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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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26 May 2008


Israeli settlers and army start to expand illegal settlement on Bil’in land
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/26/2008
Israeli settlers under the protection of the Israeli army started on Monday morning to install homes on lands that belong to villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Iyad Burnat, of the local committee against the wall and settlement construction, said that villagers noticed the construction since early morning on Monday. Villagers tried to reach their land in order to stop the settlers but Israeli troops prevented them from crossing the wall. A group of men from the village were staying over night in there land managed to come close to the trucks installing the mobile homes of the settlers and stopped them by standing infornt of them, Burnat stated. He added that the men will continue to block the trucks way in an attempt to stop the destruction of the villagers lands. In 2007 the villagers of Bil’in won an Israeli high court of Justice decision. . .

Activists block bulldozers in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 5/26/2008
Ramallah Region - Budrus Village - Photos - On Sunday 25 May 2008, local villagers, estimated at well over100 people, accompanied by international and Israeli observers, representatives of the media and human rights workers convergedthis morning on the village of Ni’lin, west of Ramallah, to demonstrate at the theft of yet more village land by settlers from two nearby illegal Israeli settlements. They attempted to block the path of two bulldozers which were at work marking the new boundary of the Nili and Nala settlements. When completed the encroaching settlements and expected road closures will totally isolate the Palestinian villages of Ni’lin, Mediya, Shookba, Shabteen and Budrus. Residents will then be forced to exit and enter their villages via one strictly controlled access tunnel, making their lives even more difficult than they are today.

Former U.S president urges ’supine’ Europe to end Gaza embargo
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
Former U. S President Jimmy Carter, described the EU’s position towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ’ supine’, urging the EU to break up with the U. S and lift the embargo on Gaza." the European Union are not our vassals, they occupy an equal position like us ", Carter commented in a special literary festival held by the UK’s Guardian newspaper in the Welsh border town of Hay. The chairman of the election-monitoring Carter Center, believed that the EU’s hesitance to criticize the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza as ’embarrassing’ " the embargo is meant at 1. 6 million residents, 1 million of whom are refugees, as most of the households in Gaza eat one meal a day. The Israeli siege of Gaza is one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth, There is no reason to treat these people this way" , Carter explained.

’No substantial progress’ on proposed Gaza truce
Marius Schattner, Daily Star 5/27/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Egyptian-brokered negotiations on a proposed truce in and around the Hamas-run Gaza Strip have made "no substantial progress," a senior Israeli official told journalists on Monday. The official said he was "rather pessimistic" after talks in Cairo on Sunday between Amos Gilad, a senior aide to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who has been mediating between Israel and Palestinian militants. "No substantial progress has been made," said the official, who asked not to be identified. Barak voiced scarcely more optimism, suggesting that all-out conflict with Hamas could explode "within days or weeks, or if there is a truce, within months. "The defense minister stressed, however, that "if there is any possibility of a truce, Israel must examine it.

Sources: Israel, Hezbollah strike prisoner swap deal
Yoav Stern and Yossi Melman , and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
Israeli sources said Monday that Israel and Hezbollah had struck a deal securing the release of two Israeli soldiers captured by the Lebanon-based militant group in a July 2006 cross border raid that sparked the Second Lebanon War. The sources explained that in exchange for the captives, Israel would release Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese militant currently imprisoned in Israel for the 1979 murder of a Nahariyah family, an Israeli citizen jailed for espionage on Hezbollah’s behalf and four other Hezbollah men captured by Israel during the 2006 war. The deal reportedly will also include the return of the remains of ten Lebanese, currently held by Israel, to Hezbollah. Earlier Monday, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah hinted that a prisoner swap would soon be completed, telling supporters in Beirut that Kuntar would soon be freed.

PA interfering in Gaza’s banking system, Hamas official says
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority (PA) is illegally trying to interfere in the operation of the Gaza Strip’s banks, says Dr Muhammad Al-’Abid, a legal advisor to the prime minister of the Hamas-run de facto government in Gaza. The charge is the latest in a series of mutual accusations between the de facto government and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. He said in a statement released by the information office of the Fatwa and Legislation Bureau in the Gaza Strip that the PA’s National Fund requested that certain banks move their main headquarters from Gaza to Ramallah, and turn over the details of clients’ accounts to the National Fund in accordance with article 49 of Palestinian banking law. Al-’Abid said that such a procedure would be violation of article 26 of Palestinian banking law which reads that the bank is not authorized to reveal. . .

IWPS: Palestinian farmers stop work on settlement expansion near Deir Istiya
International Solidarity Movement 5/26/2008
Salfit Region - On Thursday, May 15th 2008, farmers from Deir Istiya noticed bulldozers and diggers working on their land close to the illegal Israeli settlement Revava. As they investigated closer, it became clear that the Municipality of the settlement had employed a private construction company to raze land for a new housing unit for the settlement. At least 200 dunums belonging two 10 families from Deir Istiya are effected so far. The land is partially planted with olive and tamarind trees. It is also used for grazing and collecting wild plants. However, Israeli settlers and army have prevented Palestinian farmers from planting their land close to the settlement since the late 1990s. In the days following their discovery the farmers from Deir Istiya organized to gather the legal papers that prove their ownership and filed a complaint with the Palestinian DCL (District Coordination Liaison).

Gisha: Supreme Court considers deep fuel cuts to Gaza
Statement from Gisha, International Solidarity Movement 5/26/2008
Gaza Region - On Wednesday, May 21, 2008, Israel’s Supreme Court held a hearing in a petition submitted by nine Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, represented by Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, claiming that since April 9, 2008, the State of Israel has violated its commitment to supply even minimal, insufficient quantities of fuel to the Gaza Strip. The groups also claimed that the fuel restrictions are crippling the functioning of hospitals, water wells, sewage treatment plants, and public transportation - and thus endangering the health and well-being of Gaza’s 1. 5 million residents. Israel controls Gaza’s borders and does not permit Gaza residents to receive fuel except via the Israeli-controlled Nahal Oz Crossing. The position of the rights groups is that all deliberate restrictions on fuel supply to Gaza are illegal, because they violate. . . -- See also: Gisha

Ashraf abu Rahme Arrested and Activists Assaulted as Settlement Expands onto Bil’in’s land
International Solidarity Movement 5/26/2008
Bil’in Village - Photos - On Monday 26th May, Israeli settlers from the Matityahu East settlement, protected by the Israeli army, started construction work looking to expand their settlement further onto the village of Bil’in’s land. Bil’in residents, joined by international and Israeli activists, attempted to block this construction. Ashraf Abu Rahme of Bil’in known to many as Dabaa, managed to scale one of the settler cranes, holding a Palestinian flag. He remained there and succeeded in stopping the work for six hours before being forced down and arrested by Israeli police. Ashraf has been transferred to a military facility. In Israel’s military system Palestinians can be held for 8 days before a military judge approves prolonging their detention. (Israelis on the other hand can only be heals for 24 hours before being brought in front of a judge.

Police ordered not to refuel cars in gas-starved Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Interior Ministry of the Hamas-run de facto government in Gaza announced on Monday afternoon that ordered its security officers not to refuel their cars. The Ministry said that its security forces are to keep order at gas stations, and are not to interfere with the distribution of extremely scarce gas. The ministry said that gas will continue to be rationed. Israel allowed the first delivery of liquid fuel in six days to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. After months of a tightening blockade, Israel virtually shut off fuel deliveries in April. [end]

Palestinians reject Israeli offer to hand over 91.5% of W. Bank
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
Palestinian officials close to peace talks said Sunday that Israel has offered a West Bank withdrawal map that leaves about 8. 5 percent of the territory in Israeli hands, less than a previous plan but still more than the Palestinians are ready to accept. Also Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as telling backers that the negotiations have achieved no progress since they were restarted last November with a pledge to U. S. President George W. Bush to try for a full peace treaty by the end of the year. The Palestinian officials said Israel presented its new map three days ago in a negotiating session. The last map Israel offered had 12 percent of the West Bank remaining in Israel. Israel wants to keep West Bank land with its main settlement blocs, offering land inside Israel in exchange.

Israel balking on pledge to open Palestinian police stations in the West Bank, police chief says
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – Israel impeded the implementation of a plan to open 20 Palestinian police stations in the West Bank, said the general director of Palestinian police, Hazim Atallah, on Monday. Only seven stations out of 20 promised stations were allowed to open. The Israeli military approved the plan to open the police stations last week, a part of measures urged by representatives of the international community, to ease some of the harsher measures of the occupation in the West Bank. Atallah’s comments came during a graduation ceremony for police officers at the Police College in the West Bank town of Nuwai’ma north of Jericho. The commander of the Palestinian National Security forces in the northern areas of the West Bank, Thiyab Al-Ali attended the graduation as well as Collin Smith, the head of a team of European police advisors.

The Israeli army invades Zita village near Tulkarem and kidnaps three civilians
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/26/2008
The Israeli army invaded the village of Zita located near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem and kidnapped three civilians there, on Monday at dawn. Local sources said that Israeli forces searched a number of homes before kidnapping Hamdan Mubark, 16, Wa’el Hamza, 16, and Taysser Balqees, 19, and took them to unknown locations. During the invasion eyewitnesses said that clashes erupted between local youth and the invading Israeli troops, no injures reported. [end]

Israeli forces raid two villages near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Jenin - Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the West Bank towns of Al-Yamoun and Kafr Dan, near Jenin, early on Monday morning, local sources said. Residents of the two villages said that Israeli troops raided houses, fired their weapons intensively and used sound grenades. Israeli military vehicles roamed the streets. Witnesses said the invading forces withdrew by dawn. No arrests were reported. [end]

163 patients die due to the 11 months Israeli siege on Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/26/2008
Palestinian sources reported on Monday that a Palestinian patient died in the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening due to Israeli siege imposed on the Palestinian coastal region. Hind Al Ashkar, from Al Nuserat refugee camp located in central Gaza, had kidney failure, doctors said that she applied several times for the Israeli army to grant her permission to leave Gaza for life saving medical care but the army refused. With the death of Al Ashkar, the number of Palestinian patients who died due to the 11 month Israeli siege on Gaza now stands at 163. Since June 2007, Israel has closed the Rafah border crossing to Egypt, only passage for Palestinians in or out of the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops do not operate on the terminal since Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September 2005. Instead, European observors are positioned there as a condition to keep the terminal opened.

Gaza: ICRC calls for immediate resumption of family visits to detainees in Israel
International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC, ReliefWeb 5/26/2008
Jerusalem / Tel Aviv (ICRC) – The Israeli authorities must take immediate measures to allow Palestinian families from Gaza to resume visits to their relatives detained in Israel, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today. The family visits organized by the ICRC since 1967 had to be suspended on 6 June 2007 following a decision by the Israeli authorities. As a result, the parents, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers and children of more than 900 detainees have been deprived of direct contact with their detained relatives for almost one year. Detainees depend on these visits not only for psychological support but also for material assistance such as clothes and blankets. "This measure is depriving both detainees and their relatives of an essential life line," said Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Israel and the occupied territories.

Red Cross urges Israel to reinstate family visits for Gazan detainees
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on Israel to immediately allow Palestinian families from the Gaza Strip to visit their relatives detained in Israel. The family visits organized by the ICRC since 1967 had to be suspended on 6 June 2007 following a decision by the Israeli authorities. As a result, the parents, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers and children of more than 900 detainees have been deprived of direct contact with their detained relatives for almost one year. The ICRC says that detainees depend on these visits "not only for psychological support but also for material assistance such as clothes and blankets." "This measure is depriving both detainees and their relatives of an essential life line," said Christoph Harnisch, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Israeli army to try a Palestinian Journalist
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/26/2008
The Israeli army is expected to trial a Palestinian journalist on Monday, after kidnapping him five moths ago. Mohamed Al Halyika, 25, used to work as a cameraman for the Al Qasa TV, he was kidnapped from his family home located in the southern West Bank city of Hebron last December. The Israeli army says that Al Halyika is charged with covering news for a Hamas affiliated TV station. Before working in Al Qasa TV, which is based in Gaza, Al Halyika used to work as a Cameraman and a Producer for Al Mahed TV (Nativity) located in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem. Few days before the army kidnapped him Al Halyika was also arrested by the Palestinian Authority forces in Hebron for the same reason.

PFLP’s military wing fire two projectiles at Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, claimed responsibility on Monday morning for firing two homemade projectiles at the Israeli town of Sderot, which borders the Gaza Strip. The group said in a statement that the shelling came in retaliation for the Israeli policy of incursions into Palestinian cities and assassination of resistance activists. [end]

Fatah and Islamic Jihad fighters shell Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – A group calling themselves the Abu ’Ammar Brigades, a military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for launching one homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Sderot, which borders the Gaza Strip, on Sunday at 6 pm. Separately the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at Sderot on Sunday at 5 pm. [end]

An-Nasser Brigades claim responsibility for projectile attack
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The An-Nasser Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at Yamit, an Israeli military post in the northern Gaza Strip. The Brigades said in a statement that this attack was in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli atrocities in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. [end]

Israeli forces arrest three Palestinians near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized three Palestinian youths from the northern West Bank village of Zeita, north of Tulkarem overnight on Sunday. Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces raided the center of the village and arrested three teenagers on charges of throwing stones at Israeli military patrols. [end]

Israeli forces impose checkpoint near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Monday hindered the movement of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank city of Jenin. Local residents told Ma’an that Israeli forces erected a checkpoint near the village of Jaba’, southwest Jenin, stopping and searching Palestinian vehicles, resulting in a massive traffic tie-up. [end]

Palestinian civil defence officer arrested at checkpoint near Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian man at the Za’tara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday. Palestinian security sources identified the arrestee as Tariq Zakarna, an officer in the civil defense service from the town of Qabatiya, near Jenin. Local sources told Ma’an’s reporter that Israeli soldiers staffing the checkpoint forced Zakarna to get out of a taxi and arrested him after checking his identity card. [end]

’Rocket interception system to be tested next month’
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Defense Ministry director-general tells heads of Gaza vicinity regional councils ’Iron Dome’ system expected to intercept at least 92% of Qassams. In order to speed up system’s development, Armament Development Authority receives halachic permission to work on Shabbat - Progress made in development of rocket interception system. Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buchris told heads of Gaza vicinity local councils on Monday evening that the first tests in the ’Iron Dome’ system will begin next month. According to the Defense Ministry briefing, a launching test was conducted so far, and now the defense establishment plans to test other aspects of the system in a series of advanced experiments.

Defense officials: Anti-rocket system to be ready to test this year
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
Defense officials said Monday that the Iron Dome defense system, which is designed to protect Israeli civilians against Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip, will be ready for initial testing this year. The defense system is meant to provide Sderot and Ashkelon residents with a 95-percent level of protection against rockets and mortar shells. Defense Ministry Director-General Pinhas Buchris met Monday with the heads of the local authorities bordering Gaza to outline the latest developments in the production of the system. He told them that in his estimation, the system would be ready to undergo a series of tests within a month. The officials added that there had been a recent breakthrough in the Iron Dome’s interception system, and that it could be operational as soon as 2010.

Shin Bet chief: Hamas rocket threat from Gaza is mounting
Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
Hamas has rockets capable of striking Ashdod and Kiryat Gat, according to Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. The head of the security force informed the cabinet yesterday that "it is only a matter of time" before these long-range rockets will be used. Diskin also warned that "the chances of a calm with Hamas are very slim. "The Shin Bet sees the arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip as the most important security concern there at the present time. Diskin stressed that so long as the Philadelphi Route that runs along the border between Rafah and Sinai is not totally blocked, the range of the rockets smuggled into the Strip will only be increased. Iran continues to assist Hamas, Diskin said, asserting: "We have identified Iranian efforts to transfer more sophisticated rockets to the Gaza Strip.

Ashdod residents unfazed by report of rising Hamas threat
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
The report by Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin at the cabinet meeting Sunday, stating that Hamas has the capability to launch rockets at Ashdod and Kiryat Gat, did not surprise people in that area. "It’s to be expected. We knew in the end that they would reach Ashdod, too," said local resident Avi Dvir. Dvir was at the Mei Ami beach with his family and sister, who was on a visit from Holland. "Of course, I’m worried about the lives of my four children, but there’s not too much we can do. We’re not going to leave town, but the government has to make some decisions," Dvir added. "It is going on everywhere in the country. First Sderot, then Ashkelon and now Ashdod. "Ashdod’s population of approximately 230,000 lives in impressive apartment houses and its shopping centers are bustling.

Palestine Today 052608
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/26/2008
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 26th , 2008. One Palestinian patient dies in Gaza due to the Israeli siege, while in the West Bank Israeli settlers continue to annex Palestinian lands, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast Palestinian sources reported on Monday that a Palestinian patient died in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night due to the Israeli siege imposed on the Palestinian coastal region. Hind Al Ashkar, from Al Nuserat refugee camp located in central Gaza, had kidney failure, doctors said that she applied several times for the Israeli army to grant her permission to leave Gaza for life saving medical care but the army refused.

Archbishop Tutu will travel to Gaza to investigate Beit Hanoun killings this week
Marian Houk, Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Jerusalem - The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva reported on Sunday evening that an independent High Level Fact-Finding Mission led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa would be traveling to Gaza on 27 and 28 May – and entering from Egypt through the Rafah crossing. The High Level Fact-Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun was established and authorized by the UN Human Rights Council after a Special Session in Geneva, following an Israeli tank attack on two homes in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun during an Israeli operation against Palestinian fighters just before dawn in November 2006 in which 19 persons were killed, including 7 children – most of them still sleeping. After several weeks of cooling their heels in Geneva, the Mission was “postponed” in January 2007. There were several previous efforts to go, but they never came to fruition – they never got the necessary clearances, so the Mission was officially left in suspense,” one UN official said from Geneva.

UN delegation to visit Beit Hanoun this week to investigate Israeli carnage
Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
NEW YORK, (PIC)-- The UN announced that it will send this week a delegation headed by South African priest Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace prize laureate, to the Beit Hanoun town, northern Gaza Strip, to investigate a heinous massacre committed by the IOF troops in November 2006 and claimed the lives of 19 Palestinian citizens most of them were members of one family. The UN council for human rights had decided in the same month of 2006 to form an investigation commission headed by Tutu to visit Beit Hanoun, but Israel refused to allow that UN delegation to visit Gaza ever since. According to a statement by the UN high commissioner for human rights, the UN delegation will be composed of priest Tutu and British academic Christine Chinkin who will try to visit Beit Hanoun through Egypt for two days during this month. The statement said that the delegation will listen to the statements. . .

Israel/Gaza: 23 years’ solitary for a detainee’s wife
International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC, ReliefWeb 5/26/2008
Thanai is one of hundreds of Palestinian wives whose husbands are held in Israeli prisons. For the past 23 years, she has had to raise their six children alone. In June 2007, the Israeli authorities suspended all family visits; she is desperate to see him once again. Thanai fears she will never see her husband again. They have lived apart for 23 years, after he was captured in Gaza by Israeli forces and later detained in Israel, leaving behind a pregnant wife and five children. The prison sentence he received will ensure that he remains behind bars for the rest of his life. Shortly after the capture of her husband, she gave birth to a little girl, the sixth child in the family. "Today she is 23 years old and has just had a baby herself. My husband has become both a father and a grandfather while in prison. But we don’t know if he ever will be able to see his grandchildren," she says.

Israel arrested more than 2,700 Palestinians in 2008, report says
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel has arrested more than 2,700 Palestinians, most of them in the West Bank, so far this year, the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners and Former Prisoners Affairs in the Hamas-run de facto government in the Gaza Strip said on Monday. In a report about detainees, the de facto government said that 255 children under age 18 have been arrested as well as 14 women. There were medical patients, senior citizens, national movement leaders and mayors among those arrested. The Hebron district of the southern West Bank, the report says, claimed the singe largest share of the arrests, with 700 people detained in 2008. Six hundred of the detainees came from the Gaza Strip. Director of the information department in the de facto Prisoners Ministry, Riyad Al-Ashqar says that 28 Israeli jails and detention centers are full of Palestinian prisoners.

Arab children nearly 3 times more likely to die in accident
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
Arab children are 2. 7 times more likely to die in an accident of some kind than Jewish children, according to data presented by the children’s advocacy group Beterem to the Knesset Committee on Child Rights on Monday. Between 2000-2006, Arab children were six times more likely than Jewish children to be killed in a traffic accident. In 2001-2002, 45 percent of traffic accidents were caused by unsafe pedestrian conduct; 16 percent involved vehicular accidents in house yards and backing out of parking spots. The injury rate among Arab children is disproportionate to their share of the population: 41 percent of children injured in recent years were Arabs, even though only 25 percent of Israeli children are Arabs. Committee chair MK Nadia Hilou (Labor) said Tuesday that this grim picture can be changed if sufficient funds are allocated.

Tira residents against Peres
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 5/26/2008
President’s visit to northern Arab city interrupted by demonstrators protesting demolitions of local homes. Mayor shrugs off rally, say protestor prompted by personal motives, not greater good - President Shimon Peres toured the northern Israeli Arab city of Tira and met a rather chilly greeting in the form of a protest rally against him. Dozens of Tira’s residents adhered the call of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, blocked several of the city’s roads and announced a one-day strike in local businesses and schools, protesting what they called the president’s indifference to house demolition. "The president of Israel is supposed to be everybody’s president. He can’t sanction the demolition of homes and then come here for some humus," said committee member Fuad Sultani. Many of Tira’s residents have reportedly sent Peres letters asking for his intervention in the matter.

Carter: Gaza blockade is ’human rights crime’
Middle East Online 5/26/2008
LONDON - Former US president Jimmy Carter on Sunday described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as "one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth. " In a speech at a literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, in Wales, the 83-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said: "There is no reason to treat these people this way," referring to the Israeli blockade on Gaza, in place since June 2007. While president from 1977 to 1981, Carter was the architect of the landmark 1979 peace deal between Israel and Egypt, the first such treaty between the Jewish state and an Arab country. According to Carter, the failure of the European Union to support the Palestinian cause was "embarrassing." He said European countries should be "encouraging the formation of a unity government," including Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s rival Fatah movement.

Carter: Israel has 150 nuclear weapons
Ynet, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Former US president breaks decades-long silence on Israeli arsenal as he urges Washington to launch direct talks with Tehran over nuclear program - The London Times quoted former US president Jimmy Carter on Sunday as saying Israel has 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal. In a speech at a literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, in Wales, the 83-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said said the United States had to begin holding direct talks with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program." We need to talk to Iran now, and continue our discussions with Iran, to let Iran know the benefits, and the detrimental side, of continuing with their nuclear program," he said. Carter also described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as "one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth" and called the failure of the European Union to support the Palestinian cause was "embarrassing.

Carter says Israel has arsenal of ’150 or more’ nuclear weapons
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
Former U. S. President Jimmy Carter has said Israel holds at least 150 nuclear weapons, the first time a U. S. president has publicly acknowledged Israel’s atomic arsenal. Asked at a news conference at Wales’s Hay literary festival on Sunday how a future U. S. president should deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, Carter put the risk in context by listing atomic weapons held globally. "The U. S. has more more than 12,000 nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union (Russia) has about the same, Great Britain and France have several hundred, and Israel has 150 or more. We have a phalanx of enormous weaponry. . . not only of enormous weaponry but of rockets to deliver those missiles on a pinpoint accuracy target," he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. Carter also condemned Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as "one of the greatest. . .

Former US President Carter urges EU to end Gaza blockade
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Former US President Jimmy Carter urged European governments to break with US policy and lift the international boycott of Hamas and the blockade of the Gaza Strip on Sunday. In an interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper published on Monday, Carter called the EU’s position on the Palestine and Israel "supine" and its failure to criticize the Israeli blockade of Gaza "embarrassing." Referring to the possibility of Europe breaking with the US, he said: "Why not? They’re not our vassals. They occupy an equal position with the US." Carter labeled the internationally-backed, Israeli-imposed blockade of the Gaza Strip "one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth," since it meant the "imprisonment of 1. 6 million people, 1 million of whom are refugees." "Most families in Gaza are eating only one meal per day.

ANALYSIS / Gaza truce appears to be inching farther away
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
An incident last week that received little attention at the time is now impacting on Egypt’s cease-fire initiative in the Gaza Strip. The attack on the Erez crossing last Thursday, which caused no Israeli casualties, quickly disappeared from the media headlines. But the defense establishment has a very different view of the incident, which involved a truck laden with several tons of explosives and driven by an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber. According to the defense establishment, only its correct deployment of its forces prevented the attack from succeeding. Both the Shin Bet security service and the army see this incident as a "near miss" that raises many questions about the future. Both concluded from it that Hamas, which is in charge in the Strip, is sufficiently confident to initiate showcase attacks against Israel even when it is holding indirect talks on a tahadiyeh (truce).

Barak: Israel on a collision course with Hamas
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Defense minister addresses situation on Gaza border, says events in danger of escalating within days but that ’if there is a calm, we will consider matters. ’ Barak also says Syria less concerned with Golan Heights than with improving its relations with Washington - With the volatile situation on the southern front against Gaza’s terror groups and renewed peace negotiations with Damascus hurling the political arena into an excitable turmoil – Labor convened on Monday to hear party chairman Ehud Barak. Regarding the situation in Gaza and the ongoing confrontation with Palestinian terror groups, the defense minister said: "In the long run, there’s no doubt that we are on a collision course with Hamas. It can escalate within days or weeks, but things could also calm down after a few months’ time. "I think we should be aware that there is consecutive fighting going on there.

Hamas: Israel must open Rafah crossing for truce talks to succeed
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan on Monday accused Israel of putting obstacles in front of Egyptian efforts to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and the militant group by refusing to open the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. "The Rafah border must be opened as part of the calm," Radwan said, repeating Hamas’ demand that Egypt open the crossing if Israel doesn’t. Although the Rafah crossing lies on the Gaza-Egypt border, the passage has been closed because Europeans monitoring the crossing require Israeli security clearance to operate. That clearance has not been given since Hamas took over Gaza. The Hamas statement came after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting that Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt will not be opened for the time being, according to a participant at the meeting.

IOA reply links calm to release of Shalit
Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- The Israeli government has told Egypt that lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip and opening crossings was hinged on the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian resistance factions since 25/6/2006. The Hebrew radio quoted Israeli security sources as saying that the meeting held Sunday night in Cairo between Amos Gilad, the head of the security-political department in the Israeli war ministry, and Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief, displayed that Hamas was not ready to link calm with the release of Shalit. Gilad, for his part, said that any progress in the issue of opening crossings was linked to the release of Shalit, and reiterated Israeli demands that Cairo should double efforts to block smuggling of alleged combat means and weapons into Gaza from Egyptian territory.

Egyptian MP calls for expulsion of PA’s ambassador
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Cairo - Ma’an - Baha Atiyya, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian Parliament, criticized comments by the Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt, Nabil Amr against Hamas. Atiyya called on the Egyptian government to expel Amr, saying that he could not legitimately represent the Palestinian people. Atiyya called Amr’s remarks "sectarian," saying that his words do not represent the voice of Palestinian resistance, rather the narrow interests of the Fatah movement. Amr represents the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which holds power in the West Bank. Atiyya defended Hamas, saying that the movement came to power through elections, not force. Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. In 2007, Hamas prevailed in armed fighting in the Gaza Strip, defeating Fatah’s security forces, since then, Hamas Has ruled Gaza, Fatah the West Bank.

Ties to Israel help keep Cairo out of step with public
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, Daily Star 5/27/2008
Inter Press Service - CAIRO: The anniversary of Israel’s creation 60 years ago earlier this month drew hearty congratulations from many capitals. But in Egypt, official acceptance of the Jewish state contrasts starkly with popular disgust over Israel’s continued mistreatment of the Palestinian people. "When it comes to Israel, the position of most Arab regimes - including Cairo - is directly opposed to that of the people," said Abdel-Wahab al-Masiri, historian and author of a three-volume Arabic-language encyclopedia on Zionism. "After 60 years, the Arab public still broadly rejects Israel and its policies. "For Israel, May 14 officially marked the anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence in 1948. Several Western heads of state sent messages of congratulations, and stressed their support for Israel.

Mishaal: Resistance will not abide by the truce as long as Israel rejects it
Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
TEHRAN, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, stated that the Palestinian resistance factions would not abide by the truce as long as the Israeli occupation rejects the Egyptian initiative and lays down conditions for implementing it. "Hamas responded to the Egyptian efforts and crystallized a unified Palestinian position that mainly displayed that the Palestinians are ready for the calm with occupation provided that it lifts the siege and stops the aggression," Mishaal underlined, adding that the Israeli reply was negative and ignored the Palestinian demands. In an interview with Al-Alam satellite channel, the Hamas leader also highlighted that the Palestinian resistance accepted to discuss the calm issue in the first place out of strength without any trust in the Israeli position, adding that the resistance would continue until Israel responds to the Palestinian. . .

Palestinians, Israel approve Egypt’s vision on truce: Report
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 5/26/2008
CAIRO, May 26, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) - An Egyptian security source said Monday that the Palestinians and Israel "totally approve Egypt’s vision on a truce between them," the state MENA news agency reported. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is always keen on supporting the Palestinian cause, seeks to gradually lift the blockade on the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip, the well- placed source was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity. The Egyptian vision would help settle protracted issues between the two sides, including the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and Palestinian captives, the source added. Egypt has been exerting efforts to reach a Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire deal that would help put forward the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, but no tangible results have been reached up to now.

Israeli ministers call for wiping out Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli ministers on Sunday called for adopting a strategic decision to eliminate the Hamas Movement and rejected any talks with it, pointing out that the growing strength of Hamas could lead to an increase in the number of casualties in the ranks of IOF troops in case a large-scale military operation was carried out against Gaza. "We refuse negotiations with Hamas and a decision must be taken to eliminate this Movement," the Hebrew radio quoted Haim Ramon, the first deputy of the Israeli premier, as saying. For his part, Yuval Diskin, the director of the general security apparatus Shin Bet, warned Sunday in a report tabled during a cabinet meeting of the growing rocket power of Hamas, saying that it can reach Israeli towns 40 kilometers away from the Gaza borderline. Diskin’s statements contradicted a previous report of Israeli military director Amos. . .

Al-Quds Brigades: We will use new means against Israel, if siege is not lifted
Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Abu Ahmed, the spokesman for Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, warned Monday that the Palestinian resistance would use new means to confront the Israeli occupation if it did not lift its siege on the Gaza Strip and open the crossings. In a press release, the spokesman underlined that the Israeli occupation has two options either to lift the siege or to bear the responsibility for its obstinacy and wait for quality operations never carried out before against its sites and settlements. Commenting on the truce issue, the spokesman highlighted that whether Israel accepted the calm or not, the Palestinian resistance is ready for both options, noting that the resistance would never beg for truce. In another development, the IOF troops assaulted Sunday morning a peaceful march organized by foreign and local activists at the entrance to the. . .

U.S. prof. gives Israeli prize money to Palestinian university
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
The American mathematician David Mumford, co-winner of the 2008 Wolf Foundation Prize in Mathematics, announced upon receiving the award yesterday that he will donate the money to Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, and to Gisha, an Israeli organization that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement. "I decided to donate my share of the Wolf Prize to enable the academic community in occupied Palestine to survive and thrive," Mumford told Haaretz. "I am very grateful for the prize, but I believe that Palestinian students should have an opportunity to go elsewhere to acquire an education. Students in the West Bank and Gaza today do not have an opportunity to do that. "The Wolf Foundation awards prizes of $100,000 each year "to outstanding scientists and artists for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples," its web site says.

US mathematician to give Israel prize money to Palestinians
Middle East Online 5/26/2008
JERUSALEM - US mathematician David Mumford said on Monday he would donate his share of Israel’s Wolf Prize to a Palestinian university and an Israeli human rights group. "Access to education determines how the next generation of Palestinians will grow up, specifically whether potential mathematicians will have the opportunity to join the international community," said Mumford, who was awarded a mathematics award by the Israeli parliament on Sunday. Mumford is a professor at Brown University, and previously worked at Harvard. He said he would give his part of the 100,000 dollars he shares with two other laureates to the Palestinian Bir Zeit university and to Gisha, an Israeli legal centre focused on Palestinian rights. "Mathematics in Israel flourishes today on this high international plane. Its lifeblood is the free exchange of ideas with scholars visiting, teaching, learning from each other, travelling everywhere in the world.

Lebanese officials: Progress in Hizbullah-Israel talks
Reuters, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Political sources say German mediator brokers significant breakthrough in UN-sponsored indirect negotiations over future prisoner exchange - UN-sponsored indirect talks between Israel and Hizbullah over a prisoner exchange have made major progress, Lebanese political sources said on Monday. They said a German mediator held talks with Hizbullah officials in Beirut last week and a breakthrough appeared close. The sources gave no further details. The secretive negotiations are designed to secure the release of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in return for Lebanese and Arab prisoners. The capture of the soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12, 2006, ignited a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah. The UN-appointed German negotiator began his mission in late 2006. Very little has been heard on the talks since.

Abducted soldiers’ families skeptical about Lebanese reports of swap deal
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
Relatives of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two Israeli army reservists abducted by Hezbollah, were not overly excited Mondayby reports from Lebanon about progress in the negotiations for their release, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that Samir Kuntar and other Lebanese prisoners will be released soon. Ehud’s father, Shlomo Goldwasser, responded skeptically to Nasrallah’s speech: "I don’t believe Nasrallah. If the man truly cares about Kuntar and the other prisoners, he would at least allow Red Cross representatives to visit the kidnapped soldiers in Lebanon," he said. Ehud’s wife, Karnit Goldwasser, declined to comment on Nasrallah’s statement, or on an earlier report of progress in the hostage talks, but said that the Israeli government’s point man for the talks, Ofer Dekel, briefs her regularly.

Terror victim’s brother: Samir Kuntar must stay in prison
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
Ron Keren, the brother of Danny Haran who was murdered by Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist who was part of a cell that killed four Israelis after landing in a rubber boat in Nahariya in 1979, on Monday expressed his opposition to a deal with Hezbollah that would include Kuntar’s release, saying that "he was given four life sentences and he must remain in prison. "Kuntar has been imprisoned in Israel since the 1979 attack. Nonetheless, when Haran was asked about kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, currently held by Hezbollah, he said "if they [Goldwasser and Regev] are alive, that’s something different. But it must be noted, that if we release all the Lebanese prisoners, it will leave Israel without a single card to play if we want information on Ron Arad.

Israel offers to free Kuntar in exchange for kidnapped soldiers
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Jerusalem waiting for Hizbullah’s response to proposal relayed by German mediator several weeks ago: Five Lebanese prisoners in return for IDF troops Regev and Goldwasser. In videotaped speech broadcast during Beirut rally, Nasrallah says Kuntar to return to Lebanon soon - Prisoner swap deal about to materialize? Israel has expressed its willingness to free Samir Kuntar, the person responsible for the murder of four members of the Haran family, and four other Lebanese prisoners, in exchange for the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose abduction started the Second Lebanon War. Hizbullah has yet to respond to the offer, but the organization’s leader Hassan Nasrallah hinted Monday evening that "Samir Kuntar and his brothers will soon return to Lebanon. "It appears that the Israeli threat to declare Goldwasser and Regev fallen IDF soldiers

Nasrallah: Kuntar, his brothers to return to Lebanon soon
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Hizbullah secretary-general addresses thousands of people in videotaped message broadcast at Beirut rally marking eight years since IDF’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon. ’The liberation strategy gas proved itself, it has given back the land,’ he says, warning that ’Israel is about to disappear’ - The prisoners are our commitment and Samir Kuntar and his brothers will soon return to Lebanon, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said Monday evening in a videotaped message broadcast at a Beirut rally marking eight years since the Israel Defense Forces’ withdrawal from southern Lebanon. Thousands of people took part in the rally at the Dahiya Quarter, the organization’s stronghold in the southern part of the Lebanese capital. Nasrallah devoted a great part of his speech to the ramifications of the Second Lebanon War.

Shlomo Goldwasser: Nasrallah is a liar
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Kidnapped soldiers’ family members meet with Red Cross representative as Hizbullah leader’s speech is broadcast on television channels. ’We have no indication that progress has been made in the talks on a prisoner swap deal,’ captive’s father says - Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s speech Monday, which included hints on a possible prisoner swap deal, did not stir an emotional response on the part of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers’ families. Shlomo Goldwasser, the father of abducted soldier Ehud Goldwasser, said that the families had no indication or new information on progress being made in the talks between Israel and Hizbullah. The captives’ family members met with a Red Cross representative at the home of kidnapped soldier Eldad Regev in Haifa, as television channels began broadcasting Nasrallah’s videotaped message.

Progress in Israel-Hezbollah prisoner swap talks
Middle East Online 5/26/2008
BEIRUT - Progress has been made in UN-sponsored talks on a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, Lebanese sources involved in the issue said on Monday. "I have been informed of very positive developments within the next 30 days concerning my brother as well as all the other prisoners held in Israel," said Bassam Kantar, the brother of Samir Kantar, the longest serving prisoner. "I have not been given any firm details but there are some encouraging signs," he added. A Lebanese official close to the negotiations said another prisoner by the name of Nessim Nisr was expected to be released soon. He did not give further details. Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Rahal declined comment on the issue. The last prisoner exchange between the Lebanese resistance group and Israel took place in October, with Hezbollah handing over the remains of. . .

Hamas: Liberation of south Lebanon proved success of resistance
Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday said that the liberation of south Lebanon from Israeli occupation in May 2000 at the hands of Lebanese resistance proved success of the resistance option. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press release that the successful Lebanese resistance had preserved higher interests and expelled Israeli occupiers from almost all occupied lands. He said that the Israeli occupation government’s repeated aggressions on Lebanon were meant to uproot resistance and weaken the Lebanese people’s determination but the Lebanese resistance proved its strength in protecting the country’s national interests and in defeating occupation. The anniversary of the Lebanese success affirms to the Palestinian people and resistance that all settlement projects and negotiations with occupation would not bring about any positive result, Barhoum underlined.

Olmert claims predecessors committed to pullback
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 5/26/2008
"Spin-shmin. The talks have been going on quietly for 15 months, which this government knows how to do, with no trumpeting." "We face the cruel dilemma of a greater Israel or a Jewish state. They cannot coexist, and only fantasists and those who cannot grasp reality think otherwise," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today. Olmert slammed his critics over the negotiations with Syria. "Anyone who would sit in my place would understand that these processes must be held with utmost caution, and that secrecy is an essential part of the process. It isn’t always possible to share the issue even with most of the cabinet. My four predecessors as prime minister committed to painful concessions, and no one will put me to the test and ask to see these commitments. They all exist," he said.

MI: Syria continuing to arm Hezbollah despite peace moves with Israel
Shahar Ilan and DPA, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
The head of the Military Intelligence research division Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz on Monday said that Syria was continuing to transfer significant amounts of weapons to the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah. Last week, in a surprise three-way announcement from Jerusalem, Damascus and Ankara, Israel and Syria announced that they were holding indirect peace negotiations under Turkish mediation, the first such talks in eight years. "The weapons are arriving in Lebanon, and then they make their way to the south of the country [to Hezbollah]" Baidatz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Baidatz said that in his view, Syria was not really considering changing its attitude toward Iran, an outspoken opponent of Israel, despite diplomatic contacts with Israel.

Yisrael Beitenu MK supports talks with Syria
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/26/2008
While most on Right have denounced Olmert’s decision to relaunch negotiations with Damascus, MK Hasson gives prime minister unexpected vote of confidence. ’Anyone who dismisses the need for negotiations is mistaken, he says - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has seen nothing but scathing criticism lobbed at him from Opposition parties ever since the renewed negotiations with Syria were revealed. But while Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu asserted Olmert "has no mandate to negotiate on Israel’s behalf," MK Israel Hasson of Yisrael Beitenu broke the Right’s ranks on Monday, stepping forward to strengthen the prime minister. "I support negotiations with Syria," he said, "anyone who can see ahead understands that an agreement with Syria, without discussing the price right now, is clearly in Israel’s interest.

PM: In talks, Israel must keep in mind Syria’s long-range rockets
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
Israel will have to take into consideration the current threats from Syria - long-range rockets and missiles - in its negotiations with Damascus, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet Sunday. He said the country’s security needs had changed since the previous round of talks, when the primary threat from Syria was a ground war. Olmert also said Syria was responsible for making the negotiations public. "The Syrians were those who had an interest in publicizing the talks with Israel, and it was not an Israeli initiative," Olmert told the cabinet. But he said that as in the past, the details of the negotiations would not be made public. The prime minister also said talks would be governed by the principles of the 1991 Madrid conference, which he said represents a broad Israeli consensus.

Olmert: Only delusional fantasists believe in ’Greater Israel’
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Fear of possible military conflict with Syria prompted renewal of negotiations, prime minister reveals at Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee session. ’We must choose between Greater Israel or a Jewish state,’ he says. MK Livnat: Olmert’s words ’delusional for someone at the end of his political rope’ -"Only fantasists can believe that in this day and age, and in the current situation, it is still possible to cling to the vision of ’Greater Israel’ Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. The prime minister participated in the committee’s session to brief them on the resumption of negotiations with Syria and to address criticism of his apparent willingness to cede the Golan Heights as part of a final peace agreement.

MK Eldad: Anyone ceding Israeli territory should be sentenced to death
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) said Monday that "anyone who gives away Israeli territory, under Israel’s law, deserves the death penalty." Eldad spoke after Israel and Syria announced last week that Jerusalem and Damascus had renewed indirect peace talks via Turkey, which sparked speculations that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Syria an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights in the run-up to the announcement. Eldad, speaking at the first meeting of the Golan Lobby at the Knesset Monday, quoted the chapter of the penal code applying to treason, saying "he who purposefully causes any territory to cease being under Israel’s sovereignty or to be under the sovereignty of a foreign country, or any act that results in this, must be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

MK Eldad: He who gives away lands will be sentenced to death
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Right-wing Knesset members slam government at special meeting held by Knesset’s Golan lobby following resumed peace negotiations between Israel, Syria. National Union MK Eldad refers to treason clause in Penal Law. Meretz MK Cohen: Eldad should be probed for incitement. PM’s Office: Eldad, his remarks unworthy of a response - He whose acts remove lands from the State’s territories and from its control will be sentenced to death, Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) said Monday. Eldad spoke during a special meeting of the Knesset’s Golan Heights lobby. He explained that he was referring to "a definition of the treason clause in the Penal Law. "His faction member, MK Effie Eitam, a resident of Moshav Nov in the Golan, noted that "we must make it clear that we are talking about death by a court of law. "Following the remarks, MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said he would file a complaint with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, demanding that MK Eldad be probed for incitement.

Military Intelligence: Syria seeks peace but bolsters Hizbullah
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Head of MI research division, Brigadier-General Yossi Baidatz, tells members of Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Damascus will not change its attitude towards Iran, will continue transferring weapons to Lebanese terror group - The head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brigadier-General Yossi Baidatz, attended the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Monday, and said that Syria was interested in advancing the peace process with Israel. "It is our understanding that the Syrians are interested and want to see the diplomatic process move forward," he told the committee members. Baidatz noted, however, that Damascus was simultaneously working on bolstering the Hizbullah terror organization in Lebanon. "It continued to transfer significant weapons to Hizbullah.

Ahmadinejad stands by Damascus, says Golan talks won’t erode alliance
Farhad Pouladi, Daily Star 5/27/2008
Agence France Presse - TEHRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that he remains confident Iran’s close ally Syria will keep up the struggle against Israel despite its announcement of renewed peace negotiations. "I am sure that the Syrian leadership will manage the situation with wisdom and will not abandon the front line until the complete removal of the Zionist threats," Ahmadinejad told visiting Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani. "So far the cooperation between Iran and Syria in different areas has been beneficial for both sides and our defense ties should be expanded as far as possible," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the president as saying. Turkmani’s visit is the first to Iran by a Syrian official since Syria and Israel announced last Wednesday that they had resumed indirect peace negotiations through Turkish mediators, ending an eight-year freeze.

Iran: Confident Syria will continue to fight Zionists
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 5/26/2008
With Syrian defense minister trying to soothe ruffled feathers in Islamic Republic, Ahmadinejad calls for tighter relations between Tehran, Damascus. Says he knows Syria ’will not abandon front line until Zionist threat removed’ - Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Monday for closer defense ties with Syria, the official IRNA news agency reported, a few days after Israel urged Damascus to distance itself from Tehran." So far Iran’s and Syria’s joint and mutual relations in various fields have been of utmost usefulness and defense relations must expand to the extent possible," he told visiting Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani. The FARS news agency reported that Ahmadinejad told Turkmani that he is "confident the Syrian leadership will handle the arena wisely and not desert the front line of the struggle until all the threats of the Zionist regime are completely removed.

Iranian immigrants warned not to visit homeland
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Following alleged espionage by Iranian-born Israeli, Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants in Israel urges community not to visit Islamic republic despite relatives left behind. Spokesman protests against social stigma surrounding Iranian-born community -"Iranian Jews should give up visiting their homeland," David Mutai, Spokesman of the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants in Israel said Sunday. Mutai believes that Iranian-born Israelis visiting their homeland may create complications for them and for the country as he urges them to stop. At the same time, Mutai protests against the tarnishing of Iranian immigrants to Israel. The news of a 55-year-old Iranian-born Israeli citizen being arrested by Israeli authorities on suspicion of spying for Iran was cleared for publication Sunday.

Israel says Hariri case too weak
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
An international probe into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri has not amassed enough evidence to convict Syrian officials of the murder, Israeli officials believe. A projected international tribunal, if established, will have great difficulty functioning in the shadow of Lebanon’s new government, they said. During the recent violent clashes in Lebanon, Syria reportedly pressured Hezbollah to destroy the power centers of Lebanon’s parliamentary majority and underminePrime Minister Fouad Siniora. By contrast, Iran played a moderating role. A key reason for Syria’s stance was fear that Siniora would support the international tribunal. In the new government, the opposition will hold more than a third of the seats. This means that members from Hezbollah and its allies will be able to sabotage any attempt to cooperate with the ongoing investigation, or with a subsequent trial.

Fatah leaders said to be at odds over performance of Fayyad’s government
Ma’an News Agency 5/26/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah’s Revolutionary Council (RC), one of the main governing bodies of the movement, will continue its 25th meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday amid disagreement about the performance of the caretaker government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. An evaluation of the current government is on the agenda for the third day of the meeting. Fayyad’s critics, who believe the government has not stuck to the Fatah party line, are expected to demand changes in the cabinet. Others are said to support the current cabinet. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appointed the Fayyad Government after firing the Hamas-Fatah unity government last summer following Hamas’ takeover of Gaza. The RC will also be discussing plans for Fatah’s sixth general conference after local elections were concluded in the various regions of the West Bank.

Hamas categorically denies report on scheme to assassinate Fatah leaders
Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday expressed dismay at and categorically denied Maan news agency’s report on a Hamas plot to assassinate Fatah leaders in Egypt. A press release issued by Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, expressed the Movement’s utter dismay at the publication of such fabricated news without referring to official sources to ascertain their authenticity. He said that Hamas was also disappointed at the publication of its name in local media that were supposed to serve the Palestine cause and national entente rather than deepening rifts. Barhoum said that at the current critical stage all media should direct news at exposing occupation crimes and calling for healing the internal Palestinian conditions and ending the siege and oppression befalling Gaza in a bid to rally international support for the Palestine cause.

Talansky to be asked on nature of his relations with Olmert
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Following legal battles and several delays, US businessman suspected of bribing prime minister to take witness stand, give pre-trial deposition - American Businessman Morris Talansky, the key witness in the recent police investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, will take the witness stand Tuesday morning and provide his version regarding the nature of his relations with Olmert during the latter’s tenure as industry, trade and labor minister. Talansky is expected to be asked about these relations in a bid to prove that the prime minister committed the following offenses: Fraud, breach of trust, violation of the Gift Law and perhaps even bribery. Olmert’s lawyers attempted to prevent Talansky’s pre-trial deposition, but failed. The prime minister has already been questioned twice in relation to the affair and police officials have said that additional interrogations will be required.

Ehud Olmert’s lawyers receive Talansky’s bank, credit records
Ofra Edelman and Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
The State Prosecutor’s Office is continuing to send material related to the Talansky affair to the lawyers representing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken. The lawyers received printouts Sunday from accounts held by American businessman fundraiser Morris Talansky at Citibank in the United States, and from his credit-card accounts. The businessman is suspected of transferring to Olmert envelopes containing cash over a period of many years. Receipt of the financial records in the last few days will enable the lawyers to check transactions in Talansky’s accounts and to cross-reference them with his testimony about withdrawals. Talansky was interrogated by the police for a few hours yesterday, ahead of his appearance tomorrow at the Jerusalem District Court.

Peretz: Barak will destroy Labor Party
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/26/2008
Conflict between former, current party chairmen ignites as Peretz attacks Barak for running party like classroom, heading it towards destruction. Barak remains certain Labor can overcome hurdles - Internal conflicts within the Labor Partyare accelerating. Following Knesset Member Ephraim Sneh’s resignation from the Labor Party, former party Chairman Amir Peretz on Monday harshly criticized the party’s conduct and its chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “The Labor Party chairman is running his party like a classroom, which will lead to its destruction. I am fighting to prevent this from happening, since I have worked hard to obtain the party’s 19 mandates sitting here today,” Peretz said bluntly to Barak during the weekly faction meeting. Peretz addressed MK Sneh’s resignation, saying, “It is hard to disregard his departure. Sneh is a well-known figure in Israel, and his socio-democratic outlook is valued by all. ”

Ministry seeks to outlaw bribery of foreign officials
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 5/26/2008
Currently, only bribery of Israeli officials is a crime. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the Ministry of Justice wants to outlaw the bribing of foreign officials, in the same way that bribery of Israeli officials is a crime. A memo of the bill states that the punishment for bribing a foreign official during the conduct of business will be the same as the current applicable punishment for bribing a public official in Israel - 42 months in jail. The Criminal Code currently does not mention the bribery of foreign public officials. Section 291 of the Criminal Code covers the bribery of public officials, while another section of the Criminal Code defines public official as an employee of a corporation that provides a public service. This definition does not cover a foreign public official. The explanation to the memo to the bill states that outlawing the bribery of a foreign official. . .

Druze MK succeeds resigning Sneh
Yuval Karni, YNetNews 5/26/2008
’Labor has yet to fulfill its role in history,’ says new MK Shakib Shanan as he steps in to fill Ephraim Sneh’s seat after latter splinters from Labor. Shanan pledges to advance education, welfare concerns of minority groups -The night of the 2006 elections Shakib Shanan was barely a hair’s breadth from becoming Labor’s 20th MK, only to see eleventh hour voting figures turn the tables and strip the party of the coveted parliament seat. Shanan, 47, suffered an additional blow when the Labor Central Committee chose MK Raleb Majadele over him as minister of science, culture and sport. But with the sudden resignation of MK Ephraim Sneh, who left Labor to establish a new political faction, Shanan will finally join the Knesset ranks. "My focus will be on advancing minority groups, particularly the Druze and the Circassians," Shenan said on Sunday.

In the battle for Kadima, Mofaz to target Livni
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz is pushing for Kadima to hold a primary when the time comes, as he jockeys for position in the party against Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during Ehud Olmert’s legal troubles. "We have over 60,000 members who are expecting to take part in the democratic process," Mofaz said recently at a rally. Mofaz and Livni’s struggle has heated up since Prime Minister Olmert announced that if indicted in the latest corruption investigation, he would resign. Mofaz is careful to speak up for Olmert at rallies, differentiating himself from Livni, whose silence is perceived as undermining the premier. Mofaz wants to prevent Livni from taking the choice of Olmert’s successor to Kadima’s Knesset faction or the Kadima party council, and so a primary, which is stipulated in the party’s charter, is important to him.

Shekel becomes fully convertible
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 5/26/2008
Israel has become an official member of the international CLS clearing system. From this week, the shekel is a convertible currency on capital and money markets worldwide, after Israel was made an official member of the international currency clearing system operated by CLS Bank International. From now on, the Israeli currency is legal tender internationally, meaning that it can be used in trading on markets overseas, with banks everywhere converting shekels into other currencies, and Israeli companies and firms now able to settle payments in shekels either by check or bank transfer to the accounts of their customers overseas. The Mexican peso has also received recognition from CLS. The announcement by CLS said, "Following regulatory approval, the Mexican peso and Israeli shekel have been designated as CLS Bank Settlement Eligible Currencies by the CLS Bank Board of Directors.

High-tech exports drop worries Manufacturers
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 5/26/2008
High-tech exports shrank by 4% in real terms in the first four months of 2008. High-tech exports totaled $5. 25 billion in the first four months of 2008, 4% less than in the same period in 2007, Manufacturers Association of IsraelEconomics Division director Ruby Ginel said today, on the basis of the association’s monthly analysis of export trends. Ginel said that there had not been as sharp a drop as this in exports for five years (since the second quarter of 2003). High-tech exports - which include electronic components, computers, telecommunications, control and monitoring equipment, avionics and pharmaceuticals - have dominated industrial exports in recent years, with 80% of export growth generated by technology-intensive industries. Ginel noted that overall industrial export growth came to a virtual standstill in January-April, rising by just 0.

Bank of Israel raises rate
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 5/26/2008
The interest rate was increased to fight inflation, but by a moderate amount as the central bank still sees a growth slowdown ahead. Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer today raised the interest rate for June by 25 basis points to 3. 5%. Some economists had called for a rate hike of 50 basis points. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the Bank of Israel now believes that inflation will return to within the 1%-3% target range in mid-2009. Today’s decision was reached following a meeting by senior Bank of Israel officials in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, where they were participating in the G-30 meetings held there. The central bank’s announcement discussed conflicting forces impacting on its decision. It referred to a "worsening of the inflation environment", noting that inflation over the last twelve months was 4.

Suleiman prepares for talks on unity government
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 5/27/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Suleiman prepared on Monday to launch consultations this week on forming a national unity government as he began his first full day in office and officially took up residence at Baabda Palace. His office said he would begin consultations with the various blocs in Parliament on Wednesday on forming the new 30-member national unity cabinet. The new cabinet, in which the opposition will have veto power, will replace the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora which six opposition ministers quit in November 2006, sparking an 18-month long political crisis. The deadlock had left the country’s top post vacant for six months and had driven the country toward the brink of renewed civil war. Siniora resigned on Sunday and is now heading a caretaker administration. The new unity government was one of the key points of the deal which the government and the opposition reached in Qatar last week to end the crisis.

Nasrallah vows not to use arms to achieve political goals
Daily Star 5/27/2008
BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowed his group would not use its arms to achieve political gains, and renewed the party’s commitment to preserving Lebanese diversity in a speech on Monday to mark the eight-year anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from most of South Lebanon. "I renew my position today. We do not want to monopolize power in Lebanon and we don’t want to rule the country or impose our thoughts on the people," Nasrallah stressed. The sayyed was speaking by video link to thousands of supporters who had flocked from across Lebanon to the Raya football pitch in the Sfeir region of Beirut’s southern suburbs. Major General Hassan Mohsen represented President Michel Suleiman at the rally, and MP Ali Hassan Khalil represented Speaker Nabih Berri. An array of diplomatic, political and religious also took part.

Lebanon elects president after months of turmoil
Middle East Online 5/26/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanon’s new president Michel Sleiman prepared for his first full day in office Monday after hearing his appeal for unity in the violence-hit country endorsed on all sides by the international community. "Let us unite. . . and work towards a solid reconciliation," the 59-year-old former army chief said after being sworn in following his election by parliament on Sunday. "We have paid dearly for our national unity. Let us preserve it hand-in-hand. " With his election hailed as the start of a new era, nations on different sides of the political divide seemed united in wishing Sleiman well in his mission. The celebrations came just days after a bitter political feud had threatened to plunge the nation into civil war. On Sunday, celebratory shots were fired into the air and fireworks lit up the sky as crowds of people, cheering and waving Lebanese flags, poured into. . .

Lebanon elects head of state
Sam F. Ghattas, Associated Press Writer, The Independent 5/26/2008
Lebanon’s parliament elected a new president yesterday, taking a step to stabilize the country after a long, violent political crisis and ushering in a shift in the balance of power in favor of Iranian-backed Hezbollah. The election of army chief Michel Suleiman brought palpable relief to ordinary Lebanese who feared in recent weeks that their country was in danger of breaking up in another civil war. Celebratory gunfire reverberated across the capital Beirut as the election was announced in the early evening. Glittering fireworks lit the night sky over downtown Beirut a couple hours later as cars formed motorcades and honked their horns. One motorcade was adorned with fluttering Qatari flags and pictures of the emir of Qatar, who brokered the deal last week that ended an 18-month political deadlock between the Hezbollah-led opposition and the Western-backed government.

Lebanon’s new president lauds Hezbollah; wants talks on arms
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanon’s newly elected president praised Hezbollah’s fight against Israel yesterday but also said there needs to be a dialogue over the future of its arsenal, addressing key demands of both the Iranian-backed militants and their political rivals. The speech by consensus candidate Michel Suleiman, shortly after he was sworn in as president, had words to comfort both the Hezbollah-led opposition and the Western-backed government. An Arab-mediated deal reached in Doha, Qatar last week to end Lebanon’s 18-month political crisis was a major victory for Hezbollah and its allies, who got their long-standing demand for veto power over all government decisions. Suleiman called for a close relationship with neighboring Syria, a major state supporter of Hezbollah which dominated Lebanon for almost three decades.

Lebanon: 9 wounded in gunfight between pro-gov’t, opposition supporters
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 5/26/2008
Security officials say at least nine people have been wounded, two seriously, in a gunfight in downtown Beirut between Hizbullah Shiite supporters and pro-government Sunni loyalists. Officials said the two sides traded insults before the shooting Monday night as Hizbullah supporters drove by waving flags and saluting leader Hassan Nasrallah shortly after he finished giving a speech. Officials said the army deployed in the area after the shooting to prevent further clashes. [end]

IAEA suggests Iran may be withholding evidence
Associated Press, YNetNews 5/26/2008
UN nuclear watchdog report says Tehran continues to deny it is trying to make nuclear arms, dismissing evidence to the contrary as misleading or false - Iran may be withholding information needed to establish whether it tried to make nuclear arms, the International Atomic Energy said Monday in an unusually strongly worded report. The tone of the language suggesting that Tehran continues to stonewall the agency "” the UN nuclear monitor "” revealed a glimpse of the frustration felt by IAEA investigators stymied in their attempts to gain full answers to suspicious aspects of Iran’s past nuclear activities. Iran has described its cooperation with the IAEA probe of its alleged nuclear weapons experiments as positive, suggesting it was providing information requested by agency officials. Indirectly disagreeing, the agency also said that Iran continued to deny. . .

Syrian rights groups fear for detained dissident
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/27/2008
DAMASCUS: Syrian human rights groups Monday called on the authorities to shed light on the fate of an author and opposition figure arrested earlier this month and to set him free. "Habib Saleh disappeared on May 7 after being arrested by security forces in Tartus as he was walking in the town’s market. His fate and place of detention are unknown," the groups said in a joint statement. They demanded immediate news about Saleh’s whereabouts as well as his release, and expressed "deep concern at the increase in arbitrary arrests and disappearances. "Syria has detained more than a dozen dissidents in recent months. The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, the Syrian League for the Defense of Human Rights and the Organization of Human Rights in Syria all signed the statement. Saleh had been under police surveillance since his release from jail in September 2007.


A change needs to come
Avigail Abarbanel, Electronic Intifada 5/26/2008
      Earlier this month I had the privilege of hearing Ali Abunimah speak at a dinner organized by an Australian pro-Palestinian activist group. Abunimah, an author and a co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, is a supporter of the one-state solution in Palestine/Israel, and so am I. One democratic and secular state for both peoples with a right of return for the Palestinian refugees is the only just solution to the long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Abunimah is optimistic about what is possible. I would like to be as optimistic but am not so sure I can.
     Growing up as an Israeli provided me with an intimate understanding of Israeli-Jewish psychology. Ever since I can remember, we in Israel were told that Jews have nowhere else to go because the world didn’t like Jews. Seventeen years ago, when my former husband and I were about to migrate to Australia, most of the people we knew were dismayed by our decision. I was told by many that I was making a big mistake. My father’s heart surgeon for example, was in complete shock when he heard our news. He took me aside and said that he did not understand how I could leave; that he would never be prepared to live anywhere where there might be even one anti-Semite alive. Like many others he believed that Jews can only safely live in Israel.

The Call is Palestinian, but the Decision is Israeli!

Nadia Hasan, Palestine Think Tank 5/26/2008
      The 60 years of Israeli Occupation of Palestine and other areas of the Arab Homeland puts constant pressure in a direct way upon the daily lives of the Palestinian people. Walls and fences, checkpoints and block roads, closure and siege are just some of the elements that exert devastating effect on the Palestinian economy. The major cause of the Palestinian economic crisis is closure "• the imposition by the Government of Israel of restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods across borders and within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territory that Palestinians have "nominal" control over.
     According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, as much as $2.4 billion in United States currency has drained out of the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip thanks to closures, mass unemployment, and the flattening and destruction of most infrastructure by Israeli tanks and helicopters.
     The report said that the damage is so extensive that it could prove impossible to fix, regardless of when - or whether - peace is restored. The profound changes that have taken place in the functioning of the economy are unlikely to be easily reversed even if stability is attained. Almost half the population is living on an income below the UN’s own poverty threshold of $2 a day.

Salam Fayyad’s cynical party

Adri Nieuwhof, Electronic Intifada 5/26/2008
      The Palestine Investment Conference held from 21 until 23 May in Bethlehem has incited broad resistance from Palestinian popular organizations. In his invitation to investors appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wrote, "We are throwing a party and the whole world is invited." The organizers performed a tour de force by putting "Revitalizing Gaza" on the agenda of the conference, explicitly excluding a debate on political issues. It is obvious that ordinary Palestinians, who are battling every day with the endless rigorous Israeli occupation, will find it hard to relate to this "festive occasion" heavily advocated by the Quartet and its Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, the Portland Trust and various other donors.
     For the occasion the (PA) deployed 2,000 security personnel in Bethlehem during the conference. According to the Alternative Information Center, based in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the PA ensured that Fayyad and Blair’s party would not be spoiled by "the extensive Palestinian grassroots opposition and cynicism towards the conference. Local groups in the Bethlehem area were explicitly told to not organize protests or ’there would be problems.’

When it comes to Israel, Europe is hypocritical, submissive and obsequious

Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah, Palestinian Information Center 5/26/2008
      In comparison to the  madman in the White House, Europe may look less bellicose, less confrontational and less unreasonable in its overall approach to contentious international issues.
     However,  when the issue is the  Palestinian plight, the US and Europe look very much like tweedledee and tweedledum.
     In recent months and years, European leaders from Germany’s Merkel, to France’s Sarkozy, to Britain’s Brown and Italy’s Berlusconi  were shamelessly  pandering to Israeli savagery  to the extent of embracing relentless Israeli criminality against the Palestinian people , including the ongoing  genocidal ethnic cleansing in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
     True, the European tone of speech often sounds  less odious  especially when compared with the unmitigated saber-rattling coming from Washington. But, in the final analysis,   the outcome in both cases is similar. In fact, the US and Europe collaborate and even collude  to effect the same unethical  goals often by playing  the old game of Mutt and Jeff (good cop and bad cop), with their persecuted victims, whether in Palestine, Sudan or Iran.

With Israel becoming key issue in US presidential and congressional campains, perhaps it is time to hold an ''Israel Primary Day''

Sami Jamil Jadallah, Palestine Think Tank 5/26/2008
      With US presidential candidates stumbling over each other to prove their loyalty to Israel and hence their worthiness to the Jewish voters, with McCain willing to commit the US to a 100 years war against the "infidels" in the Middle East and those who are at odd with Israel. With Hillary Clinton pledging to "obliterate" Iran out of the face of the earth in any war with Israel promising to use US nuclear arsenal to do that with subsequent and potential danger of causing the death of hundred of millions around the world.
     With Barak Obama prostrating so low to convince reluctant Jewish voters in Florida that someone with a name like Barak Hussein Obama with Black skin is not a "closet" Muslim and can be a solid friend of Israel and with Israel and support for Israel almost taken the priority in this elections, perhaps it is time for both the Republican .and Democratic parties to hold special “Israel’s Primary Day” to give Israel the priority it deserve while keeping America and American issues in mind. This way candidate can dispense with the issue of Israel and concentrate on other major issues facing American electorate.

Peace Process: Has Annapolis Lost its Appeal?

Ben White, MIFTAH 5/26/2008
      They are a rare breed, but you can still find them, in positions of political power and newspaper opinion pages. Their motives are mixed, but they have one thing in common; they are optimistic about the Israeli-Palestinian Annapolis peace process. For some, their job requires them to paint a rosy picture about the international community’s ‘peace process’. For others, there is a blind naivety that perhaps this time, the speeches and announcements might actually amount to a positive change. Some of these optimists, desperate to protect Israel from critique and sanction, are compelled to suggest the ‘two sides’ are on the verge of a ‘breakthrough compromise’.
     Last week, there was an instructive lesson about the role of the international community (i.e. the US and the Quartet) in the peace process, as Israel celebrated 60 years of statehood and the Palestinians marked the Nakba. President Bush and Quartet Envoy Tony Blair both spoke publicly in Israel, the former in the Knesset, and the latter in less-trumpeted remarks to the media. By holding up the two together, a way of understanding the current peace process emerges.

Escaping Forwards

Uri Avnery, Middle East Online 5/26/2008
      The Germans call it "die Flucht nach vorne" - escaping forwards. When the situation is desperate, attack! Instead of retreating, advance!
     When there is no way out, storm ahead!
     This method was successful in 1948. At the end of May, the Egyptian army was advancing on Tel Aviv. We - a very, very thin line of soldiers - were all that stood in its way. So we attacked. Again and again and again. We suffered heavy losses. But we stopped the Egyptian advance.
     Now Ehud Olmert is applying the same method. His situation is desperate. Most people in Israel do not doubt that he has received large bribes in envelopes stuffed with dollars. The Attorney General is liable to indict him any time, and this will compel him to resign.
     And lo and behold, at the most critical moment, just before the most damning details come out, a joint statement is issued simultaneously in Jerusalem, Damascus ...

Meet the Lebanese Press: Deal struck in Doha

Hicham Safieddine, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 5/26/2008
      The Lebanese are deal-struck: in one day, their parliamentarians were to ratify decisions agreed upon in Doha, Qatar that will lead to the installment of a new president, the formation of a national partnership government, and the holding of parliamentary elections in one year’s time under a resurrected electoral law of the 1960s with some amendments. The speed and suddenness of the deal were a direct consequence of the change in the balance of power on the ground in the wake of the Hizballah military operation that exposed the weakness of the loyalist camp. While many issued a big sigh of relief that a return to Lebanon’s recent warring history had been averted, at least in the short run, big questions of the full implications of the Doha accord remain a subject of analysis and speculation in the press. The Doha settlement addressed little of the core issues at the heart of the conflict, namely the fate of Hizballah’s arms and the future policy of the country vis-a-vis the larger conflict in the Middle East between the pro- and anti-US camps.
     Instead, the accord was primarily yet another readjustment of the sectarian balance of power that takes place periodically in the country to accommodate the changing political strengths of the different sects, which is only possible under international consent (the fact that this Sunday’s "election" of the new president turned into an internationally-attended ceremony is testimony to that.

Israel’s Game of Assassination

Stuart Littewood, MIFTAH 5/26/2008
      Some readers will remember the 1969 film The Assassination Bureau, a tongue-in-cheek romp based on Jack London’s unfinished novel. The setting is the turn of the century a hundred years ago, a fanciful time for regime change and the purging of corrupt monarchs and cruel tyrants. The Bureau’s hit team is for hire provided that Ivan Dragomiloff, founder and mastermind, deems the targeted killing "socially justifiable" and there’s proof of the candidate’s misdeeds.
     Eventually, however, the moral rectitude of the enterprise gives way to financial greed, and the day comes when the Bureau accepts a mission to eradicate an unnamed but prominent public figure. The fee is paid in advance, proof supplied, job accepted… then the name is revealed. The target is Dragomiloff himself. The Assassination Bureau cannot go back on its word and Dragomiloff finds himself pitted against the killing machine he himself created and perfected...
     Assassination is the targeted killing of persons usually for political or ideological (and often insane) motives. This is OK, but not OK.