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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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19 May 2008


Hebron: Israeli settlers and troops attack shepherds; kidnap one
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
A group of Israeli settlers, supported by Israeli troops, on Monday attacked Palestinian shepherds, kidnapping one, near the village of Yatta in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. Witnesses said that a group of armed settlers from the Nuf-Nisher settlement attacked the shepherds while they were herding their sheep on their land, located near the illegal settlement. As soon as the attacks commenced, Israeli troops rushed to the area. Two shepherds were injured by settlers and Abed Rashed, 33, was abducted by Israeli troops, witnesses added. Nasser Al Nawa’jah, of the local committee against settlement construction, told reporters that such attacks take place on a daily basis, and the Israeli army frequently aid the settlers in those attacks. Al Nawa’jah added that those settlers’ attacks are aimed at forcing Palestinian farmers to leave their lands, in order to expand the nearby Israeli settlement.

Rights groups accuse police of brutality during Nakba protest
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Activists and Arab rights organizations are accusing the Israel Police of brutality against protesters during a procession marking Nakba day 10 days ago in a pilgrimage to the abandoned village of Saphoria in Tzipori. Nakba day, meaning "day of the catastrophe" is an annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the anniversary of the creation of Israel in 1948 (on the same day Israelis celebrate independence), which resulted in their displacement from their land. At a press conference held Monday, the activists presented video footage and photographs showing police officers beating journalists and even smashing the head of one of the protesters who was already handcuffed and sitting on the ground. The police officers and the protesters clashed toward the end of the procession.

The Israeli army kidnaps eight Palestinian children from Jerusalem
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
Five Palestinian children were kidnapped by the Israeli army from the several Palestinian areas in Jerusalem city on Monday midday, Palestinian sources reported. Witnesses said that Israeli troops searched and ransacked Palestinian homes located in Al Toor, and Sellwan areas located in Jerusalem then kidnapped the right children and took them to unknown location. Among those kidnapped were Rami Barakat, 10 years old, and amjad Al Taweel, 15 years old. The families of the kidnapped children called upon the international human right groups to intervene in order to release the children from captivity. [end]

Israeli soldiers severely beat three men near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 5/18/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli soldiers pulled several Palestinians from their car and beat them severely near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday. Among those who were attacked on Sunday was Munqith Abu Rumi, the head of the information department at Asarna (Our Prisoners), a Jerusalem-based organization that advocates on behalf of Palestinian prisoners. Asrana said that the Israeli soldiers forced Abu Rumi and two companions to get out of the car and remove their clothes. They were then beaten in front of passersby. The statement added that Abu Rumi was injured in the head. The other two victims in the attack were Nassre Muhammad, from Al-’Izariyya, in East Jerusalem, and Ammar Al-Arameen, from Sa’ir, north of Hebron.

Israeli leader admits Israel has been holding secret talks with Hamas
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
Israel’s Vice-Prime Minister, Haim Ramon, admitted Monday that the government of Israel has, for the last several weeks, been holding talks with the Hamas party, in contradiction with Israel’s stated policy of ’isolating and attacking’ the elected Hamas-led government of the Palestinian people The talks have focused on a negotiated release of the one Israeli soldier being held by Palestinian resistance groups, in exchange for some of the over-10,000 Palestinians (many of them civilians) being held in Israeli detention camps. In addition, Ramon stated that the Israeli government is attempting to pressure the Hamas government, elected to lead the Palestinian people during January 2006 legislative elections,to engage in a ceasefire with Israel. Ramon heavily criticized the alleged talks, stating that when the Palestinian people elected the Hamas party, they turned the group from a ’terror organization’ into a ’terror nation called Hamas-stan’.

Barak warns of military escalation in Gaza
Middle East Online 5/19/2008
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak warned on Monday after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that continued rocket fire from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip could accelerate a military conflict in the territory. Barak told Mubarak, whose government is mediating a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, that "the ongoing rocket fire against civilian targets and terror activity from the Gaza Strip could accelerate an escalation towards a military conflict," his office said. The defence minister reiterated Israel’s demand "to accelerate and advance the talks for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit as part of any attempt to normalise the situation on the ground." Barak also called for an end to Hamas’s "military build up by thwarting weapon smuggling, terror money transfers and entry of terror activists" into Gaza.

Critical cooking gas shortage in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/18/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Cooking gas in the besieged Gaza Strip has become so scarce that only the strongest can muscle their way to the front of the long lines at fuel depots. This is one of the stark realities of life in Gaza, where deliveries of basic supplies like cooking gas are sporadic at best. After months of ever-tightening blockade, Israel all but closed the Gaza Strip’s only crossing point for liquid fuels, the Nahal Oz terminal, in April. Women who attempt to buy a gas canister often return home empty handed. Shoving, and hitting in the gas queues is not unheard of. Most Gazan families no longer cook on gas stoves, eating quick snacks instead. A visitor to a station for refilling gas bottles in the Gaza Strip will easily understand that only muscled men can manage to get their bottles filled while weaker men and women will stand in the queue for a long time and go back empty-handed.

Palestinian patient dies in Gaza; death toll due to continued Israeli siege stands at 158
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
Palestinian medical sources reported that Abed Al Karem Al Ghalbaan, 57, died at midday on Monday in a Gaza City hospital. Doctors stated that Al Ghalbaan, had contracted cancer of the liver, and added that he had been denied Israeli army permission to leave the Gaza Strip for the life saving medical care he needed. With Al Ghalbaan’s death, the number of Palestinians who have died due to the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip now stands at 158. [end]

IDF kills would-be bomber at West Bank checkpoint
Amos Harel and Yuval Azoulay and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
The Israel Defense Forces killed an armed Palestinian man at the Hawara checkpoint in the West Bank city of Nablus Monday afternoon. The IDF said that a Palestinian man arrived at a checkpoint acting suspiciously while pacing back and forth. The force manning the checkpoint called on him to identify himself and noted that he was handling an object that appeared to be an explosives belt secured to his body. A witness, taxi driver Mohammed Mustafa, told The Associated Press "they asked him to lift up his shirt and raise his arms and then they shot him." The troops then fired at the man when he lowered his hands suddenly toward the explosives. An IDF investigation revealed that the man had been carrying three pipe bombs. The IDF spokeswoman said army sappers later detonated the pipe bombs at the scene in a controlled explosion.

Israeli soldiers shoot dead young Palestinian at Huwwara checkpoint
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces shot dead a young Palestinian man at the Hawwara checkpoint, south of Nablus on Monday evening. Israeli military sources said the young man refused to comply with soldiers who ordered him to stop and raise his hands. They then opened fire on him, thinking he was wearing an explosive belt. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint fired a volley of six shots at the young man, who appeared to be around 16 years of age, hitting him several times in the back. They then completely closed the checkpoint preventing anyone from passing through. According to the eyewitnesses, the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint had asked the young man to lift up his shirt and when he refused they immediately opened fire on him.

Israeli forces seize five Palestinians in overnight raid near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Nablus - Ma’an – Israeli forces seized five Palestinians early on Monday morning during a raid in the village of Al-Laban Ash-Sharqiya, south of the city West Bank city of Nablus. Local Palestinian sources said that more than twenty separate groups of Israeli soldiers stormed the city at 1am, imposing a curfew and invading houses. The sources added that the Israeli forces prevented civilians in the village from going to work and mosques in the morning. Local sources said the arrestees are: 18-year-old Ahmed Moussa Samara, 18-year-old Bader Adnan Daraghmeh, 20-year-old Iyad Mohammed Jaber, 20-year-old Hatem Hassan Rashid, and 16-year-old Murad Hassan Ahmed. [end]

The Israeli army attacks a village near Nablus and kidnaps five civilians
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
The Israeli army invaded the village of Al Laban Al sharkiy located near the northern West Bank city of Nablus and kidnapped five civilians on Monday morning. Local sources reported that army vehicles and soldiers invaded the village in the early hours of Monday morning. Troops searched and ransacked villagers homes before kidnapping the five civilians and taking them to unknown locations, witnesses said. The five kidnapped were known as; Bader Darghamah, 18, Hatem Daraghmah, 20, Murad Awwad, 18, Ahmad Samarah, 18, and Iyad Awwad, 20. Israeli army sources reported that during pre dawn invasions on Monday targeting several West Bank cities and towns Israeli troops kidnapped 18 Palestinians civilians.

The Israeli army attack Jenin refugee camp, in northern West Bank, and kidnaps and elderly man
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
A Palestinian elderly man was kidnapped on Monday at dawn by the Israeli forces that invaded the Jenin refugee camp located in the northern part of the West Bank, local sources reported. The man Hassan Al Hajj, 60, was kidnapped from his home in Jenin refugee camp after Israeli troops attacked and searched the house. Witnesses said that Israeli troops attacked the refugee camp on Monday at dawn and searched scores of local homes; they added that soldiers opened fire randomly at resident homes, damage but no injures were reported. [end]

Israeli forces arrest 19 Palestinians across the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces arrested 19 Palestinians across the West Bank early on Monday morning after storming a number of cities. Israeli sources claimed that the army arrested nineteen "wanted" Palestinians in Jenin,Qalqilia, Ramallah, adding that the arrestees were transferred to investigation centres. [end]

IOF troops kidnap 19 Palestinians in different parts of WB
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
WEST BANK, (PIC)-- IOF troops kidnapped at dawn Monday 19 Palestinian citizens in different areas of the West Bank especially in Al-Khalil, Nablus and the Jenin refugee camp where they broke into and ransacked dozens of houses and buildings at the pretext of looking for wanted Palestinians. Palestinian local sources reported that a large number of the Israeli Golani and Shimshon brigades reinforced by a military chopper kidnapped a Palestinian ex-detainee called Omar Al-Aramin, 54, in the area of the Rashaida Arabs in Al-Khalil after chasing him for hours and took him to an unknown destination. The IOF troops kidnapped Aramin many times and recently demolished his house. Two weeks ago, he went on hunger strike in protest at the continuing abduction of Palestinian women in Israeli jails. IOF troops boarding dozens of military vehicles also stormed the Jenin refugee camp and the. . .

Rafah incursion devastated Gazan agriculture, Interior ministry said
Ma’an News Agency 5/18/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli military bulldozers destroyed ten poultry farms and vast areas of farmland in the Shoukah area east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, the Gaza-based Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement on Sunday. The ministry said that orange groves, almonds and olive trees as well as greenhouses have been destroyed. The Ministry estimated losses totaled 1. 5 million US dollars. Israeli tanks and bulldozers operated in the Shoukah area for several hours on Saturday morning. Three Palestinians were abducted by Israeli forces in the same incursion. The Ministry said Israel is destroying Gaza’s farms in order to deprive the Palestinians in the Gaza of food, in an attempt to worsen the effects of the Israeli-led siege of Gaza.

Palestinian fighters launch projectile at Israeli position
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the National Resistance Brigades, and the military wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, claimed responsibility for launching a homemade projectile at the Sufa military installation on the border of the Gaza Strip on Monday. They said in a statement that the attack was an act of retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Kamal Udwan Brigades target Israeli military post
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Kamal Udwan Brigades, a military group within Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, on Monday claimed responsibility for launching a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at an Israeli military bulldozer near an Israeli military post, east of Al-Buraeij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. They also said their fighters fired two homemade projectiles at an Israeli watchtower in the same area. They said in a statement that the shelling came in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Negev leaders: We’ll force government to stop Qassam fire
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
A number of western Negev regional leaders met on Sunday for the first time in years to form a unified approach to "force the government to decide to end Qassam fire on [Israeli] communities," Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahtsari said on Sunday. The leaders of the municipal authorities, which include communities in the Gaza envelope, Sderot and Ashkelon, will demand to address the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Mahtsari said. The leaders have decided to allot a certain amount of their community budget to public relations to inform people of the residents’ plight in light of the security situation. Delegates to the meeting slammed the government for its inability to halt the rockets and provide better defense protection for the communities. "We demand the government make a decision within a few days.

Palestine Today 051908
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc -Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
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 19th 2008. One Palestinian dies in Gaza due to the Israeli siege, and in the West Bank, the Israeli army kidnaps 18 Palestinian civilians. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned. News Cast Palestinian medical sources reported that Abed Al Karem Al Ghalbaan, 57, died at midday on Monday in a Gaza City hospital. Doctors stated that Al Ghalbaan had contracted cancer of the liver, and added that he had been denied Israeli army permission to leave the Gaza Strip for the life saving medical care he needed. With Al Ghalbaan’s death, the number of Palestinians who have died due to the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip now stands at 158.

Female corporal prevents suicide attack at checkpoint
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Corporal Michal Ya’akov of the Israel Military Police’s Teuz Battalion was responsible for preventing a suicide attack at the Hawara checkpoint in Nablus yesterday evening. "The entire incident lasted maybe 30 seconds," Ya’akov related. "I was about two feet away from him and asked him to go through the metal detector. "It beeped, and I asked him to raise his hands, and then I saw the explosive devices under his shirt, near his pants. I yelled ’bomb at the checkpoint,’ and the entire force went into action, perfectly. We called him to lie down so the shockwaves from the explosion would be closer to the ground, but he refused. "Then I saw him lower his arms suddenly and the checkpoint commander shot him several times. I assume he was trying to activate the bombs in order to blow himself up," she said. Ya’akov said that when she asked the terrorist how old he was when he approached the roadblock, he said he was 16.

Alt-Arch: From Shiloah to Silwan - Urgent Update
More links are available in the website, International Solidarity Movement 5/19/2008
Jerusalem Region - During the last months the efforts to raise awareness and to try to change the deteriorating situation in Silwan in East Jerusalem have gained momentum. We offer a short update and invite you to take part in bringing on a change. International petition signed by university professors: In recent weeks, university professors and lecturers from all over the world have been signing a petition aiming to stop using archaeology against the residents of Silwan. The petition calls to prevent the ELAD organization from running the National Park "City of David" and from using archaeology for their political needs. It is still possible to sign the petition. You can find it at our website. . . -- See also: Alt-Arch and Petition

Israeli settler kills Palestinian civilian near Ramallah
Report, Al-Haq, Electronic Intifada 5/19/2008
As a human rights organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq is gravely concerned by the killing of a Palestinian civilian in the Ramallah Governorate of the occupied West Bank on 9 May 2008. After a thorough investigation, Al-Haq has found that on the afternoon of Friday 9 May 2008, five young Palestinian men and a 13-year-old boy set out to hunt birds in the hills of Deir Dibwan village, east of Ramallah city. Upon their arrival to the hills, they noticed a group of people, including young children, on an opposite hill, approximately 150 meters away. Based on testimony collected from the Palestinian men, they initially thought that this group was also Palestinian, and paid little attention to them. After a few moments, however, a man from the opposite hill shouted at the Palestinian group in Hebrew.

Rights org: ''Fog of war'' no cover for Gaza killings
Report, Al-Haq, Electronic Intifada 5/19/2008
As a Palestinian human rights organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq is compelled yet again to raise the specter of Israel’s continuing disregard for the customary international humanitarian law principles of distinction and proportionality. The incursion on 14 May 2008 into ’Izbet ’Abed Rabba, in the occupied Gaza Strip provides clear examples of the impact on civilians of Israel’s consistent willful misinterpretation of its obligations under international humanitarian law. On Wednesday, 14 May 2008, at approximately 8:00am, 15 Israeli tanks entered the village of ’Izbet ’Abed Rabba, west of Beit Hanoun and east of Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, with aerial cover provided by the Israeli Air Force. Upon entry to the village, Israeli ground forces engaged in random gun fire despite not being fired upon.

Palestinian groups to sue Israeli police for incitement during protest last week
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
Two groups representing Palestinian citizens of Israel have announced their plans to sue the Israeli government for violently attacking Palestinian protesters ten days ago, during a rally to commemorate the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe, in which the state of Israel was created on their land 60 years ago. The two organizations, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Arab Human Rights Association (AHRA), stated Monday that they will file separate lawsuits against individual officers and the Northern District Police Bureau. The groups claim that the police attempted to instigate a riot during the demonstration by attacking the 15,000 demonstrators, who were gathered at Tzippori junction, in northern Israel. A statement from the Adalah Legal Center states, "We have evidence that shows that the violent attack was unjustified and unlawful, as were the actions taken against those who were arrested.

Special Needs Children in Gaza Denied Their Education Because of Chronic Fuel Shortages
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 5/19/2008
The Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children runs a school for 275 non-hearing children, but the classrooms have been empty for almost 6 weeks, because there isn’t enough fuel to transport the pupils to school. The Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children runs a school for 275 non-hearing children, but the classrooms have been empty for almost 6 weeks, because there isn’t enough fuel to transport the pupils to school. "What you need to understand about Atfaluna is that for our children, this is not just their school - for many of them it is their whole life. But we are not able to think about re-opening the school at the moment." Every day parents call the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Gaza city, and ask Suad Lubbad when the school will re-open. Suad is the Administrative Director of the school, which has 275 pupils age 4-17, and was forced to close without notice in mid April.

Egyptian forces shoot Sudanese migrant near Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/20/2008
AL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian police shot and critically wounded a Sudanese man on Monday as he tried to cross illegally into Israel, a security official said. Maurice Dana, 24, was shot in the head as he tried to enter Israel from an area south of the Egyptian town of Rafah, the official said. "He was taken to Al-Arish Hospital [in northern Sinai] but his condition is critical. "In recent months Egypt has arrested dozens of undocumented migrants, mostly Africans, trying to sneak into Israel from the Sinai in search of work. Several have been killed. In February, rights group Amnesty International strongly criticized Egypt’s use of force at the border. - AFP [end]

New bill would sentence migrants and refugees to five years in jail
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
The Knesset yesterday approved the first reading of a bill to prevent illegal entry into the country. The draft law, passed by a vote of 21-1, would impose a sentence of up to five years in prison on people who cross the border illegally, including refugees and labor migrants, while infiltrators from enemy states, such as Sudan, could be sentenced to as much as seven years behind bars. The bill also authorizes the state to hold illegal entrants, including refugees, for up to 18 days without bringing them before a judge for arraignment. In addition, it would legally authorize "hot returns" of infiltrators back to Egyptian territory, a practice that endangers their lives. MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), the sole dissenter in the plenum vote, called the bill draconian, while refugee rights organizations said it contained a number of "terrible" provisions.

Instead of removing checkpoints, Israeli forces increase maltreatment
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 5/19/2008
PNN -- Palestinians living east of Bethlehem in Za’tara describe the actions of Israeli soldiers at the local checkpoint as "humiliating" and "provocative." All Palestinians within the West Bank have to pass through military checkpoints, but some are known to be worse than others. And it is widely spoken of that often the treatment doled out "depends on the mood of the soldiers." Soldiers use the checkpoints as "sport," according to many, but suppress freedom of movement and engage in acts of humiliation. While a PNN editor was being held at Container Checkpoint, soldiers were jumping to the ground and pointing their machine guns at people and cars as if they were going to shoot. It was a game, they were laughing, but those who thought they were about to be shot could not see the fun.

Due to Israeli use of cluster bombs, S Lebanon remains a minefield
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 5/19/2008
Bethlehem -- Several Israeli groups working for human rights called on their Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to join an international convention prohibiting the use of cluster bombs. This call comes out of a diplomatic conference held in Ireland. Israel is not involved in the international effort, despite its full use of cluster bombs, which contain several bombs within one, leaving an area a minefield. Israeli forces used such bombs in southern Lebanon and continue to do so. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel opened a criminal investigation to verify the circumstances of the use of cluster bombs against Lebanon where to this day some 40 square kilometers of southern Lebanon remain a minefield, strewn with the internal explosives of the bombs. Twenty Lebanese nationals and 13 international workers trying to dismantle these bombs have been killed.

Two Israeli groups call on Israel to participate in a conference to bar cluster bombs
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/18/2008
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, issued a press release calling on the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to be involved in the international efforts to draft a resolution to bar the use of cluster bombs during a conference which will be held in Ireland on May 19. The two groups stated that since the end of the Second Lebanon war, between Hezbollah and Israel, 33 civilians were killed and hundreds were wounded by cluster bombs as Israel dropped nearly 1 Million cluster bombs on Lebanon during the war. The two groups said "Cluster bombs contain numerous secondary bombs, many of which do not explode. The duds remain on the ground and turn the area into a minefield. Consequently, dropping cluster bombs close to a population center inevitably leads to casualties among civilians who return to their homes after the war.

Human Rights Groups in Gaza slam the government for barring a protest commemorating the Nakba
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/18/2008
The Palestinian Police, which is under the control of the dissolved Hamas government in Gaza, barred on Friday a peaceful procession commemorating the Nakba. The police also barred a Women Convention on Saturday May 10, and another convention on May 13. The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR), The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Ad Dameer Center for Human Rights, investigated the incidents and found out that after the Higher Committee for Commemorating the Nakba, decided to hold a procession in northern Gaza Strip districts, the Palestinian police was extensively deployed on main junctions and stopped dozens of cars of residents who were heading to the area to participate in the event. The police also attacked and struck dozens of residents, including Jamal Yassin Abu Jabal, the head of the Popular Committee for Refugees in the Jabalia refugee camp.

Gaza cafe bombed amid crackdown on Western pop culture
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
Assailants detonated a bomb outside a popular cafe in Gaza City early Sunday morning, apparently part of a campaign by shadowy extremists to eliminate perceived symbols of Western influence. The pre-dawn blast smashed the cafe’s windows and damaged its door. No one was hurt. Cafe owner Khalid Harbid said another bomb went off outside his cafe last month. He charged that Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers are not protecting his business. "My cafe has become Sderot, Harbid said, referring to the western Negev town targeted daily by Palestinian rocket fire. A Hamas official said police were investigating the situation. On Friday, assailants detonated a bomb outside a Christian school, causing no injuries. Over the past two years, extremists in Gaza have detonated bombs near cafes, hairdressers, record stores and. . .

Barak to Mubarak: No truce with Hamas unless attacks stop
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
SHARM EL-SHEIKH - Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday said that there can be no truce or cooling off period between Israel and Hamas unless there is an end to rocket attacks on civilians. Barak spoke to reporters following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, to whom he outlined Israel’s concerns and conditions over any possible truce deal with Hamas. The Egyptians have been acting as mediators between Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip and launches rockets attacks into Israel’s southern communities, and the Israelis. There was no Egyptian comment following the meeting. On Tuesday, however, Egyptian intelligence chief Lieutenant General Omar Suleiman will meet with a Hamas delegation in Cairo led by the groups deputy political chief Moussa Abu Marzouk.

Cease-fire could take effect later this week
Amos Harel Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
The cease-fire (tahdiyeh) being negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip is expected to go into effect in a number of days, following developments at the end of meetings held by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday with the Egyptian leadership. The Egyptian Chief of Intelligence, General Omar Suleiman, who has been mediating between the parties, is scheduled to meet today with the heads of the Palestinian factions in the Strip. Israel is waiting to learn from Suleiman whether the Palestinian groups, headed by Hamas, will agree to an unofficial deal on a cessation of terrorist activities in the strip, in return for an end to IDF attacks. Israel does not intend to officially announce that it has accepted the tahdiyeh deal, but will let the situation unfold gradually - and evaluate the indirect accord with Hamas on the basis of results on the ground.

Egypt: If Israel agrees, Gaza truce could begin tomorrow
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman said Sunday that if Israel agreed to the terms of a truce deal with Gaza militant groups, he could set a date for starting the cease-fire as early as Monday. General Suleiman, who has been heavily involved in recent Egyptian efforts to broker a truce between Israel and the various Palestinian organizations in Gaza, made the comments in a meeting with MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) at Sharm el-Sheikh. Suleiman stated that Israel’s agreement to a proposed truce would enable him to gain that of the Palestinian factions at a meeting in Cairo on Monday. According to the Egyptian mediator, if Israel agreed to release Palestinian prisoners included on a list submitted by Hamas, it also would be possible to free abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit as part of the deal.

Israel to agree unofficially to Egypt cease-fire deal; skeptical Barak to discuss plan with Mubarak Monday
Amos Harel and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Israel plans to accept the Egyptian-mediated cease-fire proposal with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but does not intend to officially declare a commitment to it. Instead, Israel will treat the deal struck indirectly with Hamas as a series of steps beginning with a lull in hostilities, followed by gradual relaxation of the financial blockade of Gaza. Ehud Barak, who will discuss the cease-fire with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh Monday, is skeptical about the chances of achieving long-term quiet with Hamas, and his feelings are shared by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. However, Barak, who will be attending the World Economic Forum, is set to tell Mubarak and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman that Israel is prepared to stop its military activities in Gaza if Hamas stops firing rockets at Israel.

Egypt: U.S., Israeli occupations causing more Mideast instability
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit says that the presence of Israeli and U. S. tanks on Arab soil is leading to more instability in the region. Aboul Gheit’s made his remarks at a panel Monday on regional stability during the World Economic Forum on the Middle East at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The foreign minister added that the instability in the region also came from a lack of political determination to solve the region’s problems, particualrly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The remarks come a day after U. S. President George W. Bush delivered a speech lecturing the Arab world on what they needed to do, which most regional leaders saw as biased in favor of Israel. Bush counseled Arab states to move past their old resentments against Israel and invest aggressively in the Palestinian people, what he views as their role in the process.

Hamas representatives arrive in Cairo over a new round of truce talks
Rami Almeghari & Ghassan Banoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/19/2008
Palestinian media sources reported on Monday that an official delegation from the ruling Hamas movement in Gaza has arrived in the Egyptian capital to meet Egyptian officials regarding the proposed ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel. The Hamas delegation included Gaza-based Hamas leader, Dr. Mahmoud Al Zahhar, accompanied by Mussa Aby Marzuka and Mohamed Al Allami, leading figures in the movement who are based outside of the coastal region. The delegates will meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to be briefed over the latest updates to the Israeli response to the proposed deal. Head of the delegation, senior leader Mahmoud Alzahar, told media outlets at the Rafah crossing terminal in southern Gaza that his party wants Israel wants to respond to the last month’s ceasefire offer with Yes or No and that each response will have its own consequences.

Bush’s ’pro-Israel’ rhetoric angers Arab representatives at economic forum
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt - Arabs criticized U. S. President George W. Bush yesterday, a day after he delivered the keynote speech at the opening of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in this Red Sea resort town. Bush angered Arabs during his five-day tour of the region by delivering major speeches that were seen as being overly slanted toward Israel. Bush took a strikingly tougher tone with Arab nations during his address to them than he did with Israel in a speech Thursday to the Knesset. Israel received effusive praise from the president, while Arab nations heard a litany of U. S. criticisms mixed with some compliments. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded by saying U. S. support for Israel and its own actions in the Mideast helped fuel turmoil and a clash of civilizations between Muslims and the West.

Pelosi: I trust all presidential candidates in regard to Israel
Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
WASHINGTON - The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the most powerful woman in America, perhaps in the world, has no doubts. Nancy Pelosi waves her hand in a dismissive gesture - she trusts everyone when it comes to Israel. She has faith in both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the members of her own Democratic party who are chasing the presidency, and even the candidate from the opposing Republican party, John McCain. Everyone, everyone will support Israel. The rest is election night politics, not American policy. Pelosi sits upright on the cushioned chair in her office. Her day began at 6:30 A. M. , so she could squeeze in everything that needs to be done before she gets on a plane to Israel. Pelosi, like Bush last week, is visting to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a certain small country in the Middle East.

Hamas leaders travel to Egypt for ceasefire talks
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Senior Hamas leaders are traveling to Egypt on Monday to resume talks with Egyptian mediators in hopes of hammering out the terms of a ceasefire with Israel. The Hamas delegation in includes founder Mahmoud Zahhar, Jamal Abu Hashim, and Khalil Al-Hayyah, all of whom are based in the Gaza Strip. Exlied leaders Mousa Abu Marzouq, Muhammad Nasr and Imad Al-Alami will also join the meetings. Egyptian intelligence chief Umar Sulaiman is leading efforts to mediate between Egypt and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza, including the dominant Hamas movement. Hamas leader Ayman Taha said that his movement’s delegation would hear, for the first time, the Israeli response to an Egyptian-proposed plan for a ceasefire. Upon hearing the Israeli reaction, Hamas will make a decision regarding the ceasefire.

Olmert: situation in Gaza reaching a ''turning point''
Ma’an News Agency 5/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent an ominous warning to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, saying that relations with the Gaza Strip are reaching a "turning point," Israeli media reported. “We are getting closer to our turning point in deciding over the Gaza matters. The current situation is intolerable. Our hope is that one day the residents of the south will lead a peaceful life,” Olmert said at the opening of the Israeli cabinet meeting. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni Defense Minister Ehud Barak are scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Ash-Shiekh to discuss an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in Gaza. Palestinian groups have already approved the Egyptian plan, which involves opening some of Gaza’s blockaded border crossings and halting violent attacks by both Israel and the Palestinians.

France admits contacts with Hamas in breach of boycott · Former envoy’s meetings informal, Paris insists
Ian Black, The Guardian 5/20/2008
US condemns approach as unwise and inappropriate - France admitted yesterday that a retired ambassador had held informal contacts with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in breach of the boycott by the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers. But Britain insisted that conditions for engagement had not changed and that Hamas had not met them. Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister, confirmed that France had had "contacts, not relations" with Hamas leaders for several months, adding: "We must be able to talk if we want to play a role. "The admission came in response to a report that Yves Aubin de la Messuzière, a former envoy to Iraq, met Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader, and Ismael Haniyeh, its deposed prime minister, in Gaza a month ago.

Paris rocks boat by revealing ’contacts’ with Hamas
Catherine Triomphe, Daily Star 5/20/2008
Agence France Presse - BRUSSELS: France broke an EU taboo on Monday by acknowledging contacts with Hamas amid concern that the ban on talks with the Palestinian militants could hinder Middle East peace efforts, experts said. The decision to acknowledge the meetings is also based on a new reality on the ground, as Egypt struggles to mediate between Hamas and Israel to secure a truce in the strife-torn Gaza Strip, they said. "These are not relations, they are contacts," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told Europe 1 radio. "We are not the only ones to have them. We are not charged with any kind of negotiation." Officially, contacts with Hamas - considered a terrorist group by the EU, the United States and Israel -are banned as long as it does not recognize Israel and past peace agreements and renounce violence.

Imam, resistance fighter arrested in Jenin refugee camp
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Jenin - Ma’an – Israeli forces seized an Imam and a Palestinian fighter from Jenin refugee camp during an incursion early on Monday morning. Witnesses said that soldiers riding in 15 Israeli military vehicles surrounded the house of the 26-year-old ’Ammar Abu Ghalyun an armed resistance leader in the camp, and ordered him to surrender. Abu Ghalyun has evaded capture and assassination by the Israeli forces for years. The name of the Imam could not be confirmed. [end]

MKs: Make Hebrew the only official language
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
MK Limor Livnat (Likud) and three other leading MKs from Kadima, Likud and Shas are set to propose this week that the Knesset remove Arabic from its list of the country’s official primary languages. The bill would make Hebrew the only official primary language, and Arabic, English and Russian would become official secondary languages. In addition to Livnat, the MKs behind the bill are Shas faction whip Yakov Margi and deputy Knesset speakers Otniel Schneller (Kadima) and Yuli Edelstein (Likud). "It cannot be, it is not appropriate or reasonable that the status of one language or another in the Land of Israel is identical to the status of the Hebrew language," said Livnat. "Precisely in these times, when there are radical groups of Israeli Arabs trying to turn the State of Israel into a binational state, it is most urgent. . .

Ahmad Tibi criticizes proposal to remove Arabic as an official Israeli language
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Palestinian member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi, the head of Ta’al, the Arab Movement for Renewal, criticized a proposal to cancel Arabic as an official language in Israel on Monday. Limor Livnat, the Knesset member from the right-wing Likud party, the sponsor of the proposal, also lashed out at Tibi for his remarks. In his criticism, Tibi said, "This proposal stems from hatred to everything that is Arab, and it widens the already present gap between the Jews and the Arabs’ rights in this country. Israel is the only country in the world which suppresses minorities rather than attempting to bridge the gap through recognizing their rights." "Arabic is really an official language, yet unfortunately it does not enjoy the same status of Hebrew in Israel. We are not immigrants from Russia. We are a minority of the indigenous residents who must have their rights.

Sources: Status of abductees delaying prisoner swap
Yoav Stern and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
The question of Israel’s kidnapped soldiers missing in Lebanon is the obstacle delaying a prisoner swap, Palestinian sources told Haaretz yesterday. They also said that Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser are alive. "Israel is trying to put psychological pressure on Hezbollah through its statements, with the aim of finding out about the status of the abductees. A deal for two living soldiers is completely different in terms of extent than a deal for two soldiers who have been killed," a Palestinian source said yesterday. The families of both Regev and Goldwasser declined to comment on the report, published in Haaretz yesterday, that Israel refused to exchange Palestinian prisoners for them. Shlomo Goldwasser, Ehud’s father, said he could not comment, while Eyal Regev, Eldad’s brother, said he had no response. Karnit Goldwasser, Ehud’s wife, said the report did not surprise her.

Israel to Hezbollah: Forget Palestinian prisoners in swap for IDF soldiers
Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah, it recently informed the Lebanese organization. And if Hezbollah continues to insist that Palestinians be included in the deal, Israel may break off the negotiations, a senior official familiar with the talks told Haaretz. In that case, the official said, Israel would have to evaluate whatever intelligence it has about the two soldiers and decide whether it justifies declaring them dead. Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hezbollah in a cross-border raid on July 12, 2006. Their abduction ignited the Second Lebanon War. Since the war, Israel and Hezbollah have been conducting indirect negotiations on a prisoner swap via a German mediator, Gerhard Konrad.

IDF removes W. Bank roadblock, first in series of gestures
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops on Saturday night removed a roadblock in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills area. The move, which Defense Minister Ehud Barak had promised U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Quartet special Mideast envoy Tony Blair, allows a free flow of Palestinian people and goods between Hebron and the village of Yata. Simultaneously, dozens of "dirt mound" roadblocks have been scrapped across the West Bank to live up to Barak’s commitments, defense officials said. Last week,Blair unveiled an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which includes a series of moves aimed at improving the lives of the Palestinians, the first of which was the removal of "the sheep roadblock." The Shavei Shomron, Mehola and Halhul roadblocks are to follow, alongside the Beit El roadblock which will be relocated to facilitate movement into and from Ramallah.

The day after / Three-way chess
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Anyone listening to the arguments of the Israeli leadership these days, especially anything having to do with the anticipated cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, may get the impression that the Strip no longer tops the agenda. Notwithstanding the continued suffering of the communities bordering the Gaza Strip - and the genuine concern about the ability of the kibbutzim and moshavim in the western Negev to hold on after having suffered three dead recently - it is also a question of legitimacy and proportions. Israel finds it hard to explain to the world what is very clear from its point of view - the unacceptable threat posed to Sderot, Ashkelon and other areas. A foreign minister from a European country, who recently visited Israel, asked his hosts how many civilians have died since the Qassam rockets began falling. When he was told that there have been 15 dead in seven years, less than those killed in a large suicide bombing, the minister’s response was almost disdainful.

President Abbas calls on Washington to adopt non-biased position towards peace
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/18/2008
Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, confirmed that the Palestinian side’s stance towards international legitimacy has not changed, in terms of talks with either the Israeli or American side. Abbas’s remarks came during a press briefing after meeting with the Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, in the Sharm Elsheikh town of Egypt. "We don’t want the Americans to negotiate with the Israelis on our behalf, we rather want them to stand by legitimacy and maintain the least of nonbiased position", Abbas told reporters. He added that for the Israelis, "we are negotiating with them but we are not ready to deliver illusions but we want to say that things have been sorted out already" He asserted that the Palestinian side will not be ready to postpone any of the outstanding negotiations issues such as the refugee problem and the status of east Jerusalem.

MK Beilin: Abbas says he’ll quit if peace deal not set in 6 months
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to resign if a peace settlement with Israel is not reached within the target six months, MK Yossi Beilin said on Sunday following their meeting at the World Economic Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh. Beilin said Abbas had told him during their talks on the sidelines of the forum that there was "no point" in staying in his position if a deal could not be reached by the end of the year. While not explicitly denying the comments, a Palestinian Authority spokesman said that Abbas would continue to work toward the goal of a Palestinian state. "President Abbas will continue to exert all effort to achieve a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," spokesman Nabil al-Rudeinah said in a statement. Beilin’s office had said earlier that during the talks in Sharm, Abbas had defined the. . .

Spokesperson denies Abbas’ intention to resign
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Palestinian Presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdeineh denied reports on Monday that President Mahmoud Abbas plans to resign if a final agreement is not reached in negotiations with Israel within six months. Speaking to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, Abu Rdeineh said the report, published in Israeli media on Sunday, that Abbas had told Israeli Knesset member Yossi Beilin about his threatened resignation, was false. Abu Rdeineh said " President Abbas would continue exerting efforts to achieve the dream of the Palestinian people in establishing the independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital." The PLO’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, also said that Abbas is committed to reaching a peace agreement with Israel by the end of 2008. "In case of failure to achieve this goal, he will weigh his options then, not now," Erekat added.

Abbas threatens to resign if peace deal not reached by end of year
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Israeli sources revealed that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas is begging for any kind of a settlement agreement even if it is weak through sending warning massages to Israeli political figures that he would resign his post if a peace deal was not reached by the end of 2008. According to the sources, Abbas told Sunday Knesset member Yossi Beilin during their talks on the sidelines of the Davos economic forum in Sharm Al-Sheikh that the coming six months would be decisive, and there would be no point in staying in his position if he did not make a settlement deal with Israel by the end of this year. The sources also said that Abbas warned that a new Intifada could break out if peace was not achieved and hinted that the Israeli occupation would not find a peace partner better than him if he resigned. The US president in Sharm Al-Sheikh embarrassed Abbas and his negotiators. . .

Dr. Barghouthi: Abbas should stop speaking of resigning and halt negotiations with the Israelis
Palestine News Network 5/19/2008
Ramallah / PNN - Chairman of Palestinian National Initiative and deputy in the Legislative Council, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi said on Monday that President Mahmoud Abbas needs to stop negotiations and not resign from office. Al Barghouthi told the press, "President Abbas is invited to stop negotiations with the Israelis and return to work with other Palestinian factions to restore national unity, instead of talking about resigning. "Barghouthi demanded that future Palestinian presidential elections should take place on schedule and legislative elections to take place in conjunction with them. A former presidential candidate himself, Barghouthi refused to deny or confirm his candidacy in the forthcoming presidential elections supposed to take place on the ninth of January next. He said, "There is no doubt that it is too early to talk about the subject of presidential elections,. . .

Palestinian sources: Rice asked Abbas to appoint a deputy
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has asked PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to appoint a deputy fearing that Hamas would take over the post of president if Abbas resigned or his term in office ended, Palestinian sources said. The sources, described as "high level", told Quds net website on Monday that the Palestinian basic law stipulates that in the event the president resigned  or his tenure ended then the speaker of the PLC would take over his place for 60 days on temporary basis until a new president is elected. The sources noted that Abbas plans to dissolve the PLC three months before end of his term at the pretext of "Hamas’s obstinacy", its control of the Gaza Strip and non acceptance of conditions for dialogue. Fatah leaders asked Abbas to expedite announcing an early date for presidential and legislative elections three months before end of his term, the sources concluded.

Israel ’close’ to action in Gaza as pressure builds for talks
Ron Bousso, Daily Star 5/19/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Premier Ehud Olmert warned on Sunday Israel was "very close" to deciding on what action to take to stop rocket attacks from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip as Egypt seeks to mediate a truce. "Under no circumstances can we allow the situation. . . to continue the way it has in recent months, and the crossroads on a decision on how things will be handled is very close," Olmert said at a weekly Cabinet meeting. He declined to elaborate amid calls from some ministers for Israel to launch a widescale assault on Gaza to crush Palestinian militants, who answered a deadly air strike by firing a rocket at a shopping mall in southern Israel on Wednesday while US President George W Bush was in the country. Bush, on a five-day trip to the region, on Sunday again accused the Islamist movement, which seized power in Gaza nearly a year ago, of pursuing a policy of terror.

Livni: No agreement likely in 2008
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Israel and the Palestinians are not likely to reach agreement on the core issues during 2008, Foreign Ministry Tzipi Livni suggested during talks yesterday with U. S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is currently visiting Israel. "The time frame in which an agreement will be reached is important, but its content are even more important," Livni said. "Strict time tables may create expectations, disappointment and violence," Livni said. "As a lesson from the past, we must give the sides the room and the time to reach an agreement. We also know that agreements that lack in clarity only perpetuate the conflict, not bring it to an end. "In reference to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Livni said that "the peace process is in and of itself important, but will not alter the situation in Gaza.

Israel allows fuel into Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli authorities allowed a small shipment of fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, according to Ahmad Ali, the head of the Palestinian Oil Corporation Gaza. "The Israelis shipped two truckloads of cooking gas and two others of industrial diesel for running the power generating station. No benzene [gasoline] or ordinary diesel was shipped," Ali said. He explained that the power plant consumes between 500,000 and 600,000 liters of diesel per day, and Israel is allowing just two million per week. Ali also stated that 200,000 liters of ordinary diesel were shipped on Sunday while the Gaza Strip actually needs an immediate influx of 20 million liters to make up for the current shortfall, followed by a half million liters per day. The Israelis also shipped on Sunday 470,000 liters of industrial diesel for the power plant and 95 tons of cooking gas.

Abu Marzouk: Zionist threat to invade Gaza political blackmail
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas, has denied that his Movement had received any warning from Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman that it has to accept the Israeli version of the calm. Abu Marzouk told Quds Press that Hamas did not receive so far any official Israeli response to the Egyptian mediated calm and that it was waiting to hear that reply from Sueliman on Tuesday. The Hamas leader said that he would head the Movement’s delegation that would also comprise political bureau members Mohammed Nasr and Emad Al-Alami while three other leaders from Gaza namely Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, Said Siyam and Jamal Abu Hashem would join them in Cairo. Abu Marzouk would not comment on Israeli responses to the calm offer that are published in the media, adding that Hamas would respond when it is officially informed of the Israeli position.

Palestinians cry foul over US bias as Bush ends regional tour
Laurent Lozano, Daily Star 5/19/2008
Agence France Presse - SHARM EL-SHEIKH: US President George W. Bush wrapped up a regional tour on Sunday saying peace in the Middle East was possible by the end of the year but that such an outcome required "tough sacrifices. "In a speech to an economic forum in Egypt, Bush also again took aim at Iran over its nuclear program and criticized nations in the region over the lack of political freedom and human rights. "I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year. . . This is a demanding task, and it requires action on all sides. Palestinians must fight terror and continue to build the institutions of a free and peaceful society. Israel must make tough sacrifices for peace and ease restrictions on Palestinians," he said. Bush has faced Arab skepticism over the chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace with negotiations so far failing to. . .

Sheikh Salah: The Zionist project in Palestine breaks down day by day
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
UM AL-FAHEM, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948, stated that the Zionist project in Palestine is breaking down day by day, highlighting that the return of Palestinian refugees is an inalienable and immutable right.  In an interview with the Bayan magazine on the sixtieth anniversary of the Nakba, Sheikh Salah announced that the Islamic Movement intends to continue its activities which support the right of return for many years to come. The Palestinian leader underlined that the Zionist institution thought that it could uproot the Arab presence in the lands occupied in 1948 and judaize the Palestinian minority, but the demographic expansion of this minority is apt to increase and the number of Palestinians inside (occupied Palestine) will become equal to the number of Jews as their institutions fearfully expects.

Israel issuing permits for participants in economic conference in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 5/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel is issuing special permits in order to ease movement and access for participants in the Palestine Investment Conference this week in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Israel also agreed not to stamp passports of Arab businessmen who will pass through the Allenby Bridge from Jordan to the West Bank. Participants will receive a special two-week entry permit, instead of the ordinary three-month Israeli visa. The Palestinian Authority (PA) says that more than 1,000 people from Palestine, the Arab states, Europe, the United States and Israel will descend on Bethlehem for the three-day meeting, which begins on Wednesday. The Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, Quartet Envoy Tony Blair, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are among the speakers at the conference.

Palestinian lawmakers and NGOs: investment conference is normalization with occupation
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian civil society organizations criticized on Sunday what they called "attempts to use the Palestinian people as a bridge. . . between the Arab world and Israel in the form of normalization. "They were referring to the Palestine Investment Conference to which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday in Bethlehem. The network of Palestinian civil society’s organizations and the federation of Palestinian charities as well as lawmakers Khalida Jarrar from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Mustafa Barghouthi, the secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative signed a joint statement saying:"Speaking of industrial zones which the Israelis determine their location and legality will only serve the Israeli interests instead of solving the dominant unemployment problem amongst the Palestinians.

Health ministry briefs UNICEF on siege repercussions on children
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Basem Naim, the health minister in the PA caretaker government, on Monday briefed the UNICEF Gaza office director Laurent Chapuis on repercussions of the Israeli imposed siege on Gaza on the health of children and patients. A ministry release said that the discussions tackled the ramifications of the Israeli siege on the health of children especially in the "border areas". It quoted the minister as saying that children were suffering social and psychological problems as a result of the siege, adding that appropriate atmosphere must be provided for those children along with enough food, proper education and adequate health care. Naim hoped that UNICEF would accord those issues more concern, the release said, adding that Chapuis underscored that children’s health occupies a basic and central concern on the part of his agency.

De facto government health minister meets head of Gaza UNICEF office
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian minister of health in the de facto government in the Gaza Strip, Dr Basim Na’im, met on Monday with the director of the UNICEF office in Gaza City, Lorand Shabs, and the director of health and nutrition programs, Dr Ra’fat Hassuna. Director of the ministry’s elementary healthcare Dr Fuad ’Aisawi also attended the meeting. The meeting focused on the repercussions of the crippling siege on the health situation in the Gaza Strip, especially on children. Dr Na’im stated the necessity of cooperation between the ministry and UNICEF in order to create "an appropriate atmosphere for children living near the borders with Israel. "He said they should be provided with appropriate food and healthcare. Shabs said that children’s health is one of their pivotal concerns, and UNICEF has plans and programs to improve the health situation of the Gazan children living near the borders.

IDF: Iran-trained militant arrested in Gaza raid last month
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
The Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet arrested a senior terrorist in Gaza last month who had undergone training in Iran, according to a IDF statement released Monday after a gag order on the arrest was removed. The militant, Ala Abu Medif, is part of a faction that defected from Fatah in the past. Abu Medif left Gaza in May 2007 for Iran. Accordingto the IDF, the Iranians taught Abu Medif how to plan bombing attacks on specific Israeli buildings. The IDF also announced that he had been involved in mortar fire towards the western Negev and volunteered to carry out a suicide attack. State officials said that his arrest proves that Iran is directly involved in Palestinian terrorism.

Israeli political sources: arrest of Abu Rish leader proves Iranian involvement in Palestinian resistance
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The arrest of a prominent member of Fatah’s Abu Rish Brigades has proved "the involvement of Iran in Palestinian terrorism", Israeli political sources said on Monday. Israeli military censors said that Alaa Abu Medeif was arrested a month ago during an Israeli military operation in Khan Younis. Israel has accused him Alaa of launching mortar shells at Israeli targets. They also claim he received military training in Iran in May 2007. [end]

Khater: Hamas’s position towards calm did not change
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Sami Khater, member of Hamas’s political bureau, has underlined that his Movement’s delegation visit to Cairo was meant to get acquainted with results of Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman’s visit to the Hebrew state, denying reports of any new deal for calm. Khater told Al-Resala newspaper published in Gaza on Monday that Hamas’s position regarding calm did not change, recalling that the calm offer was tabled by Egypt. He said that Hamas along with other factions had discussed the calm issue in Cairo in absolute seriousness in a bid to ensure success of the Egyptian initiative. Khater renewed the Palestinian armed wings’ readiness for any alternative in the event the Egyptian initiative failed. He charged that the "enemy wants calm that copes with its interests and aggressive intentions.

Nazzal: Bush’s threats against Hamas reflect failure of his policy in the region
Palestinian Information Center 5/19/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Mohamed Nazzal, a member of the Hamas political bureau, strongly denounced US president George Bush’s threats against the Movement during the Davos economic forum in Sharm Al-Sheikh, considering it a reflection of the failure of the American policy in the region. Nazzal opined that Bush’s threats mean that Hamas still constitutes a big obstacle to the American schemes in the region, pointing out that those threats do not scare the Movement which is backed by a wide segment of the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nation. Regarding the issue of the Israeli captive soldier, the Hamas leader reiterated his Movement’s refusal to link the calm issue to the file of Shalit, saying that the prisoner swap deal is completely separate from the truce and the talk about it has been taking place for two years.

Bin Laden urges end to Gaza closure
Al Jazeera 5/18/2008
Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, has purportedly called on Muslims to help end Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip, according to a new audio tape. In the tape posted on the internet on Sunday, a voice alleged to be bin Laden’s said it was the religious duty of every Muslim to fight Israel’s "oppressive closure" of Gaza. The authenticity of the tape could not be verified but the voice sounded the same as on other tapes attributed to bin Laden. The message was posted on the same day that George Bush, the US president, wrapped up a tour of the Middle East. Bush had angered many Palestinians by lavishing the Jewish state with praise on its 60th anniversary, hailing it as a "homeland for the chosen people".

Bin Laden urges Muslims to break Gaza blockade
Taieb Mahjoub, Daily Star 5/20/2008
Agence France Presse - DUBAI: Osama bin Laden has called on Muslims to help lift the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and fight their governments in order to liberate Palestine, in an audio message purportedly recorded by the Al-Qaeda chief. "Dozens of people have died as a result of this unjust blockade" on Gaza, which has been under the control of the Islamist Hamas movement since June, said the message posted late Sunday a Web site used by Islamist militants. The message, whose authenticity could not be verified, was addressed to the "Islamic nation" and called on Muslims, especially those in Egypt which borders Gaza, to "strive to break the blockade" on the impoverished territory. Bin Laden, the Western world’s most wanted man, urged Muslims to rise up against their governments in order to liberate Palestine, accusing Arab regimes of having sold out the Palestinian people.

VIDEO - Balfour to Blair
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 5/19/2008
Balfour to Blair is a special 30 minute film that investigates the role of British policy in the Middle East from the beginning of the 20th century to today. (Source: Aljazeera) - Part 1 / Part 2 [end]

Israel delaying shipment of electronic equipment to Palestine
Ma’an News Agency 5/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli authorities have been holding a major shipment of electronics ordered by Palestinian firms at the Israeli port of Ashdod for eight months, the Palestinian minister of Telecommunications Kamal Hassuna said on Sunday. Israel has been detaining at Ashdod Port electronic equipment which the Palestinian ministry of telecommunications has imported since 8 months, Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications Kamal Hassuna said on Sunday. Hassuna was speaking to the press in Cairo after he participated in the Telecom Africa conference and exhibition. He said that Israel deliberately held the equipment because it was imported directly while the Israelis wanted the imports go through Israeli companies. He explained that importing directly is less costly than using Israeli agents. He appealed to the international community and the concerned organizations to pressure on Israel to get the electronic equipment released.

Identical letters dated 14 May 2008 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security
United Nations General Assembly, ReliefWeb 5/14/2008
It is with grave concern that I write to inform you of yet another terrorist attack that occurred only a few hours ago, in which 34 Israeli civilians were injured by a Grad rocket launched by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip. The Grad rocket crashed into a clinic located on the second floor of a crowded shopping mall in central Ashkelon, where innocent men, women and children were going about their daily lives. The attack caused terrible anxiety and panic. Three civilians were trapped under debris as a result of the attack and were evacuated in serious condition. An infant girl was evacuated with moderate wounds. This is our third letter in less than a week informing you and the Security Council of Israeli casualties as a result of the constant and indiscriminate rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Israel holds Hamas, as the ruling party, accountable for another vicious terrorist attack, which is in flagrant violation of international law and the most basic principles of humanitarian law.

PM says willing to cooperate with comptroller on Pollard affair
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday reneged on his previous statements and said he was willing to cooperate with State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on the Jonathan Pollard affair. Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U. S. Navy, was convicted of selling military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty at his trial. He is serving a life sentence in a U. S. federal prison. The prime minister on Monday told MK Zevulun Orlev, head of the Knesset’s State Control Committee which oversees the workings of the state comptroller, that Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel and his political advisor, Shalom Turjeman, have already given the comptroller all the information that was at the government’s disposal regarding the case.

New evidence against Olmert might lead to even more charges
Jonathan Lis , and Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
New evidence obtained in the latest probe of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has revealed several new offenses with which the premier could potentially be charged, on top of the bribery suspicions that sparked the investigation, law enforcement officials told Haaretz Sunday. According to the officials, there is relatively substantial evidence of fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy to commit a crime. In addition, investigators are examining whether the prime minister violated campaign finance and money-laundering laws, but the chances of finding enough evidence to indict him on these charges are smaller. "At the moment, we’re focusing less on defining the crimes with which Olmert will be charged - if he is charged - and more on the task of gathering evidence against him," said one.

Prosecutor: Talansky personally handed Olmert envelopes of cash
Tomer Zarchin and Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
State Prosecutor Moshe Lador said Monday that American millionaire Moshe Talansky personally handed money to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on several occasions. "While Olmert served as a minister in the Israeli government, he allegedly received funds from Talansky, in Israel and abroad, sometimes through [Shula] Zaken," Lador said. Speaking at a High Court hearing over a petition submitted by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his former office manager, Shula Zaken, against the Jerusalem District Court’s decision to hear preliminary testimony from Talansky, Lador also said that Talansky’s testimony included details of specific amounts transferred to Olmert, and descriptions of visits to Israel in which he handed Olmert money in envelopes. Olmert’s lawyer, Navot Tel-Tzur, said in response that the prosecution failed to present new facts or. . .

VIDEO - News / Prosecutor: Talansky personally handed Olmert cash
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for May 19, 2008. Prosecutors say Prime Minister Ehud Olmert personally accepted cash-filled envelopes from Morris Talansky. MKs who decided to join Arcadi Gaydamak’s new party delay the deal. Fourteen men, including five soldiers, are suspected of gang raping a mentally disabled woman. [end]

Gov’t spent NIS 6b on settler evacuees
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
The state has thus far spent over NIS 6 billion on settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in August 2005, according to the Disengagement Administration, known as Sela. This cost, which averages out to NIS 3 million per family, includes direct compensation payments, investment in infrastructure for the evacuees’ new communities and social assistance aimed at helping to ease the trauma of the evacuation. In addition, the Knesset recently approved an increase in compensation payments that will total some NIS 640 million. Sela director Zvia Shimon told reporters yesterday that 1,133 of the 1,400 families evacuated from Gaza have opted to relocate communally rather than individually, and of these, 600 have already received lots on which the necessary infrastructure work has been completed, thus enabling them to start building their new homes.

Khan Younis governor questioned by Gaza police
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian police affiliated to the Hamas-run de facto government in Gaza summoned the governor of Khan Younis, Abdul-Sattar Al-Farra, for a six-hour interrogation session on Monday. The director of the governor’s office, Muhammad Rabi’, told Ma’an that police questioned the governor about his office’s activities, including telephone calls and contacts with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The employees at the governorate expressed astonishment at the interrogation of the governor, saying that that the governor’s role has always been coordinated with the Palestinian presidency. Consequently, the employees suspended work in protest against the police’s actions

De facto police release presidential legal counsel
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Palestinian de facto police released the presidential legal counsel, who is also the Ramallah-based government’s general secretary, Bashir Abu Hatab in Khan Younis on Monday after detaining him for six days. Abu Hatab told Ma’an that he was not physically harmed during his detention but he considered the arrest as an attack on his freedom. He said he had been questioned about the nature of his work and his travel itinerary. [end]

Gaydamak questioned about money laundering
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 5/19/2008
"They’re trying to prevent me from entering politics. "- “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal) reports that the Israel Police National Fraud Unit questioned Arcadi Gaydamak at its Petah Tikva headquarters today in connection with the money laundering affair at the Hayarkon branch of Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI; E:80OA). When entering the building, Gaydamak said, "This is nothing less than personal persecution by some uniformed officials and judges against me. I’m fighting not only for myself, but for justice in Israel. "Gaydamak exploited the stage to comment about his new political party "Justice for Pensioners", which the Knesset House Committee is discussing today. "They’re trying to prevent me from entering politics," he said. "Despite the persecution, I will win and defeat Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the next elections. . ."

Pensioners MKs who jumped ship delay joining Gaydamak party
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
MKs who decided to tear away from the Pensioners Party and join tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak’s party have delayed the move, after lawmakers criticized the deal they signed with Gaydamak. Several MKs lashed out against the deal saying it was illegal and unethical for Gaydamak to "buy" the Knesset seats of the three MKs who were voted into the parliament to represent the Pensioners Party’s platform and not the views of Gaydamak. MK Moshe Sharoni, who led the move that brought two other Pensioner MKs to defect to Gaydamak’s "Social Justice" party, rescinded the signed agreement and agreed to make corrections in the document before presenting it to the Knesset for approval once more. During the Knesset hearing on the issue, Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On said that "this is the long arm of the underworld that’s trying to buy MKs.

PMO: Olmert to have ’routine’ test for cancer treatment
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/19/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office announced Monday he will undergo a routine test as part of his treatment for prostate cancer. In a statement, Olmert’s office said the two-hour magnetic imaging test would monitor the tumor and take place Monday evening. The 62-year-old Olmert announced last October that he had cancer. At the time, he said the growth was not life-threatening and would be removed in surgery but he has not yet had the operation. Monday’s announcement came amid a widening criminal investigation intoOlmert’s financial dealings, though aides denied the timing of the latest test was connected to his legal troubles. Olmert’s office said the procedure was coordinated weeks ago in consultations with his doctors and was an acceptable and routine procedure in monitoring a prostate growth.

Pensioners faction head: If Gaydamak can buy a Knesset party, so can Nasrallah
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/18/2008
Pensioner’s Party faction chairman Yitzhak Galanti warned Sunday that if the party established by three MKs who broke away from his party is approved by the Knesset, the move could result in Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad also "buying" a Knesset faction to represent their views. Galanti was referring to the incident two weeks ago when Knesset members Elhanan Glazer and Sara Marom Shalev followed in MK Moshe Sharoni’s footsteps to establish a faction to be known as Justice for Pensioners. The new faction will represent the political party of billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak, who is believed to have "bought" the party. The leader of the breakaway MKs, Moshe Sharoni, denied the accusations and said that Galanti too had negotiated with Gaydamak over joining his party.

Expired medicine seized in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 5/19/2008
Hebron - Ma’an – Palestinian preventive security and the Ministry of Health announced on Monday that they seized a large quantity of expired medicines in the West Bank city of Hebron. The spokesperson of the Palestinian Preventive Security in the West Bank, Mohammed Nabhan said that they seized the drugs from unlicensed stores and warehouses in Hebron, in cooperation with the Public Prosecutors’ office and the Ministry of Health. Nabhan said in a press conference in the Preventive Security headquarters in Hebron that after obtaining search warrants, the security forces raided three warehouses They arrested three people in connection with the case. Public health official Dr. Hatem Nassar said that the seized drugs were transferred to Hebron Hospital for laboratory tests. He said the drugs could be dangerous if used.

Syrians and Palestinians create largest flag in the world
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 5/19/2008
Jerusalem -- Palestinians and Syrians are designing the largest Palestinian flag yet, hoping it will make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest flag. The group is using the slogan, "More Aware of the Precious Homeland," to create the flag with a length of 232 meters, a height of 116 meters, and a square area of 27,000 meters. The full size is that of historic Palestine, "from the river to the sea." Currently in the Guinness Book, the Israeli flag is largest at 200 meters long and 100 meters high. The Palestinian flag will be displayed for the first time at 2:00 pm Friday in a wide-lying area in the city of Damascus. It will remain for a full week with activities in conjunction such as Palestinian heritage tents, photos of those killed and those imprisoned, and pictures of Palestinian towns and villages, and another tent for dialogue and information.

Make love not war: Israeli adult Web site promotes reconciliation in new way
Jon Kalish, The Forward, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Parpar1. com shows amateur pornography only featuring Israeli Arabs and Jews. There is one place in the Middle East where Arabs and Jews seem to be getting along quite well. It’s the Israeli Web site Parpar1. com, where amateur pornography features Arabs and Jews at each other’s throats - but only for erotic purposes. Founded by two Tel Aviv computer professionals, the Web site has been serving up such X-rated fare as "Kosher Lesbians," "The Rabbi’s Daughter" and "Sex Party in Jerusalem" since 2001. Parpar1 has hundreds of hours of video porn featuring amateur performers. It is a pay service that can be accessed on the Web or via mobile phone. Co-owner Avi Levy said that in addition to Israel, cell phones can get the adult content in England, Spain and Italy. Romania will soon follow.

Falastin Quote
Farouk Abdel-Muhti, Palestine Think Tank 5/19/2008
I prefer the ideas from the small groups. From small factions, from a small organization, from the left, progressive forces, from humanitarian forces to meet together and fight the same enemy which is imperialism, and imperialism you have two sides you have the side that is not your enemy and you have the side that is hiding under the shadow of the enemy which he is afraid to talk about the truth and to talk about the plans against our rights but I believe that nobody can stop the Palestinian struggle, and I believe that is not going to stop our insistence for rights. - Farouk Abdel-Muhti (1947-2004) [end]

Cartoon of the day
Baha Boukhari, Palestine Think Tank 5/19/2008
By Baha Boukhari [end]

Fresh water shortages doom 60,000 dunams of fruit orchards
Amiram Cohen, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Fruit growers are being forced to destroy 60,000 dunams of fruit and citrus groves - about 10% of all fruit groves in Israel irrigated with potable water - because water allocations have been slashed by 40 million cubic meters, according to Ilan Eshel, director of the Organization of Fruit Growers in Israel. According to the organization calculations, the sector’s annual output could drop by 150,000 tons, and farmers revenues from the sale of fruit are likely to be hit by NIS 100 million annually. Consumers will feel the ramifications in the cost of fruits in 2009, when they rise by 35% to 50%, and for some fruits, 100%. The orchards that are expected to be hardest hit are those irrigated with potable water. These include apples, pears, cherries, mango, figs, loquats, lychees and bananas which are cultivated in orchards in the Jordan Valley.

Israeli property powers in NYC unite
Raz Smolsky, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Ilan Bracha and Lenny Sporn are laying down arms in their war over New York City, and more than that, they’re joining hands. The two young Israeli real estate salesmen are among the top five team leaders at Douglas New York-based Elliman Prudential Real Estate. "There isn’t a property deal in New York that doesn’t pass over our desk," say the two, who instead of competing are merging their forces to create an 18-man team of brokers. Bracha and Sporn are success stories in the cutthroat world of New York property. Bracha, 37, came to New York 12 years ago. He began as a mover, until hauling boxes for a property salesman led to his new career. Sporn, a decade younger, arrived in the city in 2000, met a realtor named Mickey Roth and began working with him in low-cost housing, which means, apartments costing some $180,000 and rentals for around $1,500 a month.

Al Gore receives $1 million prize from Israeli foundation
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Al Gore, the former U. S. vice president turned environmentalist, has received a $1 million prize for his work from an Israeli fund. The Dan David Foundation awarded Gore its annual present prize for alerting the world to the crisis from overuse of fossil fuels. It also gave prizes in past and future categories. Gore received the award at a ceremony Monday at Tel Aviv University. In his address, Gore said, We do face a planetary emergency. The phrase sounds shrill to many, but it is unfortunately quite accurate. Gore said that 40 minutes of sunlight would provide a year’s worth of energy for the world. Gore said 10 percent of the prize would go to young researchers and the rest to the Alliance for Climate Protection.

Israel overtakes UK in competitiveness rankings
Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 5/19/2008
Israel is 20th out of 55 countries in IMD’s 2008 World Competitiveness Rankings. Israel is ranked 20th out of 55 countries in the World Competitiveness Rankings of the International Institute for Management Development(IMD), one place higher than the year before. The rankings are based on 331 variables collated from business organizations around the world. Israel swapped places with the UK, which was ranked 20th last year and slipped to 25th place. The US is ranked number one, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. Venezuela was ranked last. The World Competitiveness Rankings organizes the variables into four main groups: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency, and infrastructure. Israel was ranked 27th in economic performance, six places higher than last year; 21st in government efficiency, up four places; 16th in business. . .

What’s green and makes electricity? An artificial leaf
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Photosynthesis is nearly the sole source of energy for the creatures inhabiting our planet, include the two-legged variety. For billions of years, since the appearance of the first vegetable cell, plants and bacteria have converted sunlight into energy-rich compounds. That is how all petroleum and coal reserves were created. Unfortunately, about 200 years of post-Industrial Revolution activity has wiped out most of these, and today’s vegetation cannot take up the slack. Photovoltaic cells made of silicon can convert solar energy to electricity, but due to their extremely high price, it costs four times more to generate power this way than with coal or petroleum. Now, researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) claim to have created a prototype of a photovoltaic cell by genetically engineering proteins that produce energy using photosynthesis.

Jerusalem, Petach Tikva ban ’Sex in the City’ film ads
Adi Dovrat, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
Outdoor advertising company Maximedia has notified the distributors of ’Sex in the City’ Forum Films and its publicist, Golan Advertising - that the movie based on the popular TV series of the same name will not be allowed to advertise in Jerusalem and Petach Tikva, because the word "sex" appears on the signs. "The news was a great shock," said a spokesman for Forum Films said. "We have not asked to advertise nudity, or messages that may be offensive to the general public and the ultra-Orthodox community in particular. Nevertheless, this is the name of the movie. We feel that it is ridiculous to prohibit us from advertising the brand without naming it," he added. The company added that it would consult with the movie’s production company about what to do about continued advertising in these cities.

Doha: no breakthrough, but no breakdown either
Daily Star 5/20/2008
Hopes for a breakthrough to solve Lebanon’s 18-month-old political deadlock dimmed considerably on Monday with neither camp willing to make concessions at talks being held in Qatar’s capital, Doha. An indication of how convoluted the talks were came late Monday evening, when Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani joined talks with the rival leaders for the second day in a row in a bid to help break the impasse - or at least to keep the talks going. Sheikh Hamad and other senior Qatari officials were to attend a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, beginning on Tuesday, and there indications that the Lebanese delegations might return to Lebanon. Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri vowed earlier, however, that he would make no such move. Speaking to Al-Arabiya satellite news channel, the MP said he refuses to return to Beirut "until an agreement is reached.

Graziano plays down chances of conflict in South
Daily Star 5/20/2008
US urged Israel to ’surprise’ Hizbullah during internal clashes - report - BEIRUT: Major General Claudio Graziano, commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said on Monday the international force started conducting patrols on the Lebanese side of the border region of Ghajar earlier this month, reassuring the Lebanese that no war would erupt again in the South. In an interview with As-Safir newspaper, Graziano said his forces had not faced any problems south and north of the Litani River during recent clashes between government and opposition supporters. "The Lebanese Armed Forces [LAF] has taken security measures in the whole region and has cooperated, as usual, with the international force without facing any obstacles," he said. "All Lebanese parties have agreed to fully support UNIFIL and the latest incidents have not posed any danger on our mission. ""In fact, political and security stability in Lebanon are necessary for us to accomplish our mission successfully," he added.

Qatar offers Lebanon proposal
Al Jazeera 5/18/2008
Qatar has proposed the formation of a unity government to diffuse the current crisis in Lebanon following two days of talks in Doha, the capital of the gas and oil-rich Arab state. The proposal early on Monday came after two days of talks between Lebanon’s 14 feuding factions appeared to yield no breakthroughs on the country’s 18-month crisis. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar’s emir, stepped into the negotiations on Sunday and brought together the leaders of Lebanon’s opposition with pro-government factions in one meeting after talking to each side separately. Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin said: "The Qataris are trying to come up with some creative solutions to overcome the differences between the two sides, but will have to wait to see if these new ideas will satisfy both sides. . ."

Summit seeks world cluster bomb ban
Al Jazeera 5/19/2008
Representatives from more than 100 countries have gathered at a conference in Dublin, Ireland’s capital, in an attempt to agree a global ban on the use of cluster bombs. However, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia and the United States, all major producers and stockpilers of cluster bombs, are not taking part in the 12-day conference. The US has said that it favours non-binding guidelines on the use of the weapon. Monday’s gathering, which follows meetings held in Lima, Vienna and Wellington, aims to secure an agreement that would be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. The signatories would then need to ratify the deal. Exemptions - Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland are among the states that have gathered in Dublin to try to secure an anti-cluster munitions treaty.

US lists child ’enemy combatants’
Al Jazeera 5/19/2008
Civil liberties groups defending detainees in Guantanamo are outraged at juvenile detentions - A report has revealed that the US is holding about 500 juveniles described as "unlawful enemy combatants" in detention centres in Iraq, with 10 in its Bagram base in Afghanistan. The US told the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child that 2,500 youths under the age of 18 had been held, almost all in Iraq, for periods of up to a year or more. The detentions followed an "anti-terrorism" campaign which was started by George Bush, the US president, in 2002. The International Justice Network (IJN) denounced the detentions as abhorrent and a violation of US treaty obligations. Civil outrageTina Foster, the executive director of the IJN, said: "It’s shocking to me that the US government has not figured out a way to keep children out of adult prisons.

Watchdog wants answers in US attack on Baghdad hotel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/20/2008
BAGHDAD: A media rights group has called for a full probe into a 2003 US shelling that killed two foreign journalists at a Baghdad hotel, arguing that new evidence showed the incident was not an accident. In a statement, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said the US should "tell the whole truth" about the incident at the Palestine Hotel on April 8, 2003, just a day before Baghdad fell to invading US forces. The IFJ said a former US Army sergeant had reported seeing secret US documents that listed the hotel as a possible target, which it said "exposed as a cover-up" the US position that the shelling was an accident. "Slowly the awful truth about the events of that day are emerging," Aidan White, general secretary of the Brussels-based IFJ, said in the statement. "This latest information adds to our concern that the failure to properly investigate and report on this. . .

News in Brief: U.S. House leaders don’t rule out military action against Iran
Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
U. S. House leaders don’t rule out military action against Iran - Leaders of the U. S. House of Representatives said yesterday that they do not rule out military action against Iran to stop it from acquiring nuclear bombs. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, addressing a press conference at the Knesset during a four-day visit to Israel, stressed the importance of diplomatic and economic tools, however said that a "full array of tactics are on the table" in efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. House majority leader Steny Hoyer backed Pelosi, saying "no options should be taken off the table." (The Associated Press) - Peres to be guest of honor at Ariel’s anniversary - President Shimon Peres will be the guest of honor at next month’s 30th anniversary ceremony for the West Bank settlement of Ariel. This will be the first time Peres has taken part in such an event beyond the Green Line.

Bush urges more freedom in Arab states
Ian Black Middle East editor, The Guardian 5/19/2008
Arab states need to promote freedom at home and resist Iran’s nuclear ambitions, George Bush said yesterday, while insisting in the face of widespread scepticism that he is committed to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The US president used a speech in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to appeal to leaders in the region to take the future into their hands and "treat their people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Too often in the Middle East politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," he told the World Economic Forum (WEF). "The light of liberty is beginning to shine," he added, praising advances for democracy in Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco and Jordan, but only hinting at stagnation and repression in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, his two. . .


We fought apartheid; we see no reason to celebrate it in Israel now!
17 May 2008, Palestine Monitor 5/17/2008
      We, South Africans who faced the might of unjust and brutal apartheid machinery in South Africa and fought against it with all our strength, with the objective to live in a just, democratic society, refuse today to celebrate the existence of an Apartheid state in the Middle East. While Israel and its apologists around the world will, with pomp and ceremony, loudly proclaim the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel this month, we who have lived with and struggled against oppression and colonialism will, instead, remember 6 decades of catastrophe for the Palestinian people. 60 years ago, 750,000 Palestinians were brutally expelled from their homeland, suffering persecution, massacres, and torture. They and their descendants remain refugees. This is no reason to celebrate.
     When we think of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, we also remember the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948.
     When we think of South Africa’s Bantustan policy, we remember the bantustanisation of Palestine by the Israelis.

The art of improving education

Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/20/2008
      "It is forbidden to dance"; "it is forbidden to paint"; "it is forbidden to sing"; "it is forbidden to play an instrument." These statements were printed on signs displayed in mainly Arab neighborhoods in Haifa. The signs were hung as armor in the battle mounted by the Non-profit Organization for the Advancement of Arab Public Education in Haifa, to open a school for the arts to serve the city’s Arab sector. The organization also collected parents’ signatures in a petition that urges the Haifa Municipality and Education Ministry to reverse their positions and support the school, which would be the first of its type in the Israeli-Arab sector.
     In August last year, the organization filed an appeal to the High Court against the ministry and the municipality, demanding that the school be opened. Months later, while still waiting for the court’s ruling, the organization decided to launch the campaign. According to the organization, the school could staunch the flow of students to Haifa’s private schools and even boost the public education system in the city’s Arab sector. Organization members stress that a swift ruling by the court is vital, because the placement committee for the city’s special schools will soon complete its activities for the coming school year and the future of the school would rest in the hands of that committee.

Film review: ''Territories''

Stefan Christoff, Electronic Intifada 5/19/2008
      Territory is a central theme in all political conflicts in the world, as national borders across the globe have consistently shifted. Territories is a new feature documentary by Montreal filmmaker Mary Ellen Davis that explores the photographic work and global journeys of Larry Towell, of the world-renowned photo agency Magnum, who travels along the world’s most conflicted border zones, from Latin America to the Middle East.
     Indigenous people across the world have been victims of borderlines drawn in bloody wars fueled by colonial interests, and it’s these too-often-untold stories that are found in the striking photos of Larry Towell. From the electric fences of the Mexico-US border to Israel’s concrete separation wall in Palestine, understanding the violence caused by borders is central to Towell’s work.
     "Land is the theme that has tied everything together that I have done as a photographer," Towell explains in the film. "The Palestinian case is a clear example of the way that the loss of land is the loss of culture and identity. We also see this reality here in Canada, Australia and across the Americas with indigenous people, who have waged rebellions, like the Palestinians, due to dispossession from land."

After 6 years in Israeli prison, major armed resistance figure talks about the failures and future

Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 5/19/2008
      Bethlehem -- Among the most prominent and important leaders of the Al Aqsa Brigades, Nasser Awais, has been in Israeli prison since 2002. He was sentenced to 14 lifetimes and is behind wire in the central Israeli prison of Hadarim. He told PNN that despite internal differences, the Al Aqsa Brigades remain the armed resistance wing of Fateh and was founded by the decision of the cadres along with the support of the leaders of the movement. They form its overall policy and have drawn criticism for what he referred to as "negligence" for their treatment of "its sons" and the resistance fighters in particular.
     PNN asked, "Over the past six years of your imprisonment how do you assess the condition of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails?"
     Awais replied, "Since 2002, the prison authorities began to escalate their actions to undermine the achievements and gains of the prisoner movement, which coincided with the continuing aggression against our people, and attempts to destroy the Intifada and resistance. The occupation authorities and prisons have used a series of actions, first and foremost to separate sections within the same prison, with the aim of weakening the unity of the prisoner movement, and intensified this separation between the sections, especially between Fateh and Hamas prisoners, after the coup by Hamas in Gaza. They used the policy of solitary confinement on a large scale, with lengthy time periods. Some are in solitary for seven years....

The French Resistance in the Service of Palestine

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 5/19/2008
      The commemoration events of 60 years of the Nakba have brought a very different type of Palestinian solidarity activism to my attention: it is young, vibrant, dynamic and creative solidarity campaigning.It’s a new form of struggle that goes far beyond the old dogmatic clichés, a fierce battle that aims at the exposure of the Jewish state for what it is: a racist, chauvinist apartheid state. Last Monday I saw it happen in Exeter University while watching and listening to the astonishingly eloquent Palestinian ambassador to Britain, Dr Manuel Hassassian. Last Friday I met the French resistance at a Euro Palestine event at the Parisian Librairie-Resistances bookshop.
     Librairie Résistances is one of those bookshops that makes you feel young again, those very exotic shops you hardly see anymore. A unique cultural thought-provoking fountain that makes resistance look like a valid praxis, as if liberation is awaiting just around the corner. At the back of the bookshop some space had been allocated for a cozy theatre which is used for concerts and performances promoting the Palestinian cause.

Terror Most Imperial

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Middle East Online 5/17/2008
      One of the more subtle tools of imperialism today is the use of value-laden language that seeks to define the Arab and Muslim world. With labels such as ‘terrorists’ and ‘Islamofascism’, they wish to establish an ‘Orientalist’ perspective of otherness, says Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich.
For centuries the colonizers exploited and dominated the third world. Today, one of the more subtle tools of imperialism is the use of value-laden language that seeks to define the Arab and Muslim world. With labels such as ‘terrorists’ and ‘Islamofascism’, they wish to establish an ‘Orientalist’ perspective of otherness denoting barbarism as set apart from Israel and the West which represents admirable qualities. It is imperative to reject this imperial imposition of characterization and for each state, individually and collectively, to self-rule, foremost through self-definition.
     The case of Mojahedeen-e Khalg (MEK) showcases the ever present imperial influence of the West in defining the ‘other’ due to the ownership of language. The hypocrisy is stark given that the US with the help of her ally the British waged a ‘war on terror’ which has resulted in the death of over a million people to date. Yet, a certain Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, a member of the House of Lords from Gordon Brown’s ruling Labor Party, has coauthored an opinion piece with Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA), both of whom promote the terrorist organization of the MEK. In their opinion, these two argue that engagement with Iran would risk, among other things, a “support for international terrorism”[i].

In the wake of the Doha truce

Karim Makdisi, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/19/2008
      After the rout of pro-US March 14 militias at the hands of the Hizballah-led opposition forces in Beirut and Shouf mountains last week, a Qatari-led Arab League delegation sent to Beirut on 14 May succeeded in brokering a truce. The seven-point agreement reached includes the immediate resumption of national dialogue in Doha -- with the main aim of finally forming a national unity government, electing a president by consensus, and agreeing on the details of an electoral law -- and the pledge not to use force to settle political disputes. The airport, port and main border crossing with Syria, as well as schools and shops, were promptly re-opened as militias on both sides removed roadblocks and hid their weapons.
     With the army deployed throughout key areas, Lebanese citizens once again resumed their everyday activities under the more familiar conditions of a devastated environment, massive traffic jams, unregulated construction and urban planning, electricity and water shortages, state-sponsored theft or abuse of public lands and resources, rising poverty, inflation and unemployment, and one of the worst budget deficits per capita in the world. The illusion of normalcy, in other words, has returned for the time being but the real question is: for how long.

''America Don’t Worry! Israel is Behind You!''

Nadia Hasan, Palestine Think Tank 5/19/2008
      I remember a few years ago walking through the wonderful narrow streets of the occupied Old city of Jerusalem, seeing a small shop managed by an old Palestinian man who was selling souvenirs to the tourists. I entered the shop, not because I wanted to buy something, I am not a tourist in my own land (despite the Zionist entity who is occupying my land allowing me to enter there just as a tourist) but because I was captured by the smell of fresh coffee that beckoned me from inside the shop. As I know my people, I knew that as soon as I set foot inside the shop I would be welcomed with this hot and stimulating beverage. I was right, after just a minute I was enjoying my drink and having a nice talk with the man. I made the rounds of his shop, looking at the hundreds small plates, pictures, colorful fabrics of all kinds of imaginative and very original T-shirts hanging on one of the walls. T-shirts with pictures of Jerusalem, with Holy Land slogans, with IDF motives (always wondering who might buy one of those!) and I saw one that scared me the most because of its realism. It was a simple T-shirt with the slogan: "America Don’t worry, Israel is behind you!"