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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
30 May 2008

News

Elderly woman killed by Israeli gunfire; military incursion in Al-Bureij
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - An elderly Palestinian woman was killed when special Israeli forces raided the Khaza’a area, east of Khan Younis at dawn on Friday. The forces also razed agricultural lands in the area. Medical sources told Ma’an that 70-year-old Yosra Qzeih Abu Roq was dead on arrival at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis. She was killed when a special Israeli force opened fire on civilian houses in Khaza’a. Palestinian sources said that at 2am on Friday a special Israeli force stormed the Khaza’a area, along with a number of military vehicles. Also on Friday sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided 300 meters east of Al-Bureij refugee camp supported by a number of Israeli military vehicles, firing heavily at civilian houses. They were accompanied by a huge fleet of Apache helicopters.

Haaretz: Housing Ministry to issue tender for building 120 homes in Har Homa
International Solidarity Movement 5/30/2008
Jerusalem Region - Days before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s departure for Washington, Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim announced Friday that his ministry will issue a tender on Sunday for the construction of hundreds of housing units in two controversial East Jerusalem neighborhoods: 120 units in Har Homa and 700 units in Pisgat Ze’ev. Both Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev are under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality, but are situated beyond the green line. Tens of thousands of people currently reside in each of them. In an interview with "Kol Hai" radio Friday, Boim said that he was waiting for the authorization of the defense minister before issuing an additional tender for the construction of 600 apartments in the settlement of Beitar Ilit, south of East Jerusalem, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality.

Gazans wounded in border protest
Al Jazeera 5/30/2008
At least 15 Palestinians have been wounded after Israeli troops used gunfire to stop about 3,000 Hamas supporters from approaching one of the Gaza Strip’s main border crossings with Israel, witnesses say. Palestinian medical workers said on Friday that at least two of the wounded are in a critical condition. "The IDF [Israeli army] will operate with all its strength to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the security fence or the crossing. . . and from entering the state of Israel," an Israeli military official said. During the standoff, Israeli forces shot into the crowd to "make the rioters back off", the official said. Before the protest, the Israeli army posted signs telling Palestinians that they faced "Danger of Death" if they tried to approach the Sufa crossing.

Tutu: Silence on Gaza blockade shames us all
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 5/28/2008
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has denounced the international community for its "silence and complicity" on what he called Israel’s "abominable" 11-month blockade of Gaza. The South African Nobel Laureate, who ended a three-day visit to Gaza yesterday, strongly condemned the blockade imposed after Hamas’s enforced takeover of the Strip last June that has reduced electricity, severely cut fuel supplies and brought industry to a halt. The Archbishop, mainly here on a UN mission to investigate what he called the Beit Hanoun massacre of 21 civilians by Israeli tank shelling 18 months ago, said: "All we had heard about conditions in Gaza -- deprivation, a sense of despair, the lack of economic activity -- had not prepared us for the stark reality which we saw." He added: "The entire situation is abominable. I believe the ordinary Israeli citizens would not support this blockade if they knew what it really meant to ordinary people like themselves.

Israeli authorities prevent Al-Barghouti from reaching Jerusalem to meet Portuguese president
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Israeli authorities prevented Dr Mustafa Al-Barghouti, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, from reaching Jerusalem for a meeting with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva that was scheduled for Friday morning. Al-Barghouti said in a statement that this was the seventeenth time during recent months that Israeli authorities have prevented him from entering Jerusalem. He described this as an additional arbitrary measure implemented in the context of other restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities aiming to isolate and Judaize Jerusalem, even though the city is an integral part of the Palestinian territories. Al-Barghouti stressed that all the Israeli practices against Jerusalem will not succeed in depriving the Palestinian people of their holy city as the capital of a future independent Palestinianstate.

PLC slams the Israeli abduction of assistant of the detained Legislative Council head
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) slammed the Israeli army’s kidnapping of Abdul-Qaher Srour, head of the office of the detained head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr. Aziz Dweik. Srour lives in the West Bank city of Ramallah and was kidnapped by the army after the soldiers broke into his home and searched it. The Legislative Council considered this violation as another Israeli attempt to obstruct its duties especially since most of the Palestinian Legislative Council members in the West Bank,including the PLC head Dr. Dweik, are imprisoned by Israel. The Council stated that the soldiers broke into the house of Srour and fired rounds of live ammunition in several directions before uttering threats to harm his family. It is worth mentioning that Sour was repeated kidnapped by the Israeli army and was also arrested by the Palestinian security forces.

Israel ruling party to decide on Olmert leadership vote
Orla Ryan and agencies, The Guardian 5/30/2008
Israel’s ruling Kadima party will meet next week to decide on an internal vote on the leadership of the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, senior party members said today. The move comes after allegations of corruption against Olmert, who has so far ignored demands by the defence minister, Ehud Barak - whose Labour party is part of the coalition government - to leave office. Barak threatened to force an early election if Olmert did not step aside. Yesterday, the foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, added to calls for the Kadima leader to step aside when she said the party should prepare for every eventuality, including elections. The political storm erupted when a US businessman, Morris Talansky, told an Israeli court on Tuesday that he had given Olmert $150,000 (£76,000) in cash. Talansky alleged that some of the money was used for political campaigning and the rest to fund Olmert’s lavish lifestyle. He said he received no personal gain.

Dozens treated for tear gas inhalation at the weekly Bil’in protest
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
Villagers from Bil’in, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, supported by international and Israeli peace activists conducted their weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall built on the village’s land on Friday. The villagers called for the removal of the of the Israeli wall, settlements. Like wise each week the protests started after the mid-day Friday prayers were finished in the local mosque. Protesters marched towards the location of the Wall which is separating the village from its land. Immediately after the protest reached the gate of the Wall, soldiers showered the protestors with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. Scores of protesters were treated for gas inhalation, and three were injured by rubber-steal coated bullets. on local Activist was kidnapped by the Israeli army during the protest Iyad Burnat of the local committee. . .

Israeli army closes northern entry to Salfit governorate with cement blocks
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Israeli forces have closed the northern entry to the Salfit governorate with cement blocks, Palestinian security sources confirmed on Friday. The security sources told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that an Israeli bulldozer accompanied by three military jeeps closed the northwestern entry to the Salfit governorate near the Ariel settlement with cement blocks. The Ariel settlement is the largest Israeli settlement in the West Bank. This northern entry to the Salfit governorate is used by thousands of civilians daily and is the main route connecting Salfit and a number of surrounding villages. [end]

The villagers of Al Khader conduct their weekly nonviolent protest
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
Around 200 villagers from Al Khader village near Bethlehem, in the southern part of the West Bank protest on Friday the Israeli wall and settlements constructed on the village land. Supported by 50 international and Israeli peace activist the villager held the midday prayers on the settlers road near the village then marched towards the nearby Israeli road block. Several hours later the action was finished peacefully. A number of the village activists today took a group of internationals who took part of today’s action for a tour on the village land that is annexed for the wall and the Israeli settlements. [end]

The Israeli army attacks a nonviolent protest near Bethlehem and kidnaps one civilian
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
The Israeli army attacked the nonviolent protest organized by the villagers of Al-Me’sara village south of Bethlehem on Friday morning and kidnapped one protester. Supported by international and Israeli peace activists the villagers gathered at the nearby Israeli settlers road, the villagers demanded the removal of the separation wall Israel is building on the land Dozens of Israeli troops lined up and forced the villagers away, one international peace activist was kidnapped by the Israeli troops and taken away. [end]

Israel-OPT: UN says number of West Bank checkpoints on the rise
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated, ReliefWeb 5/28/2008
JERUSALEM, 28 May 2008 (IRIN) - There has been an increase in the number of Israeli-imposed restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank over the past eight months, according to a UN report. An additional 41 checkpoints and other physical limitations on movement in the territory have been registered since September 2007, an increase to 607 such obstacles, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated in its May Closure Update. During the reporting period to April 2008 some 103 obstacles were removed but 144 were added. However, the number of "flying" or random checkpoints fell when compared with the previous eight months. "The issue is not just the number of roadblocks, but also the quality and the other factors which block movement as well," said Allegra Pacheco, deputy head of OCHA in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

Soldiers block a main road linking two areas in Hebron
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
The Christian Peace Maker Teams (CPT), stationed in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, reported on Thursday that Israeli soldiers blocked the road between the village of At-Tuwani and the city of Yatta using three of the concrete blocks. The blocked road is the main route for vehicles in the South Hebron Hills and is used by the Palestinians to travel to and from the city of Yatta, near Hebron. The CPT reported that the main health services, including maternity provision, are situated in Yatta, and that the blockade of this road will bar several villages in the South Hebron Hills from having access to these facilities. A resident of At-Tuwani told CPT members that the price of water transported into the village had doubled as the tankers are now forced to take longer routes as an alternative to the blocked road.

Demonstrations in al-Ma’sara, Bi’lin and al-Khader
Mahmoud Zwahre, International Solidarity Movement 5/30/2008
Press clippings - On the 30th May, around 150 people from the village of Al-Ma’sara demonstrated against the building of the apartheid wall on their land. As usual the demo started from the middle of the village ad continued towards the construction site where the Israeli army are building the wall. The majority of the participators were from the village and were j (CPT)oined by a group from the Anarchists Against the Wall and members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. As the demonstration reached the entrance of the village, Israeli soldiers closed the entrance of the villagewith razor-wire. Protesters tried to remove the wire in order to continue to reach the land of the village, but the soldiers attacked them. Two of them were injured and moved to a near clinic to be treated.

Palestinian detainee in a critical health condition
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
One of the lawyers of the Nafha Society for Defending Human Rights and Detainees Rights managed to visit detainee Zuheir Lubbada, 54, who is currently at the Al Ramla Prison Hospital and suffering from kidney failure in addition to several other health issues. The lawyer stated that Lubbada is in a critical health condition as he was kidnapped by the Israeli army on May 25, 2008, and was interrogated and tortured before he was moved to the Al Ramla Prison Hospital which lacks the basic equipment. Lubbada also suffering from a virus in his liver and his only medication is painkiller pills. He was kidnapped the first time in 1994 and spent two years in prison before he was released to be kidnapped against in 2008. The Nafha Society voiced an appeal to the Red Cross and several human rights groups to intervene and save the life of Lubbada in order to enable him perform a kidney transplant. . .

Seven Palestinians injured in Hamas-organized protest near Sufa crossing
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Seven civilians were injured during a Hamas-organized protest against the siege on the Gaza Strip, near the Sufa crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, after Israeli forces opened fire on the protestors. Mu’awiyya Hassanein, head of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian ministry of health, confirmed that seven injured civilians were taken to the European hospital in Gaza. Two of the injured are in a serious condition, he said. Prominent Hamas leader Hammad Ar-Reqel said the protest had beenpeaceful until the soldiers opened fire. "If Israel doesn’t respond to our messages, then it can expect more but we won’t wait until Palestinians die," Ar-Reqel added.

IDF fires into crowd of 3,000 Hamas protesters at Gaza border
Reuters, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
GAZA - Israel Defense Forces troops used gunfire and tear gas on Friday to keep more than 3,000 Hamas supporters from approaching one of the Gaza Strip’s main border crossings with Israel, wounding at least six Palestinians, witnesses said. Palestinian medical workers said at least two of the wounded were in a critical condition. "The IDF will operate with all its strength to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the security fence or the crossing. . . and from entering the state of Israel," an Israeli military official said. During the standoff, Israeli forces shot into the crowd to "make the rioters back off," the official said. Since Hamas took over Gaza last year, Israel has closed all crossings,allowing only humanitarian aid and Palestinians with urgent medical needs to cross.

Israel closes Sufa crossing after Hamas threaten protest
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Israeli forces closed the Sufa crossing east of Rafah in the southern the Gaza Strip on Friday morning, Palestinian sources reported. The sources told Ma’an that the Sufa crossing was supposed to be opened from 9am until 5pm as usual in order to allow food and commercial supplies into the Gaza Strip but the Israeli authority closed the crossing for "security reasons." Hamas has called on its affiliates to march towards the Sufa crossing after Friday prayers to condemn the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Ma’an’s correspondent said that Israeli military vehicles raided the area near the crossing before the Friday prayer ended and before the demonstration had started. Last week Hamas affiliates staged a protest march at the Karni crossing east of Gaza City. During the demonstration one civilian was killed and dozens were injured when Israeli forces. . .

Eight Palestinians wounded during peaceful protest
Palestinian Information Center 5/30/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Eight Palestinian were wounded, two of them seriously, when IOF troops manning the Sofa crossing opened fire at demonstrators protesting the siege, according to Palestinian medical sources in the southern Gaza Strip. Thousands of Gaza citizens joined the demonstration which was called for by the Hamas movement after the Friday prayers towards the Sofa crossing to the north east of the southern Gaza Strip district of Rafah. The peaceful demonstration by civilians is part of a popular campaign to pressure the Israeli occupation to lift the siege which has caused the death of tens of patients who were not allowed to seek medical treatment outside the strip in addition to causing a humanitarian crisis in the strip. As soon as the demonstration reached the crossing IOF troops started firing tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition at the demonstrators who responded by burning car tyres.

US grants canceled for 7 Gaza students
Associated Press, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Fulbright scholarship recipients to stay home, cannot leave Strip due to Gaza siege; Rice says she’s surprised by decision - Hadeel Abu Kawik was supposed to spend next year in the United States on the prestigious Fulbright scholarship program, but now it appears she will remain trapped in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli blockade. Word that the US State Department was canceling her scholarship came after Abu Kawik, 23, a computer engineering student, went through a lengthy process for the scholarship that included interviews, exams and an English test." I was building my hope on this scholarship," she said Friday. In all, seven Gaza students lost their grants. The decision was made because they would not be able to get exit visas from Israel, according to State Department Spokesman Tom Casey. The scholarships meant for the Gazans will be offered instead to. . .

U.S. presses Israel to provide exit visas for Gaza students
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
WASHINGTON - The U. S. State Department said Friday it was pressing Israel’s government to allow eight Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip to travel to the United States to study on coveted Fulbright fellowships. "We are trying to revisit this issue with the Israeli government," State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters, referring to Israel’s failure to grant exit visas for the students. "Frankly, a decision to let people that have been vetted for what is perhaps the most prestigious foreign educational program run by the United States. . . it ought to be [as easy as] falling off a log for them to be able to do this." Earlier Friday, U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she would investigate a report that the State Department had withdrawn Fulbright Scholarship grants to the Palestinian students because they were denied exit visas by Israel.

Palestinian students have US scholarships withdrawn
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 5/30/2008
The US state department has withdrawn its highly-coveted Fulbright scholarships awarded to seven Palestinian students from Gaza because they have been unable to obtain Israeli permission to leave the small strip of land. The students were told in a letter from the US consulate general in Jerusalem, dated Thursday and seen by the Guardian, that the state department "will not be able to finalize your Fulbright Student Scholarship for 2008". No explanation was given, but the students were told to apply again next year when they would be given "priority consideration" but no guarantee that the scholarship would be awarded again. Tom Casey, a state department spokesman, said the scholarships would instead be given to Palestinians from the West Bank, who can travel abroad more easily.

Student trapped in Gaza asks Blair for help to beat travel ban
Donald Macintyre in Gaza City, The Independent 5/28/2008
Wissam Abuajwa has had the same ambition for more than a decade: to acquire all the international expertise he can and return to his native Gaza to help it tackle some of the worst environmental problems in the Middle East. Mr Abuajwa, 30, an outstanding chemistry graduate of Gaza’s secular Al Azhar University was therefore thrilled over a year ago not only to win an MSc place at Nottingham University’s School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, one of the best in its field anywhere, but also a full scholarship to cover his fees and accommodation. After that it was no problem to get a British visa. What he lacked -- and still lacks -- is an Israeli permit to leave Gaza because of the closure imposed by the military since Hamas’s enforced takeover of the Strip last June -- and enforced with even greater rigour on students since January.

Residents of Deir Istiya prevented from planting olive trees on their land by Israeli forces
International Solidarity Movement 5/30/2008
Salfit Region - Photos - On 30th May 2008 residents of the village of Deir Istiyia in the Salfit region, as well as Israeli and international activists, attempted to plant 50 olive trees in the Palestinian-owned land where the illegal Israeli settlement of Revava is attempting to expand its borders. The illegal settlement began construction last week, illegally and without any consultation. Villagers were able to temporarily halt the construction work on Monday 26th May by confronting the construction workers and Israeli settlers, who were subsequently ordered by the Israeli police to stop work or face a fine of up to one thousand shekels. Construction has since continued, and while villagers are currently fighting the expansion through the Israeli District Coordination Office - proving ownership of the land through maps and title deeds - they are also attempting to prevent the work from taking place while this is in process.

Housing Ministry to issue tender for construction in East Jerusalem neighborhood
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
Days before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s departure for Washington, Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim announced Friday that his ministry will issue a tender on Sunday for the construction of hundreds of housing units in two controversial East Jerusalem neighborhoods: 120 units in Har Homa and 700 units in Pisgat Ze’ev. Both Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev are under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality, but are situated beyond the green line. Tens of thousands of people currently reside in each of them. In an interview with "Kol Hai" radio Friday, Boim said that he was waiting for the authorization of the defense minister before issuing an additional tender for the construction of 600 apartments in the settlement of Beitar Ilit, south of East Jerusalem, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality.

Dozens of settlers access Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus protected by army
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - A number of Israeli settlers entered the Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus at dawn on Friday under the protection of the Israeli army, Palestinian security sources said. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that Israeli military jeeps accompanied the convoy of settlers’ cars as they headed to Joseph’s Tomb, located east of the city, to perform prayers. Joseph’s Tomb is a sacred site for both Jews and Muslims. At the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in October 2000, the shrine became a target of armed Palestinian resistance. Seventeen Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed in fighting around the tomb. On October 7, 2000 the Israeli army withdrew from the site leaving it in the hands of the Palestinians.

Settlers invade abandoned army base in Beit Sahour and stay there for several hours
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
A group of 30 settlers invaded an abandoned military base located outside Beit Sahour city center, in the northern part of the West Bank. A group of local NGOs workers in Beit Sahour arrived at the scene in an attmpte to stop the settlers from taking over the place. Israeli army forces arrived shortly after and moved the settlers and the NGOs workers away from the area. A group of settlers had also invaded the same location two week, stayed for a few hours, and left pro-Israeli graffiti on the buildings. Local activists are hoping to maintain a presence on the site in order to dissuade Israeli settlers from coming to set up a permanent settlement. This land, known as Ush Ghrab (Crock’s Nest) was occupied by the Israeli army since 1967 and was used as a military base. The Israeli army unilaterally withdrew from this land in 2006.

West Bank Palestinians live in horror of losing their homes
Patrick Moser, ReliefWeb 5/28/2008
AL-AQABA, West Bank, May 28, 2008 (AFP) - Salim Hamed Jaber, 85, shook his head angrily as he recounted how an Israeli soldier drove up to his impoverished household in the occupied West Bank to deliver a demolition order. "Living under the occupation is like having a piece of glass in your throat," said Jaber. According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), "more than 3,000 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank have pending demolition orders, which can be immediately executed without prior warning." Most of the orders were issued because there were no construction permits, which Israeli authorities only seldom grant to Palestinians, the UN agency said, adding that in some cases entire communities could be displaced. "This is occupation, this is injustice," said Jaber.

IOF troops kill 70 year old Palestinian woman in the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Information Center 5/30/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- Palestinian citizen Yusra Abu Rook, 70, died at dawn Friday as a result of wounds she sustained when IOF troops opened fire during an incursion on Thursday evening into the Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis city, Palestinian medical sources confirmed to the PIC correspondent. According to the sources, the elderly woman sustained fatal wounds in the chest when the invading Israeli occupation soldiers randomly shot at Palestinian civilians’ homes in the town. According to the sources, the victim was rushed to the city’s Naser hospital before she was pronounced dead a few hours later.   A number of IOF military vehicles and bulldozers advanced in to the neighborhood of Abu Kudaih and Abu Rook, destroying Palestinian greenhouses, and farms before they pulled out of the area late Thursday night, local sources and eyewitnesses confirmed.

More rockets hit south; Islamic Jihad claims responsibility
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 5/31/2008
Four Qassams fired at Israel Friday afternoon; two land near Gaza’s Erez crossing. Two more rockets fired from Gaza Friday night - More rockets hit south: Palestinians fired four Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel Friday afternoon. All the rockets reportedly landed in open areas: Two fell in the Shaar Hanegev regional council area and two others landed near Gaza’s Erez crossing. No injuries were reported in the rocket barrage. Friday night, two more rockets were fired from Gaza. The Qassams landed near the border fence causing no injuries or damages. The "Red Color" anti-rocket alert system was first activated around 5:30 pm Friday, prompting area residents to take cover. Shortly after the attack, the Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.

News Briefs - IDF Raids Gaza
Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
Israel Defense Forces tanks and infantry raided the northern Gaza Strip before dawn yesterday, and rounded up some 60 Palestinian suspects. The prisoners were passed on to be interrogated by the Shin Bet security forces. A few hours later, Palestinian militants fired three Qassam rockets and three mortar shells at Israeli territory. No injuries or damage was reported. Also yesterday, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Agriculture agreed to provide 20 bullet-proof tractors for Israeli farmers in the villages surrounding the Gaza Strip. Under the plan, devised by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, farmers with plots within a kilometer from the border fence will be the first to receive the armored vehicles. The first four tractors will be ready within a few weeks, and the remaining 16 over the next couple of months.

Brigades target Israeli military jeep
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Islamic Jihad’s military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades and Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed joint responsibility for launching an explosive device at an Israeli military jeep east of the town of Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on Friday. The brigades told Ma’an that at 8. 32 am on Friday morning the Al-Quds Brigades and the Al-Aqsa Brigades staged a joint attack and detonated a device near an Israeli military jeep east of the Abu Al-’Ajin area located to the east of Deir Al-Balah in the central the Gaza Strip. They said in a statement that this attack came in retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people. [end]

Al-Aqsa brigades clash with Israeli forces near Sufa crossing
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Fatah’s Al-Aqsa brigades claimed they clashed with Israeli forces near the Sufa crossing east of Rafah in the southern the Gaza Strip on Friday. The brigades said in a statement that immediately after the Friday prayers ended, violent clashes took place between Al-Aqsa brigades members and the Israeli army near the Sufa crossing where Israeli forces were razing agricultural lands. The Al-Aqsa brigades confirmed that they will respond to any ongoing Israeli incursions, assassinations and detentions.

An-Nasser brigades launch projectile at Kfar Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The An-Nasser brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), claimed responsibility for launching one homemade projectile at Kfar Gaza on Thursday evening. The brigades said in a statement that this came in retaliation for the ongoing Israeli blockade and aggressions against Palestinians. [end]

Fatah affiliated brigades shell Sufa crossing
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Abu Ar-Rish brigades, a military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at Sufa crossing east of Khan Yunis on Thursday. The brigades said in a statement that this came in retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. [end]

Al-Aqsa brigades shell Sderot
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - The Al-Aqsa brigades, the military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for launching two homemade projectiles at Sderot on Thursday evening. The brigades said in a statement that this came in retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. [end]

Al-’Asifa brigades claim responsibility for bombing Kissufim
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Fatah’s Al-’Asifa brigades claimed responsibility for launching four mortar shells at Kissufim Israeli military site east of Khan Younis, on Friday at dawn. The brigades told Ma’an that the shelling was a natural response to Israeli crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. [end]

Israeli forces detain Tulkarem citizen
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained a Palestinian citizen at Beit Ebba checkpoint west of Nablus, in the northern West Bank on Thursday evening. Our correspondent said that the Israeli troops at the checkpoint detained 30-year-old Rami Talal Shnar from Tulkarem, who is a student at the Jerusalem Open University. [end]

UK union deals a blow to business-as-usual with Israeli academy
Press release, PACBI, Electronic Intifada 5/30/2008
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salutes the British University and College Union (UCU) for its principled support for the cause of justice and peace in Palestine and for adopting, at its annual congress on 28 May 2008, significant steps in the direction of applying effective pressure on Israel and holding it accountable for its colonial and apartheid policies which violate international law and fundamental human rights. The UCU’s condemnation of the "apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy," its appeal to its members "to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions," and its decision to "greylist" -- a notch short of boycott -- the "colonizing" Israeli college in the illegal settlement of Ariel are the strongest indicators to date that the Union has resolutely moved forward in the

OPT: CAFOD helps IR support Gaza’s traumatised children
Islamic Relief - IR, ReliefWeb 5/30/2008
CAFOD staff paid a trip to Islamic Relief (IR) Palestine this month, visiting a new project which will provide psychological support to Gaza’s traumatised children. CAFOD’s Head of International Programmes, Pauline McKeown, and Middle East Programme Officer, Charlotte Ashley, visited IR’s Gaza office on May 12 2008 and the pair were optimistic regarding the project, which is being funded by CAFOD and implemented by IR and four other local NGOs. ‘The first preparations by Islamic Relief for the project seem very good,’ said Ashley. McKeown said that CAFOD had worked with IR before; during the tsunami, and that she was hopeful this project would be just as successful. ‘This cooperation will have a great impact on people especially children,’ she said. IR’s Head of Mission in Palestine, Mohammed Alsousi, also stressed the importance of the project in light of the current situation facing Gaza’s 1.

Tutu slams world silence over Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 5/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Nobel Peace laureate,  archbishop Desmond Tutu, on Thursday described the Israeli siege on Gaza Strip as "abominable", harshly criticizing international silence over the blockade. "All we had heard about conditions in Gaza - deprivation, a sense of despair, the lack of economic activity - had not prepared us for the stark reality which we saw," Tutu said at the end of a three-day UN fact-finding mission  to the Gaza Strip. Tutu’s main purpose was to investigate the carnage caused by Israeli shells in Biet Hanoun city, north of Gaza Strip, which reaped the lives of 19 Palestinians, mostly children and women, all from the Al-Athamneh family in November 2006. He pointed out that he was also commissioned to report on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. He slammed the international community for its silence on the tragic conditions in Gaza:  "My message to. . .

Israeli siege on Gaza claims the lives of 54 children
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
Rami Abdo, spokesperson of the Popular Committee Against the Siege stated that the Israeli occupation is committing crimes against the children in the Gaza Strip, as a large number of children were killing during Israeli shelling against Gaza in addition to 54 children who died due to the ongoing siege. Abdo added that one-third of the patients in the Gaza Strip who are barred from receiving medial treatment elsewhere are children below the age of 15. He also stated that since the middle of January this year, there was a sharp shortage in materials needed for the children, including medications and food, and added that four infants died over the last three days. The Palestinian Child Rights Association stated that more than 1000 children were killed by Israeli military fire since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada in late September 2000; 640 of them are from Gaza.

Popular Committee to Confront the Siege condemns ''silent holocaust'' against Gaza’s children
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Rami Abdo, spokesperson for the Popular Committee to Confront the Siege, said that the Israeli occupation is committing a "real and silent holocaust" against children in the Gaza Strip. In a press statement, Abdo described Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip as war crimes, and emphasized the impact of the Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza’s children. He cited the targeting of children by the Israeli military through shelling and direct aggression, and the children and infants dying as a result of the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. Abdo pointed out that about one third of patients prohibited from leaving the Gaza Strip for treatment abroad are children under the age of 15. From the middle of January 2008, Israeli authorities have prevented the import of children’s medicines and nutritional supplements into Gaza.

Al Mezan meets with UN fact finding mission concerning November 2006 massacre in Beit Hanoun
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, ReliefWeb 5/29/2008
On 28 May 2008, a delegation frommet with a UN High Level Fact-Finding Mission led by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Professor Christine Chinkin in Gaza City. The Mission arrived in Gaza nearly a year and a half late because of Israeli restrictions. They entered the Strip via Rafah Crossing on Tuesday, 27 May 2008. Al Mezan’s delegation included the Center’s Director, Mr. Issam Younis, Field Work Unit Coordinator, Mr. Samir Zaqout, and Communications Coordinator, Mr. Mahmoud Abu Rahma. The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 15 November 2006 in which it decided to send the Mission to investigate the Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) shelling of Al Athamneh family’s homes, which claimed the lives of 19 civilians, including seven children and six women. Seventeen of the victims were from one family.

Bishop Tutu shocked at living conditions in Gaza
United Nations Radio, ReliefWeb 5/29/2008
Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu says he’s shocked at the living conditions in Gaza. The South African Archbishop in Gaza as head of a team of UN human rights observers tells UN Radio the Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal and must end. "The blockade by Israel is an abominable act; it is totally unacceptable, it is a crude violation of human rights and we need to call to the international community to stop its complicity and speak out on behalf of the people who are suffering so much." Bishop Tutu is part of an independent high-level fact-finding mission into the Israeli shelling of Beit Hanoun in which 19 people were killed in November 2006.

Hamas hails Egyptian gas supply to Gaza
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 5/28/2008
GAZA, May 28, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- The government of the Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza welcomed on Wednesday a proposal for supplying Gaza Strip main power plant with Egyptian gas. The Egyptian MENA news agency has earlier reported that Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Amin Sameh Samir Fahmi said Egypt would supply gas to the Palestinian Gaza power plant. Fahmi said that Egypt will supply the Palestinian people with all their needs of petro-products and adopt an all-out program to supply Gaza power station with Egyptian gas in a bid to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people. Zeyad al-Zaza, minister of national economy in Hamas-ruled government told reporters in a statement that his government is ready to offer all needed facilities ’in order to allow Egyptian fuels into the besieged Gaza Strip.

Security Council express deepest concern at continued civilian suffering during conflict, condemns all violations of humanitarian law threatening non-combatants
United Nations Security Council, ReliefWeb 5/28/2008
Presidential Statement on Civilian Protection Follows Day-Long Debate; Emergency Relief Coordinator Supports Creation of Informal Expert Group on Issue Expressing its deepest concern that civilians continued to suffer the brunt of the violence during armed conflicts, the Security Council this afternoon condemned all violations of international law that threatened non-combatants and reaffirmed the responsibility of States and other parties of conflicts to protect them. In a statement read by Council President John Sawers of the United Kingdom at the end of a day-long debate on protection of civilians, the Council also re ‑emphasized the importance of prosecuting those responsible for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Hamas: Israel uninterested in truce
Ali Waked, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Senior Hamas figure tells Ynet group won’t be surprised to see Israel exploiting domestic political crisis in order to avoid ceasefire; source says Israel may opt for Gaza escalation in order to divert attention away from Olmert probe - Hamas would not be surprised to see Israel exploiting its domestic political crisis in order to evade Egyptian mediation efforts on a Gaza Strip truce, a senior Hamas figure told Ynet Friday. The group is still waiting for Egypt’s response regarding clarifications it asked for, the source said. "It’s clear to us that Israel is not really interested in a lull, but rather, only wants to buy time," the source said. "Israel will attempt to divert attention away from the embarrassing affairs involving its leaders through escalation in the Gaza Strip. We are preparing for all scenarios, yet at this time we can say that the chances of lull efforts succeeding are slim because of Israel’s evasive games.

Hamas: We will not allow the siege to continue
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas called on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip on Friday to prepare for the stage of "breaking the blockade." In a press conference held on Friday in Gaza City, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri affirmed that the march to Sufa crossing and similar activities are a message to all parties, saying: "We will not allow the continuation of the siege, and all options are open to break the siege." Abu Zuhri added that the Egyptian mediation efforts have not produced any results on a potential ceasefire because of the refusal of the Israelis to lift the siege and open the border crossings. He said: "The Hamas movement presented everything possible to facilitate the success of the [Egyptian] efforts, but Israel continues to reject the basic conditions." Abu Zuhri called on Arab leaders and Egypt to take a decision to open the Rafah crossing, in the light of the continued siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip.

European Campaign to End the Siege: Israel implementing ''collective extermination'' in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – In a statement issued on Friday morning, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza accused the Israeli authorities of implementing "collective extermination" in Gaza through the ongoing embargo imposed on the Gaza Strip for almost two years. The campaign noted that the 1. 5 million Palestinians in Gaza continue to suffer from one of the harshest closures in recent history. Campaign spokesperson Arafat Madi told Ma’an: "The Israeli policy of total blockade and the closure of the Gaza crossings have negative effects on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in general and children in particular, and have caused a grave deterioration in health conditions. Patients are suffering from the lack of medicine and extremely limited possibilities for hospital treatment." He stated that Palestinians consider the people of Gaza to be facing a second harsh "Nakba" (catastrophe), threatening their lives and rights on a daily basis.

The Humanitarian Monitor Occupied Palestinian Territory No. 24, Apr 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 4/30/2008
Overview- Key Issues - Update on Gaza - a) Violence - During April, 70 people were killed in the Gaza Strip in direct conflict related incidents, 21 of whom were children. The largest single-incident casualty toll took place during the IDF ground operation in Juhor ad Dik area northeast of Al Bureij Camp on 16 April, during which seven children (aged 12, 13, 14(2), 15(3) years) were killed by IAF missiles, and 12 others were injured, two of whom died of their wounds on 20 April. The same day another two children were killed and two were injured by flechette rounds that struck a Reuters press vehicle on Salah Ed-Din road in Central Gaza. b) Fuel and cooking gas crisis - During April, fuel supply (including benzene, diesel and industrial gasoline) allowed by Israel to Gaza was further reduced to 7. 8 million litres, while the monthly average between October 2007 and March 2008 was 14.

Legal source: Messer testimony could help indict Olmert
Gidi Weitz, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
The testimony given by attorney Uri Messer,Ehud Olmert’s confidant, was very strong and could contribute to drafting an indictment against the prime minister over the money he took from American financier Morris Talansky, according to a legal source. However, another source said that Messer cooperated with the police only to a limited extent, and gave them as little information as he could. Messer refused to confront the prime minister over his role in the Talansky affair and responded postively when police asked if he was afraid of Olmert, Haaretz has learned. Confrontations between people involved in an investigation is a technique police often use in the hope that something new will be revealed. The detectives wanted to arrange a confrontation between Messer and Olmert, after the latterdenied knowing that Messer had kept cash from Talansky in his safe, Haaretz has learned.

Israel: Olmert Corruption Scandal Grows
The Real News Network, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he would use his considerable power to topple the coalition government if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not step aside to face corruption allegations. Although Barak stopped short of setting a firm deadline, his comments make it extremely difficult for Olmert to stay in power. If Barak’s Labor Party withdraws from the coalition, Olmert would lose his parliamentary majority and the country would be forced to hold new elections. Bernard Avishai, contributing editor of Harvard Business Review and author "The Hebrew Republic," comments on the possibility of early elections that would most likely see Israel’s current Foreign Minister appointed as Prime Minister.

Livni adds to pressure on Olmert to stand down
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 5/28/2008
The political turmoil in Israel over Ehud Olmert’s premiership intensified yesterday when his popular Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the ruling Kadima party should prepare for elections and stressed the desirability of a leadership contest. Ms Livni’s public exhortation to Kadima "to prepare for every eventuality" was aimed at increasing the pressure on Mr Olmert to step aside in the wake of allegations by the US businessman Morris Talansky that he had provided the Israeli Prime Minister with about $150,000 (£75,000) over 15 years. The Foreign Minister said that "the reality" had changed after Wednesday when the Defence Minister and Labour party leader Ehud Barak threatened to force a general election by walking out of Mr Olmert’s coalition unless he stood aside. During a discussion with Israeli journalists in which Ms Livni delicately avoided mentioning the embattled Prime. . .

Barak: We’ll force moral repair in Kadima
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 5/30/2008
A day after saying Israel must prepare for elections, defense ministers convenes some 200 Labor Party activists, Knesset members in Tel Aviv, tells them ’we must put aside our differences and unite in order to win elections. ’ Kadima MK: Barak is the last person to talk about morals - Labor Party moves forward in full force. Some 200 party activists and Knesset members gathered Friday morning in Tel Aviv, and were told by Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak that "if we do the right thing and unite, we will win. "On Thursday, the party decided to form an election headquarters ahead of possible Knesset elections. Slamming the ruling party, Barak said that "if the Kadima leadership’s moral spine continued to bend down in the face of power or interests, as it has been doing for years now, we will force it to straighten itself out."

Ramon: Elections to be held this year
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Speaking in Washington, Vice Premier Haim Ramon says he expects general elections to be held by November; meanwhile, Olmert’s associates say prime minister will not stand in way of early Kadima primaries - WASHINGTON- Minister Haim Ramon, who is a close associate of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has estimated Friday that general elections will be held in Israel by November. Ramon, who is currently in the United States, voiced his assessment during a conference at the Washington Institute. Ramon, who also serves as vice premier, said that he believes that Israel and the Palestinians should be publicly presenting the understandings they have reached while Olmert is still in office, and before American President George W. Bush leaves the White House. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Olmert’s associates, speaking in Israel, said Friday evening that the PM does not intend to. . .

Barak: There will probably be elections this year
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
General elections will be held by the end of the year, Labor leader and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at a party meeting at Labor headquarters in Tel Aviv yesterday. "We are in favor of stability and are ready to help form a new government in the current Knesset, but I believe we are heading for elections by the end of the year," Barak said. On Wednesday, Barak urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step down and appoint a replacement, due to the suspicions of corruption surrounding him. However, Olmert publicly rejected the request. "I have nothing personal against Ehud Olmert as a person, but national interests come first," Barak said. "Our value system is under siege not by the criminal sector, but by the public sector." The labor leader, who was Israel’s prime minister between 1999 and 2001, yesterday added: "The prime minister must make decisions on his and his. . .

Poll: Mergers drive away voters, parties better off running alone
Yossi Verter, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
The scent of elections is in the air and parties are again debating mergers and acquisitions: Labor with Kadima, and Likud with Yisrael Beiteinu. However, a Haaretz poll indicates - and not for the first time - that mergers would reduce votes, not add them, and the overall blocs do better when each party runs alone. The poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, the days of Morris Talansky’s testimony and Ehud Barak’s press conference. It indicated that a Kadima led byForeign Minister Tzipi Livni would garner 23 Knesset seats, while a Barak-led Labor would win 15, for 38 seats altogether. However, a united list of both parties would get two fewer seats. A Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu merger produces similar results. Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu running alongside Yisrael Beiteinu headed by Avigdor Lieberman (against Livni in Kadima and Barak in Labor) would get 29 and 11 seats respectively.

Poll: Likud leader Netanyahu would be the next Israeli Prime Minister if early elections were held
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli polling centers are competing to assess Israeli public opinion in anticipation of further developments in the investigation of Olmert that could affect his position or result in early Israeli elections. In this context Israeli newspapers published opinion polls on Friday predicting how the various candidates and parties would fare in early general elections and internal party elections, if Olmert’s position as Prime Minister and head of the Kadima party were to become vacant. The Tel Maysar Centre also published on Friday morning an opinion poll which attempted to survey the political map and the number of Knesset seats that would be obtained by various parties. The Tel Maysar poll showed that if elections were held now, the Kadima party would receive 25 seats if current Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni became the party leader, and 18 seats if Shaul Mofaz assumed the leadership role.

Rivals circle as Olmert bleeds support in face of scandal
Patrick Moser, Daily Star 5/31/2008
Agence France Presse - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: With scandal-ridden Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert up against the ropes, members of his Kadima party are already jockeying for position in anticipation of his downfall and possible early elections. "The Kadima Party primary began yesterday, even if nobody declared this officially. Even the prime minister realizes that he cannot prevent it from taking place soon," the top-selling Yediot Ahronot wrote in an editorial. Olmert suffered a stinging one-two blow when his deputy challenged his leadership right after a key ally demanded he quit over a corruption scandal. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the number two in the government and in Kadima, on Thursday called for unprecedented primary elections in the centrist party, hinting strongly that the scandal-tainted Olmert must go.

Hamas: PA security arrests 13 Hamas affiliates across West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Hamas said that Palestinian security forces arrested thirteen Hamas affiliates across the West Bank on Thursday evening. Hamas said in a statement that the Palestinian Authority’s forces arrested six Hebron university students from their homes in the Hebron governorate. They were named as Ala’ Al-Mahareek, ’Omar Abu ’Arqoub, Nabil Sbeih, Ibrahim Kassab, Mohammad Al-Arouri and Wisam Doufash. In Tulkarem governorate, they arrested ’Amer Al-Brouq, Hani Zubaidi, Adham Jabsheh and Mohammad ’Abbas in Deir Al-Ghosoun. In Ramallah governorate, they arrested Mahmoud Al-Hatel, a student in Bir Zeit University. [end]

Abu Zuhri: Rehabilitation of Abbas’s security forces target resistance
Palestinian Information Center 5/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesman of Hamas Movement in Gaza Strip, has condemned the European "instigation" that aims at deepening the Palestinian internal rift by supporting certain party against other parties. Abu Zuhri’s remarks were apparently in response to the EU mission’s strong participation in the graduation ceremony of new batches of PA security forces under PA chief Mahmoud Abbas allegedly prepared to maintain "peace and order" in the Palestinian territories. "This is clear evidence of the Western role in enhancing inter-Palestinian disputes and rift" said Abu Zuhri on the graduation ceremony in Ramallah city. He also added that the international community should have spent that money to help bail the deteriorating Palestinian economy out of the crises instead of spending them for arming and strengthening certain Palestinian party against the other parties.

Zahhar reveals Qatari efforts for Hamas-Fatah reconciliation
Palestinian Information Center 5/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Senior Hamas political leader Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar disclosed on Thursday that the Qatari government was exerting efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah factions, the biggest two factions in the Palestinian arena. However, Zahhar highlighted that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas couldn’t take any step forward before the term of US president George W. Bush in office ends at the end of this year, describing Abbas’s wagering on Bush to establish a viable Palestinian state as an "illusion". Zahhar’s remarks were made during an interview with the Islam online website on the internet where he asserted that he met with Qatari crown prince Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in the Qatari capital Doha on Monday, and discussed possible Qatari intervention to patch the rift between Hamas and Fatah. Qatar succeeded in ending the deadlock among the warring Lebanese parties that led to the election of new president and the formation of new government.

Leftist factions in Palestine attempting to form a unified front
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
The political bureaus of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Palestinian People Party (PPP) held a meeting in Damascus and agreed to form a unified leftist front which will also welcome other factions. After the Damascus meetings, the factions held separate meetings this week in order to set the means of implementing the unity agreement. A PFLP official stated that this agreement came as the outcome of ongoing efforts to form a leftist bloc in Palestine. The official added that several years ago, the former secretary-general of the PFLP, Abu Ali Mustafa, who was assassinated by Israel, initiated similar efforts and now this agreement is considered a continuation of these efforts. He also said that a unified left in Palestine will bring about a new balance in the Palestinian arena especially among the current internal crisis between Hamas and Fateh.

Olmert asks for emergency meeting with Palestinian President
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an report - Beleagured Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has asked for an emergency meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Palestinian sources told Ma’an. Ma’an was informed that a summit will take place between Olmert and Abbas next Monday, June 2 2008. Israeli sources confirmed on Friday the meeting between Olmert, who is facing possible corruption charges, and the Palestinian President whose push for peace may be derailed if Olmert is forced to resign. The Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot said that officials from Olmert’s office have hurriedly contacted Abbas’ office, asking him for an urgent meeting before Olmert heads to Washington next week. Abbas considers the accusations against Olmert as an internal Israeli matter, saying "we will deal with any government that works for peace.

Saeb Erekat meets with US Consul General
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – Chief Negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat met with U. S. Consul General Jack Wallace in Jericho on Friday to discuss the latest political developments in the Palestinian territories. Erekat told Ma’an that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is still making every possible effort to stabilize the truce in the Gaza Strip and lift the siege on the sector. He stressed the need for cooperation of all Palestinian political factions with the Egyptian efforts to bring about the truce, saying it is in the interests of all Palestinians. He emphasized the seriousness of the peace negotiations, saying the status of Jerusalem, the drawing up of borders, Israeli settlements, refugees, water, security and Palestinian prisoners are the most important issues. The shortest way to security, peace and stability in the region lies in ending. . .

Al-Aqsa brigades member appeals for release after 5 months in jail
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – A member of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa who has been held in jail for five months has appealed to Palestinian officials to secure his release. 35 year-old Fatah leader Ja’far As-Samhan called on the Coordinating Committee factions in Nablus and all Palestinian officials to intervene to find a solution to the problem Palestinian prisoners who Israel describe as ’wanted’. As-Samhan told Ma’an’s Nablus correspondent that he entered the Al-Junied prison under an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli side. He was supposed to serve three months but five months later he still has not been released. He says he has met all the conditions that were imposed by both the Palestinian and Israeli sides but still he remains in prison. 25 members of the Al-Aqsa Brigades men are being held in Al-Juneid prison, west of Nablus, awaiting a decision from Israel. . .

Syrian: Talks hinge on Olmert troubles
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
Peace talks between Syria and Israel will resume next week if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert manages to overcome his domestic problems, a senior Syrian journalist wrote yesterday. Writing in the London-based Arabic-language paper Al-Hayat, Ibrahim Hamidi, who is considered Syria’s leading independent journalist, said that Damascus was anxious to return to the negotiating table and that serious progress had been made in the talks so far. "Damascus will do all it can to further talks," he wrote. "It is examining every small move with hope on the way to peace. "He reiterated Syrian officials’ claim that Israel’s government had agreed to withdraw to the 1967 border, which Jerusalem denies. "When we mean the talks are serious, we mean that the other side is committed to a full withdrawal to the border of June 4, 1967," Hamidi quoted a Syrian source as saying.

Syrian source: Israel did not ask us to sever ties with Iran
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Sources involved in indirect negotiations between Jerusalem, Damascus tells London-based newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat sides have agreed on temporary security arrangements until trust is built between them, says ’serious progress made in talks’ - Israel did not ask Syria to sever its ties with Iran, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday morning, quoting a Syrian source involved in the indirect negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus. According to the source, Tehran expressed its understanding over the negotiations and is also holding talks "with other elements". In a phone call with the newspaper, the source said that "serious progress has been made in the talks. "He added that both sides were on the verge of launching direct talks, but that direct negotiations depended on developments in the diplomatic and regional conditions.

Assad heads to Gulf for talks in UAE, Kuwait
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/31/2008
ABU DHABI: Syrian President Bashar Assad travels to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait this weekend for talks on regional developments. He begins his two-nation tour Sunday in Abu Dhabi for talks with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the WAM news agency reported. He will be in Kuwait on Tuesday, Kuwait’s state-run KUNA news agency said. Assad’s trip follows talks in Damascus Friday with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, whose country earlier this month hosted reconciliation talks between Lebanon’s feuding politicians. Syria has backed the opposition in Lebanon, while most of the Gulf states have sided with the government. The Arab-League-brokered Doha talks ended an 18-month standoff in Lebanon, whose rival factions agreed to elect a president, form a national unity government and adopt a new electoral law for legislative polls next year.

An empty package
Jonathan Spyer, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
At this past Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a public statement relating to the revived negotiations with Syria. The talks, the prime minister wished to assure us, were "serious" and would be conducted with "all due caution. "All the ingredients familiar from peace processes past were present in Olmert’s statement: the gravitas; the quiet sense that history is presenting us with a chance that must not be missed; the necessary discretion. However, in the manner now familiar from Olmert’s tenure as prime minister, what we were presented with was the form of something, without its content. The revelation of negotiations with Syria last week came wrapped in the packaging of a diplomatic breakthrough. But it was nothing of the kind. The basic flaw relates not to Israeli domestic politics (though this may certainly be a factor).

Israel, Syria said to have made progress in talks
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
In their latest round of indirect talks, Israel and Syria made progress on the contentious issues of water, security, borders and normalization of relations, the London-based a-Sharq al-Awsat quoted a Syrian official as saying on Friday. A Syrian official close to the negotiations said that the issues were discussed on general lines, according to the report. The official added that in the next round of talks, the sides would negotiate the fundamental issues. The official said direct negotiations could begin in the near future, due to will exhibited by both sides. He said that the commencement of direct talks harbored on political and regional conditions. He added that Israel has agreed in principle to the implementation of joint security efforts as a trust-building step.

French, Syrian leaders discuss Middle East
Middle East Online 5/28/2008
PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the Middle East and the proposed Mediterranean Union in a telephone call Thursday with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, the Elysee Palace said. In a statement, it said the two leaders discussed "the regional situation, developments in Lebanon, and the resumption of indirect talks between Syria and Israel". "Bilateral relations and the proposed Mediterranean Union were also raised" in the telephone call, which was made at France’s initiative, the presidential residence added. Sarkozy recalled that the conversation was in line with a French commitment to resume top-level contacts with Syria in the event of "tangible progress" in resolving Lebanon’s political crisis, the Elysee statement said. France hosts a summit on the proposed Mediterranean Union -- an idea strongly advocated by Sarkozy -- on July 13 in Paris, shortly. . .

A surprise is waiting at the lowest point in the world
Nehemia Shtrasler, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
In three weeks, on June 22, Israel will be invaded. Four large passenger planes will land at Ben-Gurion International Airport and the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, will emerge from one of them, accompanied by his wife Carla Bruni, the French finance minister, members of the National Assembly, 70 senior executives, dozens of journalists, hundreds of aides, and the famous French singer Enrique Mesias. The huge delegation will be arriving for a two-day official presidential visit, which the French hope will overshadow even the recent visit by George W. Bush. Sarkozy and President Shimon Peres want to make this visit even bigger, more impressive and more royal. On the first day of his presidential visit, Sarkozy will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and then tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

France vows to help Jordan develop nuclear technology
DPA, Ha’aretz 5/31/2008
Jordan and France on Friday signed two agreements for cooperation in the peaceful development of nuclear technology and political coordination on regional and international issues, according to an official statement. The accords were signed by Jordanian Foreign Minister Salah Bashir and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner, who also held talks on latest developments in the Middle East. The nuclear cooperation agreement provides for using nuclear reactors for generation of electricity, the extraction of uranium from phosphate mines in Jordan, the training of Jordanian manpower and arrangements for nuclear safety, Chairman of the Jordanian Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Khalid Touqan said. Under the second agreement, Jordan and France set up "a political group that seeks to boost coordination on regional and international. . .

Oxfam, Palestinian farmers discuss project to improve olive oil quality with An-Najah University
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Nablus - Salfit - Ma’an - A delegation from Oxfam and the Union of Palestinian Farmers’ Societies visited An-Najah National University on Friday to discuss a project to improve the quality of Palestinian olive oil for the local and export markets. The delegation included Thomas Kazalis, coordinator of the Oxfam’s olive oil quality project, as well as Haitham Hassassneh and engineer Mahmoud Abu ’Assba. The delegation was received by Dr Sulaiman Khalil, general coordinator of the scientific centers at An-Najah, along with Dr Hassan Abu Qa’oud and Dr Munqeth Shtayeh from the Faculty of Agriculture, and Dr Nidal Za’tar, director of the Chemical and Biological Analysis Center. The attendees discussed coordination of the project, which aims to develop the quality of Palestinian olive oil in order to better market it for export to other countries.

This Week In Palestine - Week 22 2008
Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMc - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| Time 12m 0s || File 10. 9 MB || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for May 24th, through May 30th, 2008. As Egyptian mediation efforts between the Palestinian resistance and Israel continue, the Israeli army maintained its siege on Gaza and kidnapped civilians from the West Bank. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with the nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Ghassan Bannoura has the details: Bethlehem The Israeli army attacked the nonviolent protest organized by the villagers of Al-Me’sara village south of Bethlehem on Friday morning and kidnapped one protester. Supported by international and Israeli peace activists, the villagers gathered at the nearby Israeli settlers road and demanded. . .

A detainee from Gaza behind bars since 25 years
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
Palestinian researcher, specialized in detainees’ affairs at the Census Department of the Palestinian Ministry for Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Farawna, stated on Thursday that detainee Saleem Ibrahim Al Kayyal, 56, has been imprisoned by Israel since more than 25 years. Farawna added that there are 14 Palestinian detainees who have been imprisoned since more than 25 years, eight of them are from the West Bank, three are Arab residents of Israel, one from Jerusalem and one from the Gaza Strip in addition to the Lebanese detainee Sameer Al Quntar. Farawna also stated that detainee Al Kayyal, from the Gaza Strip and was born in 1952, was kidnapped by the Israeli forces on May, 30, 1983. He is a member of Fateh movement, married and has one daughter. Al Kayyal is currently imprisoned at the Nafha detention camp and suffers from several health issues including diabetes and high blood pressure.

PCHR Weekly Report: 9 Palestinians killed, 34 wounded in Israeli attacks
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 5/30/2008
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)’s Weekly Report, during the week of 22 - 28 May 2008, 9 Palestinians, including a child and an elderly farmer, were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. In addition, 33 Palestinians, including 21 civilians, were wounded by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, and a Palestinian child was wounded by Israeli forces in Jenin refugee camp, in the West Bank. Israeli attacks in the West Bank: Israeli forces conducted 34 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and abducted 41 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children, in the West Bank. Thus, the number of Palestinian civilians abducted by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008 has mounted to 1,224. The widest of those incursions was into Qalqilya town and continued for 24 hours.

Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 22 - 28 May 2008
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights - PCHR, ReliefWeb 5/28/2008
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)- 9 Palestinians, including a child and an elderly farmer, were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip. - 33 Palestinians, including 21 civilians, were wounded by IOF in the Gaza Strip. - A Palestinian child was wounded by IOF in Jenin refugee camp. - IOF conducted 34 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 8 into the Gaza Strip. - IOF razed 606 donums(1) of agricultural in the central and southern Gaza Strip. - IOF demolished 10 houses, 5 bird farms, 5 stores, a slaughterhouse, a brick factory and a stone factory in the Gaza Strip. - IOF arrested 41 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children, in the West Bank, and arrested 16 others in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli army spokesperson: soldiers who attacked demonstrators in Ni’lin will be prosecuted
Ma’an News Agency 5/30/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Israeli army spokesperson announced that all the Israeli soldiers who attacked Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators on Thursday protesting against construction of the separation wall in Ni’lin will be punished because they violated Israeli military values and regulations. On Thursday a large number of civilians were attacked and injured by Israeli forces during a peaceful demonstration against the separation wall, which will confiscate 2,500 dunums of land in Ni’lin, west of Ramallah. [end]

’I kicked the Arab, I stepped on his head’
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 5/29/2008
Dozens of teenage boys from Jerusalem received the same ICQ message: "We’re putting an end to all the Arabs who hang out in ’Pisga’ [Pisgat Ze’ev] and the mall, whistle at the girls, curse, threaten little kids. Anyone who is Jewish and wants to put an end to all that should be at Burger Ranch at 10 P. M. , and we’ll finally show them they can’t hang in our area anymore. Anyone who is willing to do that and has Jewish blood should add his name to this message. "It would have been difficult to choose a more cynical date on which to send out such a message: Wednesday, April 30, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Dozens of boys arrived at the meeting place in the Pisgat Ze’ev shopping mall. They streamed in from all parts of the capital, some on foot, some by bus and some driven in by parents.

Israel destroyed 200 West Bank buildings in 2007
Middle East Online 5/28/2008
WEST BABK - Israel demolished 208 buildings in the occupied West Bank last year, a UN agency said on Friday, adding that the Defence Ministry corrected its previous figure of 107. Most of the houses were torn down under demolition orders issued because there were no construction permits, which Israeli authorities only seldom grant to Palestinians. The buildings are located in the so-called Area C, which makes up more than 60 percent of the West Bank and is under full Israeli control. "We have been informed that according to the records of the Israeli Ministry of Defence the number of structures demolished in Area C of the West Bank in 2007 is not 107, as reported earlier, but 208," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. In the first quarter of this year, Israeli authorities demolished 124 structures in the West Bank, the UN agency said.

’Israel is punishing our children for their parents’ sins,’ charge Africans
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
In an unusual plea for clemency, emigrants from African countries last week asked President Shimon Peres to pardon community members for illegally entering Israel and grant their children resident status. The workers’ representatives say the recent flow of Sudanese refugees overshadows their plight and places their efforts at a dead end. The letter urging Peres to use his powers as a celebratory act for Israel’s 60th anniversary came from the leadership of the African Workers Union in Israel, which is seeking to make some 2,100 children permanent residents. In 2006, the cabinet decided to grant permanent residence to about 900 children from families of foreign workers and asylum-seekers, provided that they had spent six consecutive years in Israel and that the applicants’ parents had entered Israel legally. Although the authorities have so far not deported minors, approximately. . .

Britain looked to Israel for lessons in military deception
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
LONDON - When British military leaders set up a special task force in 1969 to study how best to use deception to achieve their battlefield aims, they focused on tactics used by the Israelis. Formerly classified documents released today by the National Archives show that many officers felt the Americans, in contrast, did not have a knack for deceiving the enemy. Americans were judged to be so open and friendly that they lacked cunning. The so-called Defense Deception Advisory Group studied the way Israel’s military and political leaders used a complex series of intertwined deceptions to fool their Arab enemies about the Jewish state’s intentions and its military capabilities. The British found, for example, that the Israelis confused their adversaries by deploying fake soldiers - mannequins in battle dress were used - near a border crossing to make their enemies think an attack was coming, forcing them to deploy troops to defend the area.

The Brit who can revitalize the PA police
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
JERICHO - Neil, a hand-to-hand combat instructor, gives a signal, and two students in the advanced class for Palestinian policeman come to the center of the mat. They practice overcoming an unarmed demonstrator and cuffing him. Within seconds, one of the pair throws the other down and holds him to the ground. Observing from the side is Colin Smith, a British policeman who, since January 2007, has headed a delegation of European Union police sent to help the Palestinian Authority’s police force. In the past eight months, Smith’s 15-person European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support has completed a retraining program for 500 Palestinian policemen. The program, an accelerated two-week course in "keeping the peace," includes hand-to-hand combat, crowd dispersal, roadblock construction, arrests, taking control of a vehicle, human rights training and more.

Fresh viewpoints on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
European Union - EU, ReliefWeb 5/28/2008
Building confidence and trust among future leaders is crucial to ending the Israeli Palestinian conflict, concluded a meeting of young European, Israeli and Palestinian political leaders who worked together at the European Parliament from 25 to 28 May. This event on the relationships between identities and politics was hosted by EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering. "The involvement of young political leaders is crucial for the transformation of present conflicts into future peace. This platform has enabled young leaders from both sides to exchange views and real life experiences, building the foundation for trust between future generations", says a joint message (now available below) delivered to President Pöttering. "Building confidence and trust for future political leaders is essential", said the EP President, who wants to continue this dialogue between the three parties.

Support for the people in Palestine is support for peace in the region declares Wieczorek-Zeul
Government of Germany, ReliefWeb 4/29/2008
Germany’s support for the Palestinian territories to focus on water supply, job creation and strengthening state structures "We will continue to pursue with vigour our support measures for the people in the Palestinian territories, thereby providing further impetus to the Middle East peace process through targeted measures for economic and social development" declared Germany’s Development Minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, at the close of the successful government negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in Berlin. "It is the aim of our development cooperation measures rapidly to improve the living conditions of the local population, thereby improving their prospects for the future. Only then can the urgently desired peace become reality", Wieczorek-Zeul stressed. Especially pressing is the rapid improvement of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, where more than three quarters of the population currently depend on food aid.

Playing poker with Nasrallah
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
Hassan Nasrallah likes to describe the tactics he employs against Israel in gambling terms, and is especially fond of the poker analogy. "Let’s say that Syria and Israel, and Lebanon and Israel, reach a political agreement. What, then, will be the future of the resistance [Hezbollah]? " he was asked, for example, in a 1996 interview, as Israel’s Operation Grapes of Wrath ended in southern Lebanon. His answer: "We will keep that card to ourselves, just as the Israelis do. If we show the card now, we will be forgoing our weapon. I am not saying that we will continue with the operations, but I will also not commit to putting an end to them. I am saying: My country is occupied, so get out, and after you get out you will hear from me. "Eight years after withdrawing from Lebanon, Israel continues to hear from Nasrallah. He is still as eager as ever to play poker with - rather, against - Israel.

Kuntar vows to return to Jihad
Roni Shaked, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Lebanese terrorist, who may be freed by Israel as part of prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah, promises Nasrallah he will continue engaging in terror after his release - Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, whom Israel has agreed to free as part of a possible prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah, has vowed to continue engaging in terror after his release. Kuntar, who was jailed in the Hadarim Prison in the Sharon region 29 years ago, after murdering the Haran family members and two police officers during a terror attack on the northern city of Nahariya, made the promise in a letter to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. The letter was first published in the Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida and was revealed by the Palestinian Media Watch. "My dear and respectable master and commander," Kuntar wrote in the letter to Nasrallah. "Peace be with you and with our shahids (martyrs).

Home free - Hassan Nasrallah raises hopes
Lucy Fielder, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/29/2008
Hassan Nasrallah raises hopes that the long-awaited prisoner swap between Hizbullah and Israel is imminent - "Very soon Samir and Samir’s brothers will be among you," Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah told crowds gathered in the southern suburbs of Beirut this week, sparking speculation that Samir Qantar, and other prisoners in Israeli jails, would soon walk free. Israeli military reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser would be handed over in return, though Hizbullah has never revealed whether they are dead or alive. Israel has said they were critically wounded in the cross-border raid on July 2006 which sparked Israel’s ferocious bombardment of southern Lebanon. Israeli sources and media fanned the rumours, saying a prisoner swap might occur as early as Sunday, though it was unclear at the time of writing if this will involve a full exchange. German-brokered negotiations began in late 2006.

The world’s strongest currency
Nathan Sheva, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
Since the begining of 2008, the shekel has gained 15% against the dollar, and slightly more against the British pound and the Canadian dollar. It is up 8% versus the Swedish kroner and has picked up 24% against the South African rand. Even the solid euro has had a hard time competing with the shekel, and has fallen from NIS 5. 74 at the beginning of April by 12% to yesterday’s NIS 5. 06 - its lowest rate in five years. A week ago the president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Triche, praised the euro to the Wall Street Journal, saying the European currency would provide price stability in the medium-term. The euro is certainly a strong and important currency, and has been flexing its muscles against the dollar in recent years. But even the powerful euro has had a hard time competing with what has become probably the strongest currency in the world since the beginning of 2008: the Israeli shekel.

Only 30% of public trust police, says poll
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Survey ordered by Public Security Ministry reveals gloomy figures: Only 38% of Israelis believe police are handling their duties successfully - No faith in the Blues: Only 30% of the Israeli public trust the police, according to a poll ordered by the Public Security Ministry. The survey, released Friday, reveals a series of grave figures pointing to a credibility crisis between the public and the police. For example, only 38% of Israelis believe that the police are handling their duties in a successful or very successful manner. Only six out of 10 people will turn to the police for help in case of distress or a nuisance. Some 1,500 people participated in the survey conducted by the Smith Institute. They were asked to answer questions regarding their stance towards the police in 2007.

Rabbis, intellectuals against private schools
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Dozens of rabbis, educators, academicians and public figures sign petition calling on government to strengthen state-religious education, urging religious public to protest ’privatization and elitism’ - Every religious child is entitled to study in any religious education system, and we must not allow the classification of students for irrelevant reasons, states a new petition signed by dozens of rabbis, educators, academicians and public figures calling on the government to strengthen the state-religious education. Due to the multitude of private schools, the petition signatories urge the State to "stop the privatization process religious education is undergoing," explaining that "this is our responsibility for social justice. "

VIDEO - Raytheon 9 Video
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 5/30/2008
The trial against the Raytheon 9 is underway in Belfast. In this video, Eamonn McCann and others give background into the role that Raytheon played in the bunker buster bombs that were dropped on Qana in Lebanon. These bombs were the direct cause of the massacres in which large numbers of civiliansincluding infants, were slaughtered. Please watch the video, visit the site where you can read the day to day trial proceedings, and send a letter of solidarity and support to these brave people who decided to sabotage efforts to build weapons of mass destruction. If you are in the Belfast area, show your support by appearing outside the courthouse and asking media people to cover the trial. [end] -- See also: Raytheon 9

Cartoon of the day
Palestine Think Tank 5/30/2008
Raytheon 9 [end]

DISPATCHES FROM AMERICA: How the Pentagon shapes the world
Asia Times 5/31/2008
How the Pentagon shapes the world By Frida BerriganA full-fledged cottage industry is already focused on those who eagerly awaitthe end of the George W Bush administration, offering calendars, magnets andt-shirts for sale as well as counters and graphics to download onto blogs andwebsites. But when the countdown ends and Bush vacates the Oval Office, he willleave a legacy to contend with. Certainly, he wills to his successor a worldmarred by war and battered by deprivation, but perhaps his most enduring legacyis now deeply embedded inWashington-area politics - a Pentagon metastasized almost beyond recognition. The Pentagon’s massive bulk-up these past seven years will not be easilyunbuilt, no matter who dons the presidential mantle on January 19, 2009. "ThePentagon" is now so much more than a five-sided building across the Potomacfrom Washington or even the seat of the Department of Defense. In many ways, it defies description or labeling.

American congressmen visit Red Cross headquarters
Daily Star 5/31/2008
BEIRUT: As part of its visit to Lebanon to attend the presidential election, a delegation from the US Congress visited the Lebanese Red Cross headquarters in the Beirut neighborhood of Spears, a statement by the Red Cross said on Friday. The delegation was headed by Congressman Nick Rahal and included Congressmen Darrel Issa, Ray Lahood, John Under, Charlie Melancon and Jack Kingston. The delegation was received by the President of the Lebanese Red Cross Sami al-Dahdah, officials and volunteers from the Emergency Medical Services department and members of the American Task Force for Lebanon. "The visit aimed to show the continuity of support and aid for Lebanon provided by the Lebanese community in the US through the Lebanese Red Cross," the statement said. The congressional delegation were also shown three new ambulances that were purchased through a fundraising campaign organized by American Task Force for Lebanon, according to the statement.

60 years of human rights failure -- Governments must apologize and act now
Amnesty International - AI, ReliefWeb 5/28/2008
(London) Amnesty International today challenged world leaders to apologize for six decades of human rights failure and re-commit themselves to deliver concrete improvements. ‘The human rights flashpoints in Darfur, Zimbabwe, Gaza, Iraq and Myanmar demand immediate action,’ said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, launching AI Report 2008: State of the World’s Human Rights. ‘Injustice, inequality and impunity are the hallmarks of our world today. Governments must act now to close the yawning gap between promise and performance. ’ Amnesty International’s Report 2008, shows that sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 countries and are not allowed to speak freely in at least 77 countries.

Arab states ignore Iraq debt appeal
Al Jazeera 5/29/2008
At the end of a special United Nations conference in Sweden to discuss Iraqi debts, Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, has said that he has received no firm commitments from Arab states to help ease his country’s debt burden. Baghdad owes at least $67bn to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Al-Maliki, who pointed out that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had sent only low-level officials to the one-day conference outside Stockholm, said: "So far we have not heard from the other countries that have not undertaken. . . to reduce the debt. "Iraqi officials had asked Arab states to cancel billions of dollars it owes in debt and war compensation, in a plea aimed at countries which are reluctant to forgive Iraq’s belligerence during Saddam Hussein’s rule. In addition to the $67bn in foreign debt, most of it incurred during the rule of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s executed president, the Geneva-based UN Compensation Commission says $28bn remains to be paid in compensation for Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Thousands of Iraqis rally against US troop pact
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/31/2008
BAGHDAD: Thousands of supporters of hard-line Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated after Friday prayers in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq to denounce a government deal with Washington on US troop levels. Followers of the cleric brandished placards outside mosques in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in the capital as security forces stepped up their presence there. A key member of the Sadrist movement, Sheikh Mohannad al-Gazawi, denounced the proposed deal that will extend the US troop presence in Iraq beyond 2008. "This agreement binds Iraq and gives 99 percent of the country to America," he said. The faithful carried placards slamming "the disastrous agreement that tears Iraq apart and gives in to the occupying power. "Another said: "This agreement surrenders the sovereignty of Iraq. "Protesters burned an effigy of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as well as a US flag before dispersing peacefully after about an hour.

Marines handed out ’Christian coins’ in Fallujah
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 5/31/2008
BAGHDAD: The US military said on Friday it was probing complaints that marines handed out coins inscribed with a verse from the Bible to a group of Sunni Muslims in Iraq, sparking outrage among local residents. It said a service member involved in the incident in the former flashpoint city of Fallujah west of Baghdad was removed from his duties on Thursday. "US forces initiated an investigation into reports that a coin with a Bible verse written in Arabic was distributed to Iraqi citizens as they passed through a Fallujah entry control point," the military said in a statement. "A coalition force service member was removed from his duties Thursday amid concerns from Fallujah’s citizens regarding reports of inappropriate conduct. "Residents of Fallujah, scene of one of the bloodiest post-invasion battles between insurgents and US forces in Iraq in 2004, said that marines had been doling out the token-like coins to residents to promote Christianity.

US official: No early Iran nuclear estimate update
Reuters, YNetNews 5/30/2008
Principal deputy director of National Intelligence says Washington has no plans to revise estimate of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions that critics say underplayed Islamic republic’s efforts to make weapons - US intelligence has no plans to revise an estimate of Iran’s nuclear ambitions that critics say underplayed Tehran’s efforts to make weapons, a senior US official said on Thursday. Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Donald Kerr said, however, that the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran also reflects significant concerns over Iran’s intentions, and that these have been overlooked in public debate. US intelligence officials have spent considerable effort trying to emphasize those concerns since an unclassified version of the document was released in December, Kerr told a think-tank audience. "Until we have new data, new facts, we’re not going to change the basic NIE, the classified version," Kerr told a dinner sponsored by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Bahrain appoints Jewish ambassador
Al Jazeera 5/30/2008
Bahrain has appointed a Jewish woman as an ambassador, believed to be the Arab world’s first Jewish envoy. The selection of Houda Nonoo was made by decree on Wednesday and reported by local media in the Gulf Arab kingdom on Friday. The decree, published by the official Bahraini News Agency, did not state which nation Nonoo would be appointed to but media reports have said that the US is her likely destination. Nonoo, 43, said she would undertake the role "first of all as a Bahraini" and that she was not chosen because of her religion. Bahraini media had speculated over Nonoo’s selection for the past few months. Nonoo, a businesswoman and mother of two children, has served as a legislator in Bahrain’s all-appointed 40-member Shura Council for three years.

US army suicides highest in 2007
Al Jazeera 5/30/2008
The US army says the number of suicides among active duty troops in 2007 had reached the highest level on record, due partly to the stress caused by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The army announced on Thursday that 115 soldiers, including 22 national guard and army reserve troops, killed themselves last year. Barack Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the report is "a tragic reminder of the staggering and ongoing costs of the Iraq war, particularly on our troops and their families". The 2007 figures show an increase of almost 13 per cent over the previous year which had 102 confirmed suicides. Colonel Thomas Languirand said: "It’s the highest number since the army has been keeping records.


Articles


The Jordan Valley’s forgotten Palestinians
Ben White, Electronic Intifada 5/30/2008
      From the veranda of his home up on the hillside, Hassan Abed Hassan Jermeh looks out over his village, fertile green fields, and all the way over to the mountains across the border in Jordan. Village elder since 1995, he is intimately familiar with the challenges facing Palestinians in the Jordan Valley.
     Al-Zubeidat is home to around 1,800 members of the same hamula (clan), originally Bedouin refugees displaced from Beer al-Sabe’, now the Israeli town of Beer Sheva, in 1948. The residents mainly work in agriculture on land that since 1967 has been rented from the Israeli government, which refused to recognize previous agreements made with the Jordanians.
     Hassan described how since the Oslo Accords, and the formation of the Palestinian Authority, the village’s living conditions have improved, from access to water and electricity, to health clinics and schools. Yet while there have been tangible benefits to Palestinian civic life, Hassan is more doubtful about the political achievements.

The Ministry of Prisoners

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 5/30/2008
      In the UK, where I am living, there is a Ministry of Justice, but in Palestine, where my home country is, there is a Ministry of Prisoners. Does this make any sense?
     Well, it seems that it does, after all, states create Ministries to solve the problems affecting a large sector of their citizens. It is common sense to have a Ministry of Education because almost half of the country will be students at different levels, and many people work in the education system. This sector faces many obstacles that need to be resolved, and that’s why there is a ministry of Education in every country. But why is Palestine is the only country in the universe that has a Ministry of Prisoners?
     When you read about a Ministry of Justice you will feel hope, it tells you that there is justice, and there are laws, and being requested to report there for any reason does not make you a criminal, it is just a system that investigates to find out the truth, there is even no indication of punishment when you read its name.

Letter: Take 10 and give back 1 if the Palestinians behave, then repeat!

Zahir Ebrahim, Palestine Think Tank 5/30/2008
      The following follow-up comment, posted by Project Humanbeingsfirst here, to its article “Celebrating Israel’s 60th Birthday in the 60th year of the Nakba” may be of some interest to your think-tankers. Perhaps you can reprint it with the above title.
     “I happen to be a Zionist. I’m a Zionist by dint of the fact that I live here and constitute part of Hebrew culture, even if I am opposed to the present regime and criticize it harshly. … . For now, I’m on the losing side of this struggle, therefore I’m defined as anti-Zionist. So be it.”
     Thank you for that clarification - to both, the above commenter, and posthumously, to Prof. Baruch Kimmerling.
     And therein lies the quintessential component of “the endless trail of red herrings” that almost all on the proverbial “LEFT” in the West spin in support of Zion.
     The logical follow-up question to ask then, is to which past and future “regime” aren’t they opposed to in Israel in order to not be “defined as anti-Zionist”? Then we can further examine that regime and dismantle that too.

At the eleventh hour

Editorial, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/29/2008
      The announcement in Ankara of Turkish-sponsored Syrian-Israeli negotiations didn’t come as a surprise. Since Syria disclosed that the Turkish prime minister conveyed that Israel was prepared to pull out of the Golan, things have been moving in that direction. Both Israel and Syria have reasons to talk, and Turkey is glad to act as the go-between.
     For a long time, Syrian-Israeli negotiations were consistently beset by developments on the Lebanese and Palestinian tracks of Arab-Israeli peace talks. This time, however, things may turn out differently. The negotiations are taking place in the last months of the Bush presidency and perhaps even during Ehud Olmert’s last days in office. With the Israeli prime minister under investigation for corruption, many in Israel have been calling for him to step down. There is a chance that Tzipi Livni, Israeli foreign minister, may take his place until early elections are held later in the year. After that, pollsters say, Binyamin Netanyahu, whose hardline policies on Syria are known to all, may emerge as Israel’s next leader.

Carter’s second term

Gamal Nkrumah, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/29/2008
      All the crises that Carter faced -- fuel and food, the Middle East, general malaise -- are still crying out for solutions.
     In conventional wisdom, an aspiring American presidential candidate must court the omnipotent pro-Israel or Jewish lobby. So it came as no surprise that Senator Barack Obama has abruptly halted his acerbic public warnings about the need for drastic change in foreign policy concerns -- and especially when it comes to Israel, a country that has never been seen as a paragon of good government in this part of the world, but that has long been the sacred cow of the American political establishment.
     "My position on Hamas is indistinguishable from the position of Hillary Clinton and John McCain," Obama disclosed last week in an about-face on the prickly topic to The Atlantic. He also stressed his deep support for Israel when he spoke at a synagogue during a visit to Florida this week. The comments by the leading contender for the presidency of the Democratic Party raised eyebrows in Egypt and other Arab and Muslim nations. Was it a question of appeasement, wondered many an Arab pundit. After all, Obama has been on record advocating face-to-face talks with Iran and Hamas.

Ending living reactively

Azmi Bishara, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/29/2008
      The tasks of Arab society predate the Nakba and at issue is Arab will, writes Contrary to the general impression, there is nothing new in Israel’s lavish celebrations of its so- called independence. The Israeli celebration of the Nakba, or calamity that befell the Palestinian people, is calculated according to the Jewish calendar, thereby creating a symbolic distance between the two events: the national independence of one people and the national dispossession of another.
     "Independence day" is one of those civil holidays intended to forge the new Israeli secular/ religious national faith, which is founded on a creed that fuses elements of biblical mythology, modern nationalist values, colonialist ethics and the legends of the founding fathers with militarism. It is immeasurably more extravagant than any equivalent Arab independence day celebration, which, in itself, has various ramifications on the question of the legitimacy of political entities in public eyes. The Israeli celebrations are popular events, not just official state occasions. People take their children to local fairs, festivals and parades. The media feature an endless deluge of special programmes, films and anthems, all contributing to implant a collective Israeli memory of the so- called "war of liberation" in 1948. People, on that day, visit army units in their camps and military museums and go out on nature hikes. Such are the religious/militaristic customs that have become annual institutionalised rites. One notable rite takes place the day before "independence day", when at the sound of a siren, Israelis throughout the country stand up for a moment of silence in remembrance of Israelis lost. Perhaps the only day that tops "independence day" in terms of popular participation is Yom Kippur, a religious not secular holiday, a day of fasting and atonement.

Dancing around the wolf

Hassan Nafaa, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/29/2008
      From Qatar to Lebanon, Israel and Syria, the entire region is involved in an unpredictable dance. Only one thing is clear, and that is that it is no longer being choreographed by Washington.
     The sense of uncertainty and trepidation looming over the Middle East has been amplified in recent weeks by the eruption of violence in Lebanon in a manner that took the country to the brink of a civil war; the regional tour of President George Bush during which he made remarks that embarrassed even his closest allies; the success of Qatar, in cooperation with the Arab League, in bringing Lebanese parties to Doha for talks that defused the crisis; the success of Turkey in arranging and hosting a round of indirect talks between Syria and Israel that has broken the stalemate and paved the way for direct negotiations and the escalation of Egyptian efforts to defuse the situation on the Palestinian-Israeli front, lift the siege on Gaza, and hopefully bring about a truce.
     Searching for a common thread linking such seemingly disconnected events seems like a daunting task. But a common thread exists, and it is influencing the course of events in the region both directly and indirectly. This thread is the arrogance of the US administration. As Washington finds it increasingly harder to control the course of events in the region it has begun to act erratically, making life much harder for everyone else.

Golan bluff

Basel Oudat, Al-Ahram Weekly 5/29/2008
      Is the resumption of Syrian-Israeli talks a political gimmick or a serious effort by two countries in dire straits?
     The announcement was made simultaneously in Syria, Israel and Turkey. Indirect talks between Syria and Israel were scheduled to start in Istanbul under Turkish auspices. Some news media acted as if the development was a big surprise, but it wasn’t. For the past two years, Syrian and Israeli leaders have been moving in that direction.
     In July 2006, Bashar Al-Assad said that Syria was seeking a resumption of negotiations with Israel in the hope of achieving a peace treaty. But he stipulated that Israel should promise first to withdraw from occupied Syrian land. Similar remarks were made by other Syrian officials since then. And the Syrian media often takes up the issue, always attempting to justify such efforts.
     Meanwhile, Ehud Olmert voiced his country’s willingness to hold negotiations leading to an agreement based on the understanding reached during the Madrid Conference; namely, the exchange of land for peace. Syrian politicians reacted by saying that Olmert’s statements satisfied Syrian demands and that the road to negotiations was wide open.

Prescription for disaster

Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 5/30/2008
      There is nothing joyful about Peace Now’s 30th anniversary; the fact that it exists is proof that peace continues to evade us. Similarly, there is little reason to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR): Its success should be measured, if anything, by a dwindling dependence on it.
     Instead of being marginalized by the advent of other successful health providers, PHR has only gained momentum, spreading to new destinations and communities - and not only those beyond the Green Line. The organization has never seemed so necessary.
     A pleasant hubbub surrounded the human-rights group this week as it moved to new offices in the heart of Jaffa. But the temporary signs put up in various rooms there were chilling: "Occupied Territories," "Israeli Residents Department," "Prisoners Department," "Migrant and Undocumented Peoples Department".

Australian national radio discusses Palestine coverage in the media

Interview, ABC Radio Australia, Electronic Intifada 5/30/2008
      Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah is our first guest as we examine visibility in the media and the preconceptions and stereotyping that tag some people as less than desirable and see others ignored altogether.
     Antony Funnell: Today’s program deals with presence and visibility in the media, and the way in which people are portrayed. Not all people of course. Those with power and money can actively craft or influence their media persona. But those with neither, well It’s a different story altogether.
     Our first guest today is a journalist and commentator who’s written articles for such publications as The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and The Christian Science Monitor. And he has a degree from Princeton University.
     Before I introduce him, I’d like you to try and get a picture of him in your head.
     Got that?
     Righ
     OK, what if I were to tell you that he’s a Palestinian journalist and that he’s the co-founder of a website called The Electronic Intifada?