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

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12 May 2008


Rocket fire kills woman in Israel
Al Jazeera 5/12/2008
Israeli rescue services say a woman has been killed in a rocket attack from Gaza. The newspaper Haaretz said quoting the rescue services that the victim of Monday’s attack was a 70-year-old tourist. The rocket struck a house in the Negev town of Moshav Yesha, 15km east of Gaza, farther away than the usual targets of Palestinian rocket fire. No one else was hurt, the Israeli rescue services were quoted as saying. A second rocket struck the Ashkelon National Park on Monday, Haaretzsaid. One woman to be treated for shock after the attack, which caused damage to some homes in the area. Agencies quoted the Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group allied to Hamas, as saying that it fired rockets into Israel on Monday. On Sunday, Palestinian fighters fired three Qassam rockets at the western Negev, one of which exploded next to a schoolbus carrying children,Haaretz said.

Suleiman: Israel must compromise on Shalit
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Visiting Egyptian Intelligence chief says Jerusalem’s unwillingness to budge on release of Palestinian prisoners key issue holding up deal to free Gilad Shalit, demands Israel accept terms of proposed truce prior to further discussions on fate of kidnapped soldier - Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian intelligence, asked Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai to help him make Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s opinion about the release of the Palestinian prisoners "more flexible. "Suleiman claimed that Israel’s lack of flexibility on the subject was what was holding up the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. During Suleiman’s meetings with various Israeli leaders, he was asked numerous times to advance Shalit’s release and to help put a stop to the arming of the terrorist organizations in Gaza. Suleiman demanded that Israel first accept the ceasefire agreement offered by Hamas.

West Bank journalists detained by PA intelligence
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 5/12/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the distention of three Palestinian journalists and a columnist by the Palestinian General Intelligence Service (GIS) in Bethlehem and Qalqilya towns in the West Bank on Thursday, 8 May 2008. PCHR believes that such arrests constitute an attack on press freedoms and the right to freedom of expression, which are ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments. According to investigations conducted by PCHR and the testimony of cameraman Aseed ’Abdul Majeed ’Amarna, 23, at approximately 12:00 on Thursday, 8 May 2008, ’Amarna was photographing a march organized in Bethlehem on the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (the uprooting of the Palestinian people from their land in 1948). When the march arrived in al-’Azza refugee camp, north of the town, a person wearing civilian clothes approached ’Amarna.

Desperately-needed fuel arrives in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Israeli military allowed a shipment of industrial fuel, cooking gas, and fuel for motor vehicles into the Gaza Strip on Monday, the first such shipment in days. Dr. Ahmad Ali, director of the Palestinian Oil Corporation, said that around 80,000 liters of diesel and 450,000 liters of industrial fuel for the Gaza power plant were shipped on Monday morning. Eight truckloads of cooking gas were also delivered. The fuel company Dor Alon, which is responsible for transferring the fuel at the Nahal Oz crossing point, made the delivery. Israeli sources said that a fuel shipment planned for Sunday was delayed due to "security concerns." Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Saturday after it completely ran out of fuel. Cars have been absent from the streets, and bakeries have been shutting down due to a lack of cooking gas.

Freed Palestinian prisoner begins hunger strike for female inmates
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - Forty-five-year-old Omar Abdel-Hamid Al-Aramin, a freed Palestinian prisoner, has began a hunger strike to protest Israel’s policy of isolation, deprivation and detention of Palestinian women and girls in the Israeli prisons. Al-Aramin called on international organizations to work towards the relese of young female prisoners. The director of the Asarna media office, Munketh Abu Rumi, said that Al-Aramin was arrested several times. He said Israeli forces had recently demolished his house in At-Tur neighborhood of Jerusalem, and had detained his sons for 40 days. Abu Rumi applauded the protest. [end]

Israeli military re-imposes roadblock it had planned to remove in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli bulldozers closed a key road in southern Hebron on Monday morning with earth and rocks after local Palestinian residents forced the road open with a bulldozer on Sunday. The Israeli military had planned to remove the roadblock, but postponed the implementation of that plan twice. On Sunday, Israeli settlers converged on the roadblock, attempting to block the military from opening the road. Israeli police dispersed the demonstrating settlers. The road, which links the city of Hebron with a nearby industrial zone, has been closed to since the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada. The Israeli government pledged to remove dozens of roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank in late March. There are more than 500 such barriers to Palestinian movement throughout the occupied West Bank.

CPT: Settlers invade Palestinian village and harass Palestinians and internationals
International Solidarity Movement 5/12/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - South Hebron Hills - At 2. 30pm on Saturday, May 10th 2008, about 20 settlers from Ma’on settlement gathered near the village of At-Tuwani and proceeded to enter the village. When an Israeli army jeep arrived, settlers spoke with the soldiers and then followed the soldiers who began walking closer toward the village. The settlers yelled insults and made obscene hand gestures at gathered Palestinian residents. The soldiers allowed the settlers to reach an area just 50 meters from the first house of the village. Four armed settlers stood guard several meters behind the others. The group of settlers (many young, all wearing the white dress of Shabbot) yelled and provoked Palestinians for half an hour. One settler slapped an elderly Palestinian woman. The same settler grabbed and knocked the camera out of the hand of an international and pushed another international videotaping the events.

Health ministry: Entire health services doomed to collapse due to siege
Palestinian Information Center 5/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The health ministry in the PA caretaker government on Monday warned that the entire health services in the Gaza Strip are doomed to collapse due to the repeated power outages and lack of fuel to operate generators. The ministry said in a press release that the health conditions in the Strip are heading towards a downward slope in the light of the endless Israeli aggressions and the strict blockade on the Strip that finished off the modest capabilities of the ministry. It appealed to WHO along with legal and humanitarian organizations to pressure the Israeli occupation authority to end the problem and not just to limit it. The ministry also asked the Arab and Islamic countries to end their silence towards the repeated Zionist attacks on the Palestinian people.

Israeli forces impose curfew on Azzun Atma
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Israeli forces imposed a curfew on Sunday afternoon on the northern West Bank village of Azzun Atma after a Molotov cocktail was thrown towards an Israeli vehicle traveling on the main road near the village. Eyewitnesses stated that several Israeli military vehicles raided the village and announced the curfew through loudspeakersLocated on the western side of the Israeli separation wall near the city of Qalqilia, a key road used by Israeli settlers passes through Azzun Atma. The village witnesses Israeli military activity almost daily. [end]

Israeli court indicts 11 Israeli teens for racially motivated attack against Arabs
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/13/2008
The Jerusalem District Court indicted on Monday eleven Israeli teens from Jerusalem for racially motivated attacks against two Arab youth in the city on the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported. The Eleven youth apparently attacked and stabbed two Arabs in the city. Haaretz stated that the indictment reads that Yaakov Ben Haim, Liran Asraf and Morali Ben Moshe, 18 -- 19 years old, along with eight other underage Israelis, are accused of stabbing two Arab youth of Jerusalem, aged 16 and 18. The eleven youth are charged with racially motivated attack, participating in fights and conspiring to commit a crime. The attack took place near the entrance of a shopping mall in Pisgat Zeevneighborhood in Jerusalem. One of the Arab youth was left unconscious and the other was stabbed several times in his back.

Israeli forces seize six Palestinians in West Bank raids
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli forces seized six Palestinians during raids in several West Bank cities overnight on Sunday and Monday. According to Israeli sources, the arrestees were from Jenin, Ramallah, and Hebron. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an’s reporter in Nablus that the Israeli troops seized a young Palestinian man after surrounding him in his car in the village of Rujeeb, east of Nablus. Local sources named the arrestee as 26-year-old Mufeed Dweikat. [end]

Israeli forces invade Jenin and nearby villages, arresting one
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces stormed the West Bank city of Jenin, Jenin refugee camp and the nearby villages of Al-Yamun and Birqin early on Monday morning. Local sources said that several Israeli military vehicles entered Jenin. Israeli troops ransacked house of Ammar Abu Ghalyon, in the refugee camp. Separately, Palestinian sources said that Israeli forces stormed the town of Burqin, near Jenin and arrested 29-year-old Hilal Makhloof. Sources said the Israeli soldiers fired heavily into the air while they raided the town. In the town of Al-Yamun, south of Jenin, Israeli forces ransacked several houses including one belonging to Islamic Jihad fighter Bajis Hamdiyya. The soldiers told the family inside the house that Hamdiyya must surrender to the Israeli military or face assassination.

Seventh Palestinian dies of wounds from recent Israeli attack
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Twenty-five-year-old Mu’ataz Abu ’Anza died on Monday morning of wounds he sustained during an Israeli incursion in the town of Khaza’a in the southern Gaza Strip last Wednesday, medic said. Mauawiya Hassanein, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said that Abu ’Anza died on Sunday in Nasser hospital in the city of Khan Yunis. Hassanein added that Abu ’Anza’s death brings the number of victims of the last week’s incursion to seven. [end]

Hamas says rejection of truce will lead to blow-out
Ali Waked, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Senior official from Islamist Palestinian group accuses Israeli defense minister of ’trying to prove he is a bigger hero than his predecessors,’ says Israel will end up ’counting casualties’ if it does not accept deal - "If Israel rejects the agreement it will carry the burden of compromising its citizens’ security," said a senior Hamas official to Ynet, referring to the message relayed to the Egyptian Chief of Intelligence Omar Suleiman in Israel. Gaza is threatening that if Israel rejects the agreement presented by the factions for a calm an escalation in the clashes will be unavoidable. The Hamas senior official claimed that "Barak wants to prove that he is a bigger hero than the defense ministers who preceded him, but he will also fail and will be compelled to count the Israeli casualties when we reveal the strength prevalent in the Palestinian resistance."

Israel sets conditions for Gaza truce
Middle East Online 5/12/2008
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked Egypt’s intelligence chief on Monday to tell Gaza militants a truce would be conditional upon progress being made towards freeing a captive Israeli soldier. Olmert also asked Omar Suleiman to tell the Palestinian armed factions they would have to stop smuggling arms into Gaza if they want Israel to accept the Egyptian-brokered proposals to halt the violence in the besieged territory. Suleiman was in Israel to seek the support of the country’s leadership for the truce plan, which already has Palestinian backing. In his talks with the Egyptian official, Olmert linked any truce to "progress in the negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit," captured by Gaza militants in a 2006 cross-border raid, a senior Israeli official said. "The prime minister asked Suleiman to obtain the response of the Palestinian factions to the conditions," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Egyptian mediator has ''high expectations'' for Gaza-Israel truce
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Bethlehem/Gaza – Ma’an – A high-ranking Egyptian mediator said on Monday that he has "high expectations" that a ceasefire agreement could be reached between Israel and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. The head of the Egyptian intelligence services, Umar Sulaiman arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday and met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Sulaiman is scheduled to meat with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem later on Monday. Answering a question from a journalist, Sulaiman made a thumbs-up sign, and said in English, "high expectations". Israeli political sources told reporters on Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will visit Egypt in the coming weeks to discuss Egypt’s ceasefire proposal with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Olmert will not, however, attend a meeting of the Egyptian, American, and Palestinian Presidents in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Al-Sheikh next week.

Noam Shalit: Gilad must be included in truce deal
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Kidnapped IDF soldier’s father says has not been briefed by government on possible ceasefire agreement with Hamas to be presented to Israel by Egyptian intelligence chief. ’As far as I know, Gilad is not included in the offer. This is inconceivable," he says - The father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit said Monday that it was unthinkable that a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas would not include a deal for his son’s release. Noam Shalit sent a letter on the matter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni last week. Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman’s [end]

Olmert to Suleiman: ''No truce without Shalit''
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
Israeli sources reported on Monday that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, met in Jerusalem with the Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman, for nearly ninety minutes and informed his that his government does not intend to declare any truce with Hamas without an agreement on releasing the captured corporal Gilad Shalit. The sources added that Olmert linked the issue of freeing Shalit with a truce deal between the Palestinian fighters and Israel. He confirmed that some of the conditions of this deal are stopping armed smuggling into Gaza and stopping Hamas’ escalating military force. Sources close to Olmert’s office stated that he told Suleiman that the Israeli army would not halt its operations in the West Bank and that this issue n not related to a truce deal in Gaza. Suleiman promised to deliver the message to Hamas as soon as possible and said that he will inform Israel of the movement’s response.

Egyptian intelligence chief tables calm offer with Israeli government
Palestinian Information Center 5/12/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief, is to arrive in the Hebrew state on Monday to table his country’s offer for calm between Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and Palestinian resistance factions. Israeli officials had declared their rejection of concluding calm with Hamas and other resistance factions but the deputy war minister Matan Vilnai spoke differently over the matter on Sunday. He told the Hebrew radio his government would listen to what Suleiman has to say and offer and then "we will decide". But he stressed that Israel would never negotiate with Hamas, which, he said, "wants to destroy us"! Reuters earlier this month quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the Tel Aviv government would accept an unofficial calm in Gaza Strip if the resistance stopped firing missiles at Israeli towns adjacent to the Strip and stopped smuggling weapons.

Hamas’s Alzahar: Israel has a chance to seize during Sulieman’s visit
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Alzahar, said on Monday that Israel has an opportunity to seize today as the chief of Egyptian intelligence is submitting to Israel the Hamas ceasefire, mediated by Egypt last month. In a press conference, held by the preparatory committee for the commemoration of the 60TH anniversary of Palestinian Nakbah (Catastrophe), aL-Zahar, commented on Sulieman’s visit by saying " we will adopt a position in light of the visit’s outcome and we can say that the Israelis have a chance to take now. Our people have the right to resist until they attain their legitimate rights". He explained that his party is awaiting to receive the Israeli response from the Egyptian side by tomorrow Tuesday, voicing the hope that the Israelis would weight wisdom and stop hostilities. From his part, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza, which did not sign the. . .

A Detainees’ Center slams Barak’s and Yishai’s statements on releasing Shalit
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/13/2008
The Palestinian Center for Defending the Detainees slammed on Monday the statements of the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and the statements of Israel’s Minister of Trade, Eli Yishai, regarding rejecting any truce offer from Hamas without first freeing Shalit. The Center said that Israel should first free Palestinian detainees who are facing harsh conditions and ongoing abuse before the Palestinian fighters release the captured corporal Gilad Shalit. The Center demanded Barak, Yshai and the Israeli government to release all Palestinian and Arab detainees who are imprisoned by Israel and are facing daily hardships, violations, humiliation and medical negligence. Furthermore, the Center said that Barak and Yshai are demanding the release of Shalit while ignoring the suffering of more than 12000 Palestinian detainees, including 350 children, 99 women, 1300 sick detainees,. . .

Hamas: ’If Israel turns down ceasefire, we will defend ourselves’
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar and Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad Al-Hindi said that the Palestinian people have a right to defend themselves if Israel chooses to reject an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. Egyptian intelligence chief Umar Sulaiman is in Israel on Monday seeking Israeli cooperation with a ceasefire. Earlier, Sulaiman said he had "high expectations" for talks with Israeli leaders. The Palestinian factions in Gaza have already agreed in principle to a ceasefire. In a press conference in Gaza City, Zahhar said he does not expect Israel to immediately implement a ceasefire, but rather to haggle about the details of the deal, including the conditions of reopening the Gaza Strip’s border crossings. "They will appear weak before the Palestinian people’s will," Zahhar said. "We hope that the voice of reason governs the Israeli stance and gets. . .

VIDEO - Olmert, Barak say Shalit’s release plays key role in Gaza truce
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 5/12/2008
(Video) Prime minister, defense minister hold separate meetings with Egyptian intelligence chief Suleiman. ’Israel cannot continue exercising restraint over the ongoing terror coming from Strip,’ Barak notes - VIDEO - Not without Gilad. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak held separate meetings with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Monday, both stating that securingkidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit’s release was a clear condition for any truce agreement withHamas in the Gaza Strip. Olmert said during his meeting with Suleiman, that "advancing Gilad Shalit’s release is part of the agreement in the Gaza Strip. Video courtesy of Infolive. tv The two met at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem for about 90 minutes.

Shas: We’ll bolt Olmert coalition if draft deal reached with PA
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/12/2008
The Shas party on Monday significantly broadened its threat to bolt Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government, stating that it would bring down the coalition if a draft agreement is reached with the Palestinians, or if the government offered to cede any land. The Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas party is a key member of the ruling coalition. This threat goes beyond previous Shas warnings that it would leave the government if Olmert, his aides or cabinet ministers discussed the future status of Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority. The threat was spelled out in a special press release issued by Shas Chair Eli Yishai ahead of the scheduled arrival in Israel Wednesday of President George Bush. "Any unbridled dash toward a virtual agreement will bring about a deterioration in the security situation," Eli said in the statement.

Shas threatens to quit gov’t over future peace deal
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Party chairman warns that should ’dangerous deal’ with Palestinian materialize, it will leave government. Abbas must first make peace within his own people, Yishai states - Shas will quit the government should "a dangerous deal" with the Palestinians materialize, party chairman Eli Yishai stated Monday. "Shas will not be part of a government that will reduce the territory of the Jewish people’s state and fill it with refugees," he told Ynet. "The rabbi (Ovadia Yosef) said he would not lend his hand to another disengagement. We will not lend our hand to an attempt to hand over territory to Hamas," Yishai added. "Handing over territories to Abu Mazen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) effectively means giving them to Hamas, as was the case in Gaza." "It’s clear that Abu Mazen is incapable in making peace within his people; how can he make peace with us? " Yishai asked rhetorically.

Rightist rabbis urge Bush not to meet Olmert during Israel visit
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/12/2008
Right-wing rabbis across the nation on Monday urged U. S. President George W. Bush, who is scheduled to arrive in Israel this week, not to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in light of the criminal allegations against him currently being investigated. "It is beneath the honor of a president to hold talks with a man suspected of criminal behavior, who is willing to sell his homeland to save himself from the law," wrote the rabbis, who include chairman of the Yesha rabbinical council and chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef - the son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi David Druckman and others. "We demand of the honorable president to cease applying pressure on the state to hand over territories to the Arabs.

IOA endorses construction of Maghareba bridge leading to Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian Information Center 5/12/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Jewish controlled municipality of occupied Jerusalem on Monday endorsed plans to build a bridge leading to the Maghareba gate of the holy Aqsa Mosque, which would facilitate entry of Israeli security men into the holy site. The chairman of the planning and construction committee of that municipality said that Israeli security were pressuring the municipal council to sanction the bridge, saying that it would serve as the only road for security men into the holy site in the event of any disturbances. The statement proved earlier published reports that the said bridge would allow entry of 300 Israeli security men in one batch into the holy site. The municipal committee refused all objections to the building of that bridge, which were tabled by Arab members of the Israeli parliament, the Aqsa foundation, an Israeli society and the Israeli archeologist Meir Ben-Dov.

Marwan Barghouthi calls for Palestinian unity government
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi sent a message from his Israeli prison cell on Sunday calling for the formation ofa Palestinian unity government. Barghouthi also called for early elections and the return of the situation in the Gaza Strip to what it was before Hamas’ takeover in June 2007. Barghouthi, who is often mentioned as a possible successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, praised the "steadfastness" of the Palestinian people in the face of ongoing Israeli occupation. The message was intended to mark the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe). He said that the Palestinian people has proved its ability over sixty years to counter Israeli attempts to remove the Palestinians from the map through forced displacement. Barghouthi also called on Palestinians to participate in the activities to mark the 60th anniversary. . .

Saadat stresses on the Right of Return, calls for reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/13/2008
The detained Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Saadat, stated during a court hearing on Monday that the Right of Return of all refugees is a Red Line and called for reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas. Saadat said that the Right of Return is the "bridge which links the Palestinians with their historic and national rights", and called on resuming resistance until establishing a democratic Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. The statements of Saadat came during the opening of an Israeli court hearing in Ofer military court, near Ramallah. He was surrounded by several soldiers and court guards. He called on all factions, especially Hamas and Fateh, to resume internal dialogue in order to end the tension and maintain national unity. The PFLP leader called for withdrawing the Arab peace initiative and for conducting international campaigns against the Israeli occupation.

Palestinian business figures meet Israeli Deputy Defense Minister
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Tel Aviv - Ma’an Exclusive – Eleven Palestinian figures, mainly businessmen, had lunch with Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on Monday afternoon in Tel Aviv, sources with knowledge of the meeting told Ma’an. The businessmen were invited to meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak after they met with the Israeli economic coordinator in the Bet El liaison office near Ramallah. Barak could not attend the meeting personally, and send Vilnai in his place. Sources said that the meeting mainly focused on a plan to estability an industrial zone in the West Bank between the cities of Nablus and Ramallah. [end]

Hamas: Arab foreign ministers ignored Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 5/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday regretted that the Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Sunday had ignored the situation in the Gaza Strip that had been living in the dark for two nights because of the Israeli siege and fuel cut. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, criticized the Arab foreign ministers for ignoring the conditions in Gaza that was turned by Israeli occupation into a "dark grave". He said that the Arab foreign ministers did not even refer to the situation in Gaza or its population’s suffering. Such a stand would only justify the Israeli occupation’s continued aggression on the Palestinian people, the spokesman said, and asked for a more responsible Arab stand towards the Gaza ordeal. "We have followed up the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting with pain and bitterness" because of this Arab position, Abu Zuhri elaborated.

’Suleiman’s visit may bring calm’
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 5/13/2008
Israel will refrain from military response to deadly Qassam attack on Monday to allow Egyptian truce initiative genuine shot at succeeding. State officials in Jerusalem say agreement may stem Hamas’ growth, end arms smuggling, bring about deal to release Gilad Shalit - State officials in Jerusalem said on Monday evening that the presence of Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman in the region may eventually lead to an agreement that would bring calm to the Gaza Strip, this despite the many vocal disagreements between Israel and the Palestinian factions on a number of clauses. According to recent estimates - the truce will be gradual, and will likely include a deal ensuring the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel has so far demanded

The Islamic Jihad fires two homemade shells onto southern Israel
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
The Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, known as Saraya Alquds brigades, fired early on Monday two homemade shells onto the Israeli town of Ashkelon, about 12 kilometers away from the Gaza Strip. In a statement, faxed to press, the Saraya Alquds brigades said that the Monday shelling onto Asqalan ’Ashkelon’, came in response to the latest rounds of Israeli army attacks on the Gaza Strip, particularly the assassination attempts". The statement also read that the firing of shells was further commitment by the Islamic Jihad group to the path of resistance. Israeli media sources reported Monday that two homemade shells landed today morning in the city of Ashkelon, hitting the city’s park, causing slight damages to some buildings and wounding a woman with shock. In the meantime, Palestinian medical sources announced that Mo’taz Abu Anza, 25-year-old young man, died today of wounds he. . .

Al-Quds Municipality approves controversial Jewish-only bridge across Muslim holy site
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
On Sunday night, the Committee for Planning and Building of the Jerusalem Municipality approved a plan for constructing a new bridge, the al-Mugrabi bridge, across the ground of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Old Jerusalem. This approval despite objections by several members of the planning committee, including Ir Amim, Arab members of Knesset, and Al-Aqsa foundation archaeologist Meir Ben-Dov. The plan will be handed to the district committee, which in turn will re-discuss the proposed objections in a week’s time. Israeli reports show that the track of the approved bridge is relatively short, which is why there was a suggested plan to construct a bridge supported by columns. The plan is intended to enlarge the women’s section at the Jewish-only Western Wall plaza. The Head of the Committee, Yehoshua Pollak, and a council member of the Jerusalem Municipality referred to the suggested. . . -- See also: Jerusalem planners okay route of new bridge to Mugrabi Gate

Hebron: one injured, two kidnapped during army attacks on several areas of the city
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
The Israeli army injured one Palestinian civilian and kidnapped another two during several attacks targeting the southern West Bank district of Hebron on Monday at dawn. Shareif Al Tuorah, 15, was injured by a rubber-coated steal bullet during clashes that took place in thevillage of Tafouh, near Hebron city. Troops invaded the village and searched homes before the clashes took place. Meanwhile, Khamiss Hassan and Hassan Al Sharef were kidnapped by the army on Monday at dawn, when the Israeli army attacked the Al Arop refugee camp located near Hebron. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers and army jeeps stormed the refugee camp, and clashes took place between local youth and attacking troops. During the clashes, soldiers kidnapped Hassan and Al Sharef and left the area. House to house searches were also reported on Monday in the old part of Hebron city and the nearby Sourif village.

Deadly rocket attack ’shakes Gaza-Israel cease-fire plan’
Ezzedine Said, Daily Star 5/13/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed an Israeli woman on Monday, hours after Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert set conditions for a truce with Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled territory. The projectile slammed into a house in a small farming community near the Gaza border, killing one woman, an Israeli military spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman had earlier said that a second woman was wounded, but later corrected the statement and said no one else was hurt. The attack was claimed by Islamic Jihad, which has refused to sign an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire proposal but also vowed not to violate its terms. Islamic Jihad militants earlier fired two long-range rockets at the seaside Israeli town of Ashkelon. No casualties were reported from the attack. The attack came hours after Olmert asked Egypt’s intelligence chief to tell. . .

Woman killed as rocket directly hits Negev home
Avi Issacharoff Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
A 70-year-old woman was killed Monday in a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, the rescue service said. The victim was named as Shuli Katz, of Kibbutz Gvaram. The rocket hit a house in Moshav Yesha, where Katz was a guest, 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Gaza. The rocket struck farther away than the usual targets of rockets fired by Gaza militants. No one else was hurt, the rescue service said. The attack came as the Egyptian chief of intelligence wrapped up talks with Israel about a truce with Hamas to end rocket attacks and Israeli reprisals. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the deadly rocket, apparently a Grad, after two similar rockets exploded in the southern city of Ashkelon in the morning. Islamic Jihad has fired most of the Grad rockets, while other Gaza militant groups aim crude homemade rockets at Israeli villages.

Elderly Israeli woman killed by Gaza rocket
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 5/12/2008
A 75 year old Israeli woman was killed yesterday by a rocket fired from Gaza as Israel suggested any truce in the Strip depended on the release of the Army corporal seized almost two years ago. The woman died after the rocket struck a house in Yesha, nine miles from Gaza’s eastern border and further than the usual targets of Qassam rockets. Islamic Jihad said it had fired rockets at the time of the fatal attack. The move came as Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman spent the day in Israel seeking a ceasefire agreement following Egypt’s success in persuading the Palestinian armed factions to drop its earlier pre-condition that Israel halts military action in the West Bank. In meetings with Mr Suleiman yesterday, Israel’s leaders—including the Defence Minister Ehud Barak—reportedly linked the release of Cpl Gilad Shalit explicitly to any putative ceasefire.

Three police officers injured in explosion near Gaza City
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip said on Monday that three police officers affiliated to the de facto government have been injured in an ambiguous explosion in their jeep while traveling east of Gaza City. Mauawiya Hassanein, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said the ploice officers were taken to Al-Wafa’ and Al-Amal Hospital for medical treatment. He affirmed they were alright. All three officers were affiliated to the Hamas-run de facto government in the Gaza Strip. [end]

Hamas: PA security forces detain two Hamas supporters
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Hamas said that the Palestinian security forces arrested two of its members in the west Bank on Sunday evening. They said in a statement that the security forces arrested Ash-Sheikh Abdel Nasser Mona, from the city of Nablus, and Fawwaz At-Tubassi from the village of Tammun village in Tubas governorate. Hamas added that security forces also arrested three Palestinians ion Al-’Ein refugee camp, west of Nablus. [end]

Palestinian fighters claim projectile attack, clash with Israeli forces in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claimed responsibility for launching one homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Sderot, which borders the Gaza Strip, on Monday morning. Separately, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for a skirmish with Israeli forces near the Karni crossing point. [end]

Popular Resistance Committees shell Erez crossing
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Brigades, claimed responsibility for launching four mortar shells at Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening. The brigades said in a statement that the attack was an act of retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities against Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Israeli army kidnaps a Palestinian civilian from Bethlehem area
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
Palestinian sources reported that a Palestinian civilian was kidnapped by the Israeli army on Monday morning. The man is a resident of the village of Taqua, located to the south of Bethlehem city. Ahamd Al Badan was at his work place in Jerusalem city when troops arrived and kidnapped him. The troops took Al Badan to unknown location and gave no reason for the kidnapping. [end]

Jenin: Israeli troops attack the Burken village, kidnap one civilian
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
A number of Israeli army jeeps invaded the village of Burken, located west of Jenin, and kidnapped one civilian on Monday at dawn. According to witnesses, soldiers searched and rasnaked a number of homes. The soldiers also reportedly forced men out of the homes and interrogated them on the spot. [end]

Palestine Today 051208
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/12/2008
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 Monday May 12th 2008. A Palestinian dies in Gaza due to earlier wounds, and in the West Bank, the Israeli army injures one civilian. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News cast Early on Monday morning, the Al-quds brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, fired two homemade shells onto the Israeli town of Ashkelon, about 12 kilometers away from the Gaza Strip Israeli media sources reported on Monday that two homemade shells landed in Ashkelon, hitting the city’s park, causing slight damages to some buildings, and wounding one woman. In the meantime, Palestinian medical sources announced that 25-year old Mo’taz Abu Anza died today of wounds he had sustained earlier during an. . .

Gaza gets fuel after weekend of power cuts
Agence France-Presse - AFP, ReliefWeb 5/12/2008
JERUSALEM, May 12, 2008 (AFP) - Israel on Monday authorised the resumption of fuel deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip, where shortages caused the only power plant to shut down over the weekend, an Israeli security official said. The Nahal Oz border terminal, which supplies most of the territory’s fuel, reopened on Monday morning, the official said. Gaza’s only electricity plant shut down on Saturday for lack of fuel, Palestinian officials said. The Gaza plant provides 30 percent of the impoverished territory’s electricity, with most of the rest directly supplied by Israel and a small amount coming from Egypt. Israel cut off fuel shipments to the Hamas-ruled territory after Palestinian militants attacked Gaza’s main Nahal Oz fuel terminal on April 9, killing two Israeli civilian employees. It later resumed the supply of industrial-grade fuel for the power plant, but the plant had received no fuel for several days when it shut down.

Haneyya gov’t: Blocking fuel supplies to Gaza flagrant violation of human rights
Palestinian Information Center 5/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The caretaker government headed by Ismail Haneyya has described the Israeli occupation authority’s stoppage of fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip as flagrant violation of human rights and mass punishment. The government said in a statement following its weekly session on Sunday that the "Zionist measure is part of the collective punishment exercised by the Israeli occupation forces against our Palestinian people in addition to being a blatant violation of the simplest human rights". It warned of the "disastrous consequences" of such mass punishment that violates the international laws and the fourth Geneva Convention. It particularly warned of dire consequences on the lives of patients and on the work of hospitals and other aspects of life in the Strip such as bakeries, factories, workshops and traffic.

Refugee Stories - As if displacement were our inevitable fate…
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 5/12/2008
A laundry line and an open door…a typical scene outside a garage hosting a family displaced from Nahr el-Bared. With an area of only 24 sq. metres, this particular garage is shelter to Nazmiyeh Abu Mayha, her daughter Amira and her son Nasser. Amira recounts her life in el-Bared prior to the war saying, "We used to live in Tal Al-Zatar camp (West Beirut). When that camp was destroyed, we moved first to Damour and then settled in Nahr el-Bared camp. We lived initially in one of the schools [she sighs for a while seemingly thinking how history repeats itself]; then we stayed in temporary barracks. When UNRWA had finished building proper shelters, we moved there. Our house had two rooms and all the necessary utilities. We furnished it nicely and lived there happily. My brother was 37 years old and used to work as a wholesale dealer - selling suitcases – like most of the camp’s residents.

Oxfam: World should pressure Israel to abide by its commitments
Palestinian Information Center 5/12/2008
WASHINGTON, (PIC)-- Jeremy Hobbs, the Executive Director of Oxfam International, has urged the world community to oblige the Israeli occupation authority to abide by its humanitarian commitments towards citizens in Gaza Strip. Hobbs in a press release on Sunday said that the IOA should move urgently in order to avoid a health catastrophe in the Strip. He said that Israel should allow and without further delay the entry of necessary fuel supplies to the Gaza power station. He appealed to all parties to ensure safety of the Nahal Oz crossing in order to guarantee the flow of fuel and the subsequent vital health and water sectors. The Oxfam director underlined that his organization would not remain arms folded vis-à-vis the collapse of 1. 5 million citizens who depend on humanitarian assistance extended to them, which was paralyzed as a result of ten months of siege.

Israeli army ups probes into anti-Palestinian abuses
Agence France-Presse, Palestine Monitor 5/12/2008
JERUSALEM (AFP) - The number of inquiries into offences allegedly committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians more than doubled last year compared with figures for 2006, an Israeli human rights group said on Sunday. Last year 351 inquiries were opened against Israeli soldiers suspected of offending Palestinian civilians and their property in the occupied territories. That figure compared with 152 probes in 2006, said a report by the Yesh Din rights group, based on figures from the criminal investigation division of Israel’s military police. The offences include abuse, looting, illegal shooting and killing innocent people. The Tel Aviv-based rights group said while the number of inquiries increased in 2007 so did the failure rate. In 45 percent of cases the investigators could not identify the specific unit and soldiers suspected of the offence.

Women cycling in memorial of Al Nakba
Palestine News Network 5/12/2008
Jericho / PNN - On Sunday 145 women arrived in Jericho on bicycles. Representing 30 countries from Europe,the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the women were riding in memorial of 60 years of Al Nakba. The "Follow the Women" group arrived in the West Bank from Jordan via the King Hussein Bridge. One of the riders told the press, "We arrived here to participate in the commemoration of the Palestinian Catastrophe. I say to the Palestinians that it is their right to return, and I say to the Israelis that they must allow the Palestinians to return to their homes. "The international group has 300 members, 145 of them are here now "because of the Israeli actions. "The Israelis, who control all of the borders, would not allow certain nationalities to enter, including the Iranians and Syrians in the group.

Israeli military court postpones trial of Bethlehem journalist
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 5/12/2008
Bethlehem - On Monday the Israeli Ofer Military Court postponed the trial of journalist Hassan Abdel Jawad. In March he attended a memorial service for the late founder of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, George Habash. The service was in Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity. The next day he was arrested from his home in Bethlehem’s Deheisha Refugee Camp. The 54 year old journalist has been released on 70,000 shekels bail, 5,000 of which he had to pay. The Israeli prosecution is looking for evidence against Abdel Gawad, including military witnesses, that he is an official in the PLFP in order to charge him. The trial was postponed until 10 July. [end]

New campaign promoting draft-dodging launched
Natasha Mozgovaya, YNetNews 5/12/2008
New Profile movement encourages teens not to enlist in army through internet ads, leaflets. ’Serving just because you have to means dodging your responsibility to choose how you wish to contribute,’ group claims - A new media campaign that supports draft-dodging was launched by the New Profile movement this week. The campaign, which includes the distribution of pamphlets and internet advertisements, encourages young people not to serve in the army. "Some 56% of youths each year (including Israeli Arabs) do not enlist in the army or do not complete army service," the movement’s charter states. "Therefore no one who’s been exempted from service by the army should feel bad about himself." The movement, which aims to promote a civilian agenda in Israel, further noted that "it is possible to live in a country that is not a soldiers’ country.

Israeli detained after entering Palestinian Hebron to buy Shwarma
Jerusalem Post 5/12/2008
An Israeli civilian was detained by Palestinian policemen Monday evening after entering the Palestinian part of Hebron to buy Shwarma [a ’sandwich usually composed of pita bread, hummus, tomato, cucumber, and shaved lamb, goat, or chicken’]. The man was handed over to Israeli police and was taken for questioning. [end]

The shrinking map of Palestine
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 5/12/2008
Maps - Source: Sabbah’s Blog [end]

Hizbullah capture of mountain village seen as threat to Israel
Hugh Macleod in Beirut, The Guardian 5/13/2008
Hizbullah yesterday took control of a strategic mountain-top village in Druze heartlands south-east of the capital after fierce fighting with government allies, consolidating strategic gains that analysts said would be used in confrontations with Israel. "Hizbullah will very soon spread all over. They will not leave any strategic part of the country in the hands of their so-called enemies," said Ahmad Moussali, a professor at the American University of Beirut and an expert on Islamist groups. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah last week branded the western-backed, Sunni-led government "Israelis dressed in suits speaking Arabic", after ministers ordered a crackdown on his group’s secure telecoms system. In response, Shia Hizbullah fighters and allies overran Sunni strongholds in west Beirut, then withdrew following a government climbdown.

Israel watching Lebanese crisis
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Bethlehem – Israeli media outlets have been busy analyzing the recent developments in Lebanon, as the situation in Israel’s neighbor to the north has deep implications on Israel’s own security and politics. "We were not surprised at Hizbullah’s ability," Israeli president Shimon Peres said on the first day of the recent events in Lebanon. Labor party minister Ami Ayalon called an emergency cabinet session to discuss the Lebanese crisis and the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli ambassador to the UN described the Lebanese crisis as "dangerous to Israel. "Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes violated the Lebanese airspace. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presided over a meeting, which focused on the situation in Lebanon, attended by two hundred members of his Kadima party on Saturday night. Israeli channel 2 TV’s political analyst on Arab affairs, Ehud Ya’ari said that the fighting in Lebanon was only at the beginning.

Israeli group seeks to oust French journalists
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/13/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A right-wing legal group on Monday asked Israel’s top court to revoke the accreditation of a French television team, claiming it staged footage of a child being killed by soldiers in 2000. Charles Enderlin, who did the France 2 public television report during the Palestinian uprising, emphatically denied the allegations made by the Shurat HaDin law center. In footage broadcast in September 2000, Mohammad al-Dura, 12, and his father Jamal are seen crouching in fear on a Gaza street after being caught in crossfire between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops. The report then shows the boy lying dead, with Enderlin saying he was killed by Israeli fire. Shurat HaDin on Monday asked the Supreme Court to order that the France 2’s accreditation be revoked, saying the report "was undoubtedly staged for Palestinian propaganda aims.

Holy See asks Israel to help protect Christians in Mideast
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
VATICAN CITY- Pope Benedict XVI urged Israel on Monday to help the dwindling Christian community in the Middle East by assuring them of a secure future in the region. He has also asked that Israel resolve long-standing problems with the Holy See over church land and taxes and to ease visa restrictions for Catholic clergy. Benedict raised the issues when he received Israel’s new ambassador to the Holy See. The problem of travel restrictions on Arab Christian clergy has been an irritant in relations. Israel has rescinded some travel privileges, citing security concerns. Ambassador Mordechay Lewy told the pope that Israel is committed to strengthening the ancient Christian communities and wants to settle the outstanding issues with the Vatican. Benedict has made concern over the future of Middle East Christians a priority. Economic problems as well as violence in the Holy Land and Iraq have led Christians to emigrate from the region.

Israel files complaint to UN over Kassam attacks
JPOST.COM STAFF, Jerusalem Post 5/13/2008
Israel’s UN mission submitted a complaint Monday night to the Security Council over Kassam attacks from Gaza, hours after Shlomit Katz, 75 was killed by a rocket that scored a direct hit on a western Negev community. Israel asked the UN to condemn Palestinian terror as well as those countries providing assistance to terror organizations. It is the second such complaint filed by Israel in as many days. [end]

Olmert: Israel has solved the African refugee shelter problem
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/12/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Israel has improved the living conditions of the African refugee in Tel Aviv and has relocated many of them to locations where they will be able to find work. "We solved the problem," Olmert said during a meeting on regarding the status of woman in Israel. Sigal Reuven, who volunteers for the Hotline for Migrant Workers, said that while there are fewer people in the dingy shelters, they have not totally disappeared. She did say that the receipt of working permits from the state is what allowed the refugees to move out of the shelters. Olmert, who police suspect took bribes from American millionaire Morris Talansky,appearred exhausted during the meeting and when asked about it he said that "only you [journalists] think so".

Bush: Olmert an honest man
Reuters, YNetNews 5/12/2008
US president addresses Israeli press ahead of anticipated visit, says plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before January remain unchanged despite legal issues looming over PM - US President George W. Bush said on Monday he considered Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to be an "honest man" despite the ongoing police investigation against him. Bush said in an interview with the Israeli Channel 10 in Washington that his vision for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal "remained the same" despite the probe, which has threatened to unseat Olmert and derail the US-backed talks on a Palestinian ceasefire. "I understand the legal issue goes on and I respect Israeli rule of law," Bush said in excerpts from the interview aired by the channel in advance of a full broadcast to be aired on Tuesday.

Israeli police step up Olmert probe as mistrust mounts
Charly Wegman, Daily Star 5/13/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Police on Monday raided Occupied Jerusalem’s municipal headquarters in search of documents in a corruption probe into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as public mistrust mounted against the beleaguered leader. "The investigators conducted a raid at the Jerusalem city hall and took documents linked to the investigation against the prime minister," police spokes-man Micky Rosenfeld said. Olmert is suspected of having received funds illegally from a US businessman before he became premier in 2006. He was mayor of Occupied Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. An opinion poll on Monday showed a majority of Israelis think Olmert should resign over the latest corruption investigation against him, the fifth such probe since he assumed office, though one case has been dismissed. Fifty-nine percent of Israelis want Olmert to step down and 60 percent do not believe his denial of any wrongdoing, according to the survey in the mass-selling Yediot Aharnot newspaper.

Bush: Olmert is an honest man; our relationship is ’excellent’
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
On the eve of his arrival in Israel, U. S. President George W. Bush said Monday, in his first reference to the criminal investigation currently underway into the conduct of Israel’s prime minister, he said that Ehud Olmert was "honest man." Olmert is currently being investigated over suspicions he took bribes during his tenures as Jerusalem mayor and Trade Minister. "I understand the legal issue goes on and I. . . respect Israeli rule of law," Bush told reporters in the White House oval office. The American president went on to say that the relationship between himself and Olmert was "nothing but excellent. ""I have great relations with the prime minister, I find him to be a frank man, an honest man, an open man, a guy easy to talk to and somebody who understands the vision necessary for Israelis’ security," Bush said.

VIDEO - News/ Bush discusses Olmert, the peace process and the Iran
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 special news bulletin for May 12, 2008. U. S. President George W. Bush discusses Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the peace process and the Iranian threat. A Qassam fired from the Gaza Strip kills a woman in the western Negev. Police question U. S. businessman Morris Talansky in the case against Olmert. [end]

J’lem bracing for gridlock during Peres presidential conference
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
The Jerusalem police department has completed its preparations for the "Facing Tomorrow" conference opening in the capital Tuesday, under the auspices of President Shimon Peres. Dozens of heads of state and former and current world leaders will attend the three-day conference, including U. S. President George W. Bush, who is scheduled to arrive Tuesday. Some 14,000 police officers will provide security for the high-level delegations. Jerusalem police on Monday published a list of roads that will be closed off intermittently as the various delegations make their way through the city. Police officials promised that the movements of some 30 heads of state and world leaders would not interfere with traffic in Jerusalem, since roads will be closed for only a brief time while the VIPs’ motorcades pass, with a police escort to clear a path.

U.S. victims of terror in Israel sue Swiss bank for ties with Iran
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
Several American victims of terrorist attacks in Israel are demanding more than $500 million in compensation from a Swiss bank. The plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit say that UBS AG provided cash to Iran that made it possible for the country to fund terrorism. The lawsuit says UBS knew the money would be used to carry out terrorist attacks. UBS did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment. The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in Manhattan. It notes that the Federal Reserve fined UBS $100 million in 2004 for violating trade sanctions by sending dollars to Iran and other countries. In February, a federal court judge in Brooklyn U. S. approved a lawsuit on similar grounds filed by victims of terror against the Arab Bank for alleged business links with terrorist organizations.

Report reveals how Syria concealed nuclear reactor
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 5/12/2008
US experts to issue report detailing methods employed by Damascus to hide reactor eventually bombed by Israel, warn it may be more difficult than previously thought to secure intel on similar operations in other countries - American nuclear experts briefed by governmental officials are expected to issue a report detailing the tactics employed by Syria to conceal the existence of the nuclear reactor eventually bombed by Israel in September of last year, the Washington Post reported. The researchers for the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) divulge how Syrian engineers attempted to hide cooling and ventilation systems, power lines and other features usually identifying a nuclear plant. According to the Post, the authors of the report, David Albright and Paul Brannan, went on to note the difficulties the world now faces in. . .

Actor Jon Voight visits Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks during Jerusalem trip
The Associated Press, Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
Award-winning American actor Jon Voight has visited Israeli victims of Palestinian militant attacks during a trip to Israel. In Jerusalem on Monday, Voight played with children whose fathers were killed in suicide bombings. He also chatted with a man who lost his legs in an attack. Voight was visibly moved by the visit and said Israel shouldn’t negotiate with Palestinian militants. He called the attackers barbarians who spat on Israeli peacemaking attempts. Years of fighting in Israel and the Palestinian Territories have cost the lives of more than 4,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis. On Sunday, Jon Voight was in the stands to watch Hapoel Jerusalem bounce back with a 96-84 victory over Ironi Ramat Gan. Voight is an academy award winner and father of actress Angelina Jolie.

’Iran? Nothing is impossible’
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Retiring Air Force commander says he remains concerned about Iranian threat, hints future missions may prove extent of Israel’s reach. ’The IAF is outstanding, and it is prepared for any mission the country will task it with,’ he says - "Nothing is impossible. Air Force officers are providing remarkable responses to the various issues at hand, and this includes dealing with long ranges," said outgoing Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy on Monday in addressing the Iranian threat. "The IAF is outstanding, and it is prepared for any mission the country will task it with," he said. "The Iranian issue troubles me greatly and I take it very seriously. I pay considerable attention to the rhetoric of (Iranian President) Ahmadinejad and (Iranian Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah) Khamenei as well as that of the moderates, and I listen to what they say they are doing in the open and estimate what they are doing behind closed doors.

Peres skeptical over Mideast peace deal
Middle East Online 5/12/2008
WASHINGTON - Israeli President Shimon Peres said, in an interview published Monday, that reaching a formal comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would be "extremely difficult" right now because of the "emotional" nature of unresolved disputes. "In the political negotiations, the gaps are not very great, but they are highly emotional," Peres told The Washington Post. "It will be extremely difficult to put them on paper because each party looks to its own audience and will be very careful not to appear as losers." The Israeli leader argued the unresolved issues were of varying complexity and suggested resolving them one by one rather than as part of an overall, all-encompassing deal. "We cannot compare, for example, the issue of Jerusalem with the issue of borders," Peres said. "If we can agree on borders, let’s agree.

13 heads of state, 3,500 guests - and one Shimon Peres
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 5/12/2008
U. S. President George W. Bush, former British prime minister Tony Blair and media mogul Rupert Murdoch are among the 13 heads of state and 3,500 guests expected to attend President Shimon Peres’ Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. The conference, which begins Tuesday, is being held in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary. Details on the Facing Tomorrow Conference are available on Haaretz. com. The conference will bring together people from vastly different fields at the capital’s International Convention Center, in what has been called "a celebration of Jewish intellect. "Discussion subjects in panels and workshops are to range from medical ethics to "Why the new Middle East is not yet here. "The conference budget, $21 million, has been entirely provided by Jewish donors from Israel and elsewhere.

Bar-On sees Israel in OECD by 2009
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 5/12/2008
The finance minister was briefed on the progress to date in the membership process. Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On predicts that Israel will become a full member of the OECD by the end of 2009. This evening, he will meet the heads of the OECD membership steering committee and the professional teams working on Israel’s membership. Bar-On was today briefed on the progress to date in the membership process and on the teams’ work with the various OECD committees. The steering committee has completed the initial membership procedures as set out by the OECD. He was also informed that the steering committee has set up at least 18 work teams, which are reviewing the terms and conditions for Israel’s membership.

Orlev, Beilin to submit bill that would facilitate PM’s suspension
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/13/2008
National Religious Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev and Meretz Chairman MK Yossi Beilin announced Monday their intention to submit a bill that would amend the Basic Law of Government. The amended law would empower a 61 MK majority to temporarily suspend the prime minister from office for specific reasons, including medical grounds and in case of a criminal investigation against him. Orlev and Beiln explained that "Between situations in which the Knessetcan disperse the government and the prime minister, and situations in which it takes no action, there should be a middle ground that enables the Knesset to temporarily suspend the prime minister, if it finds that he is unable to properly manage the affairs of state." The Basic Law of Government stipulates that if the prime minister is unable to perform his duties, he is to replaced by. . .

59% of public believe Olmert should resign
YNetNews 5/12/2008
Bad news for prime minister in battle for public opinion: Yedioth Ahronoth and Dahaf poll reveals 60% of public do not believe he did not take bribeYnetPublished: 05. 12. 08, 08:11 / Israel NewsFollowing a slow recovery, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s popularity among the public is dropping, returning to the days after the interim Winograd Report was published. A poll published Monday reveals that 59% of the public believe the prime minister should resign or suspend himself until the investigation against him is completed. Only one-third of the public believes he should stay in office. According to the survey, sonducted by Yedioth Ahronoth and the Dahaf Institute headed by Dr. Mina Tzemach, 60% of the public do not believe Olmert’s statement that he did not take a bribe, while 22% do believe him. The prime minister is also perceived by the public as paralyzed in his ability to lead.

Central figure in Olmert case is questioned
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 5/12/2008
Former Police Maj. -Gen. Yaakov Borovsky claims the testimony implies that Olmert will be indicted. The Israel Police National Fraud Unit today questioned Long Island businessman Morris Talansky, the central witness in the bribery investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, at its Bat Yam headquarters. "An indictment against Olmert is inevitable in this affair," predicts Police Major General (ret. ) Yaakov Borovsky, a former advisor to the State Comptroller and former head of its anti-corruption unit. The current affair first came to light at the Office of the State Comptroller as part of its investigation into the purchase of Olmert’s apartment in Jerusalem’s Cremieux Street. Borovsky today convened a press conference to officially announce his candidacy for Haifa mayor. However, almost all the questions were about the latest Olmert scandal.

Former police official: Indictment against PM likely
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Yaakov Borovsky, who headed state comptroller’s anti-corruption unit, says that current inquiry against Olmert indicates he will eventually be charged with taking bribes. - The current police investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will eventually lead to an indictment," former senior police officer Yaakov Borovsky said Monday. Major-General (ret. ) Borovsky, who headed the anti-corruption department at the State Comptroller’s Office, is familiar with details of the probes against Olmert. At a press conference in Haifa to present his candidacy for the city’s mayorship, Borovsky noted that the prime minister had already been suspected of taking bribes on several other occasions. The deposition that will be taken from American businessman Morris Talansky on Tuesday, he said, "Will demonstrate that it’s not a matter of technicalities. Olmert is not suspected of unlawfully receiving funds, but of long-standing bribery-related offenses."

Carlos Latuff: Cartoon of the Day
Carlos Latuff, Palestine Think Tank 5/12/2008
Carlos Latuff is a friend of Palestinian people. [end]

In ''Jerusalem wedding,'' students demand right of return
Ma’an News Agency 5/12/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Hundreds students at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem staged a mock wedding on Monday to mark the 60th anniversary of the expulsion of Palestinians from most of historic Palestine. The bride was nicknamed "Thawra," meaning revolution, the groom "Aid," return. Organizers said the wedding was also meant as a criticism of the practice of arranged marriage in traditional Palestinian culture. The crowd moved through the campus in the town of Abu Dis, marching to the Israeli separation wall, which cuts directly in front of the entrance to the university. The students then moved inside the law faculty hall, where the wedding transformed into a festival complete with traditional Dabka dancing. The event, dubbed a "Jerusalem Wedding," was organized by the Watanuna (literally "Our Homeland") student organization.

Rabbi calls to abolish army service for women
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Prominent Zionist-religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner rules girls must not enlist in IDF, move that he claims goes against Torah laws. In wartime, women’s duty is to support their men, he writes - Prominent Zionist-religious leader, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner called on young religious women not to enlist in the army, a move he defined as a violation of Torah laws. In an open letter published in the Mayyaney Hayeshua movement’s pamphlet this weekend, Aviner ruled that army service is forbidden for all women, and urged his female readers to act for its annulment. "Never enlist in the army"¦ever," Aviner wrote, quoting a list of leading chief rabbis and religious leaders who have prohibited such service in the past. "It is forbidden! Forbidden like kashrut! Forbidden like Shabbat! And especially forbidden like modesty!"The rabbi stressed that while. . .

Price of locally grown corn rises with global trend
Ilanit Hayut, Globes Online 5/12/2008
Milotal Frozen Vegetables CEO: If there’s an alternative to sell Israeli grown corn at higher prices abroad, prices in Israel will naturally rise. Israeli corn growers predict that the price of corn products will rise by 10-25% within a month, even though most corn consumed in Israel is grown locally and not imported. Milotal Frozen Vegetables CEO Yair Aloni said, "If there’s an alternative to sell Israeli grown corn at higher prices abroad, prices in Israel will naturally rise. "Vita-Galilee Fruit Ltd. (Vita-Pri Galil)(TASE: VITA) CEO Zeev Bironboim said, "Farmers have raised the price of corn along with other crops because the prices of all inputs, including water, fertilizer, and packaging material are being affected by rising global energy prices. Prices in Israel are rising and will continue to do so.

Project Better Place in talks with Gulf state
Dubi Ben Gedalyahu, Globes Online 5/12/2008
The electric car infrastructure would be solar powered. Shai Agassi’s Project Better Place is holding talks with a Persian Gulf state for the deployment of infrastructure for electric cars along the lines of the infrastructure planned for Israel. The energy source would probably be a solar power station. The company said in response, "The company does not disclose the names of countries with which it is holding business negotiations. "Nonetheless, Renault president CEO Carlos Ghosn said at a press conference earlier this month that the company was in talks with "a Persian Gulf state" regarding the purchase of electric cars built by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Israeli energy market sources told "Globes" that as part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s alliance with Project Better Place, the latter would provide the infrastructure for the electric cars.

Day 6: Army warns armed groups to stay off streets
Daily Star 5/13/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s army said on Monday it would use force if necessary to impose law and order in the country and prevent any armed presence of any of the warring factions. "Army units will halt violations. . . in accordance with the law, even if that leads to the use of force," a military statement said. It said the army would start implementing the order at 6 a. m. on Tuesday. Fighting erupted again in North Lebanon on Monday, further exacerbating tensions after days of deadly battles that have driven the nation to the brink of full-blown civil war. At least one man was killed in clashes between armed supporters of the Western-backed government and the Hizbullah-led opposition in the port city of Tripoli, a security official said. Sunni Islamist groups in Tripoli on Sunday had declared that they were entering the fight in the city, where one woman was killed in weekend fighting.

Lebanese army threatens force to stop Hizbullah
AFP, YNetNews 5/12/2008
Army declares will halt violence in Lebanon even by force, after clashes break out again in port city of Tripoli between supporters of Western-backed government, militants loyal to Hizbullah. Six days of fighting leave dozens dead, hundreds wounded - Fierce fighting erupted in northern Lebanon on Monday, further exacerbating tensions after days of deadly sectarian battles that have driven the nation to the brink of full-blown civil war, and causing Lebanon’s army to declare it will use force from Tuesday to stop the fighting. "Army units will halt violations in accordance with the law, even if that leads to the use of force," a military statement said. The order would be implemented from 6am on Tuesday. The statement followed more clashes that erupted Monday between supporters of the Western-backed government and militants loyal to the HIzbullah led Shiite opposition in two neighbourhoods in the port city of Tripoli, a security official and witnesses said.

Arab ministers bid to end Lebanon deadlock
Jocelyne Zablit – BEIRUT, Middle East Online 5/12/2008
Clashes flare anew in crisis-torn Lebanon - Fierce fighting erupted in northern Lebanon on Monday, further exacerbating tensions after days of deadly sectarian battles that have driven the nation to the brink of full-blown civil war. At least one man was killed in clashes between supporters of the Western-backed government and militants loyal to the Shiite Hezbollah-led opposition in the port city of Tripoli, a security official said. Lebanon has been rocked by six days of fighting that has left at least 59 people dead and nearly 200 wounded, the worst unrest since the 1974-1990 civil war which has dramatically raised the stakes in a protracted political crisis. Lebanon’s ruling Sunni-led majority vowed it would not negotiate with Hezbollah under the gun, as Arab ministers prepared to send a team to try to end a feud which some fear could engulf other parts of the volatile region.

Arab delegation scheduled to arrive in Beirut Wednesday
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/13/2008
BEIRUT: An Arab delegation is expected in Beirut on Wednesday in a bid to end deadly fighting that erupted in Lebanon last week, Speaker Nabih Berri’s office said Monday. Arab League chief Amr Moussa phoned Berri to say that the delegation would fly in on Wednesday, a statement said. It said the delegation would meet Berri, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, army chief Michel Suleiman, Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun, and two pro-government figures - Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. A League official said the delegation, to be headed by Qatari Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, would assemble in Doha Tuesday before flying to Beirut on Sheikh Hamad’s private plane. The delegation will also include the foreign ministers of Algeria, Djibouti, Jordan, Morocco, the UAE and Yemen.

19 and counting: Berri calls off House vote on presidency
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 5/13/2008
BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday postponed a vote scheduled to take place on Tuesday to elect a new Lebanese president. A statement released by Berri’s office said the election session was delayed to June 10. Earlier on Monday, Berri’s media adviser, Ali Hamdan, said that a vote to elect a new president was unlikely. "In light of the current circumstances and the security situation, I doubt a session will take place tomorrow, especially considering the continued political standoff," Hamdan said. "This political vacuum is as a result of the continued political crisis that began 18 months ago," he added. MPs had been tentatively set to make the 19th attempt to replace Emile Lahoud, who stepped down at the end of his mandate last November with no successor being named as a result of the standoff between the ruling coalition and the opposition.

LEBANON: Aid agencies hampered by threat of further violence
Lucy Fielder/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 5/12/2008
BEIRUT, 12 May 2008 (IRIN) - Sporadic clashes between pro- and anti-government forces continued on 12 May in areas around the northern port city of Tripoli and the eastern Bekaa Valley as the Arab League announced mediators would arrive in Beirut on 14 May. A security official reported Shia Hezbollah gunmen had clashed with supporters of the government around Masnaa, the main border crossing into Syria in the Bekaa valley, a stronghold of the Iranian-backed militant group. A fragile cease-fire between rival groups in Tripoli broke down on the morning of 12 May as fighting erupted between followers of Sunni parliamentary leader Saad Hariri and Alawi opposition supporters based in the Mohsen mountain north of Tripoli. Since the violence erupted on 8 May with the take-over of west Beirut by Hezbollah and its allies, many international aid agencies have been unable to continue working at full capacity, increasing their security warning levels and asking staff to remain at home.

LEBANON: Political, sectarian crisis entrenched - analysts
Lucy Fielder/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 5/12/2008
BEIRUT, 12 May 2008 (IRIN) - Hezbollah and its allies may have achieved a swift military victory in Beirut and the Druze mountains, but the political battle for Lebanon will be tougher and the consequences long-term, say analysts. Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said he did not expect Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government to give in to opposition demands to resign. "Hezbollah has clearly won the military battle, but has lost immense credibility and any moral high ground," he said. "I think the government will hold firm - we’re in for a pretty open-ended standoff."  At least 50 people have been killed and nearly 200 injured in the worst violence since the ruinous 15-year civil war ended in 1990. Battles between supporters of the Sunni-led government and the opposition, led by Shia Hezbollah, erupted on 8 May after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah dubbed a government crackdown on its secure telecoms network "a declaration of war.

IRAQ: Local aid groups support UNHCR appeal for more funds
M.Bernard/UNHCR, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 5/12/2008
BAGHDAD, 12 May 2008 (IRIN) - Local aid organisations on 12 May joined the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in appealing to international donors for US$127 million to help Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees until the end of 2008. "These are international commitments and must be honoured by the donors," said Basil al-Azawi, head of the Iraqi Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, a coalition of over 1,000 Iraqi non-governmental organisations (NGOs). "And apart from this, we call on the Iraqi government not to depend solely on international aid and to shoulder its responsibilities by drawing up plans, as there are more than four million uprooted Iraqis scattered inside and outside Iraq," al-Azawi told IRINHHe stressed the need for cooperation between international and Iraqi aid agencies, and said how aid money is spent must be clearly documented. "We local NGOs have no idea how this [aid] money is being spent. Some organisations present detailed documents on their expenditures, others do not.

Sadr vows to honour ceasefire deal
Middle East Online 5/12/2008
Anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gave his personal backing on Monday to a deal between his militia and the Iraqi government to halt bloodshed in his Baghdad stronghold, even as sporadic fighting there claimed three lives. Sadr’s spokesman Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi quoted the firebrand clergyman as saying his Mahdi Army will honour the deal reached on Saturday to end weeks of deadly fighting in the impoverished Baghdad district of Sadr City. "He welcomed the agreement," Obeidi said. "Sadr himself authorised the delegation to negotiate and to reach an agreement which stopped the flow of Iraqi blood." "He considered the agreement official," Obeidi said, adding that the deal would still stand even if there were skirmishes. Obeidi said Saturday’s accord, aimed at ending seven weeks of fighting in the Baghdad slum district that has claimed hundreds of lives, was expected to be fully implemented by Wednesday.

US warship heads back to Mediterranean
Middle East Online 5/12/2008
CAIRO - A US warship, which was deployed off Lebanon in February amid concern over Beirut’s political crisis, crossed Egypt’s Suez Canal on Sunday on its way to the Mediterranean, an official with the canal authority said. "The USS Cole has crossed the Suez Canal and is headed to the Mediterranean," the official said, adding he did not know its exact destination. The United States sent the guided-missile destroyer to waters off the coast of Lebanon on February 28, in what US officials said was "a show of support for regional stability" amid concerns over Lebanon’s protracted political crisis. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had defended the earlier deployment saying it was designed to show Washington’s readiness to defend the interests of its allies in the region. In March the USS Cole had left the region for the Gulf.

Somalia war-refugee crisis surpasses Darfur in its horror
Steve Bloomfield in Afgoye, Somalia, The Independent 5/12/2008
They arrive in trucks and cars, by donkey and on foot. Some children have even been carried in wheelbarrows. There is little in the way of food, just a handful of latrines and hardly any shelter -- but still they come. In three short weeks this 10-mile stretch of road -- a pot-holed, cactus-lined, dirt track that leads west out of Mogadishu -- has become home to the world’s largest concentration of displaced people. Almost 200,000 people who have fled the violence in Mogadishu now live in 70 makeshift camps that have sprung up along the side of the road, many of them little more than shelters fashioned from twigs, rusting corrugated iron and plastic. There are one million displaced people in the country, according to the UNHCR; 60 per cent of Mogadishu’s population, 600,000 people, are believed to have fled.

New Mauritanian cabinet to include Islamists
Middle East Online 5/12/2008
NOUAKCHOTT - Mauritanian Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghf on Sunday finalised his cabinet which will include four members of two opposition parties, the president’s office announced. Waghf said Saturday that two traditional opposition parties, the UFP (Union for Forces of Progress) and the RNRD (National Rally for Reform and Development) would be represented in the 30-member government. But the main opposition grouping rocked the fledgling democracy by refusing to participate. The two parties will be in charge of the ministries of fishing and higher education respectively, President Ould Cheikh Abdallahi’s office said. The UFP and the RNRD hold eight and five seats in the 95-member parliament respectively. The Islamist opposition will for the first time be represented in a Mauritanian government. The new government which includes 10 members of the previous administration. . .


Not even a drop
Yehezkel Lein, Musa Abu Hashhash, Hashem Abu Hassan, Palestine News Network 5/12/2008
      Israelis receive most of their water from two principal water sources: the Mountain Aquifer and the Jordanian Basin. Under international law, these sources are international water resources shared by Israel and the Palestinians. The division of water from these sources is patently unfair, in Israel’s favor. As a result, Palestinians in the West Bank suffer a permanent water crisis, making it impossible for them to meet their basic needs.
     The water crisis causes particularly great distress in towns and villages that do not have a network to households with running water. Two hundred and eighteen communities in the West Bank are not connected to a water network, compelling their approximately 197,000 residents to seek alternative water sources. The extensive restrictions on freedom of movement that Israel has imposed during the current intifada, together with the sharp deterioration of the Palestinian economy, impede Palestinians’ access to water and aggravate their already grave situation.
     In July 2000, B’Tselem published a position paper on various aspects of the water crisis in the Occupied Territories, which proposed guidelines for a permanent status arrangement concerning water that complies with human rights principles.1 This report briefly reviews the water problem in the West Bank, focussing on the hardship of residents in communities that are not connected to a water network.

Falling from Heaven: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

Kim Bullimore, International Womens’ Peace Service 5/12/2008
      Abu Zureyk, Al Abbasiyya, Abu Shusha, Ayan az Zaytun, Awlam, Azz Zema, AHaiqia, Balad ash Sheikh, Bayt Daras, Beer Sheba, Bi’ne, Burayr, al Dawayima, Dayr el Asad, Deir Yassin, Eilbourn, Haifa, Hawwassa, Husayniyya, Ilut, Ijzim, Isdud, Jish, al Kabri, al Khisas, Khibbyza, Lydda, Majd al Kurum, Mansura al Khayt, Nasir ad Din Khribet, Qazaza, Qisarya, Sa’sa, Safsaf, Saliha, Sha’b,Al Samiyya, al Tantoura, al Tira,Tel, Geze, Umm al, Shauf, al Wa’ra al-Sawda, Wadi ’Ara.
     Like the names of the dead, the names of these villages bring heartbreak to all Palestinians. Sixty years ago, last month, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine began.
     Sixty years ago, up to six weeks before the British mandate of Palestine was terminated and the state of Israeli was even declared, Zionist terror gangs began their forcible expulsion of more than 122 Palestinian villages and began carrying out military assaults on more than 270 other villages.[1]
     Sixty years ago on April 9, 1948, 254 unarmed Palestinian men, women and children were murdered in the village of Dier Yassin by Zionist terror gangs - the Irgun (aka as Etzel) lead by Menachin Begin (who was to become a later Prime Minister of Israel) and the Stern Gang (aka as the Lehi). More than 40 other Palestinian villages and towns were to suffer the same fate as Dier Yassin. -- See also: Version of the report with pictures

Forget the two-state solution

Saree Makdisi, The Los Angeles Times, Electronic Intifada 5/12/2008
      There is no longer a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Forget the endless arguments about who offered what and who spurned whom and whether the Oslo peace process died when Yasser Arafat walked away from the bargaining table or whether it was Ariel Sharon’s stroll through the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that did it in.
     All that matters are the facts on the ground, of which the most important is that -- after four decades of intensive Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories it occupied during the 1967 war -- Israel has irreversibly cemented its grip on the land on which a Palestinian state might have been created.
     Sixty years after Israel was created and Palestine was destroyed, then, we are back to where we started: two populations inhabiting one piece of land. And if the land cannot be divided, it must be shared. Equally.
     This is a position, I realize, which may take many Americans by surprise. After years of pursuing a two-state solution, and feeling perhaps that the conflict had nearly been solved, it’s hard to give up the idea as unworkable.

Palestinian right of return is not what’s holding up a peace agreement

Daoud Kuttab, Washington Post, Palestine News Network 5/12/2008
      In the spring of 1948, my father, George Kuttab, and his brother Qostandi fled Musrara, a Jerusalem neighborhood just outside the walled city, after their sister Hoda’s husband was killed in front of her and their children.
     When Dad used to tell us about the Naqba, the catastrophe that befell Palestinians in 1948, he never talked politics or hatred. He would laugh as he told us how his brother secured their home near Damascus Gate.
     To assure his mother and brother that the house (in what is now Israeli west Jerusalem) would be safe, my uncle joked that he had double-locked the door, turning the heavy metal key twice. He took that key with him to Zarqa, Jordan, expecting to be able to use it again one day.
     As Palestinians look back on the 60 years since they became refugees and Israelis celebrate the 60th anniversary of their statehood, it is important to take stock of Palestinian aspirations.

350 Palestinian children are suffering inside Israeli prisons

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 5/12/2008
      The Palestinian Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Centre, ADDAMEER, declared that the Israeli Zionist forces have arrested almost 6200 Palestinians since the last Intifada started in September of 2000. 350 of those languishing in prison are children who, against international conventions, are still imprisoned in Israeli jails and detention centers.
     Those youngsters undergo severe punishment and mental stress, living an extremely horrifying health and mental situation. Being subjected to torture, interrogation, beatings, humiliation, insults, degradation, and regular terrorizing, "such conditions will affect their mental well being forever, and will accompany them through their adult life," the report said.
     The report published by the Palestinian centre on Friday 9 May 2008 revealed that hundreds of children were arrested while they were quite young, and detained in prisons. -- See also: ADDAMEER

60 years on, refugees visit lost Jerusalem homes

Wafa Amr, Reuters, Palestine Monitor 5/11/2008
      JERUSALEM - Eighty-year-old Beatrice Habesch sobbed when she caught sight of her father’s house in Jerusalem on Sunday and remembered how it was taken over by Jews in 1948.
     "This is our house! This is my house!" she shouted as fellow Palestinians held her back from running towards the building.
     Some 300 Palestinians marked 60 years since Israel’s founding in May 1948 with a protest walk through affluent Jewish parts of west Jerusalem that were once home to many Arabs. They wore black T-shirts with "This is my House" printed on the back.
     The Palestinians said their families had owned houses in Talbiyeh, German Colony and other districts until Israelis drove them away or they fled in the Arab-Jewish fighting that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel.
     Habesch said her father, a merchant, had owned property in Talbiyeh and that he had had friendly relations with his Jewish neighbors, letting part of his property to them.

Israel vs. South Africa: Reflecting on Cultural Boycott

Omar Barghouti, MIFTAH 5/12/2008
      In 1965, the American Committee on Africa, following the lead of prominent British arts associations, sponsored a historic declaration against South African apartheid, signed by more than 60 cultural personalities. It read: "We say no to apartheid. We take this pledge in solemn resolve to refuse any encouragement of, or indeed, any professional association with the present Republic of South Africa, this until the day when all its people shall equally enjoy the educational and cultural advantages of that rich and beautiful land."
     If one were to replace "Republic of South Africa" with the "State of Israel," the rest should apply just as strongly. Israel today -- 60 years after its establishment through a deliberate and systemic process of ethnic cleansing of a large majority of the indigenous Palestinian population (for an authoritative historical account of the "birth" of Israel, refer to Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine) -- still practices racial discrimination against its own "non-Jewish" citizens; it still maintains the longest military occupation in modern history; it still denies Palestinian refugees -- uprooted, dispossessed and expelled by Zionists over the last six decades -- their internationally-recognized right to return to their homes and properties; and it still commits war crimes and violates basic human rights and tenets of international humanitarian law with utter impunity.

Denying the Palestinian Nakba: Sixty Years is Enough

Dr. Samah Jabr, MIFTAH 5/12/2008
      What is happening in Gaza today is not a humanitarian crisis; rather, it is another Nakba, another war. Israel will continue to escalate its atrocities and intensify its siege in the hope that Gazans will flee to Egypt—this time, once and for all. Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has suggested annihilating a Gaza neighborhood in response to Qassam fire on Sderot. And he is considered a moderate compared to other Israeli ministers!
     This year Palestinians will mark 60 years since the beginning of the Nakba, the events of 1948 that resulted in the occupation of the Palestinian land and the expulsion of its people. But the Nakba is not simply an historical event of the past. It is a deliberate program, a process, of occupation, transfer and genocide of the Palestinian’s national identity to create an empty land to be populated by Jewish immigrants.
     In 1948, it was possible to attack unarmed Palestinian villagers in the night, to terrify, kill and rape. Today, in a century that pretends to be more civilized and in a more globalized world, the tactic of choice is to make the lives of Palestinians worse than death, by denying them water, electricity, food and medicine, so that they will be forced to “voluntarily” leave their homeland.

The Ball of Violence in Lebanon is growing

Abdul Bari Atwan,Editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Palestine Think Tank 5/12/2008
      Translated by Adib S. Kawar
     The last four days uncovered the reality of the balance of power in Lebanon, for when the pro-government leaders, such as Saad Al-Hariri and Walid Jumblatt find themselves under siege, and cannot leave their headquarters, and ask for the army’s protection, this means that there is one power in the country which has the strength to impose its will.
     We don’t think that those leaders are unaware of this fact, nor of the minutest details of the military power on the ground, which obliges us to ask what made them suddenly resort to escalation, and what made them take decisions that they can’t implement or enforce, such as the firing of General Walid Shukeir, the commander of the Beirut airport security, and the removal of Hezbollah’s telecommunications network and cameras, as they consider them illegal.
     The answer to this question and its ramifications, could be reduced to two subjects, it is either that the pro-government group is too naïve, which we don’t believe they are, or some external powers asked them to escalate, and provoke Hezbollah to pull their legs to indulge them in an internal civil war of attrition, which we consider more likely.

Nadia Hasan - There is no civil war in Lebanon; there is a war against the resistance

Nadia Hasan, Palestine Think Tank 5/12/2008
      What is going on today in Lebanon is just an extension of the situation in the entire region. The US and its western allies are trying to show everyone that religion is the main factor of this dispute and they are trying to cover the political motivations and especially economic interests involved in the whole process. There are two main positions in Lebanon today, on one hand a colonialist project supported by the US and its principle ally in the region, Israel, whose spokesman is the Lebanese Government itself, and on the other, a project of sovereignty conducted by the resistance movement. In fact, it is a war between those who are simply patriotic and external agents. That is why both camps are composed of several currents simultaneously; religious, sectarian, ideological, and so forth. It is important to note that Michiel Aoun, the nationalist QS (Qornet Shehwan) and the Communist parties are in line with Hezbollah?
     The pro-imperialist western Lebanese government aims at pitting the National Army against the people and the resistance. Their goal is to hide behind the army because they lack popular support. It should be noted that the army establishment is still led by nationalists.

The Guardian: Israel’s celebration remains a Palestinian catastrophe

Ahmad Samih Khalidi, International Solidarity Movement 5/12/2008
      As Israel celebrates the 60th anniversary of its establishment, an inescapable counter-reality lingers over the occasion that is inextricably twinned with it. It is the nakba or catastrophe, the 60th anniversary of the destruction of Arab Palestine in 1948.
     Despite a public discourse that often claimed the opposite, the Zionist movement set out to build a Jewish state in Palestine with a Jewish majority. This could only come about at the expense of the local inhabitants, the vast majority of whom were Palestinian Arabs - both Muslim and Christian. From this perspective, neither the Zionists’ intentions nor the reactions of the Palestinians are at issue: Israel could not have been built as a Jewish state except on the ruins of Arab Palestine.
     In 1948, about 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forcibly driven out of their homeland, creating what still stands today as the world’s largest and most longstanding refugee problem. The nakba created an entirely new politico-demographic reality. From a longstanding majority on their own soil, the Palestinians became a small, vulnerable minority and a tattered, broken nation living in exile or under foreign rule.