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

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9 June 2008

Three Palestinian shepherds tell police: We were attacked by masked settlers in Hebron Hills
Yuval Azoulay and Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
A Palestinian woman, 57, was badly injured and her husband and another relative were battered, in an assault by masked Israelis in the southern Hebron Hills yesterday. The police are investigating whether the Israeli attackers hailed from the West Bank settlement of Susia, as the injured Palestinians claim. The three, Thamem al-Nawaja, 57, her husband Khalil al-Nawaja, 70, and another relative, identified only as Imran, live in an encampment about three kilometers from Susia. They were herding sheep in midday when three settlers residing in the area, as they told an investigaro from the B’Tselem human-rights group, two of them with their faces masked, approached and demanded they leave the area. They refused and the settlers left, they said. But not for long, claimed the Palestinians: This time four masked men armed with sticks arrived and began beating them.

PA: Rice to hold 3-way talks with Livni, chief Palestinian negotiator Qureia
Barak Ravid and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to hold a three-way meeting next week with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday. The announcement by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat came after the U. S. proposed holdingtrilateral talks with Israel and the Palestinians in order to accelerate negotiations on the core issues and bridge the major gaps that still exist. Marred by disputes over Israeli settlement expansion and violence in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, U. S. -backed peace talks have shown little sign of progress since they were launched at a conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November. A corruption investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may further dim the chances of a deal this year, Israeli, Palestinian and Western officials say.

Water crisis in Tel Rumeida
International Solidarity Movement 6/9/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - Water storage tanks mounted on the roof of every house are a distinctive sight throughout the length and breadth of Palestine. Without a guaranteed source of water, life is not possible in this beautiful, yet arid land. Since 1967, when it came under Israeli military occupation,the southern city of Hebron (Al Khalil) has been particularly affected by water shortage issues. These shortages and interruptions of domestic water supplies are invariably caused by direct military intervention. In the case of certain households (where the properties abut illegal Jewish settlements and are under particular threat of expropriation) supply is limited to two days per week. The luxuriant trees and lawns which are a feature of the nearby settlements are testament to their cheap and plentiful water supply. When water is denied to the indigenous inhabitants of Hebron they. . .

U.S. Consulate employee dies of heart attack at Israeli checkpoint
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/9/2008
Mohammed Mousa, 63, who has worked for forty years at the US Consulate in Jerusalem and is an American citizen, died of a heart attack when Israeli soldiers refused to allow him to pass through the checkpoint to work this week. The incident took place on Tuesday, and the IMEMC has confirmed that the heart attack was directly correlated to the stress of being held at the checkpoint. Mousa’s family stated that he has recently suffered at the hands of the young Israeli soldiers stationed at the Beit Hanina checkpoint. Although he has worked in Jerusalem for 40 years, soldiers have been giving him difficulty in passing to work in recent weeks. Israeli soldiers stationed at checkpoints in the Jerusalem area regularly deny entry to Palestinians holding foreign citizenship and holding all necessary permits to pass.

Haniyeh: Hamas committed to unity
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
[Ma’anImages] Gaza – Ma’an – The Prime Minister of the Gaza-based de facto government, Isma’il Haniyeh, said on Monday that his government and the Hamas movement would try their best to lay the groundwork for Palestinian national dialogue which he hopes will politically reunite the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Haniyeh’s comments came during a visit he paid to Ahmad Shawqi Boys School and Al-Carmel Girls School in Gaza City to check up on security and order during the Palestinian General Secondary School Exam. Haniyeh noted that Palestinian students in both the West Bank and Gaza were taking the same exam. He told reporters, "Exams are unified in both parts of the Palestinian homeland as a step on the way to geographical contiguity which we will endeavor to maintain in the future. I wish all students good luck so that they become good components of Palestinian society.

Rafah Crossing with Egypt on its way to being open 3-days per week
Palestine News Network 6/7/2008
Gaza / PNN - A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in the Palestinian government, Ihab Al Ghussein said Monday that arrangements are being made for the opening of the Rafah Crossing three days a week. Al Ghussein told the press, "The call for public administration and border crossings for Palestinians wishing to travel comes within a series of practical actions and political negotiations that are being discussed with the Egyptian side to reach an agreement calling for opening the crossing for three days a week. "The appeal, launched by the Department of Crossings, is for citizens wishing to travel outside the Gaza Strip. It aims to advance arrangements relevant to the work of the administration in charge of the matter, adding that it comes with plans to also avoid accidents and congestion problems at the Rafah Crossing.

Gilad Shalit’s family receives new letter from captive son
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/10/2008
Captive IDF soldier’s parents receive third letter form Gilad as part of Hamas pledge to former US President Jimmy Carter. Israel maintains no truce possible in Gaza unless Shalit is returned safely - Proof of Life: The parents of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was taken prisoner by Hamas over 20 months ago, have received another letter from their son, Monday. The letter – which was preceded by two others – was relayed by Hamas as part of the group’s pledge to former US President Jimmy Carter. Shalit’s father, Noam, confirmed that a letter was in fact relayed through the Born To Freedom Foundation: "The family had received a letter today via the secretary-general of the Carter Center. "There are many signs indicating that the letter is authentic. It conveys a message from Gilad – he is pleading, begging us to do everything we can to see that he is released form captivity."

Palestinian PM Fayyad says Israel to transfer withheld tax revenues
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
The Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Monday that Israeli officials told him they have transferred millions of dollars in withheld tax revenues. Israel held back around $74 million in tax revenues at the end of May that were supposed to be transferred under a long-standing deal between both sides, Palestinian officials said. The officials said they believed shipment of the money was delayed following Fayyad’s lobbying of European nations not to boost their relations with Israel. The money is aimed toward paying the salaries of around 150,000 Palestinian civil servants. Fayyad said Israeli officials told him the money had been transferred and would arrive in the coming days. The issue is sensitive for the moderate Fayyad, who needs to show Palestinians that their struggling economic conditions will improve by engaging Israel.

Three Palestinian military groups fire attack Israeli targets bordering Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Three Palestinian military groups claimed responsibility on Sunday and Monday for launching projectiles at Israeli targets bordering the Gaza Strip. The National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) claimed responsibility for firing a homemade projectile at the Israeli military post at Kisufim on Monday morning. Separately, the Dalal Al-Mughrabi Brigades, a group claiming allegiance to Fatah, said their fighters fired three mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles as they were withdrawing from the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening. In the same regard, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the An-Nasser Salah Addin Brigades claimed responsibility on Sunday evening for firing two mortar shells at the Karni crossing point.

Israeli envoy: UK has become hotbed of radical anti-Israeli views
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 6/10/2008
Britain has become a hotbed of radical anti-Israeli views, Israel’s ambassador to the country, Ron Prosor, said in an opinion piece for Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. "Israel faces an intensified campaign of delegitimization, demonization and double standards," he said. Britain has become a hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views and a haven for disingenuous calls for a one-state solution, a euphemistic name for a movement advocating Israel’s destruction," continued the Israeli envoy. Prosor, who took up his post in November, said Britain was once admired for fairness and decency but the debate on Israel has now been hijacked by extremists. [end]

Report: Israel, Syria talks set to resume
Reuters, YNetNews 6/9/2008
Jerusalem sources report that Israeli, Syrian negotiating teams may meet as early as next week to resume peace talks on direct channels. PM’s Office says no timeline has been set -Indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria are scheduled to resume this week in Turkey, an Israeli official said on Monday. The official further said Israel favored moving to direct talks but it was unclear when that would happen. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces a growing corruption investigation that could force him from office. "We expect the Israeli team to be in Turkey shortly," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert. Regev declined to give a specific date, but senior Israeli officials said the talks were scheduled to resume this week. Regev declined to comment on any timeline for starting direct talks between the Israeli and Syrian delegations,. . .

PA officials say they want Abbas to run for re-election in 2010
Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/9/2008
On Saturday, senior Fatah Party officials said they are trying topersuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to run for re-election. Abbas has said he wouldn’t run in the 2010 balloting. But Abbas confidant Ahmed Qureia, the chief Palestinian negotiator in talks with Israel, said Saturday that the president would be their Fatah Party’s candidate. An adviser to Abbas said he hadn’t agreed yet, but that Fatah intended tonominate him. No date has been set for the nomination. Qureia on Friday said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed to start drafting elements of a proposed peace accord. Queria clear the decision did not necessarily reflect agreement on the major issues that have tormented peace talks for years - final borders, the status of disputed Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians demand return of loved ones’ remains still held by Israel
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The families of Palestinians whose corpses are held by the Israeli authorities announced the formation of a new committee to demand the release of their loved ones’ motral remains on Monday. The families of Gazan "Martyrs" [a term used by Palestinians in reference to those killed by Israeli forces] Nabil Mas’ud,Mu’min Al-Malfouh, Mahmoud Salim, Muhannad Al-Mansi, Tariq Hamid and Na’il ’Umar announced the formation of the committee. Palestinian human rights researcher Nashat Al-Wahidi was elected to lead the committee. According to the group, its tasks will begin on the 78th anniversary of the execution of three Palestinian prisoners, Ata Azzir, Fuad Hijazi and Muhammad Jamjoum at Acre prison during the era of the British colonial rule. Al-Wahidi said that he learned from reviewing literature of Palestinian "martyrs" that "the Israelis used to bury them in. . .

Family of detained Palestinians reporter calls for his release
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/9/2008
The family of Mohammad Athba, a Palestinian reporter and a cameraman, called on the Palestinian Journalists Union to intervene for the release of their son from a Palestinian prison as he is still detained at a Palestinian prison and still under interrogation since more than one month. The family called on human rights groups, political and legal institutions and media facilities to intervene for the release of their son who works as a cameraman with the Associated Press. Athba was arrested by the Palestinian Security services in the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on May 10. The family stated that it is surprised by the silence of the Journalists Union in the West Bank. The family added that their son is now at a local hospital as he suffered from a heart attack during interrogations and that his mother is also hospitalized due to a sharp deterioration of her health condition.

Abu al-Aynayn says security bolstered in Ain al-Hilweh
Mohammed Zaatari and Jessica Naimeh, Daily Star 6/10/2008
SIDON/BEIRUT: Fatah commander in Lebanon Sultan Abu al-Aynayn said on Monday that the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp "will not be another Nahr al-Bared," and announced tougher security measures for the camp neighboring the coastal city of Sidon. A would-be suicide bomber was shot dead on May 31 by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) near the entrance to the Ain al-Hilweh camp just before an apparent attempt to attack a number of soldiers. Also that day an LAF private was killed in a blast next to the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli in a bomb blast targeting a post of the intelligence services. The LAF last summer fought a three-month battle against Fatah al-Islam militants at the Nahr al-Bared camp, and persons claiming membership in Fatah al-Islam subsequently took responsibility and then denied involvement with the blast.

Report: Hezbollah willing to negotiate over Shaba Farms
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
Hezbollah officials have reportedly told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that the group is not opposed to a diplomatic solution to the Shaba Farms dispute, according to a report published in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat on Monday. This would mean a departure from the Shi’ite militia’s traditional policy on the matter, which has been to support the use of force in order to return the 8 square mile disputed area in the Golan Heights. According to Al-Hayat, the matter came up during a meeting held between Sarkozy and senior Lebanese political leaders, including recently elected Lebanese President Gen. Michel Suleiman, during his visit to the country over the weekend. Sarkozy also reportedly said that he will bring up the issue of Shaba Farms during his visit to Israel in two weeks.

Gunman seriously wounded in shooting at Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 6/10/2008
An Islamic gunman was seriously wounded when he was shot multiple times in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon, security officials said. The man, 27-year-old Jalal Hassanein, is close to one of the top camp militants, Shehadeh Jawhar. Jawhar is believed to have links with al-Qaida in Iraq, according to the security officials who requested anonymity because they were privy to classified information from inside the camp. [end]

British FM: Close to solution for Shebaa Farms
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/9/2008
London-based Al-Hayat reports Hizbullah rep told French president, British FM that it is ’not opposed’ to diplomatic solution to Shebaa Farms issue, which has caused turmoil on northern border since end of First Lebanon War in 2000 - "Hizbullah is not oppsoed to the release of the Shebaa Farms by diplomatic means," Lebanese sources quoted Hizbullah Parliament Member Mohammad Raad as saying to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, currently visiting the region, also assessed the issue as close to reaching its solution. Sarkozy meets with President Suleiman and representatives of main 14 Lebanese political factions, including Hizbullah delegates, calls for called for ’sincere dialogue between the Lebanese on a national defense strategy’.

Four wounded in Lebanon clashes
Middle East Online 6/7/2008
SAADNAYEL - Four people were wounded in armed clashes in Lebanon overnight between supporters of the anti-Syrian majority and the opposition, hospital sources said on Monday. Rivals opened fire with machine guns, mortar rounds and rockets in the Bekaa Valley in the east of the country. Sporadic clashes have broken out between rival factions in Lebanon despite a deal agreed last month aimed at ending a protracted political crisis. Print

Photostory: The month in pictures, May 2008
Slideshow, Electronic Intifada 6/9/2008
In 1948 the state of Israel declared independence on the destroyed historic homeland of Palestine, an event Palestinians call the Nakba (catastrophe). During this period, the majority of the indigenous inhabitants of the land were forced to flee, and the descendants of those approximately 750,000 refugees now number in the millions. May 2008 marked the 60th anniversary of the dispossession of Palestine. Palestinians around the world, joined by their supporters, commemorated the Nakba with large demonstrations and other actions demanding the respect of the rights of Palestinians still struggling 60 years later. The above slideshow is a selection of images all addressing this anniversary. The month in pictures is an ongoing feature of The Electronic Intifada. If you have images documenting Palestine, Palestinian life, politics and culture, or of solidarity with Palestine, please email images and captions to photos A T electronicintifada D O T net.

Iran leader warns Maliki over US troops
Middle East Online 6/7/2008
TEHRAN - Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday warned Iraq’s visiting prime minister against signing an agreement with the United States keeping foreign troops in the country beyond 2008. The continued presence of US troops was Iraq’s "main problem," Khamenei told Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, expressing confidence that the United States could not realise its "dreams" in the country. The meeting - on the final day of Maliki’s third visit to Tehran as prime minister -- came amid Iranian alarm over the mooted Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) pact between Baghdad and Washington. "The most fundamental problem of Iraq is the presence of the foreign forces," Khamenei told Maliki in comments reported by state television. "We are certain that the Iraqi people will pass the difficult circumstances and reach the status they deserve.

Iran blasts Mofaz remark, warns of ’painful’ response if Israel attacks
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
Iran’s defense minister has warned of a "painful response" if Israel attacks it and lambasted Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz’s threat of such a strike, the Islamic Republic’s official news agency reported Monday. "If somebody wants to do such a foolish job, the response will be very painful," IRNA quoted Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying. Najjar was responding to Mofaz’s recent statement that an Israeli attack on Iranappeared "unavoidable" if Tehran doesn’t abandon its nuclear program. There has been a new flurry of speculation about possible plans being crafted in secret by Israel and the United States to strike Iran’s nuclear program. Both states accuse Iran of covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran insists that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

Iran warns Israel of ’painful response’ if attacked
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 6/9/2008
Iranian heads, UN denounces Mofaz’s "˜foolish’ remark of possible Israeli attack on Iran. UN’s Ban Ki-moon calls threat "˜violation of the International Law,’ as US, EU summit in Slovenia adds more limitations on Iran’s nuclear program -Iran warned Israel of a "painful response" if it attacks Tehran: Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar slammed the statement made by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz over the holiday weekend, threatening to attack Iran if it doesn’t abandon its nuclear program, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported late Monday. The Iranian minister told the press that "Ever since it lost to Hizbullah, Israel has been suffering from psychological problems, which is why its people make foolish remarks every now and again. Young Israelis wish to emigrate to other countries and have no hope for a better future in their country.

Palestinian caught with pipe bombs at W. Bank checkpoint
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
A Palestinian youth was caught at a West Bank checkpoint carrying six pipe bombs and a magazine on Sunday. The youth, 18, arrived at the Hawara checkpoint from Nablus carrying a bag. Soldiers at the checkpoint told him to put the bag in the screening device, where the bombs and magazine were discovered. "He looked tense and his behavior was suspicious when he put the bag into the screening device," said Corporal Ron Bezalel, who conducted the security check. "He kept moving and now one can understand why. I have no doubt that he knew he was carrying the explosives," he said. The soldiers closed off the area and sappers were called in to detonate the bombs. The Palestinian was taken to the Shin Bet security service for interrogation. This is the second time in the past month that a youngster tried to smuggle explosives into Israel through the Hawara checkpoint.

Israeli settlers escalate their assaults and build new settlement in Al-Khalil
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Several Palestinian local sources reported that Zionist settlers in complicity with the IOA escalated their racist assaults and settlement activities in Al-Khalil city, southern West Bank.   The municipality of Al-Khalil city reported that a group of Zionist extremists uprooted Sunday 30-year-old ornamental trees from a garden near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the old town in the city. Khaled Al-Asili, the head of the municipality, stated in a press release received by the PIC that this act is a serious assault on the municipal property, adding if the IOA did not punish the assailants, more violations would be committed in the city. Israeli settlers wearing masks also severely beat a number of Palestinian shepherds in the Susya area near the Samua village, south of Al-Khalil, which led to the injury of four of them, according to Palestinian eyewitnesses.

Masked Israeli settlers attack Palestinian shepherds near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Four Palestinians, including a woman, were injured when masked Israeli settlers attacked shepherds on Sunday in the West Bank village of Sussia, south of the city of Hebron. Shepherds told to the Israeli police, who were present during the attack, that the attackers were Israeli settlers and they beat them with sticks and clubs. The shepherds fainted and were transferred to Soroka hospital in the Israeli city of Beer Sheva for treatment. Other shepherds were treated at a Hebron hospital. [end]

The Israeli army attack Atteel village near Tulkarem city
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/9/2008
Israeli troops invaded the village of Atteel located near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem on Monday morning. Local sources said that around 20 Israeli army vehicles stormed the village; the sources added that troops searched and ransacked a number of homes there in addition to stopping local cars and searching them. Witnesses to the invasion said that troops attacked Na’el Riyad who works at a local mechanic shop during their search in the village. Riyad sustained broses, witnesses added. [end]

Qassam fighters survive Israeli missile attack during incursion in Beit Lahia
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A group of Al-Qassam fighters survived an Israeli ground-to-ground missile attack shortly after a large number of IOF troops reinforced by Israeli tanks and armored vehicles advanced into Beit Lahia city, northern Gaza Strip, at midnight Sunday. Palestinian local sources told the PIC reporter that 25 Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers in addition to bulldozers reinforced by aerial cover invaded the city amid heavy gunfire, adding that a number of Israeli soldiers broke into and ransacked Palestinian houses during the incursion. The popular resistance committees warned that the Israeli occupation would pay dearly if it thought of venturing into Gaza, highlighting that in case some of the invading IOF troops succeeded in getting out of the Strip alive, their tongues would surely fail to describe the heroics of the resistance fighters.

Fatah-linked fighters claim mortar attack
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Ahmad Abu Ar-Rish brigades a military group affiliated to Fatah claimed responsibility for launching two mortar shells at Kibbutz Megan, east of theGaza Strip on Monday morning. The brigades said in a statement that this shelling came in retaliation for ongoing ’Israeli atrocities’ against Palestinians. [end]

Al-Quds Brigades claim mortar attack
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Al-Quds brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for launching three mortar shells at the Israeli town of Kfar Aza, east of the Gaza Strip, at noon on Monday. The brigades said in a statement that this came in retaliation for ongoing Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. [end]

Gaza op likely before J’lem signs truce
Yaakov Katz And Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 6/8/2008
In response to the recent string of fatal Hamas rocket attacks, Israel is likely to conduct a medium-size military operation against the Islamist group before agreeing to a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, senior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday. A final decision on Israel’s course will be made on Tuesday during a meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Barak, officials said, favored first striking at Hamas and only then agreeing to a truce. "Under the current circumstances, accepting a cease-fire would appear as if. . .

Quebec student federation joins international boycott movement
Press release, Tadamon, Electronic Intifada 6/9/2008
Across the world grassroots movements struggling in opposition to Israeli apartheid are marking the 60th year of the Palestinian Nakba ("catastrophe") -- 60 years of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and exile for Palestinians resulting from the creation of the state of Israel. A grassroots response in opposition to Israeli apartheid is growing throughout the world sparked by an appeal launched by Palestinian civil-society organizations in 2005 for an international campaign directed at the government in Israel, a campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions. This critical campaign is modeled on a successful international campaign similar in nature that played a critical role in bringing an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa. Today students in Quebec are now joining the international boycott campaign in large numbers including L’Association pour une Solidarite Syndicale Etudiante

Khudari briefs mayor of Perugia in Italy about impacts of Israeli siege
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
ROME, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, met Monday during his visit to Italy with Renato Locchi, the mayor of the Perugia city, where he briefed the mayor about the impacts of the unjust Israeli siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. MP Khudari explained to Locchi the dangerous dimensions of the triangle of "occupation, aggression and siege" on one and a half million people in Gaza and invited him to visit the Strip to witness the tragic humanitarian situation there. For his part, the Perugia mayor expressed his solidarity with the just cause of the Palestinian people and emphasized the need for ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a Palestinian state. The mayor also highlighted that Gaza should be provided with all its humanitarian needs in order for life to go on normally, adding that there would be soon cooperation between Perugia and Gaza in this regard.

Undersecretary of Palestinian Foreign Ministry meets with Tunisian, Sri Lankan envoys
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The undersecretary of the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, Ahmad Subih, on Monday received the diplomatic representatives of Tunisia and Sri Lanka in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday. Subih updated the Tunisian representative to the Palestinian Authority Ahmad Habassi on political developments in the Palestinian arena. Tayseer Jaradat, who is in charge of Arab affairs in the Ministry, also attended the meeting. Subih explained to his Tunisian guest the Palestinian president’s initiative to restore Palestinian unity and the Arab efforts to achieve that goal. He also reaffirmed the special relations between Palestine and Tunisia, the nation where the PLO moved its operations after it was forced out of Lebanon following Israel’s 1982 invasion. Separately, Subih met with Sri Lankan representative T.

Gazan leader Jamal Al-Khudari meets with mayor of Perugia in Italy
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Independent Palestinian lawmaker Jamal Al-Khudari, who heads the Popular Committee for Against the Siege of Gaza met on Monday with the mayor of Italian city Perugia, Renato Locchi in the offices of that city’s municipal council. Al-Khudari updated the mayor of Perugia on siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip and its negative repercussions on all aspects of life including economy, health, environment and agriculture. He also thanked the mayor for his hospitality and invited him to visit the Gaza Strip and observe the situation firsthand. For his part, the mayor of Perugia said he will continue to support the Palestinian people’s cause affirming that he believes the two-state solution is appropriate and that occupation should end as quickly as possible and a Palestinian state should be established.

Not a gift and not a farewell
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
Just as in biblical or medieval times when kings sent each other horses as gifts or married off their daughters to unite dynasties, Israelis were informed last week that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received a farewell gift from U. S. President George W. Bush: The magnificent F-35 Lightning Strike Fighter. Indeed, it was claimed as a huge gain by Olmert’s army - the team of advisers that manufactures half-truths and fabrications for him, and, with a little help from supportive journalists, captures headlines. In fact, the so-called farewell gift is not Bush’s to give, nor does Olmert plan on going anywhere. The order for 25 F-35 fighters, a deal that might cost $2 billion, was officially made last month when the Defense Ministry’s mission in New York sent a request to the Pentagon, the plane’s manufacturers (headed by Lockheed Martin) and the nine-member F-35 International Consortium that developed it.

PA, Israeli, US officials to meet in mid-June to reevaluate peace talks
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Saeb Erekat, the PLO chief negotiator, revealed that a PA-Zio-American meeting will be held in occupied Jerusalem on June 16 in the presence of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to reevaluate PA-Israeli peace talks. Erekat said that the Palestinian side will highlight during the meetings with Rice, when she arrives to the region one day before holding the trilateral meeting, the need for Israeli commitment to the roadmap obligations especially the cessation of all settlement activities. PA negotiators Erekat and Ahmed Qurei will attend the meeting for the Palestinian side while Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni and one of her aides will represent Israel. According to Israeli newspapers Rice was the one who proposed holding the mid-June talks with Israel and the Palestinians in order to accelerate negotiations on the core issues and bridge the major gaps that still exist between the two sides.

Palestinian official on negotiations: It’s now or never
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/9/2008
PA fears Israel will purposefully ’escalate violence’ in Gaza prior to Condoleezza Rice’s visit next week in order to keep from honoring commitments of Road Map. Sources say Rice has American-Israeli-Palestinian meeting planned to asses current security situation - Following announcements of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s upcoming visit to the Middle East, Palestinian Authority officials have been expressing fears that "Israel will try to escalate violence in the Gaza Strip in order to prevent the progress in negotiations." A senior Palestinian official told Ynet on Monday that "it’s now or never. The discussion on the major issues can no longer be postponed due to the interior crisis in Israel." He added that "even if Israel doesn’t decide on a major operation in Gaza, it will try to escalate violence in order to refrain from committing to the political process.

Hamas warns of the dangers of continued PA talks with Israel
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has warned the PA leadership of continuing to have talks with the Hebrew state at a time when the latter was threatening to launch a large-scale incursion into the Gaza Strip and building more settlements. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri said in a press release on Monday commenting on the trilateral PA-Israeli-American meeting scheduled next week in Jerusalem that such meetings only provide a cover for Israeli occupation’s crimes. "Hamas renews its rejection of the series of settlement negotiations because it only provides occupation with a cover for continuation of its crimes", he said, warning the PA leadership of concluding any agreement that might infringe on Palestinian constants especially the right of return and Jerusalem.

Erekat: US-Israeli-Palestinian meeting to be held in a week
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The chief negotiator of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, said on Monday that a three-way Palestinian-Israeli-American meeting will be held in a week, when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in the region. The US had proposed the idea of a tripartite meeting as a way of expediting stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. Palestinian and Israeli leaders had been cool to the idea at first, seeing it as a departure from the framework of direct bilateral negotiations. The Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel formally re-launched talks aimed at achieving a final resolution to the conflict at a US-sponsored conference in November 2007.

Poll: 61% of Israelis think Olmert should step down
YNetNews 6/7/2008
War and Peace Index says majority of Israelis think PM should resign regardless of decision on future criminal Indictment; 66% demand a referendum be held regarding any future concessions in Golan - The majority of the Israeli public believes Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is currently under investigation for allegedly receiving unlawful funds from American businessman Morris Talansky, should step down immediately; even before Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and the State Prosecutor’s Office decide whether or not an indictment is warranted in his case. The data was published by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research Monday, as part of its monthly War and Peace Index project. The Index, published monthly since 1994, is run by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann; and is compiled of a monthly telephone survey of 600 Israeli citizens representing the various sectors in Israeli society.

Mussa urges ’serious’ EU-US talks on Mideast
Middle East Online 6/7/2008
LJUBLJANA - EU and US leaders must talk seriously about peace in the Middle East at their summit here this week, Arab League chief Amr Mussa said Monday. "I trust there will be a serious discussion about the prospects of peace in the Middle East, and on whether it will be possible as promised to have a Palestinian state by the end of the year," Mussa told a joint news conference with Slovenian foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel. Mussa arrived Sunday on a two-day visit to Slovenia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. US President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso in Ljubljana on Tuesday. "We hope. . . there will be a viable real state by the end of the year. This is a question that should be addressed to him (president Bush), an appeal that should be expressed," Mussa said.

PA will pay workers on Tuesday, pending transfer of tax funds from Israel
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the salaries of teachers and other Palestinian Authority (PA) employees will be paid on Tuesday if Israel releases $250 million in tax money collected on behalf of the PA. Fayyad says Israel was due to transfer the funds last Monday. The Secretary of the Union of Civil Servants, Ameen ‘Ansawi, confirmed that salaries will be paid on Tuesday after calls and meetings with reliable contacts in the PA. He confirmed that the payment will include all civil servants, security personnel, and other employees of the PA. ‘Ansawi thanked the employees for their patience and for upholding their duty to the nation. Thousands of teachers, health workers, and other PA workers have not yet received their wages for the month of May. Speaking to the media during a visit to the Al-Moghtaribin school in the. . .

Palestinian salaries delayed as Israel blocks funds
Wafa Amr, ReliefWeb 6/9/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank, June 8 (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority has delayed paying its workers this month after Israel withheld tax funds in anger over Palestinian attempts to block upgraded European Union-Israeli ties, officials said on Sunday. A senior Palestinian official said the aid-dependent Palestinian government in the occupied West Bank had expected to receive tax revenues on June 2 that Israel collects on its behalf and had planned to pay salaries two days later. ’As of today, we have not received the tax money, so we failed to pay the salaries,’ the official said. A senior Israeli official said the Israeli Finance Ministry had since approved the transfer but would deduct about a quarter of the 250 million shekel ($75 million) payment to cover Palestinian Authority debts to Israeli utilities.

Ministers meet today on Gaza; Abbas seeks talks with Hamas
Barak Ravid Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
Two crucial meetings will be held today and tomorrow that may decide whether Israel will pursue a cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip or carry out a wide-scale military operation against the Islamic group. In today’s first meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will meet with top military brass to discuss the situation in the Strip. During the discussion, Hamas’ response to Israel’s cease-fire proposal will be considered. To date, the Islamic group has agreed to a cease-fire with Israel but has refused to include the return of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas has also rejected Israel’s demand it cease smuggling weapons into Gaza. Egypt has pledged to fight the arms smuggling, but Olmert and Livni have expressed their disapproval of reaching an agreement that would leave Hamas free to continue amassing a weapons stockpile.

Hamas gives new letter to Gilad Shalit’s family
Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury , and Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
Nearly two years after his abduction from Israel, the family of Gilad Shalit was yesterday given a letter he wrote in captivity that Hamas sent through the office of the Carter Center in Ramallah. This is the second letter the family has received from Shalit, and the family has not released its content nor said when it had been written. A senior political source in Israel said that the letter was part of Hamas’ efforts to gain a truce in the Gaza Strip. "They are trying to push the matter of a truce a little further, and the letter is a message precisely in this direction," the source said. In recent weeks Israel has demanded that any agreement for calm in the Gaza Strip, and the lifting of the siege on the Strip, would also include progress on the question of Gilad Shalit.

Shalit’s father: Gilad begs for his life in new letter
Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
The family of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit has received a new sign of life, in the form of a letter, two years after he was kidnapped by Palestinian militants. Shalit was kidnapped from his IDF post by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006. The Shalit family has said that the letter was apparently written recently, and that the handwriting in it was their son’s. The abducted soldier’s father Noam told Haaretz on Monday that in the letter Gilad begs for his life and requests that efforts be made to secure his release as soon as possible. Noam Shalit refused, however, to reveal any more of the letter’s contents. The letter was transferred by the Carter Center, after it was handed over to the Center’s Ramallah office.

President of Senegal calls for immediate ceasefire
AFP, YNetNews 6/9/2008
Senegalese president calls on Hamas, Israel to commence ceasefire beginning Monday afternoon at 3 pm; both sides deny his involvement in talks - Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade called for a ceasefire from Monday between the Israelis and Palestinians, in a statement published by the national daily Le Soleil. Both sides have denied involving Wade in the current talks between them. "Already I have asked Israel and Hamas for an immediate ceasefire from Monday at 1200 GMT," he said. Wade called for a halt to Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip and Hamas strikes againstIsrael. The statement followed discussions in Dakar last week between Wade and representatives of the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas. Wade, current chairman of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, added that he had asked to be informed of any violation of the ceasefire as quickly as possible.

MK Eitam: Olmert unfit to order Gaza operation
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 6/9/2008
National Religious Party’s Effie Eitam strays from outspoken support of Gaza operation, says Prime Minister Olmert’s political bind has rendered him unfit to send soldiers into battle - Surprising objection to military operation in Gaza: Member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Effie Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party), urged late Monday against launching a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. The reason: Due to his political bind, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is unfit to send soldiers into battle." I support a wide military operation in Gaza that would bring calm to the residents of the south," Eitam said, adding that "a prime minister who has lost his defense minister’s faith, and who has been ideologically suspended by him, cannot make fateful decisions regarding Israel, including a military operation in Gaza and the country’s borders.

Mauritanian delegation hands Gaza medical aid to ADU
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
NOUAKCHOTT, (PIC)-- The Mauritanian delegation that comprises a number of influential Mauritanian political parties has resolved its dispute with the Egyptian authorities, and agreed to handover the medical aid they had brought for the Gaza Strip to the Arab Doctors’ Union in order to deliver them to the tiny Strip. The delegation had refused to enter into the besieged populated Strip through Israeli-controlled crossing points, affirming that passing through Israeli-controlled crossing points would mean they recognize the Israeli occupation of Palestine which, the delegation added, they will never accept. However, the delegation reached a deal with the Egyptian government stipulating that the medical aid brought by the Mauritanian delegation for Gaza Strip will be passed into the Strip by the Egypt-based union. "We are urging all concerned parties, and the free people of the world. . .

President Abbas to discuss ceasefire with Egyptian president
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/9/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Monday with his Egyptian counterpart, Husni Mubarak, within talks over Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Palestinians and Israel. Over the past couple of months, Cairo has been mediating a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, however, Israel is yet to respond to such an initiative. The ceasefire proposal stipulates that Hamas will halt the fire of homemade shells into Israeli territory, in exchange for Israel lifting the 12 month-blockade and ceasing all military attacks against the Gaza Strip Palestinian sources said that Abbas’ visit to Cairo is also a part of underway tour in some Arab capitals after Abbas called for renewed dialogue with the ruling Hamas party in Gaza to end rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. The sources added that Abbas spoke over phone with Mubarak last week and that Mubarak welcomed the. . .

Olmert holds consultations on war decision on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli premier Ehud Olmert is to head a consultative meeting grouping him with war minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday to decide whether to launch a large-scale offensive on Gaza Strip, the Hebrew radio reported on Monday. The radio quoted Israeli political sources as saying that Barak is adamant on launching a "severe military offensive" against the Strip and the Hamas Movement before approving any calm with the Palestinian resistance factions. They said that the army was ready for the onslaught, which would include aerial attacks along with a ground invasion that would occupy certain areas in the Strip for a long period. The sources said that the consultations on Tuesday would decide whether Israel would launch the offensive or accept calm with Hamas, "which controls the Strip".

Gilad Schalit’s family receives new letter from abducted soldier
Jerusalem Post 6/9/2008
The family of Gilad Schalit received a new letter from the abducted IDF soldier on Monday, Channel 10 reported. Gilad’s father Noam confirmed receiving a letter from his son. Although he would not divulge many details of its contents, he did say that it included a plea to Israeli leaders to save his life by carrying out a prisoner swap with Hamas. He added that the letter was written in his son’s handwriting, and several details mentioned in it referred to recent events, seemingly confirming its authenticity and relevance. [end]

Turkish, Israeli sources: Israel-Syria talks set to resume this week
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
Indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria are expected to start on Thursday in Istanbul, diplomatic sources in Ankara and Jerusalem say. Despite Israel’s political crisis, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is determined to make progress on the Syrian track, which he considers strategically important. "We must present the Syrians with the alternative for peace, and not only the possibility for war and international isolation," Olmert said during discussions in recent days with aides and experts on Syria from academia and the defense establishment. According to a senior political source in Israel, Olmert is following an agenda on Syria formulated by him last year. Olmert has decided that talks on the basis of the principles of the 1991 Madrid Conference represent the best possible scenario.

VIDEO - News / Officials say talks with Syria will resume this week
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for June 9, 2008. Israeli officials say peace talks with Syria will resume this week. Gilad Shalit’s family receives a letter from the abducted solider. Protests rage in Europe as gas prices skyrocket. [end]

Abu Marzouk: Any dialog with Fatah should be based on previous agreements
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy leader of the Hamas Movement, stressed the need to abide by three documents in any dialog with the Fatah faction, namely, the national accord document and the Cairo and Makkah agreements which contain previous understandings on all politically-oriented issues. In a press statement to the Qatari Al-Sharq newspaper published Sunday, Dr. Abu Marzouk stated that the three documents provide sufficient answers to all political questions especially the Movement’s position on a number of issues including the Arab initiative, the national legitimacy, inter-Palestinian relations, the resistance etc. With regard to the unjust siege imposed on Gaza, the Hamas leader said that the Egyptians backtracked on their promises to open the Rafah border crossing if Israel rejected the truce overture, pointing out that Cairo might have feared to be held fully responsible for Gaza if it opened the crossing.

Haneyya: We are preparing atmosphere for successful national dialogue
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, on Monday said that his government and the Hamas Movement were exerting all possible means to ensure success of a national dialogue that would end up with re-uniting the country. Haneyya said, while touring secondary school final examination centers, that the examinations were unified as a signal toward national and geographic unity. Shifting to the issue of calm, the premier said that efforts in that field were held with Egyptian mediation that should include lifting the siege. Commenting on Israeli threats to invade the Gaza Strip, Haneyya said that those threats never before and never in future would terrorize the Palestinian people and only reflected the political and security crises engulfing the Hebrew state. "Israel does not want our people to unite so we must walk in the opposite direction," he concluded.

Egypt to deport 400 of Dahalan’s men over vandalism
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- The Egyptian authorities have apparently made up its mind to deport 400 of Fatah men loyal to the disgraced Fatah man Mohammed Dahalan, charging they were engaged in corrupt acts and vandalism, well-informed sources in Fatah faction revealed. In an interview with the Quds Press, the Fatah sources asserted that the Egyptian authorities were fed up with the social problems caused by those elements who were mostly former members of the defunct preventive security apparatus in Gaza Strip. "They (the Dahalan’s men) are posing security threat to the Egyptian national security", the sources quoted Egyptian officials as asserting, adding that the rejected Dahalan’s men will most likely be deported to Yemen as part of a deal between Egypt, Yemen, and the PA leadership in Ramallah. The Israeli occupation government refused to allow Dahalan’s associates into the West Bank.

Hamas say ready for inter-Palestinian dialogue
Associated Press, YNetNews 6/9/2008
Following mediated Fatah-Hamas discussions, exiled politburo chief Khaled Mashaal says he is for Palestinian reconciliation. Abbas: PLO’s executive committee responsible for steps towards talks -Hamas is ready for a national Palestinian dialogue that will achieve reconciliation and preserve national rights; the group’s leader was quoted as saying Monday. Syria’s state-run news agency, SANA, said Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal made his comments during a meeting Monday with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. It said the two discussed the situation in the Palestinian Territories. SANA did not elaborate. Later in the day, Hamas issued a statement quoting Mashaal as saying that the group "is ready to participate in any direct dialogue (with Fatah) at one table under Arab umbrella if dialogue was without preconditions." 

Al-Maliki: Abbas’ call for dialogue with Hamas followed Yemeni initiative
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian Interior Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said on Monday that President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for dialogue with Hamas is in accordance with a Yemeni-brokered agreement from earlier this year. At the time of the announcement that Hamas and Fatah had agreed to resume direct talks in late March, prominent Fatah leaders had distanced themselves from the accord. The Arab League later gave their blessing to the "Sana’a Declaration" signed in the Yemeni capital, even though senior Fatah leader Ahmad Qurei’ said Fatah’s representative signed the document due to a logistical mix-up. Al-Maliki’s comments on Monday appeared to reverse that position. Al-Maliki stated his hope that President Abbas’ efforts will succeed in bringing an end to the current internal Palestinian crisis which he said has harmed the Palestinian cause.

Abbas, Saudi king want Arab League to mediate between Hamas and Fatah
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Saudi King Abdallah Ibin Abdul Aziz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed that the Arabi League should sponsor talks between Abbas’ Fatah faction and the rival Hamas movement, a Palestinian diplomat told the AFP news agency on Sunday. King Abdallah and President Abbas met in the Saudi city of Jedda on Sunday, discussing Abbas’ call for renewed dialogue between the Palestinian rivals and ongoing negotiations with Israel. Abbas called for ’comprehensive national dialogue’ with Hamas last week in a move that was welcomed by Hamas. Saudi Arabia sponsored the Mecca Agreement of February 2007 that joined Hamas and Fatah in a national unity government. Abbas dismissed that government in June 2007 after Hamas’ forces, fearing a surprise attack from US-armed Fatah forces, seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas renews readiness for national unity talks during meeting with Moalem
Palestinian Information Center 6/9/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday renewed its readiness to initiate national unity talks without any pre-conditions attached, a Hamas press statement said. The statement said that a delegation of the Movement chaired by political bureau chief Khaled Mishaal met at noon Monday with Syrian foreign minister Walid Al-Moalem. It said that Mishaal briefed Moalem on latest efforts and contacts that are being made to prepare for such dialogue. Hamas reiterated its preparedness to sit at the negotiating table for direct, national dialogue under Arab auspices without any conditions attached to discuss decisive solutions to all problems witnessed in the Palestinian arena. [end]

Saudi king, Abbas hold talks
Middle East Online 6/7/2008
JEDDAH - Saudi King Abdullah and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday agreed that the Arab League should oversee truce talks between Fatah and Hamas, a Palestinian diplomat said. "The two sides agreed that all inter-Palestinian dialogue should take place under the supervision of the Arab League," Palestinian representative to Riyadh Jamal Shobaki said. King Abdullah and Fatah leader Abbas also discussed the status of US-backed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians during Sunday’s meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Shobaki added. Abbas last week called for dialogue with Hamas, which ousted his loyalists from Gaza in June last year, breaking with his previous policy of rejecting any opening until the Islamists cede control of the territory. Hamas responded favourably to Abbas’s overture, raising hopes of reconciliation between the two sides although. . .

Abbas overtakes Haniyeh in Palestinian survey
Reuters, YNetNews 6/9/2008
Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research conducts periodical popularity survey of Palestinian leaders, finds Palestinian president’s popularity exceeds that of Hamas PM by 12% -Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s popularity rebounded in a survey released on Monday after he renewed his call for dialogue with the Hamas Islamists who control the Gaza Strip. The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, suggested that Abbas would win 52% of the vote against 40% for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh if a presidential election were held in the Palestinian territories now. A survey by the same group in March showed Haniyeh leading Abbas by 47% to 46%. The new poll was conducted shortly after Abbas called for "a national and comprehensive dialogue" with Hamas, which seized Gaza from Abbas’s more secular Fatah faction last June.

Interior Min. sets up unit to grant refugee status
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 6/10/2008
The Interior Ministry has set up a unit to question and investigate refugees from Africa - the government’s first big step to deal with the wave of migrants entering from the southern border. The move comes after the state predicted that refugees will continue to arrive in the next few years and nothing can be done to stop them. The State Prosecution recently told the High Court of Justice that the ministry’s Population Administration has hired 20 employees who speak languages common in Africa, such as Arabic and Amharic, and is hiring more. The unit is a step in the Population Administration’s process of taking over the handling of refugees from the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR. In developed countries the government usually handles refugees, supervised by the UNHCR, while in the developing world the UNHCR does so.

Creative Protest in Ni’lin Stopped by Charging Soldiers
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 6/9/2008
Demonstrators in Ni’lin used creative techniques on Friday in order to protest the construction of the Wall around the village. A large crowd, comprised of Palestinians and internationals, hiked outside of the town to a hillside across from the settlement of Hashmon’im. As the Jewish holy day of Shabbat began with the setting of the sun, protesters started beating on drums, blowing whistles, and banging pots and pans. The purpose of the protest was to represent on a very small scale the disturbances experienced by the people of Ni’lin due to the settlements and the construction of the Wall. Settlers appeared on their porches as the discordant noise rang out through the ravine. Around ten teenagers and younger boys ran down the side of the hill, crossing a stream that carries away raw sewage from Hashmon’im, and up to the fence surrounding the settlement.

Summer Against Apartheid Banner at Tel Aviv March Against the Occupation
International Solidarity Movement 6/9/2008
Photos - 1948 Palestine - Summer Against Apartheid Banner at Tel Aviv March Against the Occupation - On Saturday June 7, members of the ISM marched through the streets of Tel Aviv with a banner proclaiming "This Is Apartheid!" While participatingin a demonstration, organized by Israelis to protest the 41st year of Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, the ISMers unfurled the banner and marched down Rothchild Boulevardas hordes of Israeli spectators looked on. The banner garnered much interest with photographers and videographers documenting the moment. Responses from onlookers ranged from questions like, "What do you mean by this? "  to angry confrontational statements like "They should take it up the "¦"The Tel Aviv march took a path down central commercial streets densely populated withSaturday evening café-goers.

US government accuses UN body of ''Israel bashing''
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/9/2008
The United Nations Human Rights Council, charged with addressing human rights abuses around the world, has been accused by US government officials of "bashing" Israel, because the body has accused Israel of human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, says that the US will withdraw from its seat on the Council, and will only deal with the Council when matters of "deep national interest" are in question. Other human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have called the US withdrawal "an abandonment of human rights defenders and victims. "The Council was formed in 2006, as a replacement for the discredited Human Rghts Commission. 47 member states participate in the Human Rights Council, and meet in Geneva to discuss and address human rights abuses by countries around the world.

Israeli authorities release Palestinian prisoner after 10-year sentence
Ma’an News Agency 6/9/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Israeli authorities on Monday released a Palestinian prisoner, 30-year-old Ziad J’ara, from Nablus in the northern West Bank, after he completed a 10-year prison sentence, the Nafha Association for the Defense of Prisoners and Human Rights said. J’ara was detained on 2 August 1998 at Za’tara military checkpoint north of Ramallah in the central West Bank. J’ara called on the Palestinian leadership to focus more the plight of Palestinian prisoners. He said that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are counting on Palestinian factions to unite and end the months-long internal political conflict. There are more than 11,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Anti-wall demonstrations in Ni’lin village
Kim Bullimore, International Solidarity Movement 6/9/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - Ni’lin village has become the latest village to begin organising demonstrations against the building of the apartheid wall and the stealing of their farm land by the Israeli state. The village is located in the Ramallah district, approximately 10 kilometres from the village of Bil’in which has conducted a non-stop struggle against the confiscation of their land and the building of the apartheid wall on their land for the past three years. In 2003, other villages in the region, including Budrus, Al Midya, Deir Qadddis and Kharbata led the struggle in non-violent resistance against the wall, holding daily and/or weekly demonstrations. [end] -- See also: Kim Bullimore and IWPS website

Demonstration in Shufa in protest against Israeli apartheid road
International Solidarity Movement 6/7/2008
Tulkarem Region - Photos - Over 100 residents of Shufa turned out at 5pm on Saturday 7th June to protest against the Israeli apartheid system that denies the villagers the right to use the main road of their village. Bearing a banner that read: "This is Apartheid", and hand-drawn placards entreating "don’t kill peace", villagers marched towards the apartheid road in a continuation of the series of demonstrations against the closed road, despite the assurances from the Israeli army commander that if they were to call off their demonstration the road would be opened the following day. Israeli soldiers quickly entered the village from the nearby army base (built on stolen Palestinian land), and surrounded the demonstrators, preventing them from reaching the road. Protesters stood and chanted "1,2,3,4 Occupation No More!" before negotiating their way closer to the road upon which they have not been allowed to drive for the past three years.

Israeli prison administration censors Al Jazeera: off the air in Al Naqab
Palestine News Network 6/7/2008
Naqab (Negev) Desert / PNN -- In the Israeli Al Naqab Prison Palestinians are no longer able to watch the Al Jazeera news. The Centre for the Studies of the Prisoners reported on Monday that Palestinians in Al Naqab are being prevented, as of Sunday, to view the most popular news channel from their cells. The cells in the desert prison are in fact tents. After this act of provocation by the Israeli Prison Administration, Palestinian political prisoners and those who work round the clock to defend them, denounced this latest action. The Israeli Prison Administration gave no explanation when questioned by prisoners’ rights groups, and now the issue is being taken to the airwaves. The Center is demanding free access to mass media and is calling on humanitarian institutions to intervene. The Israeli government has a proven history of repressing the media, not only through. . .

Demolitions in Beit Awa and Husan to put further pressure on the villages
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 6/7/2008
The Occupation continues to target Palestinian population centres that fall near the Wall or its planned path. This policy has led to the issuing of demolition orders to homes and businesses in Beit ‘Awa and Husan. In Beit ‘Awa, a number of homes, some in varying stages of construction, will be razed. In Husan, the Occupation plans to destroy a number of businesses. Beit ‘Awa is located near the Green Line, west of Hebron. Since the construction of the Wall in 2004, the people of Beit ‘Awa have faced the demolitions of structures, land and olive trees. The most recent orders will affect 22 residents. Two residential structures that house a total of 8 persons will be destroyed, leaving the two families homeless.

Protest camp built in Qaffin, Tulkarem, as part of ‘Summer Against Apartheid’
International Solidarity Movement 6/5/2008
Tulkarem Region - Photos - On the 5th June, hundreds of Palestinians, joined by international and Israeli activists demonstrated in the village of Qaffin, in the Tulkarm region of northern Palestine, marking the beginning of the ‘Summer Against Apartheid’ campaign. Qaffin village is situated close to the apartheid barrier and, while it has traditionally enjoyed good relations with the people of the nearby Jewish town of Metzar (in Israel proper), illegal seizures of farmland for the construction of the wall has added to tensions. A protest cam was established close to the apartheid wall. This camp will act as a center for activism and protest throughout the Summer. Several hundreds of townspeople, accompanied by international solidarity activists,Christian activists, Jewish sympathisers and Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall, marched from the town hall to the site of the Summer camp, set up on village land close to the apartheid barrier.

Demonstration against Beit Eba checkpoint, Nablus: ‘Summer Against Apartheid’ is launched
International Solidarity Movement 6/5/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - On 5th June, at 11am, approximately 50 demonstrators attempted to march to Beit Eba checkpoint to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza and as part of the 3-day, Palestine-wide, launch of the ‘Summer Against Apartheid’ campaign. Organised by the Nablus Committee Against the Siege; the Women’s Union; the Committee of Political Parties; and the Workers’ Unions, in conjunction with villages around Nablus, the demonstration commemorated the 41st anniversary of when Israel first began their occupation of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which has since continued unabated. The demonstration was part of a series of actions throughout Palestine to launch the ‘Summer Against Apartheid’ campaign of 2008, with further actions planned across the West Bank throughout the summer.

Iran shadow over US-Iraq security pact
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 6/10/2008
Amid a rising chorus of internal opposition to a proposed long-term United States-Iraq security agreement, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited Tehran at the weekend to address Iran’s concerns about the matter and, simultaneously, to improve the security and military component of Iran-Iraq relations. This is bound to further complicate the US’s effort to nail this agreement before the end of the year, when the United Nations mandate for the presence of "coalition forces" in Iraq runs out. Already, US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker has accused Tehran of throwing a monkey wrench into the sensitive US-Iraq security discussions by trying to "complicate" them, as if the denunciation of the said accord by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and numerous other leading Iraqi clergy and politicians, both Sunni and Shi’ites, has not already rendered it nearly impossible to realize.

American troops in Iraq need to go home - Khamenei
Farhad Pouladi, Daily Star 6/10/2008
Agence France Presse - TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader warned Iraq’s visiting prime minister on Monday against signing any agreement with the United States that would keep foreign troops in the country beyond 2008. The continued presence of US troops was Iraq’s "fundamental problem," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, expressing confidence that Iran’s western neighbor would dash the "dreams " of the United States. The meeting - on the final day of Maliki’s third visit to Tehran as prime minister - came amid alarm in Iran over the mooted Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Baghdad and Washington. "The most fundamental problem of Iraq is the presence of the foreign forces," Khamenei told Maliki in comments carried by state television. "We are certain that the Iraqi people will pass the difficult circumstances and reach the status they deserve.

Iran, Iraq agree to boost defense cooperation
Reuters, YNetNews 6/9/2008
Tehran’s IRNA news agency reports Iranian defense minister, Iraqi PM meet, sign memorandum on defense cooperation - Iran and Iraq agreed to boost defense cooperation during a visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to Tehran on Monday, Iran’s official IRNA news agency said, giving few details on the content of the agreement. Iran’s Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation with his Iraqi counterpart, Abdul Qader Jassim, IRNA said. Mine clearance and the search for soldiers missing in action would be part of the planned cooperation, it said. The two majority Shiite Muslim countries fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, in which 1 million people were killed, but ties have improved since Sunni Arab strongman Saddam Hussein was ousted in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Berri questions delay in carrying out security recommendations
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 6/10/2008
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri has raised doubts about the implementation of the recently launched security plan to stanch violence in Beirut and other parts of the country. "I do not know what exactly is delayingimplementing the decisions of the Central Security Council. . . unless they expect the feuding parties to take the security measures instead of them," Berri said in comments published by As-Safir newspaper. "The security and armed forces should play their role and take all the necessary measures to contain the security situation in the country. "Berri also praised Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora for what he called his serious and responsible attitude in dealing with security issues. The Central Security Council called on security authorities implement a plan that includes the removal of provocative pictures and inflammatory propaganda material, an immediate halt to political. . .

UK foreign secretary vows to support Lebanese stability
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/10/2008
BEIRUT: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Monday pledged his country’s support for stability in Lebanon, at the end of a 24-hour visit. "Lebanon can be a force for stability in the Middle East rather than being a victim of instability in the Middle East - and that has been the focus of my visit so far," he told reporters after meeting Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora. Miliband also held talks with newly elected President Michel Sleiman and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. Sleiman’s election followed a six-month void in the presidency due to a prolonged political crisis between the ruling bloc and the opposition, a struggle which turned violent in early May. The clashes killed at least 65 and only ended after the two sides sealed a deal in Qatar on May 21 that brought about Sleiman’s election, in what Miliband billed "a turning point.


The most reliable path to freedom
Omar Barghouti, Electronic Intifada 6/9/2008
      "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger," said Dov Weissglas, Sharon’s closest advisor, a few years ago. Today, Israel is slowly choking occupied Gaza, indeed bringing its civilian population to the brink of starvation and a planned humanitarian catastrophe.
     If the US government is an obvious accomplice in financing, justifying and covering up Israel’s occupation and other forms of oppression, the European Union, Israel’s largest trade partner in the world, is not any less complicit in perpetuating Israel’s colonial oppression and special form of apartheid. At a time when Israel is cruelly besieging Gaza, collectively punishing 1.5 million Palestinian civilians, condemning them to devastation, and visiting imminent death upon hundreds of patients, prematurely born babies, and others, the EU is extending an invitation to Israel to open negotiations to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, instead of ending the EU-Israel association agreement due to Israel’s grave violation of its human rights clause. The US and European governments are not only providing Israel with massive economic aid and open markets, they are supplying it with weapons, diplomatic immunity and unlimited political support, and upgrading their relations with it specifically at a time when it is committing acts of genocide.

Blue sky, toxic sea

Nora Barrows-Friedman writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Electronic Intifada 6/9/2008
      For the three days I’ve been in Gaza I’ve heard nothing but horror stories. My friends, the journalists, the health workers, the students, the taxi drivers, the intellectuals, they all speak with a certain heaviness and a guttural frustration that gets trapped in the back of throats, in the smoke they exhale from chain-smoked cigarettes, over and over and over.
     Last night I saw a friend, Mohammed, whom I haven’t seen in three years and sadly lost touch with in between. Since I was here last, he got married, had a baby, and now has one more on the way. After a week-long trip to Europe last year as a part of his work with an international aid organization, he was held first for five days at the Cairo airport, in a small room with ten other Palestinians from Gaza, before they were transfered to a detention center and held for 60 days in al-Arish, in the seam zone between Egypt and Rafah crossing in southern Gaza. The Egyptians did this in an act of collaboration with the Israelis. With friends in the West Bank, the Jordanians use the same tactics of interrogation and humiliation at the border, but detention without reason doesn’t happen. Yet.

Saying ''I didn’t know'' is no excuse anymore

Reham Alhelsi, Palestine Think Tank 6/9/2008
      A couple of days ago I read an article by Haitham Sabbah entitled, "Murder at Huwara Checkpoint". It talks about the killing of a 15 year old Palestinian boy by the Israeli soldiers at the Huwara Checkpoint. It talks about the killing of a 15 year old Palestinian boy by the Israeli soldiers at the Huwara Checkpoint. What drew my attention to the article was the accompanying photo. It was a painting of a Palestinian boy lying dead with stretched arms, an image that is a companion to many Palestinians. While reading the article my mind was moving faster than my eyes. Unfortunately, it was all so familiar; young people waiting to cross a military checkpoint, a rush of bullets coming without any warning, keeping the rest of the people away, preventing the medical teams from saving lives, waiting till the person lying on the ground bleeds to death and then the real “show” begins. The Israeli soldiers take off the dead Palestinian’s clothes, they wash off the pool of blood to remove any traces of their crimes, and then hurry and announce that they have just killed a terrorist who intended to blow himself up. The sad thing is, this scenario has been taking place for decades now and the world still believes these lies and very few dare to question them, despite the existence of witnesses and proof to contradict these lies.

No, I Can’t!

Uri Avnery, MIFTAH 6/9/2008
      AFTER MONTHS of a tough and bitter race, a merciless struggle, Barack Obama has defeated his formidable opponent, Hillary Clinton. He has wrought a miracle: for the first time in history a black person has become a credible candidate for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world.
     And what was the first thing he did after his astounding victory? He ran to the conference of the Israel lobby, AIPAC, and made a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning.
     That is shocking enough. Even more shocking is the fact that nobody was shocked.
     IT WAS a triumphalist conference. Even this powerful organization had never seen anything like it. 7000 Jewish functionaries from all over the United States came together to accept the obeisance of the entire Washington elite, which came to kowtow at their feet. All the three presidential hopefuls made speeches, trying to outdo each other in flattery. 300 Senators and Members of Congress crowded the hallways. Everybody who wants to be elected or reelected to any office, indeed everybody who has any political ambitions at all, came to see and be seen.

So Sad to See Obama Surrender to AIPAC

Daoud Kuttab, MIFTAH 6/9/2008
      It was so sad. To see a grown tower of a man come to his knees. Just like everyone before him, the presumptive Democratic nominee followed the suit of all US political leaders before him and bowed down at the footsteps of the pro Israel lobby. What happened to the anti lobby nominee? On the day his nomination had been sealed, at a time when his chances of being elected had been all but ensured, Barack Obama failed the test. What happened to the nominee who was going to change the way Washington was run? What happened to the promise of "I will tell you what you have to hear, not what you love to hear?"
     Speaking at the pro Israel lobby, the first black presidential nominee, who is being seen world wide as a potentially global president, turned on every promise he made during the run up to the nomination.
     It wasn’t as if he needed the Jewish money or votes. This has been the first presidential run which succeeded in circumventing large donors and prided itself with the million donors who gave less than $100 was suddenly kowtowing to a sector of America whose major source of power has been their ability to raise large funds. On the day that he succeeded in getting the Democratic National Committee to announce that they will not accept lobbyist money, he was pandering to the most powerful of all lobbies. How can we believe that lobbyists will not run Obama’s administration.

An Award for the Voiceless in Gaza

Mohammed Omer, MIFTAH 6/9/2008
      The siege of Gaza has many layers. I work here as a journalist, amid near-daily air and land assaults from Israel, amid the unending killings and destruction of land and livelihood, which are all made more unbearable by critical shortages of fuel, food, medicine, electricity for hospital machinery and electricity for my work. Recently I returned from fieldwork to find cheerful news from John Pilger: that I have won the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, along with my respected colleague Dahr Jamail. This is the best news I have received for many months.
     As I write, I am still thrilled and honored at such recognition. But since those first minutes during which it was explained that I would have to be in London by 16 June to receive my award, my thoughts have been racing, seeking a way to get out of Gaza. How can I get out at a time when Israel is not allowing even the most urgent medical cases to leave for treatment, a policy that, according to Gaza’s ministry of health, has led to the deaths of more than 165 people?

Olive Oil Until They’re Free

Brian Wood, Palestine Chronicle, MIFTAH 6/9/2008
      Mahmud was a tall, strong young man. His black hair and thick eyebrows hinted at a shy nature, but he was a born leader. His popularity reigned among the families of Jenin’s refugee camp, the West Bank, and the surrounding Arab countries. Mahmud feared nothing but submission to Israeli occupation. Working to end this occupation, which encapsulated his every breath on Earth, was how he spent his waking hours.
     When boys are learning how to drive a car in some countries, Mahmud was training to defend his siblings and parents and home from the thieves who came in the night with heavy weapons—by air and by the infamous Haifa road of Jenin, that which leads back to their original homes. The road back home is laid waste by tank tracks, but home, Haifa, can never be expunged from their blood or dreams.
     When the Israelis came on April 3, 2002, everyone knew it was going to be big. Mahmud led his fighters into the night, but not before holding his baby daughter close, kissing his wife, and praying with his mother. He rescued people from burning buildings, worked covertly to deliver food and bread to those trapped in their homes and valiantly defended the camp, all while fasting and praying. His legacy endures so large that no length of time will ever erase his name or deeds from the annals of Jenin’s valiant history.

Solidarity with Bil’in: between football games and tear gas

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 6/9/2008
      Hundreds of demonstrators, both Palestinian and international, gathered in Bi’lin on Friday to peacefully protest the construction of the Apartheid Wall and the confiscation of Palestinian lands.
     The day began with a football game in an olive grove on a hill in Bi’lin just outside an Israeli settlement, a form of peaceful protest adopted by citizens of Bi’lin. The game came to a screeching halt however, when Israeli forces fired tear gas onto the makeshift field. Players and spectators scattered, seeking refuge in the town. Medical personal administered oxygen and handed out alcohol to those affected by the gas.
     As the protest leaders regrouped the scattered villagers, internationals from France, Italy, Canada, Holland, the USA and many other countries were arriving to take part in the peaceful protest scheduled later that afternoon. The most notable international presence was that of Luisa Morgantini, Vice President of the European Parliament.

The Land, Not the People

Neve Gordon, MIFTAH 6/9/2008
      Israel has decided to alter its methods of upholding the occupation, replacing a politics of life, which aimed to secure the existence and livelihood of the Palestinian inhabitants, with a politics of death.
     On June 8, 1967, just a few hours after the Israeli military captured Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Haram al Sharif, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan visited the site. Noticing that troops had hung an Israeli flag on the cap of the Al-Aqsa shrine, Dayan asked one of the soldiers to remove it, adding that displaying the Israeli national symbol for all to see was an unnecessarily provocative act.
     Those who have visited the Occupied Territories in the past years have no doubt noticed Israeli flags fluttering over almost every building Israel occupies as well as above every Jewish settlement. Ariel Sharon’s highly publicized visit to the Al-Aqsa compound in September 2000 – an act that served as the trigger for the second Intifada – could be considered the final step in a process that has ultimately undone Dayan’s strategic legacy of trying to normalize the occupation by concealing Israel’s presence. “Don’t rule them,” Dayan once said, “let them lead their own lives.”