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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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14 June 2008

Israeli Forces Attack Palestinian Demonstrators Against Barrier Wall
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
RAMALLAH, June 13 (KUNA) -- Israeli forces attacked two Palestinian peaceful protests against the Israeli-built barrier inside the West Bank, injuring many people. In the Al-Masara Town south of Beit Laham, five Palestinians were injured after Israeli forces attacked a peaceful protest. Organizers of the march against the barrier, said that the people in the march containing Palestinians and foreigners as well as Israelis, were beaten with batons injuring five Palestinians in the process. The organizers also stated that a foreigner was arrested and referred to an unknown whereabouts. Meanwhile, in the village of Bil’in close to Ramallah, three Palestinians were injured and a foreigner was shot in the chest, with many affected by tear gas suffocation. Organizer of the People’s Campaign Against the Israeli-built Barrier Abdullah Abu Rahma said that Israeli prevented protesters from reaching the confiscated Palestinian lands by shooting at them with rubber bullets and spraying tear gas.

Ten Palestinian injured, as army invades Bethlehem
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 6/14/2008
Ten Palestinians were injured when Israeli troops invaded the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon. . IMEMC correspondent in Bethlehem Ghassan Bannoura reported that at least 14 Israeli military jeeps invaded the city and surrounded the house of Muath Abu Aker family. Abu Aker is claimed wanted by the Israeli army, for being involved with the Palestinian armed resistance groups. Clashes between local youth and the invading troops erupted nearby Deheisheh refugee camp. Palestinian youth hurled stones at the Israeli jeeps, while troops responded with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets injuring ten civilians, one seriously. Eyewitnesses told IMEMC that a 17-year old boy was shot in the head and was taken to Beit Jala hospital for treatment. Additionally and elderly woman was treated for gas inhalation.

IDF launches airstrike against gunmen in northern Gaza
Ynet, YNetNews 6/14/2008
Forces spot cell near border fence by Beit Hanoun during night, no report on state of casualties as of far. Earlier on Thursday IDF troops kill three Hamas operatives preparing to launch Qassam rockets towards Israel - IDF forces targeted a cell of Palestinian gunmen in northern Gaza in the early hours of Saturday morning. The cell had been spotted advancing along the border fence near the town of Beit Hanoun. IAF aircraft targeted the cell a short while afterwards and reported they had identified hitting their mark. No reports have been received regarding the Palestinian casualties thus far. A reported 14 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Thursday in a series of clashes and incidents. Massive barrages - than 50 mortar shells and 25 Qassam rockets - rained on Israel’s southern communities in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, wounding one Israeli woman in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai.

Condoleezza Rice says she’ll address issue of settlements with Israel
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/15/2008
U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Jewish settlement building "a problem" on Saturday and said Israel had not done enough to ease restrictions on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. "Look, it’s a problem and I think it’s a problem that we’re going to address with the Israelis," Rice said of recent Israeli settlement construction announcements as she flew to Tel Aviv on her sixth trip this year to try to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Bitter disputes over settlements and a corruption scandal that could force Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert out of office have undercut U. S. efforts to reach a statehood agreement this year, Israeli, Palestinian and Western officials say. Ahead of Rice’s arrival, Israel said it had approved construction of 1,300 new homes in an area of the West Bank that the Israeli government considers part of Jerusalem.

Report: Israel persuaded not to include Shalit in truce deal
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/14/2008
London-based paper reports Israel persuaded to separate demand for release of kidnapped soldier from truce negotiations. Hamas leaders: Ceasefire could begin very soon, depending on Israel’s acceptance of terms - The London-based "˜al-Sharq al-Awsat’ reported on Saturday that Egyptian intelligence chief, General Omar Suleiman, was successful in persuading Israel to separate the demand to release kidnapped solider Gilad Shalit from the ceasefire negotiations with armed groups in the Gaza Strip. According to the report Suleiman has pledged Shalit’s captivity will be the first order of business on the agenda immediately after the truce is agreed upon. Hamas has accepted Suleiman’s proposal and stressed they viewed the efforts to secure a calm in the region and Shalit’s release as two separate issues.

Soldiers help settlers attack Palestinian putting out a fire near ’Asira al-Qibliya
Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, ReliefWeb 6/12/2008
On Saturday afternoon, 3 May 2008, fields belonging to residents of ’Asira al-Qibliya were torched, apparently by settlers. The fields lie south of the town, near the Yitzhar settlement. Testimonies given to B’Tselem indicate that residents of the town who reached the site managed to put out most of the fire by themselves, but settlers prevented them from reaching part of the area, which continued to burn. Several youths began throwing stones at the settlers who were blocking their way, to which the settlers responded by shooting in the air. The residents, who feared that the fire would spread to a nearby wheat field, called the fire squad. Hamam a-Latif, 16, came to the site to help put out the fire. He told B’Tselem that soldiers who arrived on the scene of the confrontation beckoned several of the stone-throwing youths to come towards them, but the youths ran away and the soldiers chased them.

Demonstration against Israeli settler attacks in Hebron
Palestine News Network 6/14/2008
Hebron / PNN -- Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians are ongoing and are particularly brutal in the northern West Bank’s Nablus, and in the south’s Hebron. Eighty leftists demonstrated on Saturday against the most recent attack in Hebron. The Israeli group working for Palestinian human rights, B’Tselem, broadcast a video tape on Friday of an attack by masked Jewish settlers on Palestinian farmers, including a 58 year old woman. The video depicts Israeli settlers hitting the farmers with sticks. This type of treatment has been ongoing for years, but not often is it caught on tape. The woman with the video camera ran to get help. Israeli soldiers are of little use, often standing by and watching settlers attack Palestinians, or joining in themselves, as was the recent case in Nablus. The 31 year old farmer on tape in Hebron spoke with Reuters telling. . .

Reconciliation committee recommends technocratic government to end internal paralysis
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The National Reconciliation Committee on Saturday called for a comprehensive national initiative to bridge the rift between the rival Palestinian factions based on President Abbas’ call for dialogue and the Yemeni initiative, and stated that the first item on the agenda should be forming a government of technocrats. The committee has been working behind the scenes for several months to help resolve the disputes between the Hamas and Fatah parties, and includes professionals, academics, and civil society leaders based in Gaza. On Saturday the committee held its first public meeting at the Al-Andalus Hotel in Gaza to present its vision for achieving reconciliation and ending the internal paralysis. Discussing the urgency of finding a solution, committee member Dr Mekheimer Abu Sa’dah noted: “The current internal divisions in the Palestinian territories have negatively. . .

Palestinian sources: the national dialogue will begin before the end of this month
Palestine News Network 6/14/2008
Cairo / PNN -- The Palestinian internal dialogue will be held in Cairo and will begin before month’s end. Will it be any different from the other internal dialogues, summits and meetings that have been held since the Fateh -- Hamas split? Maybe. Fadi Abu Sa’ada wrote in his recent opinion piece for Al Arabiya that President Abbas was essentially off to a good start by not using the word "coup," regarding the Hamas government’s major split from the Palestinian Authority in Gaza last year. Palestinian sources told the Saudi press that among the issues to be examined is the possibility of forming an Arab force to be deployed in the Gaza Strip. It would work to arrange the situation there and the formation of a Palestinian security agency that has no link to any particular faction. In the same context, Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Al Maliki, admitted the failure. . .

Governor Tamari pleas went unheeded as Israeli forces attacked Bethlehem
Najib Farrag, Palestine News Network 6/14/2008
Bethlehem - A dozen young men and young residents of Bethlehem suffered various injuries when Israeli forces invaded the southern West Bank city, neighboring Al Doha and Deheisha Refugee Camp. Israeli soldiers used live bullets, as well as rubber-coated steel and gas. Four young people suffered the most serious injuries, with bullet wounds and one being hit with a gas canister. Some were treated on the scene while others were rushed to the hospital. Israeli forces also injured journalist Mousa Shar, broke his camera, and shattered the windows of the car for the local Reuters camera crew headed by Mohammed Ghnya. They also attacked a WAFA news agency reporter. Some 25 Israeli military vehicles hit the city and its environs after Israeli special forces first came quietly into Deheisha Refugee Camp early Saturday afternoon.

Four Palestinians injured during Israeli invasion of Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces withdrew from Ad-Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem on Saturday evening after a five hour invasion, during which clashes erupted and four Palestinian youth were injured. Medical sources described the injuries as light to moderate. According to local security sources, more than fifteen Israeli military jeeps accompanied by two military bulldozers invaded Bethlehem and surrounded a building in the Ar-Radaida area of Ad-Deheisheh refugee camp. Israeli forces confiscated belongings from some of the apartments and then withdrew from the building. Israeli forces also surrounded a building housing the Ar-Ru’a local TV station in the nearby town of Ad-Doha, and ransacked the family apartment of 18-year-old Mu’ath Abu ’Akar under the pretext that he is wanted by the Israeli army.

Five arrested as PA forces move into village near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Palestinian security forces from the West Bank city of Tulkarem, led by police chief Ma’rouf Al-Barbari, entered the town of Bal’a, east of Tulkarem, on Saturday, Tulkarem officials said. The Tulkarem governorate sate that the security forces arrested five people on criminal charges as a part of a larger effort to impose security and order in the Tulkarem area. [end]

Gaza Fighters Bombard Israel After Deadly Blast
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
GAZA CITY (AFP) - Palestinian fighters bombarded southern Israel on Thursday after a Hamas commander’s house in northern Gaza was blown up in a blast which killed seven people, including a four-month-old baby. The attacks started immediately after the explosion which Palestinian medics said also wounded 51 people, among them women and children, in and around the two-storey building. The Israeli military said nearly 50 rockets and mortar rounds were fired from the Gaza Strip following the explosion, which Hamas blamed on the Jewish state despite its denial of involvement. “Only yesterday, Israel decided to give a chance to the Egyptian initiative which could have brought calm to the south,” the Israeli prime minister’s spokesman Mark Regev told AFP. “The barrage of rockets today shows that Hamas has no interest in calm and is committed to violence, terror and murder.

Report: Israel killed 635 Palestinians in Gaza in one year
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Quds Press news agency revealed in a report issued Saturday that the IOA troops had killed since June 2007 until this current month 635 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip alone while 83 others were killed during the same period in the West Bank. The report illustrates that the IOF troops had killed 235 Palestinian citizens during the period extending from last mid-June until the end of 2007 and 400 others since the beginning of 2008 in Gaza as a result of the Israeli military escalations.   In a new development, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced in a communiqué received by the PIC that its fighters managed at noon Saturday to blow up an Israeli armored bulldozer by firing four successive anti-armor RPGs at it in the east of Al-Maghazi area, central Gaza Strip. The Brigades said that this operation was carried out in retaliation to the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Israel launches two air strikes on Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli warplanes launched two attacks on Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, witnesses and medics said. No injuries were reported in either attack. In the northern Gaza Strip, Israeli planes fired missiles at Palestinian fighters near Gaza’s eastern border. No injuries were reported. In a second strike in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said the Israeli air force bombed Palestinian fighters in the Al-Samiri area, east of the city of Khan Younis. While Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza from the air, witnesses said that Israeli tanks are stationed on the ground inside the eastern border of the Strip, shelling Palestinian areas "at random."

Al-Qassam brigades shell Israeli bulldozer in central Gaza Strip
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, claimed responsibility on Saturday evening for shelling an Israeli military bulldozer with four homemade projectiles in the Abu Safiya base, east of Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The brigades said in a statement that they will continue striking Israeli targets in response to the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Palestinians. [end]

DFLP fighters ’shell Israeli forces’ in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) claimed responsibility on Saturday for shelling Israeli armored vehicles east of the Az-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. The brigades said that this shelling was a response to the ongoing Israeli attacks and as an affirmation of a strategy of resistance. [end]

Al-Aqsa Brigades claim responsibility for shelling Erez crossing
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – A group of Al-Aqsa Brigades fighters claiming allegiance to "the martyr Ayman Joudeh" claimed responsibility for launching two mortar shells at the Erez border crossing, at the northern end of the Gaza Strip on Saturday. The group said the attack was in response to ongoing Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people.

IDF activates warning system meant to spot mortars from Gaza
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/15/2008
The Israel Defense Forces Southern Command activated an alert system over the weekend that is designed to forewarn of incoming mortar shells fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The system, which was given the code name "Nurit," has already been put to use by the Northern Command in an effort to detect and warn against mortar and Katyusha rocket fire. Nurit was prepared to go on line this weekend for a trial run, and IDF officers are hopeful it will provide adequate warning to residents of communities in the western Negev that have been pounded by Palestinian rocket and mortar fire. Recently, the threat of mortar fire against the western Negev communities has grown, with dozens of rounds being fired each week at kibbutzim which lie adjacent to the Gaza security fence.

Hamas says bomb-makers caused fatal blast in Gaza
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 6/14/2008
Hamas has admitted that an explosion which killed eight Palestinians in northern Gaza was an accident during preparations for a bomb attack. The explosion on Thursday -- which in the immediate aftermath the Islamic faction claimed was caused by an Israeli air strike -- killed a four-month-old girl, six Hamas militants and a civilian adult. It destroyed the house of a prominent militant, Ahmed Hamouda, who was not there. As Hamas’s military wing said the militants were preparing for a "special jihadi mission", Abu Obeida, a spokesman, said: "An error occurred and led to the explosion and they were martyred. "Hamas fired about 20 rockets at Israel shortly after the explosion in Beit Lahiya. The Israeli military killed five other militants in two strikes on the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister and Labour leader, told party activists yesterday. . .

New study says cluster bombs have cost Southern farmers at least $22 million
Colin Chazen, Daily Star 6/14/2008
BEIRUT: Cluster bomb contamination has caused at least $22. 6 million in agricultural losses to South Lebanon’s farmers, according to a report released in late May. The report, issued by the London-based advocacy group Landmine Action, says that the conflict between Lebanon and Israel in July-August 2006 contaminated 4. 8 percent of the agricultural land in Southern Lebanon, rendering it unsafe to use. Despite the dangers posed by cluster munitions in this area, the report estimates that between 15 percent and 30 percent of contaminated land has been used in advance of it being cleared. "People need their land; it’s their main source of livelihood. Based on that people risk their life and still use their land even though they know there are cluster munitions," says Dalya Farran, the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center’s (UNMACC) media and clearance officer.

Syria warns Golan ''˜can be freed through means other than peace’
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/14/2008
Deputy foreign affairs minister says all option on table for Damascus if Israel refuses to cede Golan Heights. "˜The settlers should not be raising their children in the Golan, since this is not their place. They should bear in mind that we will defend our land at any time,’ he says - Syrian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal al-Miqdad said on Saturday that Damascus retains several options to reclaim the Golan Heights, including options of a less-than diplomatic nature - the Jordanian daily "˜al-Dustour’ reports. Al-Miqdad went on to address Israeli residents of the Golan, saying "the settlers should bear in mind that we will defend our land at any time. They should know that the Golan Heights belong to us and that they should not be raising their children in the Golan, since this is not their place.

Howeidy: The Palestinians in Lebanon are adherent to their right to return
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Ali Howeidy, the secretary-general of the Palestinian organization of the right of return, stated that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon categorically reject to be resettled or compensated in return for surrendering their right to return to Palestine. In an interview with the PIC reporter, Howeidy stressed the need for providing the Palestinian refugee with the civil and social rights in Lebanon in order for them to live in dignity as human beings and to defend their right to return. He underlined that after the Lebanese rivals signed the Doha agreement, the Palestinians now look forward to resuming the Palestinian-Lebanese dialog which was frozen because of the security situation that ravaged the country especially since the Palestinian forces had almost agreed on one Palestinian authority in Lebanon.

Wa’ed: MP Saleh to be released tomorrow after ending her detention term
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Wa’ed society for detainees and ex-detainees said that detainee Mariam Saleh, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, is due to be released on Sunday after her extended administrative prison term expired. In a press statement received by the PIC, Abdullah Muslih, one of the defense lawyers of MP Saleh, explained that the lawmaker will have completed her administrative detention term tomorrow according to the last decision taken by the Israeli court which had extended her detention until June 15. Muslih expressed fears that the IOA will change its mind and extend the administrative detention of the lawmaker, saying that the Israeli court had already decided to release her on 18/12/2007 on bail and her family went to receive her at the Tulkarem checkpoint, but the Israeli intelligence refused the ruling and demanded the extension of her detention for three more months. . .

UPDATED: Not on CNN (or YouTube): Jewish settlers attack elderly shepherd and his wife
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 6/13/2008
UPDATED (See end of post for new version of the same incident) Spread the video. Get the code from here. . . (YouTube Zionist censorship removed the video. Check update below!) -- See also: YouTube

What you don’t see on CNN: IOF Shoot Live Ammunition on Peaceful Protest
Haitham Sabbah, Palestine Think Tank 6/14/2008
Warning: Parental Guidance Suggested! June 13 2008 - A young man from Bilin was shot with live rounds during the weekly Bilin Protest. Ibrahim Burnat who was shot in his right thigh was taken directly to Sheik Zaid Hospital in Ramallah and was described by doctors as being in critical condition. Ibrahim posed no threat to Israeli soldiers who shot him with live rounds simply for attempting to scale the Apartheid Wall as a symbolic gesture against the ongoing illegal occupation. Here is the video. . . -- See also: YouTube

Israeli forces shoot and arrest members of the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement
Iyad Burnat, Palestine News Network 6/14/2008
Bil’in - Yesterday a young man from Bil’in was shot with live rounds during the weekly Palestinian nonviolent anti-Wall, settlement and land confiscation protest in western Ramallah. Ibrahim Burnat who was shot in his right thigh was taken directly to Sheik Zaid Hospital in Ramallah and was described by doctors as being in critical condition. Ibrahim posed no threat to Israeli soldiers who shot him with live rounds as he attempted to scale the Wall in a symbolic gesture against the ongoing illegal occupation. The protestors were shot with tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets, and finally live ammunition as the demonstration wound down. The Israeli pro-Palestinian activist Lee Lorian was injured with a rubber bullet in the chest and another was more seriously injured from rubber coated steal bullets.

IWPS: Demonstration in Qaffin Against the Apartheid Wall
International Solidarity Movement 6/14/2008
Tulkarem Region - Photos - On Friday the 13th of June the village of Qaffin held a demonstration against the wall as part of their ongoing protest camp. On the 5th of June the protest camp was launched with a festival and the establishment of several tents and containers close to the apartheid wall, which separates the village from about half of its land. The camp will continue throughout the summer with a program of cultural and political events. Today more then a hundred people gathered in the camp to hold their Friday prayers. Supported by internationals from the International Women’s Peace Service, they then marched towards the separation fence. The demonstration headed towards a spot in the fence which is supposed to be an agricultural gate, but has not even the facilities to allow passage and has never been open.

IOF troops quell peaceful anti-wall demonstration, wound participants
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Friday brutally quelled a peaceful Palestinian demonstration organized in Bil’in village near Ramallah to protest the construction of the separation wall on village lands. Locals reported that the IOF troops fired teargas canisters and live ammunition against the participants, who included foreign sympathizers, wounding a number of them. Another peaceful march in Ma’sara village, south of Bethlehem, also organized to protest the separation wall on Friday was met with similar quelling measures that left a number of villagers suffering from suffocation. In another development reflecting Israeli racism, an Israeli court in Petah Tikwa decided on Friday to release two Israelis who fired at Palestinians. The two were arrested at the site of the evacuated Homesh settlement north of the West Bank after Palestinians complained that the two opened gunfire at them.

Israeli Settlers’ Attack on Palestinian Family Captured on Video
Arthur Bright, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
A Palestinian family’s brutal beating by Israeli settlers has been captured on video and aired just a week before the UN Security Council is set to consider a resolution condemning construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. The BBC reports that the video, recorded last Sunday, shows four men attacking an elderly shepherd, his wife, and his nephew after the four told the shepherd to move his flock, which was grazing near the settlement of Susia in the West Bank. The BBC describes the film, which is available on its website:Over the brow of the hill walk four masked men holding baseball bats. To the right of the screen, in the foreground, stands a 58-year-old Palestinian woman. Thamam al-Nawaja has been herding her goats close to the Jewish settlement of Susia, near Hebron in the southern West Bank.

New Palestinian ''Democratic Progressive National Movement'' to be announced
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian political activists are announcing the formation of the "Palestinian Democratic Progressive National Movement" in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday. At a preparatory meeting at 5pm in the Women’s Union Hall in Bethlehem, the movement is expected to issue a call for national unity and resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. In a statement the movement said it calls for "upholding the Palestinian right to resist the occupation by all means guaranteed by international agreements, with the necessity of furthering the fight through popular resistance and involving the public in decision-making." The organizers of the new organization said they "reject the use of arms in resolving internal disputes" among Palestinians. Armed fighting between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah resulted in the current political. . .

Year on, Fayyad Aims to Change Palestinian Mindset
Wafa Amr, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
When he was named to lead a government reeling from civil war in Gaza, those Palestinians who had even heard of Salam Fayyad mostly saw him as an obscure, expatriate technocrat with little feel for their troubles. Now, a year after President Mahmoud Abbas made Fayyad prime minister in place of a Hamas leader he accused of staging a coup in the Gaza Strip, the former World Bank and IMF official is reaching out for grass roots support with a message of change. The U. S. -trained economist, who came to power without a popular base and has clashed with some in Abbas’s Fatah faction, cuts a very different figure from Palestinian leaders schooled in guerrilla warfare that has so far failed to deliver a state. His language, too, tends to differ. He is a vocal critic of Israel’s occupation and its approach to the new peace process and he acknowledges the handicaps he faces since Hamas Islamists seized Gaza last June 14, dividing the Palestinian territories.

Muhammad Dahlan: Hamas should relinquish its ''coup'', agree to early elections
Ma’an News Agency 6/15/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – In a televised interview on Saturday with Ma’an Editor-in-Chief Nasser Al-Laham, Muhammad Dahlan, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Fatah Revolutionary Council, called on Hamas to relinquish its "coup" in the Gaza Strip. Dahlan left Gaza a year ago after the Hamas takeover in June 2007. He sat behind an elegant wooden desk in his Ramallah office, refused his assistant’s suggestion to wear a tie, and said, "Ask whatever you like. I have no problem answering any question." Asked whether he missed his home and neighbours in Gaza, Dahlan answered,"These personal matters are secondary to the public cause. In general, I miss every street and neighbourhood, and all of my neighbours and family in the Gaza Strip." From his point of view, Hamas is Hamas, and has not changed a year after its "coup".

Imprisoned lawmaker calls for taking immediate steps towards dialog
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Prisoner Fadl Hamdan, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, called on the leadership of Hamas and Fatah to take immediate steps towards dialog and national reconciliation in response to the initiative announced by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and welcomed by premier Ismail Haneyya. In a statement received by the PIC on Saturday, Hamdan said that the Palestinian arena at this critical stage is in great need of reunification and ending the state of division which was detrimental to the higher Palestinian interests and the Arab and international solidarity with the Palestinian people. During a visit by the lawyer of the Nafah society for the defense of prisoners’ and human rights, a number of prisoners expressed their dismay at the miserable conditions they experience in the Israeli Hawara prison where they are deprived from their most basic needs such as medicines and clothing.

Hamas denounces continued hostile media campaigns
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday denounced the continued campaign against the Movement launched by media outlets loyal to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas despite the latter’s call for dialogue and an end to hostile media campaigns. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press release that the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, run by Abbas’s loyalists, is still writing "Hamas’s militias" in its news reports. He noted that over a week after Abbas declared a halt to provocative media campaigns, the agency carried nine news reports all describing Hamas as militias other than carrying baseless news against the Movement. Other Fatah sites also published a series of charges and insults against Hamas, he elaborated. Abu Zuhri said that such acts indicate that Abbas’s declaration was a mere propaganda, which harms preparations for holding national dialogue.

Press report: Senegalese president accuses Fatah delegation of being opinionated
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
LONDON, (PIC)-- Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper revealed that Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade strongly criticized Hikmat Zeid, the Fatah representative in the talks with the Hamas Movement in Dakar, as opinionated while hailing the delegation of Hamas as sincere and responsible. In its issue published on Thursday, the London-based newspaper quoted informed Palestinian sources as saying that the meeting, which was sponsored and attended by Wade, was straightforward and heated. According to the sources, the Senegalese president said: "By virtue of my legal experience as a lawyer and after reading the text of the Palestinian statute law, it became evident that the government of Ismail Haneyya of the Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas is legitimate in its capacity as a caretaker government while the government of Dr. Salam Fayyad is illegal."

Israel Doesn’t Respect the Agreements: No to the Upgrade of Relations with EU
Luisa Morgantini, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
On Monday 16th June in Luxembourg, in the margins of the EU GENERAL AFFAIRS and EXTERNAL RELATIONS COUNCIL Rome 13th June 2008“We strongly feel that without serious signs of good faith translated into tangible improvements on the ground, the time is not yet right to upgrade EU-Israel relations" was the final statement by a 14 MEPs ad hoc delegation, belonging to different political groups. The ad hoc delegation visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories from 31 May to 2 June. The delegation witnessed the wall, check points, the expansion of the Israeli settlements on Occupied Territories and the siege in Gaza. “This is not to punish Israel, but to be coherent with our rules - firstly with the respect of human rights that are fundamental in all association agreements between European Union and third countries. Human rights that continue to be systematically violated by the ongoing

ei: Quebec Student Federation Joins International Boycott Movement
Press release, Tadamon, 9 June 2008, International Solidarity Movement 6/14/2008
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.

Security forces arrest three Israelis who enter Nablus
Jerusalem Post 6/14/2008
Security forces arrested three Israelis at the Hawari checkpoint after they were discovered to have entered Nablus. The IDF has banned Israelis from entering certain areas of the West Bank, defined as Area A, of which Nablus is a part. [end]

Local site uses unique tool to bring Arabic script into internet era
Alexander Besant, Daily Star 6/14/2008
BEIRUT: During the past few years email, chat rooms, and text messaging have forced Arabic speakers to rely on transliterations due to these technologies’ use of Roman script. As Arabic keyboards remain bewildering and unpopular among average users, transliteration has become a common method of written communication, particularly on the net. This reliance on transliteration has spawned various Web sites which convert Latin-script Arabic transliterations into Arabic script. Now Arab-speaking internet users have a new tool at their disposal to do just that - but better. Nagi Salloum, co-founder of the popular Cineklik Web site which aggregates movie listings all over Lebanon onto one site, has teamed up with a new partner to make the internet more accessible for arabophones. Their creation - Yoolki - is a Web site which is proving to be the fastest tool on the net for converting transliterations into Arabic script.

Iraqi forces set for major assault
Al Jazeera 6/14/2008
Iraqi forces backed by the US military have entered the southern city of Amara in an operation aimed at drive outing Mahdi Army fighters, have security officials said. Large numbers of heavily-armed soldiers took up positions in and around the city on Saturday, ahead of an operation that local police said would target "outlaws". "Many Iraqi and American troops are everywhere inside and outside Amara waiting for the start of the security operation," a local police official said. "The operations will target outlaws." Iraqi army sources told Al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, that the government was planning a large operation in Amara to hunt down fighters belonging to the Mahdi Army, a militia led by Muqtada Al-Sadr, a Shia leader.

Rice arrives in Tel Aviv, says will discuss settlement issue with Israel
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/15/2008
US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday and said that Israel is not doing enough as it is ongoing with settlements construction in the West Bank. Rice described the issue of settlements as "a problem" and called on Israel to ease restrictions on the Palestinian people. This visit is the sixth trip Rice conducts since the beginning of this year in an attempt to boost the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Palestinian officials stated that the ongoing Israeli construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and the corruption probe against Olmert which could force him out of office have negative impacts on the peace process and could hinder achieving a peace deal this year. If the corruption charges against Olmert force him to out of office, Israel will have to move to new elections which will limit the chances of achieving a peace deal this year.

Attempts at Peace Amid Continued Violence [June 8 – June 14, 2007]
MIFTAH, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
On Friday 13, it was reported that Israel plans for the construction of 1,300 homes in settlements in occupied east Jerusalem. According to the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality, the apartments are to be built in the Ramat Shlomo settlement, where there are already 2,000 settler homes. The Jerusalem urban planning commission reportedly made the decision on June 10. This news was greeted with outrage from Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chief Negotiator Dr. Saeb Erakat." We firmly condemn this project which reveals the Israeli government’s intention to destroy peace," Erakat told AFP. On June 12, Dr. Erekat warned that any large-scale Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip would destroy the peace process and push the region and its peoples into further violence, chaos and bloodshed. His sentiments were echoed by Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad who says he believes reaching a peace agreement with Israel by the end of 2008 to be impossible.

Israel OKs 1,300 East Jerusalem Homes
Amy Teibel, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
Israel announced plans Friday to build 1,300 more homes in east Jerusalem, further angering Palestinians who warned ongoing construction threatens efforts to work out a peace deal by the end of the year. The announcement by Israel’s Interior Ministry brought to more than 3,000 the number of homes Israel has approved for construction on land that Palestinians want for a state since the renewal of the U. S. -supported peace talks late last year. Israel insisted Friday that most of the building _ in east Jerusalem _ is on land the state has already annexed and thus it does not violate its commitment in negotiations not to build on disputed land. The comments by government spokesman Mark Regev suggested that Israel will not be deterred from further building in the city. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said Friday new apartments were approved for construction in the ultra-Orthodox Ramat Shlomo neighborhood to help alleviate a housing shortage in Jerusalem.

Dr. Erekat: Israel is determined to destroy the peace process through settlement expansion
Palestine News Network 6/14/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- Israeli settlement building and expansion is on the rise despite international law and even requests renewed on Saturday from the United States. Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization, and one of the top members of the Palestinian leadership, Dr. Sa’eb Erekat, said today that Israel is "destroying any possibility for the peace process through its settlement policy." President Abbas has said the same thing, as have countless Palestinian leaders. Today the United States administration renewed its public criticism of Israeli settlement buildling and expansion in the West Bank. Israeli forces have decided to impose 1,300 new settlement units in Jerusalem. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands that are already there becoming part of what the Israelis refer to as "Greater Jerusalem," which includes the settlements as far away as southern Bethlehem.

Rice: Construction in settlements a problem
Associated Press, YNetNews 6/14/2008
US Secretary of State arrives in Israel for another round of meetings, upon arrival says Israel has not done enough to ease Palestinian restrictions in West Bank. Abbas plans to insist that Rice pressure Israel to halt all construction in settlements - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Jewish settlement building "a problem" on Saturday, and told reporters during her flight to the region that Israel had not done enough to ease restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank. As Rice arrived in Israel late Saturday, she appeared more exasperated with the construction than she has in past condemnations of announcements of building plans. Rice, currently visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the 17th time in the past two years, said that the construction in the settlements is "a problem, and I think it’s a problem that we’re going to address with the Israelis.

Haneyya gov’t: Settlement activity in Jerusalem declaration of war on Muslims
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian caretaker government in the Gaza Strip led by Ismail Haneyya has warned that the continued Israeli settlement activity in occupied eastern Jerusalem constitutes a declaration of war on world Muslims. Taher Al-Nunu, the government spokesman, said in a press release on Friday that the government was keenly following up the Israeli escalation of settlement drive in occupied eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank especially the recent construction plan of 1,300 housing units in Ramat Shlomo settlement near the Beit Hanina suburb in Jerusalem. The endorsement of the new settlement plan brings up the number of settlement units established in occupied Jerusalem since the Annapolis conference, which was supposed to launch final status peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, to 7,974 units, Nunu pointed out.

Israel to build 1,300 new settler homes in Jerusalem
Stephen Myles, ReliefWeb 6/13/2008
JERUSALEM, June 13, 2008 (AFP) - Israel announced on Friday its second settlement project in occupied east Jerusalem this month, enraging Palestinians and drawing criticism from Washington just ahead of a US visit aimed at rescuing the stalemated peace process. Jerusalem municipality confirmed a report in Haaretz newspaper that the green light had been given for 1,300 new homes for Jewish settlers in the annexed east of the city. The houses will be built in Ramat Shlomo where there are already 2,000 settler homes, Haaretz reported. The paper said the decision to proceed was taken on Tuesday by the Jerusalem urban planning commission, which reports to the interior ministry. Haaretz called it one of the most ambitious expansion plans for settler homes in east Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and whose annexation is not recognised by the international community.

Report: Israel won’t condition Gaza cease-fire on Gilad Shalit’s release
Haaertz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/15/2008
The outcome of negotiations on a Gaza ceasefire between Hamas and Israel will be known "in the near term," Israeli negotiator Amos Gilad said on Saturday. Gilad, who visited Cairo this week to discuss Egypt’s mediation efforts with Hamas, told Israel Radio that halting rocket fire by Gaza militants and ending arms smuggling into the coastal territory were critical parts of any agreement. "Stopping terror is an immediate aim," he said. The issue of the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was also central but would be dealt with separately. "We are holding discussions with the Egyptians and we have the reaction, which I will not detail. We will know the results in the near term," Gilad said. An Egyptian source said that Israel has agreed not to condition a cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip on the. . .

Haniyeh: Israel Refuses to Reopen Rafah in Truce
The Jerusalem Post, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
Israel has refused to include the reopening of the Rafah border crossing in a possible Gaza truce agreement, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Thursday. Haniyeh told reporters in the Strip that the opening of the crossing was an essential component of any agreement." Any agreement must include a timetable for the opening of the Gaza crossings and a list of goods that can be transferred through them," he said. Haniyeh’s comments came after Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau, and Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman met in Cairo for two hours in a bid to wrap up a Gaza truce deal. Gilad sought clarifications on Egypt’s efforts to stem Hamas weapons smuggling and on the possible release of captured IDF soldier Giald Schalit. On Wednesday, the Security Cabinet decided against a massive ground offensive in Gaza, in order to give Egypt more time to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Israel to Seek Gaza Peace Deal
Isabel Kershner, MIFTAH 6/14/2008
JERUSALEM: The Israeli security cabinet voted Wednesday to pursue an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, while leaving open the possibility of a military offensive should the truce talks fail." The security cabinet decided this morning to support Egyptian efforts to achieve calm in the south and end the daily targeting of Israeli civilians by the terrorists in Gaza," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for the prime minister." In parallel the security cabinet instructed the military to continue its preparations in the unfortunate event that the Egyptian track should prove to be unsuccessful," Regev said. The decision, after hours of deliberations, essentially left the Israelis in waiting mode despite public pressure for immediate action to halt the Palestinian rocket and mortar fire that plagues southern Israel. Violence continued even as the cabinet met: Militants fired mortars from Gaza, and three Palestinians were reported killed in subsequent Israeli strikes, including a 9-year-old girl.

Hamas delegation arrives in Cairo for calm discussion
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A senior delegation of the Hamas Movement on Saturday arrives in Cairo to receive the Israeli response to the Egyptian-mediated calm offer between Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions. Hamas sources said that the invitation was extended to the Movement in a telephone contact with Omar Al-Kinawi, the assistant to Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. They explained that a delegation of the Hamas Movement outside the occupied homeland would head to Cairo on Saturday and would meet with Suleiman on Sunday. For his part, Ayman Taha, one of the Hamas leaders in Gaza, said in a press statement that the delegation would group deputy political bureau chairman Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk and member of the political bureau Mohammed Nasr. Israeli military sources said that the war ministry official Amos Gilad handed Suleiman a written reply last Thursday including his government’s conditions for a truce in Gaza.

Hamas: we are ready for truce or open war
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas accused Israel on Saturday of extending ceasefire negotiations with Hamas as a political move designed to provide "cover for the daily attacks against the Palestinians." In a statement, Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri stated Hamas’ opposition to "any truce that does not guarantee lifting the blockade, ending the attacks and opening the crossings." He continued: "The Israeli occupation continues with its attacks on the Gaza Strip. A large number of Palestinians are killed daily which affirms that the occupation is not interested in any serious truce on one hand and they want a truce according to their conditions without offering anyreal price since they refuse to lift the siege and to open the crossings until this moment. Any truce that does not guarantee ending the embargo and opening the crossings and ending the attacks is a worthless and meaningless one.

Hamas: We are ready for all possibilities
Palestinian Information Center 6/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has doubted the seriousness of Israel in reaching calm with Palestinian resistance factions but announced that it was ready for all possibilities. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri said in a press release on Friday that Israel’s delay in approving calm conditions was a political maneuver to cover up for the daily aggression against Palestinians. He stressed that his Movement rejects any calm that does not include ending the siege, halting aggression and opening Gaza crossings. The Israeli occupation is persisting in its aggression on Gaza with an increasing number of martyrs falling daily, which indicates that Israel was not serious in reaching calm or that it wants calm according to its conditions without paying any real price, Abu Zuhri said, affirming that calm "without ending siege and aggression and opening crossings is meaningless".

Hamas awaiting Israel’s response on truce proposal
Ma’an News Agency 6/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas has not received word from Egypt regarding Israel’s response to a proposed truce between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said on Friday evening. Barhoum told Ma’an: "If we receive any response we will study it with all of the factions since the truce is within a national [framework] that serves the Palestinian interest." Egypt has been attempting to mediate indirect truce talks between the Palestinian groups, led by Hamas, and Israel, since February. The Israeli security cabinet agreed on Wednesday to give talks more time, averting a full-scale Israeli invasion for now. Barhoum reiterated Hamas’ insisted thatany ceasefire or truce be negotiated separately from the issue of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held prisoner by Palestinian fighters in Gaza since the summer of 2006.

Israel expects reply on Gaza truce conditions next week
Patrick Moser, ReliefWeb 6/13/2008
JERUSALEM, June 13, 2008 (AFP) - Israel said on Friday it expects a response next week to its conditions for a truce in Hamas-ruled Gaza, where tension is high after fighters bombarded southern Israel in a day of bloodshed. Among the conditions, Israel is insisting that not only Hamas but also the other militant groups operating in the Palestinian territory halt their rocket and mortar attacks, a defence ministry official told AFP. Another key condition is that progress be made towards the release of Gilad Shalit, a young army corporal seized by militant groups including Hamas in a deadly cross-border raid two years ago. Israel also wants the Egyptian authorities to be more energetic in their efforts to halt weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Amos Gilad, a top aide to Defence Minister Ehud Barak, presented the conditions during talks in Cairo. . .

Siniora insists new cabinet ’inevitable’ despite wrangling over portfolios
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 6/14/2008
BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora said on Friday that the formation of a new government was inevitable despite what he described as relatively minor difficulties. "Things are moving in the right direction. Whenever we are faced with an obstacle, we are working on eliminating it. . . We faced a minor obstacle today, but we managed to overcome it. . . There is no need for tension," he said, without explaining what the obstacle was. Speaking to reporters at the Grand Serail, Siniora said he was still waiting for the opposition’s answer on his proposals for the next government. Siniora, who contacted Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Friday, defended the idea of considering the portfolios of interior and defense as part of the president’s quota in the new cabinet. Siniora reportedly proposed two formulas on how to distribute portfolios in the new cabinet,. . .

Assad ties new embassy to unity cabinet
The Daily Star, Daily Star 6/14/2008
BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad has again tied his expected visit to Lebanon to the formation of a national unity government - and indicated that his country will soon open an embassy in Lebanon. In an interview with India’s The Hindu newspaper, Assad said the recent Doha agreement that ended an 18-month political crisis in Lebanon was a two-fold victory for both Syria and Lebanon. "When you have chaos, conflict, civil war and whatsoever in Lebanon we will be affected directly, and avoiding such scenarios is a first victory," he said. The second victory, according to Assad, is that the accord has proven to the world that Syria does not want to create problems in Lebanon. "Many Lebanese and many officials around the world used to accuse Syria of creating problems in Lebanon, and [say] that we have an interest in creating these problems and having conflicts in Lebanon,". . .

’We are not afraid of threats. We adapt’ - UNIFIL chief
The Daily Star, Daily Star 6/14/2008
BEIRUT: Major General Claudio Graziano, commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said Friday the success of Resolution 1701 depends on the commitment of all parties to implement it. Speaking after a meeting with resigned Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, Graziano said his visit was aimed at informing Salloukh of the situation in South Lebanon, and added: "I am very grateful for the Lebanese government’s support for the international force and for all relevant parties’ commitment to Resolution 1701. "Asked about the recurrent threats made against UNIFIL, Graziano said: "Our official mission is to maintain peace, while taking into consideration any threat launched against us." "But we are not afraid of threats. We adapt ourselves to this fact and do our best to face any kind of menace," he added.

Solana hands over new offer to Tehran
Reuters, YNetNews 6/14/2008
EU’s Solana hands new incentives package to Iranian leadership in hopes of ending standoff over nuclear program, but Islamic Republic warns it will toss out proposal if it includes demand to stop uranium enrichment - Top EU diplomat Javier Solana handed Iran a major powers’ offer of trade and other benefits on Saturday to coax it into suspending sensitive nuclear work, but Tehran ruled out any halt of its uranium enrichment." If the package (from six major powers) includes suspension it is not debatable at all," Iran’s government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told reporters. Solana’s spokeswoman, Cristina Gallach, said the incentives package was presented to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and that talks were taking place. The European Union’s foreign policy chief arrived in Tehran on Friday to outline the offer agreed in May by the United. . .

Bush says ''˜disappointed’ Tehran rejects incentives
News agencies, YNetNews 6/14/2008
US president says Iran further isolating its people by nixing latest package offered by world powers in bid to resolve nuclear crisis - US President Bush said Saturday that Iran has further isolated its own people by rejecting an offer from world powers to accept incentives in exchange for halting its uranium enrichment program. The United States and Western allies fear Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its intentions are peaceful. "I’m disappointed that the leaders rejected this generous offer out of hand," Bush said. "It’s an indication to the Iranian people that their leadership is willing to isolate them further. Our view is we want the Iranian people to flourish and to benefit. "Iran says it is enriching uranium to generate electricity, not to build nuclear weaponry - a claim the West doubts is true.


Israel’s colonization policy is a threat to peace - and to itself
Editorial, Daily Star 6/14/2008
      The supposedly "re-launched" Palestinian-Israeli peace process has had a phony feel to it from the beginning at Annapolis in November 2007. The Israelis have shown little willingness to abandon the maximalist positions that caused the Oslo process to break down in 2000, and the Americans have refused to demand a more helpful approach from their proteges. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, like the late Yasser Arafat before him, is effectively being asked to sign an instrument of surrender - and therefore his own death warrant - so the talks cannot succeed.
     Just to be sure, though, the Israelis continue to carry out all manner of provocations designed to finish off the peace process. The latest came on Friday when officials announced the approval of 1,300 new homes at an illegal colony in Occupied Jerusalem. That move, the second of its kind in the past month alone, hits squarely on the nexus between two of the biggest obstacles to any negotiated solution: the fate of the holy city and what to do with the half-million or so "settlers" living illegally on occupied land.

Gaza conflict is a proxy war: From Gaza to Rome, part 2

Sameh Habeeb, Palestine Think Tank 6/14/2008
      These words will not be describing my tour in Italy. Rather, I need a lot of time to write, but unfortunately I don’t possess that time. I will be trying to shorten the adventurous political tour in Italy in my diaries that I have started to write.
     After the presentation in Perugia City, I moved on to Spoleto, Siena, Lucca, Poggibonsi, Cecina, Faenza, Florence, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Milan, Turin, Padova, Venice, Osimo, Bari, Lecce, Naples, Comacchio, Rimini and finally once again to Rome. It was really incredible to move all around these cities for thousands of kilometers in such a short time!
     In Firenze, known as Florence in the Arabic language, I had a good meeting but with violent questions. I explained the Gaza Strip situation and how people are suffering. I told those present how people are being exposed to an obvious collective punishment policy.

BREAKING NEWS! The Palestinian day lasts 23 H and 20 mins!

Adib Kawar, Palestine Think Tank 6/14/2008
      Could it be that a Palestinian’s day is only 23 hours and 20 minutes! I’ve always felt we’re special, somehow singled out in the world but never did it occur to me that while the sun took 24 hours from one sunset to another, that while Big Ben struck a new day every 24 hours, Palestinians are only given 23 hours and 20 minutes a day!
     In front of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Barak said, addressing the controversy surrounding Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank, and I quote here from Haaretz: “If a Palestinian day in not 24 hours long, but 23 hours and 20 minutes long because of the [wait at the] roadblocks, that’s the price of Israeli citizens’ safety.”
     When I first read the article I found myself laughing, thinking of all these funny scenarios, of Palestinians being confused by the fact that they are given a shorter day:
     “Hmmm, we’ll need to order customized watches that run a bit slower (or is faster)? … Does this put a new spin to the term Arab Time … so we need to introduce a new concept Palo Time… sorry I’m on Palo Time, my day is shorter… things to do… people to see… gotta go…”

Israel Furthers Plans to Annex East Jerusalem through Ongoing Settlement Expansion

Palestine Monitor 6/14/2008
      Settlements are now growing 11 times faster than before Annapolis
     Ramallah: The announcement by the Israeli government yesterday of plans to build a further 1,300 settlement units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, is "a further reflection of the Israeli government’s strategy to de facto annex the city before a final status agreement can be reached," saidPNI Secretary General Mustafa Barghouthi MP today.
     The new construction comes in addition to the staggering 9,432 settlement housing units that have been approved since the Annapolis meeting on 27 November 2007.
     "The Olmert government claimed at Annapolis that it wanted peace, and yet settlements are now growing 11 times faster than before Annapolis," said Dr. Barghouthi.
     "In the meantime, the Israeli government continues constructing its Apartheid Wall. There is simply no explanation for this other than that it is using the peace process as a guise to further its expansionist project, through which it intends to leave Palestinians with just half of the West Bank on which to form a Bantustan, ghetto state," he added.