian Christians were denied access to the church of the Holy Sepulcher and to the St. Jacob Church to celebrate Easter. They were told that they had to obtain a military permit in order pray in the church. Many Christian worshippers, who insisted on performing their religious rights free from any military restrictions as they had done throughout the many past generations, tried to force their way through the Israeli barriers, but were met with savage beating, with tear gassing, and with arrest.

There is hope in Gaza

Miko Peled, Electronic Intifada 5/5/2008
      Israel’s assault on the people of Gaza is so horrendous that it will not soon be forgotten. This vicious attempt by Israel to destroy an entire nation has tipped the scales for good and Zionism will forever be remembered as a blemish in the history of the Jewish people. The people of Gaza, however, give us hope and they will forever be remembered for their courage and resilience during these trying times.
     The people of Gaza, while being deprived of rights and resources, still find the inner strength and the belief in their destiny to send their children to school. There are close to 800,000 children living in Gaza; they make up more than half of the population. The mothers and fathers and teachers of Gaza are creating hope where others see none, and they are building a future where some would claim there is none. But the price of education in Gaza is dear as the number of children targeted by Israeli violence rises continuously.
     In a previous article, It’s time to visit Gaza, I quoted from journalist Charles Glass’ The Tribes Triumphant and I wish to do so again here. Glass, unlike CNN or any other news agency is not obsessed with violence but is impressed as we all should be by the children: "Thousands and thousands of children’s feet padding the dusty paths between their mother’s front doors and their schools ... Beautiful youngsters so innocent that they could laugh even in Gaza." One can only imagine the mothers preparing lunches for these children, and making sure their clothes are ready and clean as they send them off to school. But the road to school in Gaza is an uncertain one, and risk of death by Israeli death squads is imminent.