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

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10 May 2008

News

Israeli air strikes kill five Palestinians in Rafah and Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Bethlehem/Gaza - Ma’an – The Israeli air force bombed two police stations in the cities of Rafah and Kahn Younis, in the Gaza Strip, leaving five Palestinians dead late on Friday. Witnesses said that an Israeli F16 fighter jet fired a missile at a police station operated by Gaza’s de facto government in Rafah, killing two. Separately, an Israeli helicopter gunship attacked the police headquarters in Khan Younis, killing three. Medical sources at Abu Yousef An-Najjar hospital in Rafah identified the dead as 23-year-old Bassam Ahmad Abu Shbeikah, 25-year-old Mohammad Mazen Abu I’rmanah, Mohamamd Abu Odah (whose age was not reported), Omar al Ser and Samir Wafi (age also not reported). The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Hamas movement, claimed responsibility for shelling an Israeli community bordering Gaza, killing one Israeli civilian and injured three Israeli soldiers.

Gaza power plant shuts down
Al Jazeera 5/10/2008
A power plant in Gaza City has shut down, affecting 500,000 local inhabitants and forcing local hospitals to run on reserve fuel. Large parts of the Gaza Strip, particularly Gaza City, were in darkness after the main power station shut down its generators on Saturday. The Hamas government’s energy department said that about 55 per cent of Gaza City and 35 per cent of the territory’s other areas had power outages as a result of the shutdown. With hospital generators running out of fuel, it is feared that medical equipment that will stop functioning soon. An estimated 60 per cent of Gaza’s power supply comes from its own power station and the rest from Israel. In the past, Israel has resumed fuel supplies just hours before Gaza’s stocks ran out.

Egypt opens border to sick, wounded Gazans
Middle East Online 5/10/2008
RAFAH, Gaza Strip - Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing with the besiged Gaza Strip on Saturday to allow hundreds of Palestinians to leave the territory for advanced medical treatment." We will transport 550 patients in 40 Palestinian ambulances and five trucks. All of them have official medical referrals from the health ministry," said the director of Gaza emergency services, Dr. Muawiya Hassanein. The patients include 200 people wounded in Israeli military operations and 70 children under the age of 16, he said. A senior Hamas official confirmed that the crossing would be open for three days to allow the sick to enter for treatment and those trapped on one side or the other to cross back to their place of residence." The Rafah crossing will be open for three days beginning on Saturday for emergency cases, in the context of easing the suffering of our people and based on coordination between Hamas and Egypt," Ismail Radwan said.

Israel Corp. looks at BG’s share of Gaza natural gas
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
The Israel Corporation, controlled by Sami Ofer and his son Idan, is negotiating with energy giant BG (formerly British Gas) to buy its holdings in the Gaza Marine natural gas field off the Gaza coast. In addition, Israel Corp. owners have been attempting to sound out government authorities as to the validity of the BG’s franchise for the field, which it received from the Palestinian Authority. The Israel Corporation has also been inquiring into whether the state will support such a move. Israel is expected to face a natural gas shortage withing five years, and this business opportunity has attracted many new faces to consider entering the local market. One of these is The Israel Corp. , the country’s largest private customer of natural gas. The law regulating the natural gas market limits the company in its ability to control a natural gas source, as it already controls the Oil Refineries.

Report: Washington gave Israel green light to invade Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – The United States has given Israel a green light to carry out a large-scale military attack in the Gaza Strip, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday. Quoting anonymous sources, the newspaper said that Israel sent an intelligence report to Washington to stressing the importance of military action to crack down on Palestinian military groups that Israel believes have developed an "unprecedented" level of weaponry. The source said that Israeli intelligence officials believe that the armed wings of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and even Fatah, are rearming. Regarding the Al-Aqsa Brigades, Fatah’s armed wing, the source said, "It received huge amounts of money from several sources, especially from Hizbullah of Lebanon through which the brigades reorganized itself and increased its military readiness. . ."

Kibbutz man killed in Hamas mortar attack
Yuval Azoulay and Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired 21 Qassam rockets into the western Negev yesterday, causing a few minor injuries as well as some damage to buildings, including a Sderot synagogue and a structure near Sapir College. Other rockets landed in open areas, with one setting a Sderot field ablaze. Earlier on Friday, an Israeli was killed in a mortar attack. Yesterday morning an Israel Air Force missile hit gunmen as they were approaching the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip. On Friday night the IAF struck at two Hamas positions in the Rafah area, killing five Hamas men, in retaliation for a mortar attack earlier Friday by Hamas militants that killed Jimmy Kedoshim, 48, as he was tending the garden of his home on Kibbutz Kfar Aza. An Israel Defense Forces source said that recently Islamic Jihad had begun taking part in firing Qassams and mortar shells at Israel, an activity that had previously been the province of Hamas only.

Probe: Palestinian killed by settler gunfire near West Bank cave
Nadav Shragai and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
A Palestinian who was shot to death Friday afternoon near a cave north of Ramallah where Israelis were hiking, was killed by Israeli gunfire, according to the preliminary results of a joint Israel Defense Forces-police investigation. The Israelis, four soldiers and a minor, all from the northern West Bank settlement of Beit El, said the Palestinian, who was with several other Palestinians, had opened fire at them and they returned fire. The Palestinians told investigators they had been deer-hunting, and had not targeted the Israelis. The IDF said the trip, to a cave near Ein Yabrood, in Area B, under Israeli military control, had been coordinated with security authorities. Soldiers, called to the scene by the Beit El security officer after the Israeli hikers informed him of the incident, found the dead Palestinian, with two hunting rifles and a pistol next to the body.

Medical sources: bodies arrive as charred remnants
Palestine News Network 5/10/2008
Gaza / PNN - Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians last week, as reported in two sets of findings. That was as of Friday. But last night in two separate air attacks, Israeli warplanes killed five more. The first bombing was of the southern Gaza Strip’s Rafah in which two Palestinians were killed and three injured. The second air attack hit Khan Younis, just a bit further north than Rafah, in which Israeli forces killed three Palestinians and injured four. Those hits took place in the early hours of Saturday, just after midnight. And also not among last week’s death toll was the death of Hamdi Shbeir, who died due to injuries sustained during the last Israeli invasion of Khan Younis, which was just days ago. It has become routine, more than ever in the past, for those F16s and Apaches, the sounds from which makes ones skin crawl with nerves, to hover over the Strip and drop bombs or launch missiles.

Israeli aircraft strike on southern Gaza, five killed
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 5/10/2008
Gaza_(dpa) Five Palestinians were killed before dawn on Saturday in two separate Israeli airstrikes on Hamas military posts in the two southern Gaza towns, medics and Hamas sources said. Israeli aircraft struck a post belonging to Hamas naval police west of Khan Younis, and then struck another post belonging to Hamas’ armed wing in the town of Rafah, Hamas sources said. Mo’aweya Hassanein, chief of emergency and ambulance services in the Palestinian health ministry told reporters that three were killed in Khan Younis and two were killed in Rafah by Israeli air-to-ground missiles. The two Israeli air raids came shortly after Hamas armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for killing an Israeli in a mortar attack on southern Israel. A 48-year-old Israeli woman was killed and three wounded in the Friday afternoon attack on Kibbutz Kfar Azza near the border. . .

Five Palestinians killed, Seven wounded in Gaza Air strikes
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 5/10/2008
Five Palestinians have been killed and at least seven were wounded in two separate Israeli air strikes at residential areas in the Gaza Strip on Friday. Medical sources reported that three Palestinians were killed and three others were wounded in an air strike that targeted the southern Gaza Strip area of Khan Younis, Friday midnight. The sources reported that the bodies of the dead were charred and heavily mutilated as Israel war planes fired a number of missiles at the neighborhood. The dead were identified as, Mohammad Abu Odeh, Omar Al-Sirr and Samir Wafi. In a separate incident, eyewitnesses said that an Israeli drone fired one missile at Rafah"™s city center, killing two Palestinians and wounding four, Friday night. Meanwhile, medical sources at Abu Yousef Annajjar hospital said the dead were Bassam Abu Shbeikeh, 23 and Mohammad Abu Irmana 25.

Health ministry: Babies born with deformities in Gaza due to siege
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Newly born babies in the Gaza Strip are born with deformities due to their mothers’ lack of proper nutrition as a result of the Israeli siege and scarcity of food and money, a health ministry official in the PA caretaker government said on Saturday. Dr. Salah Al-Rantisi, the chairman of the women health department in the ministry, said that another factor was the shortage in medication as a result of the siege, which led to the spread of anemia and malnutrition among pregnant women. He said that the result was that many of the newly born babies were born with deformities in the bones and other abnormalities in addition to having weights far below the average. Most pregnant women need certain medicines that are not found in the Strip, Rantisi said, adding that most of the families in Gaza also could not afford to buy those medicines if ever found.

Sderot synagogue hit as 7 Qassams strike Negev
Mijal Grinberg and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/10/2008
Seven Qassams fired from the Gaza Strip struck the Western Negev on Saturday morning. One landed in Sderot and shattered the windows of a synagogue in the Negev town, while another directly hit a building near Sderot’s Sapir College. No injuries were reported in the incidents, but two people were treated for shock. Earlier, Hamas and Gaza health officials said five of the group’s members were killed and four others were wounded in two seperate Israel Air Force strikes on police stations in southern Gaza late Friday. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said the strikes were in response to a mortar attack Friday by Hamas militants that killed Jimmy Kdoshim, a 48-year-old Israeli civilian, in the western Negev town of Kfar Aza. Hamas says the attack on the town of Rafah targeted a Hamas police station, killing two of its members and wounding four.

Israeli army invades village near Jenin, injuring 13
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Jenin - Ma’an – The Israeli army invaded the town of Jaba’, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, and forcibly entered a number of private homes and the offices of the Fatah movement in the town. Thirteen Palestinians, mostly teenagers, were injured in the incursion. Medical sources reported that six residents were treated at a hospital in Jenin after being hit by rubber-coated steel bullets and shrapnel. Others suffered from the inhalation of teargas Some of the injuries reportedly took resulted after stone-throwing youths confronted the invading soldiers. The clashes took place at the center of the town, near where the soldiers broke into the Fatah offices. Israeli soldiers positioned themselves on the roof of the office and on houses in the eastern neighborhood of the town. More Israeli forces arrived to support the initial invading force.

The Israeli army attacks a village near Jenin and injures three civilians
Ali Samoudi, International Middle East Media Center News 5/10/2008
Three Palestinian youth were injured on Saturday midday when Israeli troops invaded the village of Jaba located near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Local sources said that at least 15 Israeli army vehicles stormed the village, troops then conducted a wide scale house to house search campaign targeting resident homes. During the attack clashes erupted between the attacking soldiers and local youth from the village, three youth were injured, witnesses said. Medical sources said that among those injured were; Khaled Ragheb, was hit with a live round in his hand, and Walid Al Ali. As of the time of this report the army attack on the village of Jaba is on going. Translated by Ghassan Bannoura "“ IMEMC News Room.

A Palestinian man dies of earlier wounds and the Israeli army pulls out of southern Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/10/2008
Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian man died due to wounds he sustained erilier in the week during an Israeli air-strike targeting the northern Gaza strip town of Beit Hanon. Doctors said that Hamdi Shiber, from the Al Shat’e refugee camp near Beit Hanon sustained critical wounds during an Israeli air strike four days ago and died on Saturday morning. Meanwhile in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, eyewitnesses reported that the Israeli army tanks and bulldozers left Al Faraheen village near Khan Younis on Saturday morning. A number of Israeli tanks and bulldozers invaded Al Faraheen on Friday midnight; residents reported that during the several hours invasion Israeli bulldozers destroyed farm land and a number of Chicken Farms

PA security forces arrest three Hamas members, one Islamic Jihad leader, Hamas says
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Nablus - Ma’an – Fatah-allied Palestinian security forces detained three members of Hamas, and one member of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, in the West Bank Hamas reported on Saturday. In its statement the movement claimed that the Palestinian security forces seized Nimer Al-Hindi, a journalist, Mohammad A’thabah and Mahmoud Je’edi, from the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. The Palestinian security forces also reportedly arrested Saleh Abu Zeid, a leader ofthe Al-Quds Brigades in the town of Qabatiya, near Jenin. The Palestinian Authority’s security forces recently moved into the Jenin area as a part of a US-backed security clampdown. On Wednesday, three people, including two Islamic Jihad fighters, were wounded in clashes involving the security forces in Qabatiya.

P.A security arrests 4 Hamas members, releases a Palestinian reporter
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/11/2008
Palestinian security forces in the West Bank arrested on Friday four members and supporters of Hamas movement, including two reporters. On Saturday, the security forces released one reporters after detaining him for three days. Local sources in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank, reported that security forces arrested one reporter identified as Nimir Hindi after breaking into his home, and arrested cameraman Mohammad Anba. Also in Qalqilia, security forces arrested sheikh Mohammad Joeydy in front of a local mosque. In Jenin, security forces arrested Saleh Abu Zeid, one of the leaders of the Al Quds Brigades. On Saturday, Palestinian security forces released reporter Ali Sammoudi, from Qalqilia, after detaining him for three day.

Molotov cocktails, rocks hurled at IDF patrol stranded near Nablus
Jerusalem Post 5/10/2008
Molotov cocktails and rocks were hurled at an IDF patrol near Nablus Saturday night, after the soldiers’ vehicle became stranded there. The soldiers were eventually evacuated by a second force which used non-lethal means to disperse the crowd. There were no casualties among the soldiers.

Unknown gunmen attack a coffee shop in central Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/10/2008
Palestinian security sources reported that a group of unknown gunmen attacked a coffee shop located in the town of Dier Al Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday. The sources said that the gunmen placed a home-made bomb in the shop and remotely detonated it. Damage was reported by no injures. Th4e Palestinian police arrived at the scene and started an investigation on the attacks.

Blast destroys café in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – An explosion destroyed the Green Café in the Gaza Strip town of Deir Al-Balah early on Saturday morning. The explosion also damaged nearby houses, but injuries were reported. Palestinian sources said that the blast appeared to have been caused by a remotely controlled explosive device. The café used to contain a large television. Police said they were opening an investigation.

Three Palestinians wounded in IOF incursion
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- Three Palestinian citizens were wounded on Saturday during an Israeli occupation forces’ incursion into the village of Jaba’ southwest of Jenin city in the West Bank, locals reported. They said that the IOF troops stormed their town amidst indiscriminate firing of live bullets. Witnesses said that the IOF soldiers in 15 armored vehicles broke into many village homes and violently searched them. They said that young men in the village threw stones at the invading soldiers who retaliated by firing live ammunition at them.

Kfar Aza residents ’startled by any door slamming’
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 5/10/2008
Kibbutz members find it difficult to come to terms with their friend’s death by Palestinian mortar shell. ’We cannot continue living under fire without proper fortification,’ one resident says - Residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza are finding it difficult to come to terms with the death of their friend, 48-year-old Jimmy Kdoshim, who was killed by a mortar shell Friday evening while working in his garden." We can’t continue living without fortification. Every door slamming makes people sweat," one of the residents said Saturday, noting once again that the kibbutz members live under ongoing fire without fortification or an alert system, not far from the Palestinian rocket cells. Friends and family members flocked to Jimmy Kdoshim’s home Saturday morning to comfort his wife Anna and their three children following the dreadful disaster. Defense Minister Ehud Barak also visited Kdoshim’s home on Saturday. Earlier, he met with local council heads, who complained to him about the lack of fortification and alert systems in the area.

Palestinian fighters launch barrage of projectiles at areas bordering Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Palestinian military factions fired numerous homemade projectiles at Israeli towns and military bases bordering the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning. Israeli media reported that seven projectiles landed in the western Negev desert. One rocket shattered the windows of a Synagogue in the town of Sderot. Another struck a house. Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for firing 15 projectiles at Sderot in response to Israeli air strikes that killed five Palestinians overnight. The Al-Qassam Brigades also claimed to have fired projectiles at the Zikim military base, Nahal Oz, and the town of Kfar Sa’ad. They also claimed to have fired on Israeli tanks near the Gaza airport. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), also claimed responsibility for launching three homemade projectiles from the area near the Gaza airport in Rafah.

Qassam fire continues; 2 Israelis hurt
Ynet reporters, YNetNews 5/10/2008
More than 20 rockets fired from Gaza since morning hours, one causes heavy damage to building. Another rocket starts fire outside Sderot; two other Qassams land near synagogue, educational institution. Earlier, IDF kills five Hamas gunmen in southern Strip town of Rafah following mortar attack which left member of Kibbutz Kfar Aza dead - Saturday under fire: Two Israelis sustained light shrapnel wounds and two more suffered from anxiety Saturday afternoon after a Qassam rocket landed near a Sderot building. The scent of gas could be felt in the area, and later it turned out that a gas pipe was damaged in the attack. Firefighters were called to the scene in order to repair the leak. Overall, at least 22 Qassam rockets and five mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday.

Two wounded in ground incursion in southern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Two Palestinian fighters were injured on Saturday while attempting to confront an Israeli incursion in the Al-Faraheen area east of Khan Younis, medical sources said. The affiliation and identity of the wounded fighters were not given. Thirteen Israeli armored vehicles invaded Al-Faraheen at dawn on Saturday, firing heavily at both fighters and civilians, witnesses in the area said. During the incursion, Israeli forces bulldozed swaths of agricultural land, destroying a chicken farm. The farm was one of the last remaining in the area, as the Israeli military has devastated much of the farmland in Al-Faraheen.

PFLP fighters claim projectile attack
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for shelling the Israeli town of Sderot, which borders the Gaza Strip, on Saturday morning. In a statement the group said, "This attack is a response to the ongoing Israeli attacks, killings and violent escalation against the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." The group warned that it would carry out more attacks.

Al-Quds Brigades claim projectile attack
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for launching a homemade projectile on the Israeli kibbutz of Meftaheem, near the Gaza Strip, on Saturday afternoon. In a statement the Brigades said that "this attack comes in response to the ongoing Israeli attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, affirming the option of resistance."

IOF troops wound Islamic Jihad fighter during aggression on Khuza’a town
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- An Islamic Jihad fighter was wounded at dawn Thursday when IOF sodliers advancing into eastern Khuza’a town in southern Gaza fired a projectile at a gorup of resistance fighters. Palestinian local sources said that during the IOF incursion, Israeli bulldozers destroyed agricultural lands, adding that the invading troops withdrew from the town in the morning after they were met with fierce resistance on the part of Palestinian fighters. In different communiqués received by the PIC, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced that its fighters managed at dawn Saturday to fire nine mortar shells on Israeli military posts, including the Zikim military base south of Ashkelon, and the Kfar Saad settlement east of Gaza city. The communiqués stressed that these counterattacks were carried out in retaliation to the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Palestinian. . .

Palestinian Journalists Bloc calls on PA to release detained journalists
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Palestinian Journalists Bloc called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday to release a number of journalists it says were detained by the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. The group said that the PA’s forces arrested two journalists last night, Mohammad A’thabah, and Nimir Al-Hindi from the West Bank town of Qalqilia. The Journalists Bloc also decried the ongoing imprisonment of journalist Mus’ab Qatluni in the PA’s Jneid prison near the city of Nablus.

Palestinians: Gaza power plant closes due to fuel shortage
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/10/2008
Officials in the Gaza Strip said Saturday evening they switched off all three turbines that had been generating electricity for hundreds of thousands of Gazans due to a shortage in fuel. Energy official Kaanan Obeid said Israel - the sole supplier of Gaza’s fuel - hadn’t provided enough diesel to run the power plant. Ninety percent of Gaza City, the territory’s biggest city, was plunged in darkness Saturday night, Obeid said. Israel has limited its rations of fuel and other supplies to Gaza in an attempt to pressure militants to stop firing rockets at nearby Israeli towns. Israeli security officials said that less fuel than intended was transferred to the coastal territory in the past week because the Nahal Oz terminal on the Israel-Gaza border was not fully operational, due to Palestinian mortar attacks.

Israeli Occupation Forces Trash Orphanage Sewing Workshop
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 5/10/2008
This series of reports from Iqbal Tamimi tells us how the IOF decides that they"™d rather cast the future of children to the street and render them eternally dependent upon "œaid" from others "“ that then gets blocked. -1) Israeli occupation forces stormed at dawn today, Wednesday, 30/4/2008 the orphanage sewing workshop of the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron and confiscated all its contents. They informed the workers that it will be closed for three years, and threatened to arrest any person who approaches the location and imprison him for five years. The witnesses said that the Israeli military force backed up with large trucks, raided the orphanage charity workshop in Alsalam Street in the city of Hebron. The soldiers smashed the main gate of the girl s"™ school, took away all the contents of the workshop including the sewing machines, furniture, even the orphan s"™ clothes.

Arabs Say Racism on Rise as Israel Turns 60
Mohammed Assadi, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
Salwa Abu Jaber believes her story shows Israel discriminating against its Arab citizens, 60 years after the state was established as a haven for Jews. The 32-year-old mother of four from northern Israel said her five-year-old daughter has never seen her father, who lives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Separated from the man for five years, she says she has been forced to divorce him. Thousands of families have been similarly split by a 2003 ban on Palestinians in the West Bank from reuniting with their families inside Israel, imposed citing security reasons after the Palestinian uprising or intifada began in 2000." In practical terms, Israel forced the divorce on us," Abu Jaber said." We could not continue to live like this any longer. If this is not racism, then what is it? "This week, as Israel celebrates the anniversary of its foundation, its supreme court has said it found merit in the position of numerous petitions filed by rights groups against the law that keeps the families apart.

Kfir brigade leads in W. Bank violations
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
The main perpetrators of crimes against Palestinians belong to the Kfir infantry brigade, according to statistics on Military Police investigations, which the Israel Defense Forces provided to the human rights organization Yesh Din. The IDF is obliged to submit the data to Yesh Din under the Freedom of Information Law. The numerous Military Police probes into crimes in the territories "reflect a moral and command failure in the IDF," said Lior Yavne of Yesh Din. In 2007 the Military Police opened 351 probes for crimes in the territories, compared to 152 cases in 2006. The Military Police managed to tie the complaints to specific IDF units in only 55 percent of the cases, compared to 78 percent in the previous year. Sixty-six of the investigations opened in 2007 were against Kfir soldiers, compared to 35 in 2006; 52 were against the paratroopers brigade (19 in 2006);. . .

Yazur Village memories alive in Balata Refugee Camp
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 5/10/2008
Nablus -- Seventy-six year old Mohammed Abdel Hamid lives in Al Ein Refugee Camp. He has stories to tell of his expulsion from the suburban Jaffa town of Yazur. He describes Al Nakba as a "serious catastrophe." Mohammed Barakat said that families lived together peacefully with their Jewish neighbors until the Stern Gang attacked Yazur, wreaking utter devastation. Radwan Al Hadji Taha was born in Yazur in 1924. He says that the events that preceded his departure from the town after four were killed is difficult to speak of. Taha Hajer said that the walk from his land through Lod to Deir Amman to Ramallah before travelling to the camp in Nablus was a journey that he endured during the most difficult days of his life. The families of the town were able to obtain all of their legal documents proving ownership, which they have in their procession until this time.

VIDEO - refugeeHood: the inheritance
Haitham Sabbah is Uprooted Palestinian blogger, Palestine Think Tank 5/10/2008
Palestinian youth in the Dheisheh refugee camp talk about what it means to them to be a refugee, their identities and hopes for the future. Video source: ibdaa194. org

Lost Palestinian Refugee Camps on UN-Google Earth Map
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 4/11/2008
It was a happy moment when I heard the news that UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched in coordination with Google Earth, a new layer that focus on refugee camps around the world. This should be a great tool to follow the crisis of Palestinian refugees under occupation and expose it to the world through one of the most used Web 2. 0 applications (Google Earth claims to have more than 350 million downloads and counting). In their press release, UNHCR said: Google Earth’s new mapping programme takes you on a virtual reality tour with the UN refugee agency of some of the world’s major displacement crises and the humanitarian efforts aimed at helping the victims. The first use of this geospatial tool focuses on refugees and displaced people located in remote areas of Chad, Iraq, Colombia and Sudan’s volatile Darfur region.

U.S. may offer Israel powerful new radar
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
The Bush administration appears set to offer Israel a powerful radar system that could greatly boost Israeli defenses against enemy ballistic missiles while tying it directly into a growing U. S. missile shield. President George W. Bush is expected to discuss the matter during a visit to Israel on Wednesday to mark the country’s 60th anniversary amid mounting U. S. concerns about perceived threats from Iran, people familiar with the matter said. This is "probably the No. 2 issue" on Bush’s agenda for the visit, second only to the Middle East peace process, said Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican who has spearheaded calls in Congress for tighter U. S. missile-defense ties with Israel. The system Bush may offer is known as a forward-based X-band radar. Transportable by air, it uses high-powered pulsed beams for extremely high-resolution tracking of objects in space such as. . .

Rafah crossing to be opened for three days starting on Saturday
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 5/10/2008
Palestinian sources reported that the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Eygpt to be opened for three days starting on Saturday. The Rafah crossing, the only was in or out for Palestinians in Gaza, was closed by the Israeli army 11 months ago. The Palestinian sources said that the priority will be given to humanitarian cases and patients that need medical care out side the Gaza Strip. Egyptian officials said that Cairo will also allow Egyptians who got stranded in Gaza since last January to come back and added that Cairo is trying to ease the humanitarian crises in the Palestinian Coastal Region. Iyman Tahha, a Hamas leader in Gaza, told media agencies on Saturday that the crossing will not be opened according to any long-term arrangement, but in fact it will be opened for a short time for easing the crises in Gaza.

Egypt briefly opens Rafah crossing
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Rafah border crossing, the main crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, was opened on Saturday in accordance with a deal between Hamas and the Egyptian government. The crossing will be open for three days to allow Palestinians wounded in Israel’s attacks on Gaza and other medical cases to leave for treatment. About 200 patients crossed into Egypt after the crossing was opened at 11am on Saturday. Egyptian officials said that a total of about 700 people will be allowed to leave Gaza. On Sunday, Gazans holding Egyptian residency will be allowed into Egypt. On Monday, Palestinians stranded in the Sinai after the border was resealed in February will be allowed back into Gaza. Israel sealed the Gaza – Ma’an – The Rafah border crossing, the main crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, was opened on Saturday in accordance with a deal between Hamas and the Egyptian government.

Mishaal: Arab states should unilaterally lift siege if Israel rejects truce
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head of Hamas political bureau, called on Egypt and the Arab countries to unilaterally lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to open the Rafah border crossing in case the Israeli occupation rejects the truce proposal in accordance with the standards agreed on by the Palestinian factions in Cairo. In a speech delivered in Damascus on the 60th anniversary of Nakba, Mishaal stated that the Arab countries do not have any excuse now that Hamas submitted its national positions to Egypt, adding that the Arabs should not be neutral in this matter because they are ethically responsible for every Palestinian child, women and elderly men. The Hamas leader urged the honorable men in Fatah Movement to work on stopping the crisis in the Palestinian arena which was caused by those who controlled the Movement’s decision, pointing out that parties in the. . .

Nativity Church exiles call for allowing them to return to their homes
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian exiles of the Nativity Church held Saturday a picket in front of the UN headquarters in the Gaza Strip demanding their return to their homes and families in Bethlehem after they spent six years away from them. One of the exiles called Fahmi Kanaan said that during six years in Gaza, they were deprived from meeting their families and some of them lost his parents, brothers, wives and sons without being able to see or bid farewell to them, pointing out that when they arrived in Gaza, their number was 26 exiles, but today they became more than 100 along with their families. Kanaan appealed to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to end the issue of the deportees in Gaza and European countries as soon as possible and called on the quartet committee, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and all human rights organizations to pressure Israel to end their deportation and lift the siege on the Gaza Strip.

Six years on, Nativity Church deportees appeal for return to Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Palestinian fighters who were deported from the West Bank after the 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem appealed to Palestinian leadership on Saturday to "end their suffering and return them to their home city of Bethlehem." Saturday is the sixth anniversary of the end of a five-week standoff with the Israeli military that resulted when 200 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians, took refuge in the church. In a negotiated settlement of the crisis, 26 fighters were banished to the Gaza Strip. Another 13 men were deported to Europe. To call attention to their plight, the deportees staged a demonstration in front of the United Nations headquarters on Saturday. One of the deportees who attended the protest, Fahmi Kan’an said, "On this day six years ago we were deported from the West Bank city of Bethlehem after for a 39 day siege. . .

The Nakba, Voices for Palestine event with Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 5/10/2008
Exeter Friends of Palestine Society Presents: The Nakba - Voices for Palestine Featuring: His Excellency Dr. Manuel Hassassian the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK,and band, Nizar Al Issa and More"¦ University of Exeter, Monday May 12th, 2008: On commemoration of the 60th anniversary of The Nakbah, meaning: "œThe Catastrophe": The expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948. More than 60 percent of the total Palestinian population was expelled. Over 530 Palestinian villages were depopulated and completely destroyed. The society is putting together a gala with the main theme being ‘60 Years Later… Still No Peace"¦Still Existing". The gala will celebrate Palestinian heritage: music and dabkah which continue to unite the Palestinian Diaspora despite the circumstances.

NAKBA COMMEMORATION EVENTS
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 5/10/2008
Press release - BADIL and the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign on behalf of the National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba - Nakba Commemoration - 11 May, 2008. Prominent authors and poets from around the world present their work in the Palestine Literary Festival. The campaign to educate Palestinians on the Nakba and their collective Right of Return continues today in the West Bank." œThere are very few scholarships [available to Palestinians], because most of them are conditioned to military service, which we don"™t do, and will not also ["¦] the whole process of accepting Palestinians into universities is discriminatory, if that be in explicit or implicit form."  A female Palestinian graduate from Nazareth describes her experiences in the Israeli university system. From the publication Education Under Occupation.

The popular committee calls on Egypt to fully open Rafah crossing
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege hailed Saturday the Egyptian decision to open the Rafah border crossing partially for medical cases and those who hold citizenships of other countries, calling on Egypt to open the crossing fully to ease the lives of Palestinians and alleviate their daily suffering. The committee underlined that this Egyptian position is a step in the right direction, but not enough to solve the current humanitarian crisis and its rampant ramifications as a result of the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza two years ago. It pointed out that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is very difficult and the popular anger and indignation in the street reached an unprecedented level after all service sectors sustained complete paralysis as a result of the fuel crisis. The committee also said that the Strip suffers from scarcity of basic supplies in addition. . .

Palestinians: Gaza-Egypt border opens temporarily
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/10/2008
The main border crossing between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Egypt was temporarily opened on Saturday under a deal between the Islamist group and Cairo, Palestinian officials said. The crossing at Rafah had been largely closed since early February, when Egypt resealed the border after Hamas gunmen blasted it open in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of the Strip. With U. S. backing, Egypt has been trying to broker an unofficial truce between Israel and Hamas to stop violence that has imperiled peace talks. The proposed deal calls for Rafah to reopen under Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ control. Saturday’s opening would allow Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israel, and other medical cases, to leave Gaza for treatment, Hamas officials said.

Gaza officials: Power plant shut down due to fuel shortage
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 5/10/2008
Officials in Gaza said Saturday they switched off all three turbines that had been generating electricity for hundreds of thousands of Gazans. Energy official Kaanan Obeid said Israel - the sole supplier of Gaza’s fuel - hadn’t provided enough diesel fuel to run the power plant. An IDF spokesman said Israel didn’t deliver as much fuel as planned to Gaza this week because Palestinian gunmen attacked the crossing Israel uses to deliver the diesel. He did not know when diesel fuel supplies would resume. It was not immediately clear if the privately owned power station had actually run out of fuel or whether the plant was shut down to pressure Israel to ease its fuel restrictions.

Gaza’s sole power station shuts down, Gaza city plunges into darkness
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The sole power generation station in the Gaza Strip on Saturday evening shut down after it ran out of fuel necessary to operate it, plunging Gaza city into complete darkness, Kanan Obeid the chairman of Gaza energy authority announced. He said that large areas of the Strip would suffer total blackout by sunset, adding that 60% of the entire Strip areas would be out of electricity with Gaza city bearing the major brunt. Obeid said that areas supplied directly by power from Israel and Egypt would be spared the power outage, noting that these areas are limited. The chairman said that the power station did not have any reserve fuel, warning of a humanitarian disaster in the event the crisis continued and Israeli blocked entry of fuel shipments.

Gaza Unrest and Corruption Surround Israeli Celebrations [May 4 – 11]
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
On May 9, a day after Israel officially celebrated its 60th anniversary, Hamas claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on Kfar Aza in southern Israel which killed one Israeli citizen. Jimmy Kdoshim [48] became the 14th victim of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza in the last seven years. Hamas, who recently signed a ceasefire proposal in Egypt with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and which will be presented to Israel early next week after being agreed to by 12 other Palestinian factions, responded to the attack through spokesperson Abu Obeida who declared that “we will continue to fire until the last moment before a truce is completed”. His comments came just three days after another Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri warned that “a truce is one of the options to stop the suffering of the Palestinians, however we will not put ourselves and our people under this in light of the continuation of the attacks”. The last victim of a rocket attack on Israel was Roni Yechiah, whose death at the end of February preceded operation “Hot Winter”, an Israeli offensive which killed approximately 120 Palestinians in Gaza. In an immediate reprisal for the attack on Kfar Aza, Israeli aircraft fired missiles into two Hamas police stations in Khan Younis killing five activists – Bassam Ahmad Abu Shbeikah [23], Mohammed Mazen Abu I’rmanah [25], Mohammed Abu Odah, Omar al-Ser and Samir Wafi.

Vilnai: Egypt key player in dealing with Hamas
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 5/10/2008
Ahead of Egyptian intelligence chief’s visit, Deputy Ministry Vilnai says ’Hamas is bitter enemy,’ stresses that Israel is not talking with terror group -Egypt is playing a key role in Israel’s efforts to contend with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Ynet Saturday." œAs of now, we seedialogue between Egypt and Hamas. As our strategic partners, the Egyptians play a key role in this issue," said Vilnai to Ynet ahead of the arrival of Egypt"™s Chief of Intelligence, Omar Suleiman, expected in Israel at the beginning of the week. Suleiman is expected to present Israel’s political leadership with an outline for a ceasefire agreement in Gaza. Vilnai added that "œHamas is our bitter enemy, we do not speak with them. They still believe that terrorism can cause us to surrender but they are unaware of how badly they are mistaken."

Lebanon crisis: Israel watches from sidelines, for now
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 5/11/2008
Senior official tells Ynet that leaders constantly updated about Lebanon developments, but notes that Israel must refrain from leading international effort on matter - Israel watches from sidelines, for time being:Israel is monitoring the latest crisis in Lebanon with concern, but for the time being will not respond in any way, Ehud Olmert decided, instead allowing the international community to respond. At this time, the latest developments seem to suggest another Hizbullah victory in the domestic Lebanese theater, after the Shiite group managed to force the army to accept its demands. Nearly 40 people were reportedly killed in clashes between opposition forces led by Hizbullah and forces loyal to the government since violence erupted Wednesday. Saturday night, Hizbullah announced that it will pull its gunmen out of Beirut after the army accepted its demands.

Haneyya calls on the Lebanese to initiate dialogue, to preserve unity
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, has called on all Lebanese parties to return to dialogue and to preserve national unity and resistance. Haneyya, in a written statement issued by his office on Friday, said he hoped that Lebanon would not return to civil war, and urged the Lebanese to endorse dialogue as the means to solve problems. The Hamas Movement had asked "all Lebanese brothers to return to calm and dialogue" on the basis of preserving Lebanon’s stability and blocking attempts to spread strife. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told the PIC on Friday that his Movement was following up events in Lebanon and the international stands regarding those events. He said that Hamas noted that the American administration wished to swamp Lebanon in strife in a bid to achieve "American and Israeli ambitions".

Hamas: Resistance will retaliate to occupation’s crimes
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has charged that the Israeli occupation forces’ (IOF) repeated strikes against police headquarters and elements in Gaza Strip was meant to disrupt the security network in the Strip. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a statement to the PIC on Saturday that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) was targeting the Palestinian people and its resistance in a bid to force their surrender through siege, murder and destruction." Apparently there is a Zio-American scheme that is being implemented in agreement with the PA (leadership) to strike resistance and subdue the Palestinian people," he elaborated. The spokesman asserted that his Movement would never let the occupation’s crimes pass unpunished. Resistance in face of aggression would continue, he said and underlined that Hamas would retaliate to occupation with all means available.

Olmert: I will continue to lead Israel’s agenda
Jerusalem Post 5/10/2008
"I will continue to lead Israel’s agenda," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday night, two days after the gag order on details of his investigation for unlawfully receiving money from American businessman Morris Talansky was lifted. Olmert, who was addressing a conference of Kadima and Zionist youth in Kfar Truman, also referred to the Friday’s fatality Jimmy Kdoshim and reiterated his pledge to bring peace with the Palestinians. "We must lead Israel to a situation wherein it will make peace with her rivals and enemies in order to bring an end to the wars that have plagued it since before its inception," Olmert said." For now, we will continue to do what must be done for the sake of Israel’s military deterrence."

Briefing by UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 5/7/2008
Capitol Hill- I extend my warm appreciation to Congressman Kucinich for kindly organising this hearing. Thanks also to his staff for their help in preparing it. The invitation reflects a growing interest on Capitol Hill in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Congressman’s invitation, and your participation, provide a welcome opportunity for me to brief on UNRWA’s work, and update you on the grim situation in the West Bank and, in particular, the Gaza Strip. To my regret, the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a divisive issue here in Washington. But I think it is equally true that in our nation’s capital, there is a tireless commitment to finding humanitarian solutions to the many tragedies this conflict creates. There are many expressions of this commitment.

Jewish Republicans are jockeying to win McCain’s favor
Jennifer Siegel, The Forward, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
As the Republican Party coalesces behind presidential contender John McCain, Jewish bigwigs in the party are vying for influence in the campaign. Currently leading the way is the House’s only Jewish Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia - a rising party star who currently serves as chief deputy whip - who is raising funds for McCain and the Republican National Committee as the chair of the GOP’s 2008 Victory Jewish Coalition. The Jewish outreach effort is being co-chaired by Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based venture capitalist and perennial party heavyweight who chairs the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Council and serves on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition. One alleged casualty of the Cantor-Zeidman leadership team is New York developer Mark Broxmeyer, national chairman of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Obama, McCain in Hamas row
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 5/10/2008
McCain slams Obama over supportive words from Hamas; Democratic candidate ’insulted’ - WASHINGTON "“ Presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama are continuing to clash over recent remarks by a Hamas spokesperson that expressed support for the Democratic candidate. Ahmed Yusuf declared that Hamas "loves" Obama and hopes to see the Democratic candidate win the presidential elections. The Hamas spokesman added that Obama is a "great man" similar to John Kennedy and that he can change America and lead the world without arrogance. McCain’s campaign took advantage of the comments and in a letter to potential donors wrote that "we need change in America, but not the kind of change that wins kind words from Hamas." Meanwhile, the Republican candidate has made sure to emphasize that he will be Hamas’ worst nightmare in every appearance he has been making as of late.

Middle East Peace Process Needs to Move Faster, Blair
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday the Middle East peace process needs to move faster if there is to be any chance of an agreement this year. In an exclusive interview with the satellite TV station ’Sky News’ in the West Bank town of Jenin, Blair also said Israel must do more to lift restrictions on the Palestinians to improve their economy. For almost a year the former British Premier has pursued his mission as the Quartets Middle East Envoy, working towards building the foundations of a Palestinian state, but he said more needs to be done and more quickly. His team has asked the Israelis to dismantle 12 checkpoints for instance, but only one has been removed." There are a whole set of proposals that we have put to the Israelis and actually the next few weeks will be critical on delivering those, and yes, removing one is not enough", he said. Palestinians are making progress, he believes, and so are countries supporting them with money, and there are signs the Israelis are seeing how they can help.

UK protest: Occupation root cause of poverty
Paul Collins, Palestine News Network 5/10/2008
London- The British government is today urged to take action over Israel as the anti-poverty charity War on Want warned that millions of Palestinians face a humanitarian catastrophe unprecedented in its history. The warning comes before a protest to mark the 60th anniversary of the nakba, in which, the charity says, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes in the displacement that made the state of Israel possible. According to the latest issue of War on Want’s latest briefing, millions of Palestinians are living with human rights abuse and crushing poverty in refugee camps or under occupation. One of them, Hanni Ammar, saw his livelihood destroyed and property stolen when the illegal Separation Wall was built near to his home and business in the West Bank village of Mas’ha, then followed by the Separation Wall.

Let there be Justice for all
The Economist, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
“To say that there is a Jewish refugee problem is to negate the success of Israel as the refuge for all Jews who choose to live there,” says M. J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum, a doveish think-tank in Washington. - ONE of the thorniest questions in an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, if it ever happens, will be what recompense to give the 4. 5m Palestinian refugees and their descendants, of whom only a tiny minority, if any, are likely to be allowed to return to what is now Israel. But now a coalition of Jewish organisations has managed to get a no less thorny problem onto the agenda: compensation for Jews who fled the Arab world. Some 850,000 Jews were living in Arab countries by the early 20th century but began leaving as Arab attitudes to them soured in the wake of Jewish immigration to Palestine and the later creation of Israel. Often they fled after being attacked or stripped of their property and citizenship. Around 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced out of Israel at the state’s birth. But while most of the Palestinians have remained stateless, living in refugee camps scattered around the Arab world, the Jews all ended up as citizens of Israel and other countries in Europe and the Americas.

Fugitive Bishara honored at Arab conference
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 5/10/2008
Ex-Knesset member suspected of aiding Hizbullah chosen to chair Arab National Conference - Bishara honored: Former Arab-Israeli Knesset Member Azmi Bishara was unanimously elected Saturday as the chairman of the 19th round of the Arab National Conference, held in Yemen this year. The annual conference, which got underway Saturday morning, brings together Arab nationalist parties. The meeting, titled "Arab Joint Work "“ Challenges and Horizons," will last four days and has drawn more than 300 politicians and intellectuals from a number of Arab countries. The conference was first held in Tunisia in 1990, and since then has been held in a different location every year. During the conference, participants work to improve cooperation and coordination between similar parties across the Arab world.

Senior Hamas leader Mash’al calls for Palestinian unity
Ma’an News Agency 5/10/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – The exiled leader of Hamas’ political bureau, Khalid Mash’al, reiterated his call for reconciliation with the rival Fatah movement on Friday. Speaking at an event marking the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) in Damascus, Mash’al said that Arab states should sponsor an effort to restore Palestinian unity." I call on you all to join in a national reconciliation where no one loses except the enemy, and we call for a dialogue to restore unity to the two parts of our homeland with an Arab sponsorship for this reconciliation." Mash’al called on Arab states to work to open the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, in particular the Rafah crossing with Egypt. He demanded that Arab states break the Israeli blockade of Gaza unilaterally should Israel reject an Egyptian ceasefire proposal that has already been approved by armed Palestinian factions.

Olmert: I must consider ramifications of resignation
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 5/10/2008
In interview with US newspapers, prime minister addresses new police investigation against him, says he does not believe he should step down at this point - WASHINGTON "“ Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has promised to resign should he be charged with receiving a bribe from an American businessman, but from an interview published Friday in the United States it appears that he does not believe this is the right time to do so." I don’t really see that this will bring any better outcome for the country at this point. Not that a person is indispensable or irreplaceable. . . . But given the circumstances right now, I think it will not do good that I step down at this point. I have to think about it. I have to think about the possible ramifications of an early retirement," Olmert said in an interview with the Washington Post. and Newsweek held before the gag order placed on details pertaining to the new police investigation against him was partially lifted.

Olmert to petition High Court against Talansky deposition
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 5/10/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s attorneys to challenge decision allowing officials to take deposition of fundraiser Morris Talansky - Fighting Back:Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s attorneys intend to petition the High Court of Justice in the coming days in a bid to annul a previous decision by the Jerusalem District Court that allowed officials to take the deposition of fundraiser Morris Talansky. Olmert’s attorneys believe that allowing Talansky to testify at this stage would undermine the possibility of holding a fair investigation into suspicions that the prime minister received funds unlawfully. The attorneys are expected to prepare the petition at the beginning of the week, but the date for submitting it is unknown at this time. For the time being, Olmert has not been asked to submit for another police interrogation session over the affair.

PM defense: This is not about bribery
Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to say in his defense that the allegations against him are not about bribery but campaign financing. He will plead that similar charges were made against other prime ministers, such Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak. Olmert will not be available for another interview with the police this week due to U. S. President George W. Bush’s visit. Olmert has already been disseminating this line to the political system and the public via the media, and is believed to have said as much to the police officers who questioned him. The prime minister is suspected of illegally receiving hundreds of thousands dollars from American businessman and fund-raiser Morris Talansky during tenures as Jerusalem mayor and as minister of industry and trade in Sharon’s government. More analysis, Page 5.

Khuzaymah: PA security complements the occupation’s role against resistance
Palestinian Information Center 5/10/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- Abdelfattah Khuzaymah, a leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Jenin, stated that the PA security apparatuses’ role in the West Bank is complementary to the Israeli occupation’s role in arresting and assassinating Palestinian resistance fighters. This statement came after PA security officials threatened that Khuzaymah should surrender himself or else he would be arrested by force. The Islamic Jihad leader also rejected to comply with these threats, highlighting that his Movement would never lay down its legitimate weapons even if dozens of its cadres were arrested or assassinated. Meanwhile in the context of its mouth-muzzling policy, the PA intelligence apparatus kidnapped five journalists and media men in the last two days including journalist Mustafa Sabri, who is also a member of the Qalqilya municipal council, and Dr.

Organizers hope Olmert probe won’t cast shadow on Peres conference
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
The organizers of the international conference hosted by President Simon Peres in mid-May, in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary, are hoping that Peres’ stature will not be overshadowed by the investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The conference, to be held on May 13-15 and entitled Facing Tomorrow, will be the largest ever held in Israel. Thirteen heads of state, including U. S. President George W. Bush, and 2,000 official invitees are expected to attend. Position papers, prepared by working groups, are to be presented afterward to the government and major Jewish organizations worldwide for implementation. Avi Gil, head of content for the conference and a former Foreign Ministry director general, said the event would be followed by "other annual conferences and smaller meetings during the year." He said a special team would work with the government secretariat to. . .

Rabbi: Israel needs religious PM
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 5/10/2008
Safed’s chief rabbi: Turns out that Olmert is more corrupt than we thought, PM with values needed - The State of Israel needs a kippa-wearing prime minister, Safed’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu wrote in an article titled "A religious prime minister "“ it’s possible" distributed at synagogues over the weekend. Rabbi Eliyahu’s article also addressed the latest investigation against the prime minister, noting that "it turns out that Olmert is more corrupt than we thought." "So what shall we do? Elect another prime minister without faith? Another one without credibility? Another one without values? "¦when will we wake up and realize that we need a prime minister with a kippa? ""We need a prime minister who acts based on genuine faith and values. We’ve had enough of prime ministers who bought us by just saying ’God willing’ and sold out the Sinai"¦we certainly don’t. . .

Absorption Ministry’s chief scientist suspected of plagiarizing doctorate
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
The Civil Service Commission is investigating suspicions that the Absorption Ministry’s chief scientist, Sonia Michaeli, copied her doctorate from a study by other scholars. The probe seeks to determine whether Michaeli’s doctoral thesis, submitted to the University of Latvia at the end of the 1990s, was taken from research by Professor Yitzhak Friedman and Orit Bendes-Ya’akov, a former senior researcher at the Henrietta Szold Institute. Friedman is a former director of the Henrietta Szold Institute - the National Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences. The subject of the study was the Na’aleh program, which brings teens to Israel to live without their parents. The investigation is being carried out by the Civil Service Commission and the Education Ministry’s unit that evaluates degrees from abroad.

Olmert’s system
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
Ehud Olmert is not just another suspect in a long line of politicians, but to a large extent the person who symbolizes the entire system. In the Olmert school of politics, one can learn how to connect with the wealthy members of world Jewry, how to get them to support the party the candidate is representing at any given moment, how to operate on the borderline of the law (mainly through emissaries), how to cultivate supporters, admirers and associates, how to attack critics maliciously, how to take loans without a repayment date, how to bring past donors into future economic projects, and how to survive for 35 years without a criminal conviction even as one’s partners are going down one after the other. Olmert served as treasurer in one Likud election campaign, during which he signed a fraudulent statement to the state comptroller while a fake donation collection. . .

Arab literature takes centre stage in London
Middle East Online 5/10/2008
When Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz became in 1988 the first (and so far only) Arab writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, it was hoped that this would lead to a major breakthrough for Arab literature in the West, including Britain. But for years such a breakthrough remained elusive. True, a few Arab authors achieved some success in English translation, but there was nothing comparable to the love affair of British readers with, say, Latin American magic realism, Russian and East European literature, and novels by writers originating from the Indian sub-continent. Now the picture regarding the publication of Arab literature in English is dramatically changing. This was evident at the recent three-day London Book Fair (LBF), which took place 14th-16th April this year and chose the Arab world as its market focus.

Fatah Wins Key W. Bank Student Election
The Associated Press, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
Hebron University officials say Fatah has won student council elections in a former Hamas stronghold. Fatah activists loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won 21 seats Wednesday, compared to 20 for Hamas. Fatah supporters honked car horns and fired guns in the air when the results were announced. Islamists controlled the university’s student council since 1986. University elections are an important gauge of opinion. Since the violent Hamas takeover of Gaza last year, Fatah has been trying to prevent a repeat in the West Bank. Hebron is traditionally a Hamas stronghold. Last month, Fatah also retook the student council of Bir Zeit, the West Bank’s most prestigious university. Source: , 8 May.

In open court
Ze''ev Segal, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
The District Court decision to allow Morris Talansky, the main witness in new allegations against Ehud Olmert, to deliver preliminary testimony, is based on the reasonable assumption that Talansky would not return to Israel if the prime minister were arraigned. Testimony must be heard even before an indictment is served, when the complainant or important witness at hand is a foreign national and resident. This is true for both "ordinary" cases and for special cases, such as the investigation of a prime minister. The court’s ruling is therefore reasonable and necessary. As Justice Esther Hayut recently stated, the High Court of Justice will intervene in the District Court’s decision to hear preliminary testimony only if the court has acted outside its authority or in an extremely arbitrary way regarding administrative procedures, two rare scenarios.

Deal struck to end Baghdad fighting
Al Jazeera 5/10/2008
The political group headed by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader, says it has struck a deal with the Iraqi government to end the fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City district, where clashes have left at least 13 people dead in the past 24 hours. Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr, said that the agreement would be effective from Sunday." We will stop the fire, stop displaying arms in public and open all the roads leading to Sadr City," he said on Saturday. Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government spokesman, said the authorities support the agreement and "calls upon everybody to commit themselves" to it." The agreement contains 14 points representing the government’s vision to end public displays of arms, clean Sadr City of bombs, and enforce law in Sadr City," he said.

Lebanon army revokes moves against Hezbollah
Middle East Online 5/10/2008
BEIRUT - The Lebanese army said on Saturday that it was revoking measures taken by the government against the Shiite Hezbollah movement and called for all armed militants to withdraw from the streets." The army command calls on all parties to (help restore calm) by ending armed protests and withdrawing gunmen from the streets and opening the roads," the military said in a statement. It said that the head of airport security, who had been reassigned from his job, would remain in his post and that the army would look into a communications network set up by Hezbollah." The head of airport security, Brigadier General Wafiq Shqeir, will remain in his post until appropriate procedural measures have been taken after a probe," the statement said." As for the telecommunications network, the army will look into the issue in a manner that is not harmful to the public interest or the security of the resistance" against Israel, it said.

Tension reigns after three deadly days in Lebanon
Middle East Online 5/10/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanon was steeped in tension on Saturday after Hezbollah seized control of west Beirut in three days of deadly fighting with pro-government forces, triggering fears of all-out civil war. At least 18 people were killed in the violence that erupted on Wednesday and quickly escalated after the head of the opposition Shiite Hezbollah movement called a government crackdown on his powerful group a declaration of war. The unrest led to urgent international appeals for calm as Arab foreign ministers prepared to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis on Sunday. The United States said Hezbollah’s actions and its relationship with Iran and Syria proved it was a threat to the entire region, accusing the Lebanese movement of even of training insurgent groups in Iraq. Analysts said there were fears the violence could spread beyond Lebanon’s borders.

Lebanon death toll up following northern clash
News agencies, YNetNews 5/10/2008
At least 12 gunmen reportedly killed in gun battle; death toll in Lebanon clashes close to 40 - Lebanese security and hospital officials said that at least 12 gunmen died and 20 wounded in a gun battle between pro- and anti-government groups in a remote region of northern Lebanon. Saturday’s battle occurred in the town of Halba in Akkar, a remote Sunni region in northernmost Lebanon when fighters loyal to Sunni leader Saad Hariri and the government clashed with members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a secular pro-Syrian group allied with the Shiite Hizbullah. The pro-government fighters stormed the office of the SSNP and set it ablaze after the gun battle. The number raises to 37 the death toll since Shiite-Sunni sectarian erupted in Beirut on Wednesday and spread to other regions.

Beirut streets ’calm’ after clashes
Al Jazeera 5/10/2008
Opposition fighters in the Lebanese capital are reported to have been pulled off the streets after seizing control of large parts of west Beirut in three days of fighting with pro-government forces. At least 18 people have been killed in the worst clashes in Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war. Beirut was reported to be "calm but tense" on Saturday following overnight clashes outside the city. Seven Hezbollah fighterswere killed overnight in battles with fighters loyal to Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, in the small city of Aley, a Jumblatt stronghold 17km uphill from BeirutIn the southern port city of Sidon, two civilians were killed after a gun battle began involving unidentified armed men. Lebanon’s governing coalition has described Hezbollah’s takeover of west Beirut as an "armed coup". . .

Hezbollah claims victory as Lebanon gov’t U-turns
Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid Haaretz Correspondents, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
Hezbollah scored a major victory Saturday after four days of fighting across Lebanon, when the Lebanese army reversed two cabinet resolutions that kicked off the fighting on Wednesday. The resolutions, if implemented, would have removed the chief of Beirut Airport’s security, Major General Wafiq Shukeir, who has ties to Hezbollah. It also would have dismantled Hezbollah’s private telephone network. Instead, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora announced on Saturday that he was putting the two issues into the hands of the army, which said in a statement that it was keeping Shukeir at his post and that it would handle the Hezbollah communications network in a way "that would not harm public interest and the security of the resistance." Hezbollah’s television station, Al-Manar, said the "Lebanese national opposition" would continue its civil. . .

Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 5/10/2008
The Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development has released its poll results.   The poll was conducted under strict sampling methodology (margin of error +/- 1. 6%) amongst a representative population in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Lebanon and Jordan.   The full survey can be viewed here: 2008 Arab Public Opinion Survey (power point). Key Findings of the March 2008 Poll: Iraq: Only 6% of Arabs polled believe that the American surge has worked.   A plurality (35% ) do not believe reports that violence has in fact declined.   Over 61% believe that if the US were to withdraw from Iraq, Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences, and only 15% believe the civil war would expand.   81% of Arabs polled (outside Iraq) believe that the Iraqis are worse off than they were before the Iraq war.

Poll: US Jews prefer Clinton
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 5/10/2008
New Gallup survey says 66% of American Jews will vote for former first lady should she be elected to compete against John McCain in presidential elections - WASHINGTON "“Hillary Clinton is the most popular US candidate for president of the United States among Jewish voters, according to a new Gallup poll. Clinton’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama, is not far behind. Republican candidate John McCain will receive more Jewish votes than US President George W. Bush got four years ago, the poll said, but most Jews will remain loyal to the Democratic candidate. The survey, which was released after the primary elections in North Carolina and Indiana, states that 50% of the Jewish Democratic voters prefer Clinton, compared to 43% who declared their support for Obama. According to the poll, if the former first lady competes against the Republican candidate in the November 4 presidential elections, 66% of American Jews will vote for Clinton, compared to 27% who will vote for McCain.


Articles


Politics Aside, a Human Rights Crime is Happening in Gaza
Jimmy Carter, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
      The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where 1.5 million human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world by sea, air, or land. An entire population is being brutally punished.
     This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority Parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers, including a joint team I led from the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute.
     Israel and the US refused to accept the right of Palestinians to form a unity government with Hamas and Fatah and now, after internal strife, Hamas alone controls Gaza. Forty-one of the 43 victorious Hamas candidates who lived in the Occupied West Bank are now imprisoned by Israel, plus an additional 10 who assumed positions in the short-lived coalition Cabinet.

Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry: Lies are Truth

Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 5/10/2008
      The people in the press staff of the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry are talented science fiction writers. Almost nothing that they write has any bearing on reality, and it seems that they use Orwell’s 1984 as a guidebook for news dispatches. All that they need to do is look at the facts on the ground (terminology that was invented by the hasbara commission, more than likely, because it is something different than reality. It has a bit of the sense of imposition of a negative reality that cannot however be challenged by "ordinary" people), and turn them on their heads. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. That’s exactly how the Israeli PR staff represents reality with their warped mirror.
     I do suggest, for those who, like myself, find some pleasure in reading nonsense, to subscribe to their newsletter or to read it on their site. It is just about as absurd a thing one can find to read. The trouble with it is: it"™s taken seriously by the Big Mass Media and a lot of the dispatch services never verify any of the information that is released. If you wonder just why everyone is so wrong about Israel and Palestine, look no further.

The historic wronging of Palestine

David Morrison, Palestine Think Tank 5/10/2008
      The state of Israel came into existence 60 years ago on 14 May 1948.  In the months before and after this declaration, Jewish forces drove around 750,000 Palestinians from their homes.  Over 500 villages were emptied of their Palestinian population and most of them were destroyed so that those expelled had no homes to return to.
     Anybody who doubts that ethnic cleansing took place on this scale should read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe.  In it, he describes Plan Dalet (D in Hebrew), which set out the areas to be cleansed and the methods to be employed by Zionist forces in carrying out the cleansing.  Here is a sample of the latter:
     “These operations can be carried out in the following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially of those population centres which are difficult to control continuously; or by mounting combing and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state.”

Post-Annapolis: The Palestinian Death Toll Keeps Rising

Yasmin Abou-Amer, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
      The Annapolis Conference was held on November 27, 2007 under the auspices of US President George W. Bush and was aimed at restarting negotiations on a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.The conference ended with a joint statement issued by both parties.
     Following are excerpts from the text of the joint declaration by Palestinians and Israelis pledging to pursue a peace deal by the end of 2008.It follows:
     “We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples ; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and non-violence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.
     “In furtherance of the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, we agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral [negotiations] in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements.

Israel’s Half a Step Forward

George S. Hishmeh, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
      The May cover of The Atlantic magazine, a respected monthly, was daring. The headline was unbelievable for an American publication: "Is Israel Finished?" The Star of David was larger than the characters on the cover which was adorned by the four colors of the Palestinian flag –– red, white, black and green.
     The author is Jeffrey Goldberg, who admits that he as "a young Zionist in the late 1980s ... was drawn to the idea that Israel represented the most sublime and encompassing expression of Jewishness," and so he moved there and joined the Israeli army.
     The article leads off with the rift between the discredited and beleaguered Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and a grieving novelist, David Grossman, whose son was killed in the ill-considered Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. But the author says the rift in fact "mirrors the division confounding Israel," especially whether it can "overcome its paralysis to make the hard choice necessary for its survival ....."

Sixty years old, through Arab eyes

Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 5/11/2008
      "The Zionist writers’ admissions of crimes committed against the Palestinians always come too late, as though they were intended, at best, to atone for the sin. However, in fact these are nothing but masks to hide the generation’s crimes."
     This is how author Yusuf Damara, a Palestinian writer who lives in Jordan, settled his historical account with Israeli writers in a piece published last week in the literary section of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.
     A week earlier, Palestinian journalist Salah al-Na’imi analyzed the essence of Israel after 60 years. The work was published in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat and on important Web sites like Islam on Line, which has tens of thousands of hits a day. A similar campaign was also started this year by the important Syrian commentator Subhi Hadidi, who ran an article entitled "Israel in its 60th year - changing positions among the rabbis, the generals and the secular," in January.4
     These three writers are not only very familiar with the names of Israeli politicians, writers and journalists, whose views they quote in a way nearly unparalleled by Israeli commentators, they are also exceptional in that they make an effort to "read" Israel, and not just Israelis. They are not always successful, and they usually have the standard agendas, but they seek to do so in a manner that is different from the abundant, run-of-the-mill writing. This writing deals mainly with the 60 years since the Nakba (the Palestinian "catastrophe" of 1948 - the founding of the State of Israel), Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and even a report on the 60th anniversary celebrations.

Israel at 60

Daniel Levy, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
      I don’t often, or ever really, write about my own relationship to Israel or how I ended up there, but I’ll make an exception for the 60th anniversary.
     It happened for me at the time of the ‘good’ Iraq war, you remember – the one whose ambitions were limited to ensuring continued access to Kuwaiti oil – not the contemporary Iraq tri-fecta effort – own the oil, change the regime, and transform the region.
     ....The disconnect, I would argue, is that Israel has locked itself into a box of fear that is not only substantially self-generated and all-embarcing, but has also become a danger in itself, preventing Israel from taking urgently needed steps. Explaining that fear is easy – remember the Holocaust, look at how Israel is targetted – it does not though alter the fact that it has become utterly unhealthy and paralyzing, and ironically a reason to actually be concerned.
     Post 9/11 America knows a thing or two about the dangers of a policy and popular discourse that is driven by nurturing and abusing people’s fears and the disasters that it can produce. Now imagine living in a country whose self-understanding is that it is 3am all the time and that bloody red phone never stops ringing. Welcome to Israel – not the reality of Israel but the sense of self that has been formed. Every enemy is a potential Hitler, every threat an existential one, there is a fatalism and almost a desire to retreat into a ghetto and build a big wall (infact there is a wall, its called the seperation barrier).

Mideast Change is Coming, and May Not be Pretty

Rami Khouri, MIFTAH 5/10/2008
      The convergence of six trends in the Middle East - the changing realities of food, energy, water, population, urbanization and security-dominated politics - is likely to create conditions that will be politically challenging, if not destabilizing, in many countries in the years ahead. The confluence of these trends is very similar to what happened in the region in the mid to late 1970s, when the current Islamist wave of social identity and confrontational politics was initiated.
     Things will be much more difficult this time around, and the consequences could be much worse, especially in view of the ripple effect of the war in Iraq, Iran’s growing influence, the continued stalemate in Palestine and the weakening of some Arab governments. It is difficult to predict exactly what will happen in the years ahead, but the stressful factors propelling change are already clear and we would be foolish to ignore them.
     Two critical basic needs - food and energy - are simultaneously becoming more costly, and a third - water - is likely to follow, given the high population growth rate and finite available water resources in the Middle East. Arab governments are scrambling to find stop-gap solutions to the problem of rising food and energy prices, which touch every household.

The coming war

Fadi Abu Sa''ada, Palestine News Network 5/10/2008
      There is no doubt for anyone following the US media in general, and policy in particular, that the present American administration intends to foment public American opinion to be in favor of the coming war. Iran is the target, along with anything else in its way.
     This is in accordance with US interests, particularly with the beginning of the countdown of the end to the current US President’s reign. Bush will soon be out of the White House. With the current chatter about the timing, the countdown may begin after the "Israeli celebrations" of the Palestinian Nakba.
     Another indicator is what is happening with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with a long line of corruption charges and scandals in his wake. In Israel they are accustomed to the process being that if the government is about to collapse, they use the army in an attempt to unify the domestic front.

Realism from Riyadh

Ian Black, The Guardian 5/10/2008
      Leaked notes provide rare insight into Saudi Arabia’s trenchant but pragmatic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -
     Prince Saud al-Faisal has been the discreet voice of Saudi Arabian diplomacy for more than 30 years, and he spoke with unchallenged authority at the recent meeting of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, giving what turned out to be a bleak assessment of the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The situation was "dire", he told the assembled dignitaries, including Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair and Ban Ki-moon. "Many dangers loom. It seems we have reached a stage that I can only describe as a morass."
     Such pessimism is not big news, though Saud’s gloomy remarks were made, characteristically, behind closed doors at London’s Lancaster House. It is certainly hard to find anyone who harbours much hope that there is a way out of the current impasse.
     With Israel celebrating its 60th independence day, divided Palestinians marking their 1948 "nakba" or catastrophe and George Bush heading for what looks like yet another content-free visit to the region, prospects for the peace talks launched at Annapolis last November range from poor to non-existent.

Swindler’s List

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 4/11/2008
      It is a common trend amongst rabid Zionists and notorious Islamophobes to quote some isolated and mistranslated verses from the Qur’an for the purpose of collectively libeling Muslims and presenting Islam as a regressive and violent belief system.
     Needless to say, so far, such repetitive attempts have been found futile if not actually counter-effective. Not a single Western politician, Zionist campaigner or Neocon think tank has managed to establish a comprehensive case against Islam. The reason is rather simple, in spite of the clear fact that some devastating atrocities have been committed in the name of Islam and in the name of Jihad, these acts were performed by sporadic radicalized and isolated cells. As at it seems, in the eyes of the Western masses, it takes more than just a few random acts of a very few to undermine a humanist universal belief system and implicate its one billion followers.
     In order to incriminate Islam and to discredit its believers, a broad argument is needed, a conclusive undeniable proof that would establish a continuum between a given immoral religious text, a religious infrastructure and mass following movement of worshipers who behave immorally and accordingly. For the matter, a CIA-created mysterious character who allegedly hides in a cave for 7 years is not nearly enough....

Radical Reform: Ethics and Liberation

Tariq Ramadan, Middle East Online 5/9/2008
      In the contemporary debate over “reform” within Islam’s universe of reference, the status of the Quran is repeatedly stressed. It is as if no reform could actually take place if the status of the Quran itself, as the very word of God revealed to men, was not discussed or questioned. In many interreligious circles (for some of our Jewish and/or Christian interlocutors) as well as by a number of Muslim thinkers, this condition is more or less clearly stated, sometimes in outrightly radical terms: Islam and Muslims will not be able to “evolve”, to “reform” their religion and practices, unless they question the Quran’s being the absolute word of God, and then undertake a historical-critical reading and exegesis which alone will permit a real aggiornamento of Islam similar to the Protestant Reformation or Vatican II. This argument is highly successful in the West, and the answer one gives about the status of the Quran seems to have become the feature setting “true” reformers apart from “neo-fundamentalist” simulators.
     It is indeed important, when starting this general reflection about reform, to make a number of points clear and to discuss some ideas that are commonly accepted and yet highly disputable. At the heart of the Islamic creed (al-`aqîdah), among the six pillars of faith (arkân al-imân), lies the recognition of revealed books and the faith and belief that the Quran, the last Revelation, is the word of God (kalâm Allah) revealed to mankind as such in clear Arabic language (“lisânun `arabiyyun mubîn”[1])....