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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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
27 May 2008


East Jerusalem home demolitions slated for Monday, demonstrations held in protest
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 5/27/2008
Jerusalem - Under the slogan "No to the Policy of Home Demolition’No to the Policy of Judaizing Jerusalem," the Fateh movement is organizing demonstrations in solidarity with East Jerusalem families. Israeli forces are demolishing two homes today, and have handed out dozens of notices for destruction throughout East Jerusalem, while hundreds have been rendered homeless in the past several years with the number on the rise since the beginning of 2008. The Abassi family home was demolished in East Jerusalem’s A-Tur on Wednesday. Badr Jamjoum and Sami Maslamani are under direct threat. The families provided a detailed explanation of the events leading to the destruction in East Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina. The houses were rented from the Islamic Waqf in 1997 and the lease is renewed annually. But the Israeli Magistrate Court claimed that it was state land.

30 injured as Israeli army attacks protest in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 5/27/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - On Tuesday, 27th May, approximately 500 residents from the village of Ni’lin and Al Midya in the Ramallah governorate, as well as international and Israeli activists, converged in Al Midya to protest against the construction of Israel’s illegal apartheid wall (also commonly referred to as the annexation wall), which will steal yet more of the villages’ lands and effectively turn their villages into a prison. After the great success of stopping construction work the previous Friday, activists marched enthusiastically up the hill towards the bulldozers, which were surrounded by razor wire and two lines of Israeli soldiers. Once protesters were approximately 30 metres away, soldiers began firing rubber-coated steel bullets, and launched a barrage of tear gas, utilising a jeep-mounted tear gas launcher, capable of firing 30 canisters of tear gas at once.

UN: 94% of W. Bank construction denied
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 5/27/2008
In the past seven years, Israel has denied 94 percent of Palestinian requests for building permits in West Bank areas under its full control, a UN agency said in a report Tuesday. During the same period, Israel demolished more than 1,600 Palestinian-owned structures in those areas, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The report also stated that more than 3,000 Israeli demolition orders are pending against Palestinian-owned structures in those areas. Ten small communities are at risk of being almost entirely displaced by demolitions, the agency claimed. The UN report studied building permits and demolitions in Area C, or the 61 percent of the West Bank where Israel retains full administrative control. Palestinians have greater administrative control in the remaining areas of the West Bank. The Civil Administration, which issues building permits and demolition orders, said the demolition orders are almost always issued early in cases of illegal construction, but are often ignored. Spokesman Maj. Peter Lerner said Israel has approved plans that would allow the construction of hundreds of homes, and that more such approvals are being considered. -- See also: Slideshow of the week

Abbas meets with Hamas leaders
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with officials from the rival Hamas movement in the Presidential compound (the Muqata’a) in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, reliable Palestinian sources said. The Hamas delegation delivered a letter from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails calling for unity. According to the source, the delegation included former Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Addin Ash-Sha’ir, Sheikh Hamid Al-Beitawi and Samir Abu ’Eisha. The meeting was the first of its kind since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip last June, routing the Palestinian Authority’s security forces and beginning nearly a year of internal Palestinian division. The meeting comes just days after rival Lebanese factions ended their political deadlock through signing a reconciliation in Qatar.

Avoidable Tragedies: The Continuing Deaths of Gazan Patients
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 5/27/2008
Ramallah, 27-05-08: Seven patients "“ including three newborn children - have died in Gaza in less than a week as a direct result of Israel’s ongoing, devastating siege on the Strip. Twenty-two-year-old leukaemia sufferer, Mohammad Amawi, became the 167th Gazan patient to die today. Mohammad’s father spent nearly US$ 80,000 dollars on treatment for his son in hospitals inside Israel since Mohammad was diagnosed with cancer of the blood. Mohammad was scheduled to visit the hospital in Israel on Sunday, 25 May to receive further treatment, but was prevented from exiting the Strip due to the closure of the Erez Crossing. He suffered severe blood loss and loss of vision, and died at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City today. His death came the same day as three newborn children: 10-day-old Hashim Sbeiha, and one-week-old twins, Fayza and Sijoud Al-Farrah.

Narratives under siege: Eighteen years of work destroyed in less than four hours
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 5/27/2008
‘They came at four in the morning, with two bulldozers, and they left before 8am. I own this chicken farm with my three brothers, and we worked day and night for eighteen years to build up our business. The Israelis destroyed everything in less then four hours. ’ Nasser Jaber’s chicken farm was bulldozed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) ten days ago, in the early morning hours of May 16, while he was sleeping at home in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. He still looks stunned. Wearily he guides us round the ruins of his eighteen-year business. ‘This was a lifetime project for me and my brothers’ he says as we clamber over rubble, wire, shattered sheets of metal and thousands of putrefying chickens. ‘I have never belonged to any political faction, and I have never been to jail. I don’t know why they did this.

Israel set to tear down scores of Palestinian homes
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/28/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Thousands of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank risk being displaced as the Israeli authorities threaten to tear down their homes and in some cases entire communities, a UN agency said on Wednesday. "To date, more than 3,000 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank have pending demolition orders, which can be immediately executed without prior warning," the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report. "At least 10 small communities throughout the West Bank are at risk of being almost entirely displaced due to the large number of pending demolitions orders," OCHA added. Most of the orders were issued because there were no construction permits, which Israeli authorities only seldom grant to Palestinians. The buildings are located in so-called Area C, which makes up more than 60 percent of the Occupied West Bank and which is under full Israeli control.

Israeli troops violently disperse anti-wall protest in Nil’in
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Several Palestinian civilians, including journalists, were injured when Israeli troops forcibly dispersed a demonstration against the separation wall in the West Bank village of Nil’in, near Ramallah, on Tuesday. The spokesperson of the Popular Committee for resisting the separation wall in Ni’lin, Salah Khawaja, said that Israeli troops used tear gas, live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, water cannons, rifle butts and clubs to break up the peaceful demonstration. Khawaja added that several people were arrested. International and Israeli solidarity activists participated in the rally. The Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), a Palestinian political party that participated in the demonstration, said that some 50 soldiers and more than 10 military jeeps were deployed to attack the unarmed demonstrators.

Israeli forces arrest one Palestinian and assault activists protesting settlement expansion in Bil’in
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinians in the West Bank village of Bil’in, together with international and Israeli activists, protested the expansion of the illegal Matityahu East settlement on Monday while Israeli settlers installed six mobile homes on the villagers’ land. Iyad Burnat, of the Bil’in Committee Against the Wall and Settlement Construction, said that villagers noticed the construction activity early on Monday morning, when settlers protected by Israeli military personnel began installing the caravans on the villagers’ land. The village of Bil’in, located in the Ramallah district, is cut off from its agricultural land by the separation wall. On Monday villagers tried to reach their land in order to stop the settlers from placing the mobile homes, but Israeli troops prevented them from passing through a gate in the wall.

The Israeli army steals historical artifact from the northern part of the West Bank
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
Palestinian sources reported on Tuesday that the Israeli antiquities department under the protection of the Israeli army stole a stone coffin from the village of Sabastya, located near the city of Nablus in the northern part of the West Bank. Sebastya village has archaeological sites that date back 3000 years, including artifacts from the Canaanite, Roman, Byzantine, Phoenician and Islamic periods. Dergham Farees, from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Nablus, told IMEMC that the Israeli antiquities department along with the Israeli army started digging a site in the village last Wednesday and they finished on Monday of this week. Witnesses told media that the army has removed a stone coffin with symbols on it, and then took it away. Farees told IMEMC that the army and the Israeli government used the fact that the Palestinian village is located in area. . .

Dozens wounded in confrontation with IOF troops in Na’lin
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- More than thirty citizens and journalists were wounded in the confrontations in Na’lin village west of Ramallah city on Tuesday between IOF troops and citizens angered over confiscation of their lands. Eyewitnesses said that two journalists were among the wounded in addition to tens of locals and international sympathizers. They added that three of the wounded were in "serious conditions" and were carried to Ramallah government hospital. They added that the soldiers detained more than ten young men and released eight of them later but took away two named Mohammed and Jamal Kenaan. The village went on a large-scale commercial strike at noon Tuesday to protest the bulldozing of vast areas of their lands at the hands of the Israeli occupation authority to establish the separation wall between the village and the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948.

Construction of Wall in Ni’lin ''Deepening Israel’s Apartheid System in Palestine''
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 5/27/2008
Ramallah, 26-05-08: "The further expansion and consolidation of Israel’s Apartheid system in Palestine," is how Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the PNI, today described the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of the Apartheid Wall in the village of Ni’lin, some 5 kilometres inside the Green Line. A peaceful demonstration by Palestinians, internationals and Israelis against construction of the Wall on village lands is currently underway in Ni’lin, and has been met with heavy violence by the Israeli military. Some 50 soldiers, 10 military jeeps, and a special jeep to launch up to 24 tear gas canisters at one time have been deployed in the area, and soldiers are shooting tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated bullets at the peaceful and unarmed demonstrators. A number of people have been injured, including a Canadian woman who experienced breathing problems after being caught in a fog of tear gas.

Human rights organization condemns detention of 2 journalists in Gaza City
Palestine News Network 5/27/2008
PNN - The Palestinian Center for Human Rights with offices in Gaza City and Jabaliya Refugee Camp issued a condemnation of the continual targeting of journalists, not just by Israeli forces, but by the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority. This issue arose because the Hamas government’s police in Gaza City suspected that Samir Khalifa had returned to work with the Palestinian Authority’s Palestine TV. The PCHR text follows. PCHR strongly condemns the detention of journalist Samir Khalifa, Sudan TV Correspondent, and Ramattan cameraman Ahmad El-Ras by Police in Gaza City. The Centre stresses that the right to freedom of expression and exchange of information are basic rights guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments. The Center’s preliminary investigation and the testimony of Samir Khalifa indicate that at approximately 15:00. . .

Israeli military court sentences Palestinian to 15 years for brigades affiliation
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - The Israeli Military Court in Salem on Monday sentenced 23-year-old Ahmad ’Ezzat Abu Tabeekh from Tulkarem to fifteen years in prison on charges of being affiliated to the Al-Aqsa brigades, Fatah’s military wing. Abu Tabeekh was arrested on 3 Novemeber 2006 in Tulkarem. He is currently being held in Majiddo prison.

Israeli forces ransack home of Palestinian journalist in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the home of Palestinian journalist Nayifin the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday morning. Hashlamoun was not at home when the raid happened but the Israeli troops handed a letter to his son demanding that Hashlamoun turn himself over to Israeli intelligence for interrogation. Hashlamoun told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers broke down the front door before ransacking his house.

VIDEO: Jerusalem camera catches brutal attack by Jewish teens on Arab youths
Uri Blau Haaretz Correspondent, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Dozens of Jewish teens were caught on camera outside a Jerusalem mall carrying out a brutal attack on two Arab youths on Holocaust Remembrance Day earlier this month. Some two weeks ago, indictments were filed against 11 youths, eight of them minors, suspected of having perpetrated the attack in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood. According to the indictment, the boys responded to a message on the ICQ instant messaging internet program calling for "Jewish blood" to "put an end to Arabs running around the Pisga. "According to the indictment, the Jewish teens gathered outside the local shopping center armed with knives, sticks and bats and attacked two Arab teens, aged 16 and 18, from the nearby Shuafat refugee camp. One of the Arab youths, Ahmed Abu Camal, was stabbed in the back, but managed to escape.

Israeli military court extends detention of Palestinian prisoners
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – The Salem Israeli military court has extended the detention period of six prisoners from Jenin, Qalqilia and Tulkarem districts on charges of affiliation to Islamic Jihad, a lawyer from the Jenin office for following up on prisoners affairs said on Tuesday. The office said in a statement that the detention of Abdullah ’Ubaid from Jenin was extended to July 16 2008; that of Luay Sati from Tulkarem was extended to July 29 2008. The detention of Qusay Wishahi from Jenin, Tal’at Shawahna from Silat Al-Harithiyy and Majd Hourani from Qalqilia was extended to July 12 2008. The detention of Muhammad Abu ’Uda from Qabatia was extended to July 21 2008.

Israeli military checkpoint in Nablus takes on look of border crossing
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 5/27/2008
Nablus -- Huwara Checkpoint in Nablus is being extended and converted from a barrier checkpoint into a terminal, as occurred at Ramallah’s Qalandiya Checkpoint. These West Bank checkpoints, including Bethlehem’s 300, are being converted into what appear as border crossings; another notch in the onging rewriting of boundaries which will become de-facto borders. Several days ago Israeli bulldozers began to destroy lands to the north where cars are now put to wait. Last year the checkpoint began to change, with people forced to walk through tunnel of chain link fence. This barrier controls the movement of Palestinians within the West Bank to the south and central areas. Palestinian officials, while pointing out that its own security forces have been running smoothly in the city for two years, have stated repeatedly that Israeli checkpoints are not for Israeli. . .

Poster child of nonviolent resistance takes severe blow
Palestine News Network 5/27/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- In spite of years of persistent nonviolent resistance, the village of Bi’lin is still under fire, and it is getting hotter. Israeli settlers and soldiers began moving in the trailers that signal the beginning of any settlement or expansion, all of which directly contravene international law. On Monday residents of the western Ramallah village tried to reach their land in order to stop the settlers, however the soldiers prevented their movement toward the Wall. Among those from the Local Committee again the Wall and Settlement Construction is Iyad Bumat who reported yesterday that a group of local nonviolent resistance activists remained overnight in the area, attempting to stop the settlers once again by blocking the path of the trailers, trucks and land destruction. The Israeli government is increasing, not decreasing, settlement activity with the. . .

Border Police hurt 16 activists near Na’alin separation fence
Yuval Azulay, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli peace activists gathered near the separation fence in the West Bank village of Na’alin to protest the construction of the security barrier. According to the demonstrators, Border Police troops who arrived on the scene fired tear gas and rubber-tipped bullets at them, wounding 16 people, including four who were taken to a Ramallah hospital for medical treatment. Despite this, the demonstration held strong for two hours. This is the fifth anti-separation fence rally held in Na’alin within the past two weeks, and activists say more protests are scheduled for the coming days. An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said that after the protesters entered the closed military zone and throw stones at the stationed Border Police troops, they took action to disburse the demonstration and arrested two of the activists.

Israeli army injures seven Palestinians and kidnaps another eight from Qalqilia city
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli army has injured eight civilians and kidnapped another eight so far during an ongoing military operation targeting the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Tuesday. Army jeeps and a bulldozer invaded the down town Qalqilia city in the early hours of Tuesday morning; troops opened fire randomly at residents’ homes, and started to conduct a house-to-house search campaign. Witnesses said that local youth gathered near the attacked area and hurled stones at the invading troops, soldiers responded with tear gas and live rounds, eight were injured by the army fire, among them Mo’ath Abu Hamed, who sustained critical wounds in the face. Security sources in the city told IMEMC that by Tuesday afternoon, the Israeli army has kidnapped eight civilians. The sources added that the army operation is still on going.

Israeli forces detain ten civilians across the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - the Israeli forces detained ten Palestinians early on Tuesday morning across the West Bank. Israeli sources said that Israeli army forces detained ten of "wanted" activists in Nablus, Qalqilia, the outskirts of Bethlehem outskirts the Hebron district, namely Beit Fajjar, As-Samou’, Bani Nu’eim and Yatta, confirming that all the detainees were transferred to interrogation centers.

Five arrested, eight injured in Israeli raid in Qalqilia
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Qalqilia - Ma’an – Israeli forces stormed schools, stores, and residential buildings during a military operation in the West Bank city of Qalqilia on Tuesday afternoon, arresting five people and injuring eight. Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli forces detained Yasser Mohammad ’Aref Nofal, Mohammad Akram Shreim, Abdallah ’Azzam Da’oud, a member of the Preventive Security force, Mohammad Isma’il Badra, a member of the National Security force, and Haitham Ghaleb Al-Aqra’. Israeli troops raided the Al-Khansaa’ and Abu ’Ali Iyad schools, and stormed a residential building in the Shreim neighborhood in the west of the city. All the building’s residents were herded into one apartment while the soldiers ransacked the rest of the apartments and arrested 24-year-old Mohammad Shreim. Palestinian sources said that around 35 military vehicles were deployed in various neighborhoods of the city.

Israeli naval forces detain 10 Palestinian fishermen on Rafah shores
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
The Israeli naval forces detained on Tuesday morning 10 Palestinian fishermen, while on board on Rafah shores to the south of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources reported. Witnesses said that Israeli naval boats intercepted fishing boats on board of Rafah shores earlier on Tuesday morning then arrested ten of them, taking them to unknown destination. Israeli naval attacks on Palestinian fishermen have recently increased in the coastal region as Israel enforces a crippling closure on the coastal territory since June of last year. Palestinian sources estimate that there are 4600 Gaza families who earn living through fishing.

IOF gunboats kidnap six Palestinian fishermen
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The agriculture ministry in the PA caretaker government in Gaza on Tuesday said that Israeli gunboats at dawn Tuesday kidnapped six Palestinian fishermen while working at sea off the coasts of Gaza. Dr. Hassan Azzam, director of fisheries, said in a press release that the gunboats attacked and fired at the Palestinian fishermen before kidnapping six of them. He noted that the fishermen were very near to the beach, and added that they were taken to an unknown location and their whereabouts is still unknown. The agriculture official held the Israeli occupation authority fully responsible for the lives of those fishermen and lashed out at the repeated Israeli assaults on Palestinian fishermen. Azzam asked the legal and human rights organizations to pressure the Hebrew state into allowing the Palestinian fishermen to practice their work without further harassment especially at the present fishing season.

Israeli naval forces seize six fishermen in Rafah
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Israeli forces seized six fishermen on Tuesday off the coast of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Hassan ’Azzam, the director of the Department of Fish Resources in Gaza said Israeli gunboats fired at the fishing vessels close to the Rafah shore, then arrested six of the fishermen, including Hassan ’Ali Abu ’Ouda, Mohammad Raja’ Abu Salmiya, Mohammad Abu ’Ouda, Yousef Khalifa and Fadel Abu Shalouf. The sixth arrestee could not be identified. ’Azzam condemned what he called "frequent" Israeli attacks on fishermen.

Patient no. 167 dies in Gaza due to the Israeli blockade
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
One more Palestinian patient died on Tuesday after having been denied access treatment outside of the Gaza Strip, raising the death toll of such patients to 167. The spokesman of the Popular Committee for breaking up the siege, Rami Abdo, declared today that Mohammad Alimawi, 22, of the eastern Gaza city neighborhood of Shiejaiya, died of a chronic disease at a Gaza hospital. Abdo explained that this latest dead patient had received treatment for a ’blood cancer’ at an Israeli hospital several months ago and that he needed regular check ups, however he was unable to go back to where he was first hospitalized. Alimawi was supposed to head a couple of days ago to Israel, yet his access was delayed by the Israeli army, causing him severe bleeding, until he died at the Gaza hospital of Alshifa on Tuesday. Earlier, Abdo announced the death of an infant, after his access to. . .

Twelve Gazan patients sent to Israeli hospitals, 24 return from Egypt
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel allowed 12 Gazan patients to exit to Israel for medical treatment, Palestinian medical sources in the de facto health ministry in the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday. Twenty four others were also permitted to re-enter the Gaza Strip after receiving medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals. Muawiyya Hassanain, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian health ministry affirmed that the 12 patients left Gazathrough the Erez crossing at Beit Hanoun along with their 12 attendants. Hassanain also said that the Egyptian authorities allowed 24 Gazan patients to return to the Gaza Strip after being hospitalized in Egypt.

One third of those banned from travel for treatment are children
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege stated Monday that 31 percent of Gaza patients whose travel for medical treatment abroad was not approved by the IOA for flimsy security pretexts are children under age 15.   In a press conference, Rami Abdo, the spokesman for the committee, said that this percentage does not include hundreds of patients who did not apply for medical treatment outside Gaza because they already know that Israel would reject their requests. Abdo cited the suffering of a two-year-old Palestinian girl called Farah Al-Sawwaf who has a tumor in her right kidney and her application for treatment abroad was not approved yet by the IOA. The spokesman also pointed to the suffering of another two-year-old child called Mohamed Bulbul who had the same serious disease of Farah, but he now urgently needs to receive radiotherapy within 10 days after he underwent surgery days ago or else he will die.

Israeli siege raises its victims to 167 after death of cancer patient
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- As a result of the Israeli restrictions imposed on travel for medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip, a 22-year-old Palestinian young man called Mohamed Al-Ammawi died Tuesday of blood cancer; thus, his death raised the siege victims to 167 patients. Rami Abdo, the spokesman for the popular committee against the siege, stated that the young man’s father spent about $80,000 on his son’s treatment after he sold all his property, but the Israeli closure of crossings led to the death of his son. The father explained that his son underwent surgery in an Israeli hospital months ago after he had leukemia and was supposed to go back on Sunday for a routine checkup, but the Israeli closure of crossings delayed him for one day resulting in the deterioration of his health and then his death. Earlier on the same day, the popular committee announced the death of a ten-day-old. . .

OPT: Physicians for Human Rights - Israel update
Physicians for Human Rights - PHR, ReliefWeb 5/27/2008
1. In a hearing yesterday, the Israeli High Court of Justice upheld the decision of the GSS to prevent the exit of a majority of thirteen cases in need of lifesaving medical care outside the Gaza Strip. In its reasoning, the Court has continued to rely on the ‘shuttles’ mechanism as a solution, despite the fact that is currently not functioning. 2. GSS takes advantage of patient’s distress; lures cancer patient from Gaza to undergo interrogation at Erez crossing and arrests him there. High Court petition on thirteen patients - In a hearing regarding 13 petitions submitted by PHR-Israel to the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ), held yesterday afternoon (26. 5. 08), the judges decided not to intervene in the decision of the GSS (General Security Service, shabac) to deny life-saving care to patients from Gaza, and to leave them in Gaza with no treatment.

Rights monitor: W. Bank, Gaza governments violate human rights in quest for control
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - The rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza are increasingly violating human rights in their territories in a quest for control, a Palestinian human rights group said Tuesday. The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights said it has received more than 2,000 citizens’ complaints about human rights violations in 2007, or double the number in the previous year. Two-thirds of the complaints came from the West Bank, commission officials told reporters. The group presented highlights from its 2007 report but said the full text would only be available later. In June 2007, the Islamic militant Hamas seized control of Gaza by force, and in response, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas established a separate West Bank government of moderates.

Rights commission presses Abbas on torture, other concerns
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Hebron - Ma’an – The Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights is concerned about the growth of what it calls a "police system" in which security concerns outweigh human rights in the Palestinian Authority (PA), the commission’s thirteenth annual report says. The commission delivered its report to the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, on Tuesday morning. The General Commissioner of the organization, Dr. Mamdouh Al-’Eker discussed the concerns raised in the report with Abbas. Al-’Eker also talked about the increase in arbitrary detentions and military trials of civilians, a practice he says contravenes the Palestinian Basic Law and other Palestinian laws. Al-’Eker also expressed concern regarding the increasing number of reports of torture and abuse in the Palestinian Authority’s detention centers.

Jailed Palestinian lawmakers urge Arab League and Qatar to press for Palestinian national reconciliation
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Palestinian lawmakers detained in Israeli jails on Tuesday released a message from their prison cells calling on the Arab League and Qatar to increase their efforts for national reconciliation between rival factions Hamas and Fatah. The lawmakers, imprisoned in Megiddo, Ofer, and Nitsan Prisons, stressed that reconciliation between the two factions should be based on the higher interests and principles of the Palestinian people. "The occupation’s aggressive measures of killing and arresting Palestinians, demolishing houses, building more settlements and Judaising Jerusalem are a collective attack on us, and should motivate us as Palestinians to fulfill our responsibilities in this sensitive stage of the Palestinian people’s development," the prisoners stated in a message delivered through a lawyer of the Nafha Association for Defending Prisoners and Human Rights.

Hamas calls on Arab states to pressure Abbas to agree to national dialog
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has called on the Arab countries to exercise their role in pressuring PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to accept comprehensive national dialog away from the Zio-American dictates and his impracticable preconditions. Mohamed Nasr, a member of the Hamas political bureau, stressed the importance of the Arab role in ending the inter-Palestinian division, underlining that the Palestinian file seems to be more complicated than the Lebanese file because there is a party which refuses dialog and imposes unattainable conditions, so this requires more pressures on the PA to respond to national dialog. Premier of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Al Thani had called on Palestinian rivals to put the higher national interest above all else and to implement the agreements they signed in Makkah, pointing out that the sole beneficiary of the inter-Palestinian disputes is the Israeli occupation.

Palestinian group accuses Hamas, Fatah of abusing human rights
Reuters, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights [Palestinian Authority’s human rights commission] says both factions abuse laws as tools against each other, concerned Hamas takeover of Gaza Strip has led to further regression of civil rights - Human rights conditions have worsened in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since Hamas took over Gaza last year, a Palestinian rights group said on Tuesday. The Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights (PICCR) said rights abuses had increased in both territories after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip following clashes with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ’ Fatah faction in June. "Our report finds that unfortunately because of what happened in Gaza, and the violent confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, grave human rights violations have resulted," PICCR head Mamdouh al-Aker said.

Fayyad expected to shuffle cabinet soon
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an Exclusive – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is expected to reshuffle the cabinet of the Palestinian caretaker government soon, political sources in Ramallah told Ma’an on Monday. Fayyad will meet with Azzam Al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to discuss the changes. There is said to be controversy within the Fatah movement about the performance of Fayyad’s government, especially at this weekend’s meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. However, there has been a general consensus among Fatah members that the caretaker government succeeded in stabilizing the Palestinian Authority’s finances, imposing security in certain West Bank cities, and arranging an amnesty agreement. The expected cabinet shakeup is coming almost a year after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, the event that caused Palestinian. . .

Israeli source: PA security forces have improved dramatically in West Bank
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
The Palestinian Authority’s security forces are becoming increasingly successful in their operations in the West Bank, according to a senior Israeli security source. Indeed he said their performance has so improved that, contrary to the fears of many senior Israeli officials, an Israeli pullout from the West Bank would not automatically result in Hamas being able to take over the area shortly thereafter. But according to the same source, one area in which the PA security forces have not been sufficiently effective is in combating what he termed "the terrorist infrastructure" in the West Bank. "They hesitate to outlaw Hamas. They arrest Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad militants, but a short while later they release them," he said. "There is no follow-through in the way they deal with those they arrest: They are not tried, they are not jailed.

Fayyad, American officials to announce US aid projects in Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, US Consul General Jake Walles, and the director of the US Agency for International Development with visit the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday. The officials announce 2. 5 million US dollars of American funded projects in the Jenin region, Palestinian and American spokespersons said. The aid will come in the form of direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Jenin Governor Qaddura Mousa will be hosting the visitors. Jenin is the latest front of a US-backed Israeli approved Palestinian Authority security clampdown. Palestinian Authority forces moved into the city and neighboring Jenin refugee camp in early May in a deployment known as Operation Smile and Hope.

Palestinian President meets with Hamas government leaders
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
In a meeting that could re-start stalled national unity talks between the two main Palestinian political parties, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (with the Fateh party) met with leaders from the rival Hamas party on Monday. According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, the Hamas delegation consisted of former Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Addin Ash-Sha’ir, Sheikh Hamid Al-Beitawi and Samir Abu ’Eisha. The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, confirmed a meeting between Abbas and Sheikh Hamid Al-Beitawi. Al-Beitawi is a Palestinian lawmaker who was, until recently, imprisoned by Israeli forces in an Israeli detention camp. The meeting between the two major parties is the first since the democratically-elected Hamas government took power in the Gaza Strip last June, sparking Fateh retaliation and ongoing factional fighting.

Hamas calls on Palestinian masses to participate in Friday march towards Sufa
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)- In the context of its anti-siege activities, the Hamas Movement called on the Palestinian masses in Gaza to participate in the march of "challenge to break the siege" heading at noon Friday towards the Israeli-controlled Sufa border crossing, east of Rafah. The Hamas information office invited all media outlets to cover the massive march, adding that the march comes within the activities organized to break the unjust Israeli siege imposed on Gaza in light of the Arab and international silence and with the aim of confirming the Palestinian people’s rejection to be submissive and subservient to the will of the Israeli occupation. The IOF troops killed a Palestinian young man and wounded a dozen others in the Mintar crossing, east of the Gaza city, last Thursday during their participation in a peaceful march organized by Hamas in protest at the Israeli siege.

Gaza: One Palestinian woman and her two children injured due to unknown explosion
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian woman and two of her children were injured during an unknown explosion hit their home located in Gaza City on Tuesday morning. Doctors said that Ghadah Al Hillo and her two children Jihad, 5, and Aaiyah, 6, were taken to the hospital for injures sustained during an explosion at their home in Gaza City. The doctors added that the three sustained moderate wounds. As of the time of this report no reasons for the explosion has been reported.

Gazan woman, two children injured in explosion
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian woman and two of her children have been injured in an ambiguous explosion in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources at Ash-Shifa Hospital said on Tuesday. The sources identified the victims as Ghada Al-Hilou, and her children five-year-old Jihad and six-year-old Ayah. All three were hospitalized after they sustained moderate injuries in the explosion.

An-Nasser brigades shell Kissufim military post
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The An-Nasser brigades the military wing of Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for launching four homemade projectiles at Kissufim military post east of Khan Yunis on Monday evening. The brigades said in a statement that this attack came in retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities.

An-Nasser brigades shell Zikim military post
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The An-Nasser brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at Zikim military post, south of the Gaza Strip on Monday. The brigades said in a statement that this came in retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Haaretz: Israeli military to deploy a defense system near the Gaza Strip
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
An anti-rocket defense system will be operating soon near the Gaza Strip, in what Israeli military says a bid to minimize harm caused by Palestinian homemade shells fire by almost 95 percent, the online Israeli daily Haaretz reported. On Monday, according to Haaretz, Israeli army officials said that the Ironc Dome defense system, will be ready to operate for initial testing this year. Director general of the Israeli defense minister, Pinhas Buchris, told the mayors of nearby Israeli towns such as Sderot and Ashkelon, that he estimates that the defense system will be operating within a month. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem post Israeli online newspaper reported Tuesday that Israel is currently considering the creation of a buffer zone, few kilometers depth inside the Israeli territories. The paper added that such a zone is meant to reduce chances of Palestinian cross-border attacks. . .

Eviction orders approved for 2 settler-occupied Hebron stores
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
The Judea and Samaria Appeals Committee of the Civil Administration, the Israel Defense Forces arm that governs civilian affairs in the West Bank, approved on Tuesday eviction orders for two Hebron stores occupied by settlers roughly two years ago. The two stores are in the "triangle" market, not far from the city’s Jewish Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Their Palestinian residents were evacuated from the triangle market and the nearby wholesale market after Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of Muslim worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs and a stabbing in the area. Some time later, after the Jewish settlers moved in, two of the merchants who had previously rented the stores asked Peace Now to approach the Civil Administration for an eviction order on their behalf. Tuesday’s decision will not go into effect for another two months, during which. . .

The Amona deterrent effect
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
"Like a dog that comes back to sniff at his vomit, so the previous movers and shakers of the settlement movement are reverting back to the system of deals and closings, agreements and understandings, cut and paste, paste and cut. . . and the wounds of Gush Katif and northern Samaria are still bleeding before our eyes," wrote a group of West Bank outpost residents in a petition circulated last weekend. Doron Nir Zvi of Yair Farm, Yehoshafat Tor of Maon Farm and residents of some of the outposts surrounding Itamar, who signed these harsh statements, no longer trust the Yesha Council of Settlements. They suspect the council is cooking up an agreement on the outposts behind their backs. Even Daniella Weiss, the former head of the Kedumim Local Council, is convinced there is an agreement on the outposts.

Jewish families evicted from Hebron market
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 5/27/2008
2 families that moved into stores in West Bank city’s market4 years ago forced by military committee to evacuate, though given permission to appeal for legal rights to property within 60 days - The Military Appeals Committee on Tuesday evicted two Jewish families from the Hebron market stores in which they have been living, and instructed them to evacuate the premises within 60 days. The committee determined that the families would be allowed to file an ordered appeal requesting to rent the property. Four years ago, the two families began residing in four stores in the Hebron wholesale market. In response, the Peace Now Movement launched a complaint against the families and the Civil Administration issued an eviction warrant. The settlers, on their part, appealed to the Military Appeals Committee, which permitted the families to stay put until the issue was resolved.

Knesset seeks exoneration of hundreds of anti-disengagement protestors
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to promote legislation aimed at pardoning youths who were convicted of attempting to illegally disrupt Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 - The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee decided on Tuesday to promote legislation calling for the exoneration of youngsters who were convicted of attempting to forcibly disrupt Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in the summer of 2005 and for dropping the charges filed against other anti-disengagement protestors. Some 500 cases were opened following the arrest of hundreds of anti-disengagement protestors at the time. The committee’s decision, which was initiated by Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin (Likud), was approved in a majority vote. Otniel Schneller of Kadima was the only MK to oppose the initiative.

Dutch consul general visits Nablus governorate
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The governor of Nablus Jamal Muhaisin on Tuesday hosted the Dutch consul general Frans Makken. The governor welcomed his guest and thanked him for visiting Nablus. He updated him on the overall situation in the district. He explained that Israel has not undertaken any steps that might contribute to maintaining security and stability which the Palestinian Authority has been able to achieve. Israeli military checkpoints remain at the entrances to the city, he added, although a minor roadblock has recently been downgraded from the road between the village of Asira Ash-Shamaliyya and Nablus. However, the checkpoint was not completely removed as Israeli troops are still stationed at the roadblock. "We are convinced that without the removal of checkpoints, especially the Huwwara and Beit Iba checkpoints, the matter of development and economic boom in Nablus remain. . .

Egyptian police uncover 500 kg TNT near Rafah
Associated Press, YNetNews 5/27/2008
TNT was hidden in 10 bags near border crossing. Egyptian police also discover various weapons from around 30 years ago hidden in central Sinai village - Despite talks of a truce, the Palestinian terror organizations in Gaza continue their attempts of smuggling various weapons through Egypt into the Strip. An Egyptian security official says police have uncovered a cache containing 500 kilograms of TNT hidden in 10 sacks near the border with the Gaza Strip. The official said the TNT was found in a deserted area 500 meters away from the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. Police also found a second weapons cache Tuesday in Qudaima village in central Sinai. It contained a few packets of TNT and weapons left over from Egypt’s wars with Israel, including mortar shells and rockets. During the past few years the Palestinians have made many attempts to smuggle. . .

Palestine Today 052708
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/27/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 4 m 0s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Tuesday, May 27th, 2008. The Israeli siege on Gaza leaves four Palestinians killed, while troops attack West Bank cities injuring seven, these stories and more coming up stay tuned. The News Cast One more Palestinian patient died on Tuesday after having been denied access to treatment outside of the Gaza Strip. This is the 167th case where a patient dies from not receiving appropriate treatment due to denial of access to medical facilities by the Israeli army. . Sources in Gaza declared that Mohammad Alimawi, 22, of the eastern Gaza city neighborhood of Shiejaiya, died of cancer at Gaza city hospital. Alimawi received treatment at an Israeli hospital several months ago.

Palestinian religious affairs minister says Hajj registration only permitted through caretaker government
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Jamal Bawatna announced on Tuesday that his ministry would not recognise any announcement by the Minister of Awqaf in the Hamas-run de facto government in the Gaza Strip relating to arrangements for Hajj pilgrims from the Strip. At a press conference today in Ramallah, Bawatna stated that the announcement in Gaza that registration for the Hajj would begin on May 25th had not been coordinated with the Ramallah-based government and that his ministry would not deal with those registering in Gaza. He stressed that what had happened last year would not be repeated again. Bawatna said that the Hajj and Umrah Bureau will announce when registration will begin in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip because Palestine is one inseparable homeland. He went on to say that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would offer all. . .

Fatah security elements acknowledge their big mistake in Gaza Strip
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A number of former PA security elements who fled Gaza Strip after Hamas Movement took control of security there almost a year ago have acknowledged that they committed a big mistake and that they ask forgiveness from the Palestinian people. In a statement they issued and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, the defeated security elements expressed readiness to return to Gaza Strip, and to stand trial for their crimes against their own people. "We, the sons of Fatah and the elements of the PA security forces who left Gaza Strip after Hamas took control of security, have found it necessary to explain the pain we have been suffering since we arrived to the West Bank as we thought we would be accorded a hero welcome and would be dealt with as champions; but, to the opposite, we were badly treated, insulted, accused of treason, and left begging at the doors of (illegal. . .

OCHA special focus: ''Lack of Permit'' demolitions and resultant displacement in Area C
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 5/27/2008
Key Points - To date, more than 3,000 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank have pending demolition orders, which can be immediately executed without prior warning. At least ten small communities throughout the West Bank at risk of being almost entirely displaced due to the large number of pending demolitions orders. During the first quarter of 2008, Israeli authorities demolished 124 structures due to a lack of permits; this is more than the total number of demolitions carried out in the whole of 2007 (107). Sixty-one of the demolished structures were residential and led to the displacement of 435 Palestinians, including at least 135 children. Most of these demolitions occurred in the Jordan Valley and South Hebron areas. This trend, however, was discontinued in the following two months (as of 20 May), when only one structure was demolished.

ISRAEL: New law threatens to imprison refugees
Tamar Dressler/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 5/28/2008
JERUSALEM, 27 May 2008 (IRIN) - The Israeli Knesset has approved the draft of a new law, which will make infiltration into the country a criminal offence, punishable by up to seven years in prison. It will also apply to refugees and asylum-seekers. The draft was passed on 19 May by a majority of 21 legislators to one opponent, DovHanin from the Hadash party, who questioned the logic of sentencing refugees to prison for trying to flee persecution. If it passes the next stage of legislation, the bill will allow the Israeli authorities to imprison people who enter the country, generally through the porous border with Egypt, for up to five years. If the "infiltrators", as they are called, are from "enemy states", which includes countries such as Sudan, the punishment will be seven years. Sudanese make up a large portion of the total refugee population in Israel, including hundreds from the war-torn Darfur region.

Hamas revises prisoner list for Shalit exchange
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Hamas is preparing a revised list of prisoners that it wants Israel to release, in a bid to reach a deal with Israel on freeing abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, as well as an agreement on a cease-fire and the reopening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. The list of prisoners will be sent to Israel for perusal via Egyptian mediators. The new list has yet to reach Israel, Israeli officials said. Hamas insists on a fundamental separation between the Shalit deal and the cease-fire, but realizes that Shalit must be released if Israel is to agree to a truce or the reopening of the crossing, Egyptian officials said. For this reason, Hamas is expected to accede to Egyptian pressure and agree to a package deal, in which the agreements on Shalit’s release and the truce would be concluded simultaneously, but neither one would be conditioned on the other.

Iranian defense minister: Israel-Syria talks ’philosophical’
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 5/27/2008
’Syria has right to regain sovereignty over the Golan, but current talks between Jerusalem and Damascus are merely philosophical,’ Mostafa Mohammad Najjar says after meeting Syrian counterpart in Tehran - Iran’s defensive (military) strength will stand by Syria due to Damascus’ strategic importance to us," Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar told reporters on Tuesday in Tehran following a meeting his Syrian counterpart Hassan Turkmani. Referring to the indirect talks between Israel and Syria, which are being conducted with Turkey’s mediation, Najjar said, "Israel and (US President George W. ) Bush estimated that in Iran and Syria would sever ties in 2008, but this visit shows that Israel’s goals are unrealistic. "Syria, of course, has the right to regain sovereignty over the Golan," said the Iranian defense minister, "but we realize that these talks were merely formal and philosophical.

Turkey: Direct Israel-Syria talks possible
Reuters, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Turkish foreign minister says once common ground found between Jerusalem, Damascus in renewed peace negotiations, there may no longer be need for Ankara’s mediation - Turkey said on Tuesday the indirect peace talks it is mediating between Israel and Syria could be upgraded to face-to-face encounters if progress is made. Israel and Syria announced last week they had begun a dialogue with the aim of a comprehensive peace, the first confirmation of negotiations in eight years. "A common ground is now being formed and that common ground is considered to be satisfactory by both sides," Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told a news conference in Brussels. "If meaningful and concrete developments take place in these mediated talks, it will be possible at that time to have direct meetings between the two sides," added Babacan. However he stressed: "We are at the very beginning of this process and it is not going to be an easy one. "Turkey, which has good ties with both Israel and Syria, hosted three days of talks in Istanbul last week and has said a further round is scheduled to take place shortly.

Syria says willing to up cooperation with Iran
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 5/27/2008
While Israel hopes renewal of peace talks will lead Damascus to sever relations with Iran, Syria seems to be signaling it may even be boosting existing ties with Tehran - Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani said on Tuesday that his country was prepared to increase its military cooperation with Iran. The Iranian news agency ’Fars’ reports Turkmani expressed this willingness to General Yahya Rahim Safawi, a trusted military advisor of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards. "Iran and Syria share the same viewpoint regarding regional issues and efforts will be made to strengthen our shared interests and bilateral relations," said Turkmani, who was dispatched to Tehran to reassure the outraged Iranian leadership following the resumption of negotiations with Israel.

Assad: Lebanon should talk with Israel if negotiations progress
Yoav Stern and Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
President Bashar al-Assad told visiting British members of parliament that progress on the Syrian-Israeli peace track would encourage Lebanon and Israel to initiate their own talks. "The president hinted that it would not be in Lebanon’s interest if it did not have its own talks if Syrian-Israeli talks advanced," the source familiar with the talks said. Assad dismissed on Tuesday Israeli demands for Syria to abandon an alliance with Iran as a requirement for a peace deal. Assad told British MPs that the Baath Party government intended to maintain its "normal relations" with Iran while it conducts indirect talks with Israel to regain the occupied Golan Heights, a source familiar with the meeting told Reuters. Israeli officials have repeatedly said that the peace agreement depends on Syria distancing itself from Iran, and. . .

Archbishop Tutu to Haniyeh: Stop Qassam fire
AFP, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Head of UN committee probing 2006 death of 19 Palestinian civilians in Israeli artillery strike meets Hamas leader in Gaza, urges halt to rocket attacks on Israel - Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu on Tuesday held talks with a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip where he led a UN fact-finding mission into the killing of 19 Palestinian civilians in an 2006 Israeli artillery attack. Tutu met Palestinian former prime minister Ismail Haniya, who was dismissed by moderate president Mahmud Abbas last June when Hamas seized control of Gaza from forces loyal to the president. Sources close to Tutu’s delegation said the Anglican former archbishop of Cape Town called during the talks for an end of rocket attacks on Israel, and stressed that all attacks against civilians - whether against Palestinians or against Israelis - should be condemned.

Tutu circumvents Israeli ban
Ynet, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Denied visa by Israel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu to enter Gaza through Egypt as head of UN delegation investigating death of Palestinian family in 2006 despite fact IDF has already accepted responsibility for erroneous shell - For 18 months Israel has refused to grant visas to a UN team seeking to investigate the deaths of 19 Palestinian civilians from an Israeli artillery attack in the Gaza Strip. Now the team, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has decided to enter the Strip through Egypt via the Rafah crossing, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday. In November 2006 an IDF artillery battery targeting Qassam launching cells in Gaza accidently hit a residential neighborhood, killing 19 civilians, most of them members of the same family. Israel assumed responsibility for the deadly mishap, and offered humanitarian assistance to those wounded.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, professor to visit Gaza on UN-backed mission
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 5/27/2008
An independent United Nations fact-finding mission – by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics – will visit Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. The High Level Fact-Finding Mission to the area was established by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in November 2006 following an Israeli attack that resulted in 19 people, including 7 children, being killed. For the two-day mission from 27-28 May, Archbishop Tutu and Professor Chinkin will enter Gaza from Egypt. They are scheduled to hold a range of meetings in Gaza, including with survivors and witnesses of the attack on 8 November 2006. The mission will submit a final report to the September session of the HRC. Last June, the mission submitted a report to the Council in which is said that ‘significant’ human rights violations occurred there and called for an independent probe by national authorities.

Tutu enters Gaza to start investigation into deaths
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 5/28/2008
Desmond Tutu, the South African archbishop, met the former Palestinian prime minister and Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in Gaza at the start of a much-delayed UN investigation into the shelling by the Israeli military of a Palestinian house which killed 18 members of a single family in Beit Hanoun. Tutu was sent by the UN human rights council to lead the inquiry only days after the incident in November 2006. However, the Israeli government did not give him a visa and complained that the council was politicised in its criticism of Israel. Yesterday, after several months of delay, Tutu crossed into Gaza from Egypt at the Rafah crossing point, which is usually closed and almost never used for UN or diplomatic visits, but where he did not require any Israeli travel permit.

Masri: Other European officials to reveal contacts with Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 5/27/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has asserted that other European ministers would declare within the few coming days that they had "advanced consultations" with Hamas. He underlined in a statement to Quds Press on Monday that the contacts between Hamas and European officials never stopped and that countries other than France had made contacts with the Movement. The French contact was revealed by the French external affairs minister Bernard Kouchner and not by Hamas, Masri pointed out and did not rule out other European ministers to reveal similar contacts. "We understand from Europe’s contact with us that Hamas could not be sidestepped," the Hamas MP stressed, adding that peace would not be achieved as long as certain parties were trying to bypass Hamas. Shifting to another issue, Masri categorically denied any direct contacts between Hamas and Israel, expressing surprise at the publication of such reports.

Khamenei tells Meshaal to press on with resistance
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/28/2008
TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday told the visiting political supremo of Hamas to keep up the resistance against Israel, warning that abandoning the struggle would lead to disgrace. The meeting between Khamenei and Khaled Meshaal came a week after Syria and Israel announced they had resumed indirect peace negotiations through Turkish mediators, after an eight-year freeze. "It is evident today that the Zionist regime is at its lowest ebb and is unable to resist the patient Palestinian people," Khamenei was quoted by state radio as telling the Syria-based Meshaal. "Thank God the Palestinian people have stood like a mountain despite the disaster. The only way to the liberation of Palestine is to resist faithfully. The ones who choose a path that is not one of resistance will pay a price and be disgraced in the eyes of God," he added.

Looming water crisis endangers local food supply, warn ministers
Amiram Cohen, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Israel can’t afford to continue supporting the farming community - from the perspective of water. There just isn’t enough, say ministers. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon opposes cutting the quota to agriculture, however, and called on the government to establish a "Winograd committee on the failure of the water economy. "He vows to oppose the Wate Authority’s intended 40% cut in water allocations to farmers. Speaking at the annual conference of the private water association, ’Mei Golan’, held at the Golan College at Hispin, Simhon said, "The planned cut jeopardizes the state’s ability to supply food to its citizens, as simultaneously, the global food crisis has reinstated the vital position that farmers play in the national economy. "He warned that the decision to build water desalination facilities to supply the necessary addition of 500 cu.

Protesting social workers storm Jerusalem
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 5/27/2008
After six weeks of sanctions yield no results, outraged social workers rally outside Finance Ministry, call for ’Winograd Commission for welfare’ - Hundreds of social workers from every corner in Israel gathered outside the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon to protest their unmanageable workload, saying the lack of manpower was crippling the welfare system. The workers have resorted to various sanctions over the past six weeks, yet their struggle has failed to produce any results." It’s impossible for us to look at our clients in the eye because the caseload for each social worker is so immense we are unable to provide adequate service to every client, something they deserve and we are desperate to give," said chairman of the Social Worker’s Union, Itzik Perry." The government that proclaimed after being sworn in that it would be a government. . .

Galilee cave reveals secrets of hunter-gatherers
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 5/27/2008
A wealth of new information about the way of life of early man in the eastern Mediterranean, long before the invention of the wheel, is likely to be uncovered after the startling discovery of a cave inhabited by hunter-gatherers between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. Workers constructing a sewage line through a forest in northern Israel stumbled across a large cave containing stalactites and strewn with discarded fragments of prehistoric tools and the burnt bones of animals which have long been extinct in the region, including red deer, fallow deer, buffalo and even bears. While examination of the remains is at a preliminary stage, experts have hailed the discovery -- at an undisclosed location in western Galilee -- as the most important of its kind in the southern Levant for up to half a century. Dr Ofer Marder, the head of the prehistory branch of the Israel Antiquities Authority. . .

Aladdin’s cave in the Galilee
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
"A rare find" and "a sensational discovery" are just some of phrases used by those people who have seen or heard about the discovery of a large stalagmite cave in the western Galilee some 10 days ago. Human skulls and animal bones were found at the site. According to experts, "These are rare and fascinating finds. "The cave opening was uncovered by chance by a tractor driver. The first to enter the cave were volunteers from the western Galilee rescue unit. Israel Antiquities Authority cave researchers and archaeologists were also summoned to the site. According to the testimony of those who entered, "It is a huge stalagmite cave that contains important archaeological finds. "The cave is about 85 meters long, 40 meters wide and some 30 meters high. "We have not discovered another cave of such size in Israel," said Yinon Shivtiel, a cave researcher who lectures at the Safed Academic College.

Nasrallah: Prisoner swap ’imminent’
Al Jazeera 5/27/2008
Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, has said that the group expects to make a prisoner swap with Israel soon. "Samir Kantar [Israel’s longest-held Hezbollah prisoner] fighter and his imprisoned brothers will be among us very soon, God willing," Nasrallah said on Monday, in a speech to supporters in Beirut. According to theJerusalem Post newspaper, the exchange is to be conducted within 30 days. Israeli Army Radio also said that the swap is likely to involve two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in 2006. The capture sparked a 34-day war between Israeli and Hezbollah forces. Support to ’resistance’In his speech to hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters, Nasrallah said that his organisation "is siding with the resistance in Iraq".

ANALYSIS / Nasrallah preparing for Kuntar’s homecoming
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
The statements made by Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah at the end of April 2006 were the same as those in his speech Monday: "We are going to meet Samir Kuntar very soon. "Two and a half months later, Hezbollah operatives kidnapped reserve soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. But Monday’s statements were made in an entirely different context: They may constitute an agreement in principle to an Israeli offer. Israel can give relatively few "assets" in exchange for Regev and Goldwasser. The hundreds of Palestinian prisoners will wait for a deal with Hamas in return for releasing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who is known to be alive. On the assumption that the deal includes the return of six live Lebanese and 10 bodies, what does that say about Regev and Goldwasser? The news is not good.

Prisoners’ families hope Palestinians will be included in Hizbullah-Israel deal
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an – The families of Palestinian prisoners in the Tulkarem region of the West Bank called on Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday to demand the release of all Palestinian detainees in negotiations with Israel. Tulkarem governor Talal Dweikat, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Hassan Khreisheh, and the head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ society in Tulkarem Halima Irmeilat joined prisoners’ families at their weekly demonstration at the offices of the Red Cross in Tulkarem on Tuesday. The demonstrators urged Nasrallah not to yield to Israeli pressure in talks concerning a prisoner exchange. Israeli and Lebanese media have reported that a prisoner deal involving the release of two Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were captured by Hizbullah in 2006. Hizbullah is said to be demanding the release of both Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

Abducted soldiers’ families remain skeptical about swap
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 yesterday by 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.

The deal of the dead?
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
The statements made by Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah at the end of April 2006 were almost the same as what he said in his speech yesterday: "We are going to meet Samir Kuntar very soon. "Two and a half months later, Hezbollah operatives kidnapped reserve soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. But yesterday’s statements were made in an entirely different context: They may constitute an agreement in principle to an Israeli offer. Israel can give relatively few "assets" in exchange for Regev and Goldwasser. The hundreds of Palestinian prisoners will wait for a deal with Hamas in return for releasing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who is known to be alive. On the assumption that the deal includes the return of six live Lebanese and 10 bodies, what does that say about Regev and Goldwasser? The news is not good.

Israel says Hezbollah exchange deal is close
Amos Harel, Barak Ravid, Yossi Melman and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
Significant progress appears to have been achieved in recent days in the indirect talks between Israel and Hezbollah on a deal for the release of the two reservists abducted shortly before the Second Lebanon War. The deal is expected to involve the release of six Lebanese held in Israel, including the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar, and the corpses of 10 Hezbollah fighters, in return for the Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said yesterday in a prerecorded address to the Lebanese public on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian nakba [catastrophe] that "very soon Samir Kuntar and his brothers will be among us. "Diplomatic sources in Beirut reported significant progress in the talks yesterday.

Hezbollah ’to back Iraq resistance’
Al Jazeera 5/26/2008
Hassan Nasrallah, ’the secretary-general of Hezbollah, has said that his organisation "is siding with the resistance in Iraq" in a speech to hundreds of thousands of supporters in Beirut, the Lebanese capital." The Iraqis, Shia and Sunni, who took part in the political process wanted to give it a chance," he said in his address on Monday. "But now that the real American goal in Iraq has been exposed the Iraqi government is put to a test." It is the first time Nasrallah has issued a challenge to the Iraqi government to take a stand against the US military presence in Iraq. "The Americans allowed the elections and the formation of parliament and a government so that they get an Iraqi legitimisation of the occupation," he said, referring to a reported Iraqi-American agreement that would allow the US to have a permanent presence in Iraq.

Sources: Hezbollah to give Israel report on efforts to find Ron Arad
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Israel may soon receive a report from Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah detailing its failed attempts to locate missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, sources said Tuesday. The report will be submitted as part of a lingering obligation from the 2004 prisoner exchange agreement with Israel to supply information regarding the airman’s whereabouts in exchange for the release of Samir Kuntar, the sources added. Kuntar, a Lebanese terrorist convicted of killing four Israelis in 1979, is currently serving four life sentences in an Israeli prison. Current negotiations over the release of Israel Defense Forces soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, kidnapped by Hezbollah in July 2006, have revolved around the release of Kuntar. Israeli intelligence sources have confirmed that since 2004, Hezbollah has made significant. . .

Israeli TV: major prisoners deal with Hizbullah looming
Ma’an News Agency 5/27/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A major prisoner swap deal is expected soon between Hizbullah and Israel which could include captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and two other Israeli soldiers detained by Hizbullah in Lebanon in exchange for Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israel’s custody, Israel’s Channel 1 TV station reported on Monday evening. The deal is expected to include Lebanese prisoner Samir Qintar as well as Palestinian lawmakers. Military correspondentYoav Meir said, "The main obstacle which has been impeding the negotiations between Hizbullah and Israel was the case of missing Israeli Air Force weapon system’s officer Ron Arad. "Last week Hizbullah told German mediators that they have agreed to publish a detailed report on the efforts they have made to find the missing officer, and that would satisfy the Israelis.

Hezbollah leader: no plans to control Lebanon
Middle East Online 5/27/2008
BEIRUT - Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Monday that his powerful militant movement was not seeking control of Lebanon, in a fiery speech on new President Michel Sleiman’s first full day in office. "Hezbollah does not want power over Lebanon, nor does it want to control Lebanon or govern the country," Nasrallah told tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters massed in his stronghold in southern Beirut. He pledged that his group would not use its weapons to achieve political gains, in a speech marking the 8th anniversary of Israel’s pullout from south Lebanon. "For we believe that Lebanon is a special, pluralistic country. The existence of this country only comes about through coexistence, and this is what we are demanding," he said via video link. Nasrallah’s address came a day after Sleiman was elected by parliament in a first step towards national reconciliation. . .

Lebanese spy to be released on Sunday
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Jailed in 2002 for six-year prison term, Muslim convert Nasim Nasr has already completed his sentence but is still being held in administrative detention. His attorney insists timing of Nasr’s deportation to Lebanon ’not by chance’ -While Israel has yet to confirm Lebanese reports of developments on the prisoner-exchange front, all signs seem to be pointing to a significant breakthrough. Sunday will see the release of convicted spy Nasim Nasr, a Jewish man who converted to Islam and immigrated to Israel from Lebanon. In 2002 Nasr was sentenced to a six-year prison term after being tried for espionage. Though Nasr has recently finished serving his sentence, Israeli authorities continued to hold him under administrative detention "“ possibly hoping he could be used as a bartering chip in the negotiations.

Financier testifies in Olmert probe
Al Jazeera 5/27/2008
An American financier who gave money to Ehud Olmert has begun his testimony in court in a bribery case against the Israeli prime minister. Prosecutors questioned Morris Talansky, a New York resident, on Tuesday at the Jerusalem District Court in a case that could see Olmert step down as prime minister. In his testimony, Talansky told the court that most of the money he donated was to cover Olmert’s political activities over a 15-year period. But he said Olmert’s assistant would also ask for cash to cover unidentified personal expenses. He said there were no records of how that money was spent. "I only know that he loved expensive cigars. I know he loved pens, watches. I found it strange," Talansky told the court. Talansky said he passed on about $150,000 to Olmert in donations and loans - some of which were not repaid. His testimony also showed he had picked up a bill for $4,700 from a three-day stay by Olmert at a New York hotel and loaned the Israeli leader as much as $30,000 for a holiday in Italy.

US millionaire says he gave Olmert large sums of cash
Charly Wegman, Daily Star 5/28/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A US millionaire testifying in a corruption probe that could force Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert out of office said on Tuesday he gave the premier large sums of cash to fund his political ambitions and perhaps his taste for high living. Morris Talansky gave evidence for seven hours in an Occupied Jerusalem district court in a criminal investigation into claims that Olmert received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal funds in the years before he became prime minister in 2006. The 75-year-old Jewish American financier said in sworn testimony that could later be used at a trial that he handed envelopes stuffed with cash to Olmert and his assistant over a period of 15 years. "I gave some money to Olmert for his [election] campaigns in 1991 and 1992. . . He told me that he would prefer cash, and I gave him first some money from my private funds, then some money collected in the US on his behalf," said Talansky, according to Israeli public radio.

Talansky testifies in Olmert case
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 5/27/2008
"I believed in the cause, which was the good of Israel " - "Olmert asked for cash. I’d transfer the money to Shula Zaken, in envelopes, and sometimes to Olmert when he was in New York," said Morris Talansky in his deposition in court today. "I also used my credit card when he stayed at a New York hotel. I’d raise money for him for first-class seats on flights when he came to New York because they paid for business class. "Talansky added that he raised the money because he believed in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "I never expected anything. I never received anything in exchange from this relationship. The thought of an interest never crossed my mind. I really wanted and hoped that he would become the leader. Over the years, for 15 years, I was a big donor," he said. Talansky continued, "I gave big checks and little checks, and raised at least $100,000.

Ehud Olmert took thousands of dollars, US businessman tells court
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian 5/27/2008
A US businessman at the centre of a high-profile corruption investigation told an Israeli court yesterday he gave thousands of dollars to Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, in envelopes stuffed with cash, some of which he claims was spent on expensive hotels, holidays and cigars. Morris Talansky, a long-time supporter and friend of Olmert, said he gave at least $150,000 (£75,000) over 15 years, including the years when Olmert was a government minister and mayor of Jerusalem. There are no records of how the money was spent and Talansky admitted he was "disturbed" when Olmert specifically asked for cash rather than cheques. Talansky’s testimony yesterday at the Jerusalem district court comes as a major embarrassment to Olmert in this, the fifth, and most serious, corruption investigation brought against him. But Talansky said he received no personal gain from the money he gave Olmert "” who has denied any suggestions of corruption, adding he would resign if charges were brought against him.

Olmert under investigation / U.S. fundraiser Talansky to begin deposition in Olmert case today
Ofra Edelman and Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
Morris Talansky, the American fundraiser suspected of making large cash transfers to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is slated to begin his early deposition to the Jerusalem District Court this morning. Talansky will testify on behalf of the prosecution today, and defense attorneys for Olmert and his former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, will be able to cross-examine the witness the following day. However, the defense lawyers said Friday that they will not cross-examine Talansky now, because they claim they have not been given sufficient time to examine the material collected by police investigators in the case. The defense has said it would like Talansky to return to Israel at a later date, probably in July, for his cross-examination. The court decided last week that Olmert and Zaken would not have to be present in court during Talansky’s deposition, though the State Prosecutor’s. . .

Barak mulls ultimatum to PM, may demand resignation or early elections
Ofra Edelman and Tomer Zarchin, and Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is contemplating an ultimatum to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whereby he will demand the premier either resign or agree on a date for early elections, it was revealed late Tuesday night. Barak will hold consultations with senior Labor Party officials, after which he is expected to make a statement. As Olmert’s senior coalition partner, Labor’s departure would leave the premier without a majority with which to rule. The news came hours after Morris Talansky, the American-Jewish businessman suspected of making illicit cash transfers to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said in court testimony in Jerusalem on Tuesday that he had transferred Olmert some $150,000 over 15 years, and that Olmert had tried to aid a Talansky business venture by introducing him to several American billionaires.

MKs demand Olmert’s resignation
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Following Talansky’s testimony, right, left-wing MKs call on prime minister to step down. Channel 1 says Barak may ask Olmert to reign or suspend himself. Livnat: Olmert must go, elections must be held -Following the preliminary testimony of American businessman Morris Talansky before the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday as to his involvement in the affair that implicates Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in accepting cash envelopes from the former, left and right-wing Knesset Members began to call on Olmert to resign from office. According to a Channel 1 report, defense minster and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak is considering calling on Olmert to resign or suspend himself and may approach the minister with such a demand on Wednesday. One senior Labor official said he believed the party should remain in the coalition for the time being, but another party. . .

Olmert’s attorney: Talansky deposition refutes bribery claims
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Olmert’s attorney: Talansky deposition refutes bribery claims. PM’s lawyer says testimony given by American businessman proves he transferred cash envelopes ’because he believed in Olmert’s way’. Adds: Staying in hotel suites and flying first class may be habits that public frowns upon, but they are not illegal. Morris Talansky’s deposition refuted all of the bribery allegations against Ehud Olmert said an attorney representing the prime minister Tuesday evening following a nine-hour hearing at the Jerusalem District Court, during which the American financier testified to giving the Israeli leader cash-stuffed envelopes over a 15-year period, including personal loans that were never repaid. Talansky said he handed over sums, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 at a time, in Israel or in New York hotel suites during visits Olmert made to the US before becoming prime minister." I asked him why I couldn’t write a check and he said it’s because of the way the money is channeled," Talansky told the court. According to Olmert’s attorney, Roi Belcher, "Mr. Talansky made it abundantly clear that he received nothing in return (for the cash he transferred to Olmert) and that he did what he did because he believed in Olmert’s method. He thought Olmert was worthy of being elected mayor of Jerusalem and eventually head Israel’s government. He said he never received anything in return. "Belcher continued to say that "we are not disputing many of Talansky’s claims "“ when someone raises funds, he collects money. After he collects the money he hands it over in envelopes to the candidate who met him both in the US and Israel. He thanks the candidate for his efforts and sometimes transfers the money to (the candidate’s staff) in Israel. When the American president travels on Air Force One, which has a staff of 200 people, it seems only natural and reasonable. But when the mayor of Jerusalem "“ God forbid "“ stays overnight at a suite or flies first class "“ this is inexcusable," the attorney said. "Flying first class or staying in a hotel suite may be acts that are frowned upon by the public, but legally speaking "“ based on what Talansky said "“ no laws were broken. "Talansky is expected to return to Israel in July for a cross examination by Olmert’s legal team. Reuters contributed to the report

VIDEO - Tycoon’s religion classes, banned twice by gov’t, still taught in schools
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for May 27, 2008. A religious educational program funded by a billionaire and banned twice by the Education Ministry continues to be taught in more than 70 Israeli schools. The program, called ’Zman Masa,’ or ’Travel Time,’ is paid for by the foundation of Lev Leviev, a Russian-Israeli real estate and diamond magnate, who finds what he calls the lack of religious education in secular schools horrifying. The Education Ministry’s Pedagogical Department said last year that the courses offered by Leviev are unsuitable. The program was later rejected for a second time, due to the fact that the material pushes the ultra-Orthodox stream of Judaism, as opposed to the secular-humanist approach of the state school system.

ANALYSIS: Talansky testimony paints portrait of Olmert the hedonist
Jonathan Lis Haaretz Correspondent, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Tuesday of the key witness in the corruption investigation currently underway against Prime Minister Ehud Omert, those present during the deliberations were introduced to a portrait of Olmert that has remained, for the most part, under wraps: that of a hedonistic politician who insists on overnight stays in lavish suites and first-class airline service, a man whose expenses are subsidized by naive wealthy donors. American businessman Morris Talansky, who gave his testimony in the case at the Jerusalem District Court Tuesday, recalled seeing Olmert’s laundry and movie rental bills from his stay at the luxurious Ritz Hotel in Washington D. C. appear on his credit card statement. In the absence of a cross-examination, it was difficult to point out contradictions, inconsistencies, or lies in his testimony.

VIDEO - News / Talansky’s name absent from Olmert’s donation reports
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for May 27, 2008 - In this edition: Police evidence shows Morris Talansky does not appear on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s donation reports. Talansky takes the stand, detailing loans and donations he transferred to Olmert. Nissim Nasser, an Israeli jailed for spying for Hezbollah will reportedly be deported to Lebanon in a prisoner exchange deal.

I bankrolled Olmert’s taste for the high life, American businessman tells court
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 5/27/2008
Morris Talansky, a US businessman, testified yesterday that he had handed over around $150,000 (£76,000) to Ehud Olmert, now Israeli Prime minister, over 15 years -- including multithousand-dollar payments in envelopes stuffed with cash. But while Mr Talansky, suspected of making illegal payments to Mr Olmert since he first campaigned to become Mayor of Jerusalem, said Mr Olmert had vainly -- and voluntarily -- tried to help one of his business ventures, he denied that he had asked or expected anything from Mr Olmert for his money. Mr Talansky, 75, said the money included loans for stays in luxury hotels in the US and one -- which he said was never paid back -- of $25,000 to $30,000 for a family holiday in Italy. He testified in the Jerusalem district court that there were no records of how the money he transferred was spent, stating: "I only know that he loved expensive cigars. . ."

Olmert’s days in office could be numbered
Middle East Online 5/27/2008
A US millionaire testifying in a corruption probe that could end Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s career said on Tuesday he gave him envelopes stuffed with cash to fund his political ambitions and perhaps his taste for high living. Morris Talansky was giving evidence to a Jerusalem district court as part of a criminal investigation into claims that Olmert received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal funds in the years before he became prime minister in 2006. The 75-year-old American Jewish financier said in sworn testimony that could later be used at a trial that he gave envelopes stuffed with cash to Olmert and his assistant over a period of 15 years. "I gave some money to Olmert for his (election) campaigns in 1991 and 1992. . . He told me that he would prefer cash, and I gave him first some money from my private funds, then some money collected in the United States on his behalf," said Talansky, according to Israeli public radio.

VIDEO - Talansky: Olmert preferred cash to checks
Aviram Zino, YNetNews 5/27/2008
(Video) American businessman linked to bribery allegations against Olmert tells Jerusalem District Court he gave PM $150,000 over 15-year period. ’I gave him cash in envelopes,’ Talansky says, ’I can’t put into words what that friendship meant to me’ - VIDEO - American businessman Morris Talansky, the key witness in the recent police investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, arrived at the Jerusalem District Court Tuesday morning for his pre-trial deposition in the case. Talansky told the court he had passed $150,000 to the veteran politician over a 15-year period, praising Olmert as "a man who could accomplish a great deal" for Israel and who deserved his support. "I gave (Olmert) cash in envelopes," Talansky, a New York-based fundraiser, said in preliminary testimony requested by prosecutors. Talansky’s deposition – which will be considered as trial testimony in any future legal proceeding in the case, should an indictment by filed – was given in English before a three-judge panel, presided over by District Court Chief Justice Mosia Arad and the honorable Jacob Zaban and Moshe Sobel. The hearing began at 9 am and concluded at 5 pm. Talansky testified for about seven hours.

Eitam: MK Tibi ’Dr. Blood’
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Knesset Ethics Committee reprimands lawmakers Tibi, Eitam for two-sided verbal assault. Tibi: Eitam is heinous civilian murderer; Eitam: Tibi betraying country on regular basis - The Knesset’s Ethics Committee on Tuesday decided to reprimand Knesset Members Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) and Effie Eitam (National Union-National Religious) following mutual complaints launched by both. The two slammed each other in relation to the demonstration rally held at the Erez checkpoint during January of this year. Eitam complained to the committee that Tibi had accused him of being a "heinous civilian murderer" during the rally. According to Eitam, Tibi was referring to the former’s IDF service. Tibi’s complaint referred to Eitam’s radio speech, given on the morning of the rally. Eitam called Tibi "Dr. Blood", a name Tibi claimed had Nazi connotations. He also claimed that Eitam gave an interview at the scene of the rally, in which he blamed Tibi for "encouraging terrorists and personally assisting the murder of Jews," and also said that "Tibi’s hands are filled with blood. "Tibi saw this as a personal assault and slander against him.

Gates to close on Falashmura Jews
Gabi Newman, YNetNews 5/27/2008
Thousands of Falashmura denomination members await decision to allow them to make aliyah, in meantime living in Ethiopian camp practicing Jewish customs. Ynet journalist joins them in their uncertain anticipation - If a change in policy does not occur soon, the Falashmura aliyah from Ethiopia will be officially halted next month. In the meantime, however, 8,700 members of the denomination wait in total lack of certainty while practicing the Jewish faith in the designated camp in the Gundar area of their home country. According to a decision made by the government in 2003, all members of the Falashmura denomination who stand up to halachic criteria are permitted to make aliyah. This decision was backed by the head rabbis of Israel, who determined that these members should be brought to Israel in order to undergo conversion.

Israel Police: Only one out of every 100 thieves is indicted
Jonathan Lis Haaretz Correspondent, Ha’aretz 5/27/2008
Only one out of 100 thieves is ever brought to trial, due to difficulties in collecting evidence, Major General Yohanan Danino, head of the police investigations and intelligence department, said Monday. Speaking to an Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, Danino said that out of every 100 perpetrators, the police are "likely to know about only seven of them, and only against one of those will we manage to collect enough evidence to indict. "In recent years, an average of about 130,000 police complaints per year have been filed over break-ins to apartments, businesses and vehicles. The solution rate for these crimes stands at about seven percent, Danino said. He also said that suspects often remain silent under questioning, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain intelligence through informers.

Cartoon of the day
Palestine Think Tank 5/27/2008
A mural in San Francisco - Edward Said: 1935 - 2003

Foreign Ministry: Iran continuing its deception over nuclear program
Ynet, YNetNews 5/27/2008
’Israel once again calls on members of the international community to step up their pressure on Iran,’ Foreign Ministry says following release of fresh IAEA report on Islamic Republic’s nuclear activity - Iran is continuing with its deceptive and evasive tactics," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in reference to claims made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) according to which the Islamic Republic may be withholding information needed to establish whether it tried to make nuclear arms. "The report expresses Iran’s continued breach of the UN Security Council’s resolutions and stresses the military aspects of its nuclear activity," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Israel calls once again on members of the international community to step up their pressure on Iran so that it will abandon its threatening program to obtain nuclear arms.

More action needed to combat civilian deaths
Megan Davies, ReliefWeb 5/27/2008
UNITED NATIONS, May 27 (Reuters) - Much more needs to be done to prevent the killing and displacement of civilians in places such as Darfur, Somalia, Israel and Columbia, U. N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said on Tuesday. Civilians continue to account for the majority of casualties in armed conflict, often in flagrant violation of the rules of international humanitarian law, Holmes told a meeting of the U. N. Security Council on civilians in armed conflict. In the first five months of this year, more than half a million people have been displaced by conflict, with 337,000 civilians fleeing Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia and Sudan, he said. Holmes called for the creation of a Security Council expert group on the protection of civilians, which he said would be an informal forum bringing together all council member states.

Mideast governments ignore US views
Middle East Online 5/27/2008
CAIRO - The governments of the Middle East, from Iran to Israel and beyond, are increasingly ignoring the wishes of a US administration which has only eight months left in office, going their own way in regional diplomacy. US President George W. Bush’s latest speech on Middle East policy, made in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh last week, shows how the gap has grown between what Washington would like and what is happening in the region. It is part of a wider picture of Washington’s declining clout, accelerated by its debilitating deployment of more than 100,000 troops to Iraq for the past five years. France has had contacts with the democratically elected Palestinian movement Hamas, for example, and Israel has had indirect talks with Syria, which Washington is trying to isolate. Bush said in Sharm el-Sheikh that all nations in the region should stand together against. . .

Bush ’plans Iran air strike by August’
Muhammad Cohen, Asia Times 5/28/2008
NEW YORK - The George W Bush administration plans to launch an air strike against Iran within the next two months, an informed source tells Asia Times Online, echoing other reports that have surfaced in the media in the United States recently. Two key US senators briefed on the attack planned to go public with theiropposition to the move, according to the source, but their projected New YorkTimes op-ed piece has yet to appear. The source, a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary ofstate still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously, saidlast week that that the US plans anair strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The air strike would target the headquarters of the IRGC’s elite Quds force. With an estimated strength of up to 90,000 fighters, the Quds’ stated mission is to spread Iran’s revolution of 1979 throughout the region.

Iraq says US pact must not harm national interest
Amal Jayasinghe, Daily Star 5/28/2008
Agence France Presse - BAGHDAD: Iraq’s national security council has asked Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to ensure that a pact under discussion to extend US troop presence beyond 2008 would not harm the national interest. Washington and Baghdad are holding talks on a Status of Forces Agreement aimed at giving a legal basis to the US troops after December 31, when a UN mandate defining the current status of foreign forces expires. "The Political Council for National Security recommended continuing negotiations between the two sides to reach a result that is satisfactory to the people of Iraq and does not harm its interests," a government statement said. The council, headed by President Jalal Talabani, said the negotiations covered a wide spectrum of subjects including security, economic, political and military issues.

UK ready to scrap killer cluster bombs
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian 5/27/2008
UK ready to scrap killer cluster bombs - Ministers overrule opposition from military over controversial weapons - The government is preparing to scrap Britain’s entire arsenal of cluster bombs in the face of a growing clamour against weapons that have killed and maimed hundreds of innocent civilians. Officials are paving the way for the unexpected and radical step at talks in Dublin on an international treaty aimed at a worldwide ban on the bombs. Well-placed sources made clear yesterday that despite opposition from the military, the government is prepared to get rid of the cluster munitions in Britain’s armoury: the lsraeli-designed M85 artillery weapon used during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and in attacks on Lebanon two years ago; and the M73, part of a weapons system for Apache helicopters. "The prime minister is very much behind this process and wants us to sign [the treaty]", a senior Foreign Office source said yesterday.

Dollar fell 1.4% after interest rate cut
Yael Pollak, Adi Dovrat, Ido Baum, Amitai Ziv and Ma''ayan, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
The dollar tumbled against the shekel yesterday, after the Bank of Israel lowered Israeli interest rates by a quarter-percent the night before. The dollar weakened by 1. 44% to NIS 3. 285 shekels in the immediate aftermath of the rate cut, to monetary interest of 3. 5%. But not everybody is blindly bowing to the official exchange rates set by the Bank of Israel. The dollar’s slide against the shekel has slammed profit at a host of businesses that do business in or link to the dollar. But before whipping out your handkerchief to wipe away tears, you might want to applaud the creativity of the businesses’ response. Some simply set fictitious exchange rates, usually NIS 4 to the dollar or as much as NIS 4. 20. Others took advantage of the end of the fiscal year 2007 to jack up their rates in dollar terms.

Jerusalem mayor enters train fray
Lior Baron, Globes Online 5/27/2008
Uri Lupoliansky asks Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to save the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem high-speed train. The Jerusalem municipality is intervening in the dispute between the Ministries of Transport and Finance over the budget for Israel Railways. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky recently met Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On to express his strong opposition to the cancellation of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem high-speed train. Lupoliansky has also asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to intervene in the issue. Further work on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem high-speed rail link is uncertain after the Ministry of Finance halted the flow of money to Israel Railways because of cost overruns. Ten days ago, Budget Director Ram Belnikov suspended the transfers because Israel Railways’ development budget is NIS 4 billion in arrears.

Light rail delay costs state NIS 150m
Lilach Wiessman, Globes Online 5/27/2008
The total cost of the Jerusalem light railway is NIS 3. 3 billion. - The Knesset Finance Committee today approved NIS 150 million in compensation to be paid to the Jerusalem light railway franchisee CityPass for delays in the project. Budget Director Ram Belnikov asked the committee to approve the outlay last month. A joint presentation by the Ministries of Finance and Transport and the Jerusalem municipality stated that cost of the delays totaled NIS 287 million, of which NIS 120 million would be transferred to CityPass. CityPass will bear the rest of the cost overrun. An additional NIS 30 million was approved to cover the cost of additional work on the project ordered by Ministry of Transport and the Jerusalem municipality. The first line of the Jerusalem light railway is now 18 months behind schedule.

Fashion wars / U.S. store pulls ’pro-violence’ Palestinian T-shirt
Alison Avigayil Ramer, Ha’aretz 5/26/2008
T-shirt sold by Urban Outfitters showed Palestinian youth carrying automatic rifle, map of West Bank, Gaza. Popular U. S. clothing store Urban Outfitters has halted sales of a T-shirt apparently supporting Palestinian violence that has sparked outrage in the American Jewish community. The T-shirt, created by Los Angeles-based designer "Fashion Jive," depicts a young Palestinian boy carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, over the word "Victimized. "The T-shirt also shows the Palestinian flag, a map of the Palestinian territories and a small white dove. The item sold online for $25. "If Urban Outfitters is good at something, it is getting publicity," remarked Ami Cohen, works for American Apparel in Tel Aviv. "This company has a history of coming into conflict with Jews."


Eighteen years of Work Destroyed in Less than four Hours
Narratives Under Siege - PCHR, Palestine Think Tank 5/27/2008
      Nasser Jaber spent eighteen years building up his chicken farm in the southern Gaza Strip. Two weeks ago the IOF bulldozed his farm, killing 40,000 of his chickens, and destroying his business.
     "They came at four in the morning, with two bulldozers, and they left before 8am. I own this chicken farm with my three brothers, and we worked day and night for eighteen years to build up our business. The Israelis destroyed everything in less then four hours."
     Nasser Jaber’s chicken farm was bulldozed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) ten days ago, in the early morning hours of May 16, while he was sleeping at home in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. He still looks stunned. Wearily he guides us round the ruins of his eighteen-year business. "This was a lifetime project for me and my brothers" he says as we clamber over rubble, wire, shattered sheets of metal and thousands of putrefying chickens. -- See also: Narratives under siege: Eighteen years of work destroyed in less than four hours

Carter urges ’supine’ Europe to break with US over Gaza blockade

Jonathan Steele and Jonathan Freedland, Palestine Monitor 5/27/2008
      Ex-president says EU is colluding in a human rights crime - Britain and other European governments should break from the US over the international embargo on Gaza, former US president Jimmy Carter told the Guardian yesterday. Carter, visiting the Welsh border town of Hay for the Guardian literary festival, described the EU’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as "supine" and its failure to criticise the Israeli blockade of Gaza as "embarrassing".
     Referring to the possibility of Europe breaking with the US in an interview with the Guardian, he said: "Why not? They’re not our vassals. They occupy an equal position with the US."
     The blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, imposed by the US, EU, UN and Russia - the so-called Quartet - after the organisation’s election victory in 2006, was "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. To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing," Carter said.

Nuclear exposure on the River Wye

Reuven Pedatzur, Ha’aretz 5/28/2008
      Of all the places in the world, Jimmy Carter chose a book fair on the banks of the River Wye in Wales as the spot from which to put an official end to Israel’s nuclear ambiguity. One cannot exaggerate the importance of the former American president’s statement that Israel has 150 nuclear bombs. More than all the estimates and leaks about the Israeli nuclear program over the past five decades, Carter’s comments on Sunday give official cachet to Israel’s status as a nuclear power.
     This time the speaker is not another scientist basing his assessments on calculations of the output from the Dimona reactor, or a news report with an unclear source. Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal is being revealed by a former American president, someone who, upon entering the White House, adopted the policy of covert American nuclear cooperation with Israel, which was formulated four decades ago.
     The principles of the nuclear understandings between Israel and the United States were agreed upon in 1969, when prime minister Golda Meir met with U.S. president Richard Nixon in Washington. That was the first time the United States officially accepted Israel’s status as a nuclear power, while agreeing not to publicly reveal details about its weapons. Israel committed not to carry out nuclear testing or declare that it has nuclear weapons. For their part, the Americans promised not to pressure Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Adel Samara - Development by Colonialism: The Bethlehem Conference

Adel Samara, Palestine Think Tank 5/27/2008
      The huge propaganda machine went in parallel with the so-called "œBethlehem Investment Conference" which has attracted more than 1400 participants from many places around the world. It is the first time since 15 years of siege that the holy town of Bethlehem enjoyed the chance to see the holy city of Jerusalem. Thanks to the few days that Israel lifted the blockades[1].
     But why not, when capital speaks, religion must fall on its knees. Those who want to pass from Bethlehem to Jerusalem are not Christian or Muslim pilgrims, they are capitalists. In his marketing speech of the conference, the PA"™s Prime Minister said (Al-Auds Daily May 22): "œThe main proof of the conference"™s success is the attendance of the PA"™s chairman Abu Mazen!"
     It is not the first time that Palestinian people are being economically brainwashed. When the Oslo Accords were signed, which is "œpeace for capital", poor Palestinians were dancing in the streets dreaming that they will enjoy bread, freedom and independence. A lot of donations poured in, but a lot of fat-cats "œdeveloped.

Growing up a refugee in Deheisha, never forgetting Beit Urtab

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 5/27/2008
      The day marking 60 years of Al Nakba has come and gone, but that does not mean that Palestinians do not still live a daily ’Catastrophe.’ On Tuesday, as 21 year old Ghassan Hamdan suggests from Deheisha Refugee Camp that all Palestinian refugees should gather and move together, as far as they can get toward their own villages until Israeli forces stop them, presents another great idea for the Palestinian nonviolent resistance which has been partially vibrant, yet often asleep, for years.
     Ghassan says that his grandmother, with the key that he and she now share, still works in the door of her original home in Beit Urtab Village in the Jerusalem area, was expecting the negotiations to work out, and that he himself is looking for a political solution, but as they stand now, negotiations are worthless.
     "I wanted to take action, but my grandmother wasn’t like that. She was still waiting for the negotiations of Arafat and then Abu Mazen to lead somewhere. All of the words are empty. I’m not with the governments or the negotiations, or anything. There is no peace. If they tell me there is peace, the first stone is the Wall."