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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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25 June 2008

80-year-old farmer shot by Israeli forces near Khan Younis
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Recent Israeli operations threaten to demolish seven day old truce. Israeli forces shot 80-year-old farmer Salem Abu Reideh just east of Khan Younis on Wednesday morning. Reideh was transferred to hospital and is in serious condition. This injury marks the second shooting of a civilian by Israeli forces during the seven days since the truce agreement was signed between Israel and Hamas. On Monday afternoon - the fifth day of the truce - 67-year-old Jamil Abdel Rahman Al-Ghoul was shot and injured by Israeli forces in the north of the Gaza Strip, while he was in his garden, and was taken to hospital in serious condition. On the first day of the truce, Israeli soldiers shot at fishermen on their boats off-shore in Gaza, and were reported to have shot at civilians near the eastern fence of the Gaza Strip causing the death of one cow owned by a Palestinian farmer.

Israel shuts crossings into Gaza following exchange of blows
Sakher Abu El Oun, Daily Star 6/26/2008
Agence France Presse GAZA CITY: Israel shut down border crossings with the Gaza Strip again on Wednesday after its forces’ assassination of two Palestinian militants in the Occupied West Bank and retaliatory rocket attacks tested a fragile truce between the Jewish state and Hamas. "We are keeping the Karni, Sufa and Nahal Oz crossings closed for the time being following the firing of rockets in flagrant violation of the truce deal," Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner told AFPHowever, he said that while the goods terminals were closed, the Erez passenger crossing - used by diplomats, journalists, and sick Gazans requiring medical care in Israel or abroad - remained open. Three rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel on Tuesday, straining the Egyptian-brokered truce. The rockets were the first to be fired from the Palestinian territory since the truce between Israel and Hamas went into effect on June 19.

10,000 apartments to be built in east Jerusalem
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 6/24/2008
New apartments part of Mayor Lupolianski’s plan to offer low-cost housing to young couples - The Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee approved a plan that would see 10,000 new residential units built in east Jerusalem at a cost of NIS 12 million (close to $4 million. )The move aims to boost Arab neighborhoods in the capital, as part of Mayor Uri Lupolinaki’s plan to build 40,000 new residential units that would offer low-cost housing solutions to young couples. Municipal officials in Jerusalem said that the construction plan is part of an effort to address residents’ needs in the Old City in a bid to improve their quality of life. The plan will offer city residents the possibility of quickly securing construction permits, without the need for a detailed blueprint. In addition, the municipal government in the capital was said. . .

Olmert cuts deal with rivals to stay in power
Laurie Copans, The Independent 6/26/2008
The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert cut a political deal with his Labour party allies yesterday that will keep him in power for up to three more months to pursue peace agreements with the Palestinians and Syria. Mr Olmert, who is facing calls to quit over claims that he benefited from bribes, convinced Ehud Barak, the Defence minister and Labour leader, not to bring down the current coalition government. The deal means that Mr Olmert has bought himself more time in which to clear his name. He denies wrongdoing and has not been charged, but has said he will resign if he is indicted. In exchange for Mr Barak’s support, Mr Olmert promised to hold a primary leadership election within his own Kadima party before 25 September. The ballot is likely to oust Mr Olmert as leader. Mr Olmert’s popularity was dealt a severe blow when a US businessman testified in a corruption case against the Israeli leader.

9-year-old child shot by Israeli forces in anti-wall demonstration near Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 6/24/2008
Tulkarem - Ma’an - A 9-year-old child was injured by Israeli gunfire during a peaceful protest against the separation wall and house demolitions in Far’un, south of the West Bank city of Tulkarem on Tuesday afternoon. Mohammad Abdel Kareem Salim Bdeir was shot with a rubber bullet in the foot while participating in the protest. The protestors say the construction of the illegal Israeli separation wall has appropriated thousands of dunums of agricultural lands in the village. Protestors also demonstrated in front of houses under threat of demolition. National factions, members of the International Solidarity Movement and local residents of the village raised the Palestinian flag and banners against settlements and the separation wall. The Israeli authorities have recently issued a demolition order against two more houses in the village bringing the total number of houses under threat to ten.

15 Palestinians Wounded in an Israeli Attack on a Peaceful Demonstration
Laila Ewaiwi, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
At least 15 Palestinian civilians were wounded when Israeli troops attacked a peaceful protest organized by the villagers of Na’aleen near the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday afternoonMedical sources said that the injuries sustained by the demonstrators ranged between light to moderate. The local Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements organized Tuesday’s demonstration in protest of Israel’s decision to build the Wall on the villagers’ lands. The demonstration which included Israeli and international peace activists set off from the center of the village towards the site where the Israeli bulldozers operate to build the illegal Israeli Wall. The Israeli troops attacked the unarmed peaceful demonstration using tear gas rubber -coated - steal bullets injuring at least 15 of the demonstrators.

Israeli Forces Kill 2 Palestinians in West Bank
Atef Saad, MIFTAH 6/25/2008
Israeli forces killed two Palestinians, including an Islamic Jihad commander, in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday in the first fatal raid since a ceasefire took hold in the Gaza Strip last week. Islamic Jihad threatened to launch attacks inside Israel to avenge the death of Tarek Juma Abu Ghali, whom the militant group described as one of its most senior commanders in the northern West Bank. A second Palestinian, affiliated with the Islamist militant group Hamas, was also killed in the overnight raid, Palestinian security sources said. The killings, which were confirmed by the Israeli army, could test the fragile ceasefire that took effect last Thursday between Israel and militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. " Calm in Gaza does not mean that we will sit in our seats waiting to be slaughtered one by one," Islamic Jihad said in a statement. "This crime will not pass without punishment and the coming days will be a witness to that. "

Settlers burn farmer’s wheat harvest in Iraq Burin
International Solidarity Movement 6/25/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - A Palestinian farming family in Iraq Burin, a village outside Nablus, had just made it halfway through this year’s wheat harvest when Israeli settlers burned it all down. The family is very upset by this action, since they now might not be able to feed their family and animals. The family discovered the ruined crop in the morning on June 24th. During the last ten years the settlers, living three kilometers away from the village, have an increasing amount of land from Iraq Burin. Setting fire to the land is one way that the settlers have used to try and force local Palestinians off of their land. Last year a whole cultivated hill, belonging to the village, was set afire. It is not only the settlers are causing problems to the villagers, but also the Israeli army. For years they have been threatening to demolish three houses that they claim are too close to the settlement.

The Deputy Mustafa Barguti: The Assassinations in Nablus Aim to Demolish the Truce
Laila Ewaiwi & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/24/2008
Ramallah- the General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative Dr. Mustafa Barghouti condemned the crime that the Israeli occupation committed in Nablus today 24-6-2008, which led to the killing of Iyad kanfar a fourth year student of Arts in Najah University and 23 year old Tariq Jom’a Abu Ghali. Barghouti stated, "Israel’s actions aim to demolish the truce agreement through going back to using the policy of assassinations and what they have done in Nablus presents a serious escalation. " He also added that Israel does not want to calm down the situation and is provoking the Palestinian people to take action so that they can hold it against them. He clarified that the necessity of the truce includes the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip; as well as the reason that any previous truce agreements did not work out was the Israeli policy of assassinations.

Municipality to add 10,000 apartments in East Jerusalem
Orit Bar-Gil and Ariel Rosenberg, Globes Online 6/25/2008
"We work by consensus. The government deals with political questions. " The Jerusalem municipality has initiated a plan for the construction of 10,000 new apartments in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Commission has approved the plan in principle. The plan covers areas including the northern neighborhood of Shuafat and the southern neighborhood of Beit Zafafa. Jerusalem municipality’s Osnat Post said, "The Old City faces a double problem. It is a World Heritage Site at risk where strict preservation regulations apply to avoid damaging its fabric. However, there is also a shortage of housing. We therefore set strict detailed guidelines for construction and additions, but it will be possible to quickly issue building permits. "Concerning the political sensitivity in East Jerusalem, a municipality representative noted, "We work by consensus. "

4 Palestinians injured one kidnapped during separate Israeli attacks in Hebron and nearby villages
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
Palestinian sources reported that during Israeli attacks on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning four civilians were injured and one kidnapped from the southern West Bank city of Hebron and nearby villages. On Wednesday morning Israeli troops attacked the house of Ghalib Tahha, 19, troops searched his home and then kidnapped him. Sources added that the soldiers beat up Tahha’s brother and damaged the house during the search. Also today Israeli soldiers attacked a mourning house in the village of Sourif located near Hebron, witnesses said that soldiers barged into the house then attacked three men, the men sustained cuts and bruises and were treated at a local hospital. On Tuesday night three Palestinian civilians were injured when Israeli settlers attacked them near Hebron city. Khalied Al Najaar, 55, Khalied Abu I’raam, and his son Na’el, 24, sustained light wounds when. . .

Guards shoot Palestinian teenager attempting to visit imprisoned brother
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – A 15-year-old Palestinian, Raed Walid Omar, was shot in the face, just under the right eye by guards at Israel’s Shatta Prison, where he was attempting to visit his detained brother, Omar, on Tuesday. Raed’s father Walid Barham said the prison guards prevented his family from entering the prison. When the family protested, the guards opened fire, hitting Raed Walid Omar with five rubber bullets. The family is from the town of Kafr Qaddum, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. [end]

Palestinian detainees, abused, tortured and humiliated
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
The media office of Asrana (Our Detainees) Center in Jerusalem voiced an appeal to human rights groups, the Red Cross and Arab members of Israelis Knesset, to act for the formation of an international committee to investigate the illegal Israeli practices against the detainees. Head of the office, Monqith Abu Roomy, stated that the army humiliates, tortures and abuses the detainees after their arrests, and also interrogates them even before they are transferred to interrogation centers. "The soldiers are carrying deadly assaults against the detainees", Abu Roomy said, "They do not care whether the detainee is old or young, sick’". Several detainees who were recently released from detention, especially younger detainees, said that they were forced to sign statements which they could not read as they were written in Hebrew.

Ailing detainee needs dentist, deprived from medical attention
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
The Palestinian Popular Committees reported on Tuesday that a Palestinian detainee from the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem is gradually losing weight as his teeth are falling out, with more than half of his lower teeth and some of his grinders were totally removed. The Committees stated that the detainee, identified as Thabit, is imprisoned at the Ramon Israeli prison since April 4, 2004. He was sentenced to 25 years. He currently cannot talk well, and his health condition is sharply deteriorating due to malnutrition while the prison administration still rejects to allow a dentist to examine him. Moreover, Mithqal Al Najjar, one of the leaders of the Popular Committees voiced an appeal to different human rights groups and the Red Cross to intervene for the release of detainee Hani Abu Reeda, who is also sick and in need of medical attention.

Bulldozer forced to vacate Ni’lin during demonstration
International Solidarity Movement 6/24/2008
Ramallah RegionPhotos In Nilin around 200 protestors marched with international and Israeli activists to the site of the construction of the apartheid wall which will take more land from the village further to that already occupied by the nearby illegal settlement. The arrival of the demonstrators forced a bulldozer to suspend work and vacate from the area. The Israeli army immediately attacked using large numbers of sound bombs and tear gas. The demonstration lasted for three hours during which soldiers aggressively pursued people through the olive groves firing rubber coated steel bullets. Canisters of tear gas started fires amongst the trees. Soldiers prevented activists from attempting to control the blazes. Twelve people were injured, three seriously. One demonstrator was shot in the head and another was struck by a tear gas canister.

Israeli forces detain five civilians from Nur Shams and ’Attil
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Tulkarem-Ma’an- Israeli forces stormed the homes of five men in Nur Shmas refugee camp and the town of ’Attil north of Tulkarem this morning. All five men were detained. Security sources told Ma’an that forces stormed the area and detained Qays and Qaysar Kamal, brothers from Nour Shams refugee camp. At the same time, forces stormed the town of ’Eteil north of Tulkarem and searched a number of civilians’ homes. Those arrested were 21-year-old Jameel Fadel Najeeb Shallash, 20-year-old Amjad Jamal Shteiwi Qalaq and 24-year-old Mohannad Mohammad Yassin Qteish a Fatah member. All were transferred it to an unknown location. [end]

Child injured in anti-apartheid demonstration near Tulkarem
International Solidarity Movement 6/25/2008
Tulkarem Region - Photos - A 9-year-old child was injured in a demonstration in Far’un near Tulkarem, on Tuesday 24th June. Approximately 100 activists from Tulkarem joined residents of Far’un in the demonstration against the apartheid wall and the house demolitions ordered as a result of its construction. Demonstrators marched to the two currently threatened houses, bearing a banner that read "This is Apartheid!", as well as Palestinian and party flags; and chanting"No! No! to the wall!" and "This wall must fall". Members of the Struggle Front party gave speeches, before protesters marched to the houses that had already been demolished because they stood within the arbitrarily implemented 200m "security buffer zone" - despite the fact that the houses were built long before the wall. Children attached flags to the razor wire on the wall, in defiance of the Israeli signs warning of mortal danger.

Arab MKs slam the statements of Livni
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/24/2008
Arab members of Israeli Knesset, Wasel Taha and Jamal Zahalka, slammed the statement of Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, who said at the Tel Aviv University that the Arabs in Israel can stay in the country but should recognize it as the National Home of the Jewish people. Taha said that Livni apparently lacks the needed knowledge of United Nations resolutions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, and added that she is trying to imitate the US presidents in his "speeches to the nation". "We are Palestinian Arabs, we are not part of the internal competition for leadership at the Kadima party", Taha said, "We are not the wood for their power struggle". Taha also said that Livni must deal with the Arabs as a reality, as a minority that lives on its land, and added that the statements of Livni mean that anyone who does not accept Israel as a Jewish state should leave.

Gaza truce teeters after deadly Israeli attack in West Bank draws rocket fire
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/25/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The truce between Hamas and Israel faced its most severe test yet on Tuesday after the Jewish state assassinated two members of Islamic Jihad in the Occupied West Bank and the group retaliated by launching a pair of rockets from the Gaza Strip. One of the rockets struck the courtyard of a house in the town of Sderot, causing some damage, and another struck a field, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. He said the rockets were the first to be fired from Gaza since a truce between Israel and the strip’s Hamas rulers went into effect on June 19. A spokesman for Islamic Jihad confirmed that its fighters had carried out the attack. "The rockets are a response to the crimes of the occupation in the West Bank," he said. The group, which was responsible for many of the attacks launched from Gaza in the months leading up to the cease-fire, did not agree to the truce but had pledged not to violate it if Israel kept its word.

Barak orders closure of all Gaza crossings
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Monday evening ordered the closure of all the crossings into the Gaza Strip in response to the projectile attacks on the Western Negev and Sderot on Monday. Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has discussed with Barak possible Israeli retaliation for Monday’s projectile attacks. Official Israeli sources previously confirmed that they considered the attacks as a breach of the 6-day-old truce between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions. The Middle East Quartet called on Tuesday for calm after the truce between Israel and Hamas faltered, following the launch of projectiles from the Gaza Strip, and two Palestinians were killed in the West Bank city of Nablus by Israeli forces. In a statement the Quartet said that it "urges complete commitment to the truce" and expressed hope that the truce would still stand and work.

Despite discontent, PFLP says ''it is too early to end this agreement''
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Gaza - Ma’an- A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) central committee Jameel Mizher said that Israeli atrocities in the West Bank cannot be tolerated. He mentioned that the PFLP has a clear position on the situation and will call for a reconsideration of the truce if such actions continue. They will not, he said, give Israel the chance to deprave and kill in the West Bank. Mizher said in an interview with Sawt Ash-Sha’b radio in Gaza that “the Israeli assassination of the Al-Quds brigades’ leader along with another man in Nablus on Monday is considered a continuation of aggression against the Palestinian people. "He continued saying that the PFLP "had warned Israel that it should respect agreements and not make use of the truce to deprave in the West Bank. " He added, “according to previous attempts, Israelis have never been faithful to any truces. . .

Haya: Hamas will never be police guarding Israeli-controlled borders
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Khalil Al-Haya, a prominent Hamas leader, stated Tuesday that his Movement would never turn into police protecting the Israeli occupation’s borders, highlighting that Hamas would never carry a rifle in the face of a resistance fighter. This came during a symposium organized by the assembly of the vocational unions entitled: "The truce in Gaza between expectations and caveats".  Dr. Haya underlined that the Israeli truce overture at the beginning centered about stopping the rocket attacks in exchange for considering some humanitarian issues and easing the siege, where Hamas rejected that. The Hamas leader pointed that the mutual calm in the West Bank was not possible because the Israelis and PA chief Mahmoud Abbas refused to include the West Bank in the truce at the pretext of the roadmap plan which entails implementing security obligations.

Israel closes Gaza crossings after rocket attack
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 6/25/2008
JERUSALEM, June 25 (Reuters) - Israel closed its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a defence official said, calling the move a response to a Palestinian rocket salvo that breached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. The crossings were to have opened at 8 a. m. (0500 GMT) to allow for imports, increased in scale under the truce, to reach the impoverished strip. But Israeli military liaison official Peter Lerner said they would stay closed until further notice. "Any reopening will be in accordance with security considerations," he told Reuters. On Tuesday, Islamic Jihad militants fired several rockets into southern Israel, breaching the then five-day-old Gaza truce in what they called retaliation for the Israeli army’s killing of one of their commanders in the occupied West Bank. The ceasefire deal does not cover the West Bank.

Hamas: Closure of crossings reflects ill-intention
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Wednesday charged that the Israeli war minister Ehud Barak’s decision to close all crossings of the Gaza Strip reflected Israel’s ill-intention. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told the PIC that the concerned parties should intervene to pressure the Israeli occupation authority into abiding by the calm agreement in order to ensure its continuation. He pointed to the Israeli occupation forces’ shooting earlier Wednesday at farmers east of Khan Younis, south of the Strip, which seriously wounded one of them as another violation of the calm agreement. The spokesman asked all parties to assume their responsibilities towards such violations. Barak ordered the closure of all commercial crossings of Gaza in retaliation to the firing of homemade missiles at Sderot by Islamic Jihad activists.

Khudari: The closure of Gaza crossings is a flagrant violation of the truce
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, stated that the Israeli decision to close the Gaza crossings is a flagrant violation of the truce and its items, and a step backwards, adding that the closure of crossings raised big question marks about the nature of the coming days. MP Khudari deplored the Israeli occupation for assassinating two young men in cold blood in Nablus, calling on the Palestinian factions to seek a national consensus before taking any step to retaliate against Israeli violations in order to strengthen the internal front through taking a unified vision serving the higher national interests. The lawmaker also called on the Palestinian factions to exercise prudence and restraint in order to suspend the aggression and break the siege on one and a half million people.

Gaza truce shaken as four Qassams slam into west Negev
Avi Issacharoff and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
Four Qassam rockets fired from Gaza struck Sderot and the surrounding area Tuesday afternoon, further imperiling a brittle truce declared six days ago. One of the rockets struck a vacant house in Sderot and two others hit the city. A fourth rocket exploded in an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. Two people was lightly wounded in the barrage, and two others were treated for shock. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the Qassam salvo. Gaza’s Hamas rulers issued a statement saying that they were still committed to the cease-fire with Israel, despite the small militant group’s obvious violation of its terms. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, responded to the attacks by urging "all Palestinian factions to abide by the calm agreement," adding: "Hamas is keen to maintain the deal.

Israel keeps Gaza crossings shut after rocket attacks: military
Jean-Luc Renaud, ReliefWeb 6/25/2008
JERUSALEM, June 25, 2008 (AFP) - Israel kept three border crossings with the Gaza Strip closed on Wednesday following rocket attacks that breached a truce with the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers, a military spokesman said. "We are keeping the Karni, Sufa and Nahal Oz crossings closed for the time being following the firing of rockets in flagrant violation of the truce deal," spokesman Peter Lerner told AFP. He said however that while the goods terminals were closed, the Erez passenger crossing remained open. Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel on Tuesday, slightly wounding two people and straining an Egyptian-brokered truce. Two of the rockets struck inside the hard-hit town of Sderot, causing some damage, and another slammed into a field outside town.

Egypt to keep Rafah crossing closed until captured soldier is set free
Ron Bousso, Daily Star 6/25/2008
Agence France Presse SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Egypt told Israel on Tuesday it would keep its Rafah crossing with Gaza closed until the fate of captured soldier Gilad Shalit is resolved, an Israeli official said. "We received clear assurances that Rafah will not be opened as long as the question of Shalit is not solved," said the official, who was present at talks between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli President Ehud Olmert. Israel has eased some of its choke hold on Gaza as part of a truce with Palestinian militants that began on Thursday, but made any opening of Rafah, the only crossing that bypasses Israel, conditional on a prisoner swap. The announcement came after Mubarak hosted Olmert for one-on-one talks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to discuss Shalit and the next stage of the Egyptian-mediated cease-fire after months of bloodshed.

Abu Mujahed: Israelis should finalise prisoner exchange deal
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - On the second anniversary of the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit the official spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) Abu Mujahed said that Shalit’s continued detention demonstrates that resistance is the most effective way to counter Israeli measures regarding Palestinian detainees. Abu Mujahed confirmed in a statement that the resistance had achieved a huge step in capturing Shalit. He revealed that those holding Shalit supported the completion of a prisoner exchange deal which would guarantee the release of the list of prisoners propsed by the resistance factions. But the Israeli government is faltering on the exchange issue because of internal political wranglings. Abu Mujahed said the fact that Shalit had now been held for two years should be a prime motive for the Israelis to complete the exchange deal and ensure Shalit’s return to his family.

PRC: Shalit will not see light of day unless our demands are met
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/25/2008
’We demand the release of the prisoners who were sentenced to long jail terms. Without their release, Shalit will remain in our hands for many years to come,’ spokesman for militant group tells Ynet. Hamas: Ball in the hands of the occupier -Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) spokesman Abu Mujahid told Ynet Wednesday that the demands posed by the groups holding IDF soldier Gilad Shalit will not change and that "Israel must comply with our demands otherwise Shalit will not see the light of day. "We demand Israel comply with all of our demands. We demand the release of the prisoners who were sentenced to long jail terms. Without their release, Shalit will remain in our hands for many years to come," said Abu Mujahid. PRC took part in Shalit’s kidnapping during a cross-border raid on the Kerem Shalom crossing near Gaza on June 25, 2006.

Hamas denies any link between Shalit and Rafah crossing
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday denied Israeli reports that Egypt had agreed not to open the Rafah crossing until the Palestinian resistance factions released the Israeli captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that the issue of Shalit was being discussed in accordance with demands for an exchange of prisoners and he would not be set free until Palestinian prisoners are released. He underlined that the opening of Rafah crossing would be dealt with in line with the calm agreement brokered through Egyptian mediation and through the tripartite committee formed in this respect. Israeli officials claimed that Egypt had assured them that the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and Gaza Strip would remain closed until an agreement is reached with Hamas on the release of Shalit.

Egypt finds seven smuggling tunnels, arms cache near Gaza border
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
An Egyptian security official said Wednesday that border guards discovered seven underground smuggling tunnels at the border with the Gaza Strip. The official said that some of the tunnels, found north of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, were used to pump fuel to the Hamas-run coastal Gaza Strip. The official also said that police found eleven stacks of hashish separately near the volatile border. Smugglers had fled and left the drugs behind. Police also came across an ammunition and arms cache left over from the 1967 Six-Day War near the town of el-Hassana in central Sinai. The official, who supervised the operations, said the finds were made Tuesday and Wednesday. Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh had said Friday that the Islamist group would not stop smuggling activities in the territory, despite the. . .

Mubarak: Unrealistic to link Shalit with Gaza truce
Middle East Online 6/25/2008
CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday that linking the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to Israel’s current fragile truce with Gaza resistance is unrealistic. To link the fate of "one soldier" to so many dead on both sides is "unrealistic," Mubarak said during an interview with Israeli television of which excerpts were published by the official MENA news agency. The interview was made after Mubarak hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss the Gaza truce and a possible prisoner exchange involving Shalit, 21, captured by Palestinian resistance two years ago. "Let’s be realistic and live the reality of the truce or they will continue firing rockets and you will attack them and you will die and they will die, for one soldier," Mubarak said, on the sixth day of the truce.

Abu Ras: If crossings not completely open within ten days then calm is over
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Marwan Abu Ras has underlined that calm with the Israeli ocucpatin would come to an end if the Gaza crossings were not open within ten days. Abu Ras, the head of the Palestine scholars league and a prominent Hamas leader, said that closure of the crossings would mean that occupation had broken the calm agreement reached with Egyptian mediation. Calm was a national interest and aimed at alleviating the suffering of the besieged people in Gaza, he noted, saying that the Palestinian people benefit from calm, which he described as a victory. The Palestinian people would never give up their rights despite conspiracies and the oppressive siege, the MP told a political seminar organized by the Hamas-affiliated change and reform parliamentary bloc in Gaza city.

Fayyad: sideline discussions at Berlin Conference focused on illegal Israeli settlement policy
Palestine News Network 6/25/2008
Gaza / PNN -- President Abbas’ appointed Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, said on Wednesday that he was displeased with the amount of financial support received at Tuesday’s Berlin conference. The initial pledge was 242 million USD however the amount collected fell short at 187 million. However, Fayyad was pleased with discussions in general. Fayyad told the press on Wednesday, "I think the conference completely achieved the required commitment in terms of supporting our diverse bodies working in the police and the judiciary. "The Prime Minister began his speech at the Berlin conference to support Palestinian police and the rule of law by severely criticizing the Israeli army. It was just hours before that Israeli forces had attacked the northern West Bank’s Nablus and assassinated two Palestinians: one was an armed resistance member and the other a student.

VIDEO - Livni, Palestinian PM square off at Berlin conference
YNetNews 6/25/2008
After IDF kills Jihad commander in Nablus, Palestinian PM Fayyad tells donors conference in Berlin, ’this is exactly the activity that has to stop. ’ Livni: We must know that future Palestinian state won’t back terror (06. 25. 08) Video: infolive. tvAuthor: Infolive. tvEditor: infolive. tv [end]

At Berlin conference side-lines meeting may carry much more weight
Palestine News Network 6/24/2008
Berlin / PNN -- The Berlin Conference opened Tuesday intending to support Palestinian police and the ’rule of law. ’ Appointed Prime Minister in the West Bank, Salam Fayyad, is in attendance aiming to improve the performance of the Palestinian Authority security forces, judges, courts and jails. German Chancellor Angela Merkel inaugurated the conference with a speech in which she called to "stop the rapid violence in the Middle East. "She welcomed the agreement of ’calm’ in the Gaza Strip, asserting that a legal system fit for use is the basis of nation-building, while also pointing out that improved security measures such as the deployment of larger numbers of police and re-activating the judicial system is a small part of a broader plan. For his part, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier promised to quickly provide aid to Palestinians in order to re-build state entities.

Countries Commit $242m to Strengthen Palestinians
Geir Moulson, MIFTAH 6/25/2008
Countries at an international conference Tuesday agreed to commit $242 million to strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s police and judicial systems, sending what Germany’s foreign minister called a "clear signal of support" for building a Palestinian state. The money will go to projects that include police training, building a forensic lab and prisons, installing communications networks, and creation of courthouses. Organizers had hoped for commitments of $190 million going into the meeting, which brought together officials including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa. " The result, I must say, is that a clear signal of support for the building of a Palestinian state was sent from here today," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the conference host.

French President Sarkozy: No one believes the Wall will provide security for Israelis
Palestine News Network 6/24/2008
Bethlehem / PNN -- Palestinian and French flags are flying on the light poles in Bethlehem on Tuesday as Palestinian police line the sidewalks and sirens scream. The French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in town along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Before visiting the Church and touring the city, they attended an Investment Conference in Al Khader, a village just outside of the city that is being eaten away by Israeli settlement expansion and Wall construction. At a joint press conference today the French President said that no one could believe that the Wall will provide "security" for the Israelis. " The Wall does not serve the peace process in the region," Sarkozy told journalists in the south-central West Bank city. He stressed that peace will be achieved by the allowance of Palestinian development, alluding to the fact that the French government. . .

France’s Sarkozy Offers in Israel to Broker Peace
Francois Murphy, MIFTAH 6/24/2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy put himself forward on Monday as a possible Middle East peace broker, offering in a speech to Israel’s parliament to help reach agreement and mobilize French troops if necessary. " I ask you to trust us because we want to help you," said Sarkozy, the first French president to address the Knesset since Francois Mitterrand in 1982. Since taking office a year ago, Sarkozy has broken rank with his predecessors by repeatedly describing himself as a "friend of Israel", fostering closer ties with the Jewish state and reiterating that there can be no compromise on its security. " France is ready to provide its guarantee, ready to mobilize its diplomatic service, its resources, its soldiers," he said, without specifying what role French troops could play. Sarkozy said peace with the Palestinians was possible if Israel stopped all settlement activity, lifted the checkpoints that criss-cross the West Bank, ended a blockade of Gaza and accepted Jerusalem as capital of two states.

Sarkozy in Bethlehem: Palestinian state would guarantee Israeli security
Ma’an News Agency 6/24/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday that the only way to "guarantee Israel’s security" is to allow the creation of a ’modern, democratic, and viable Palestinian state. Sarkozy also said that France would demand an "end to colonization" in Jerusalem and the West Bank as a whole, and said that Israel’s checkpoints and its massive separation wall would not guarantee Israel’s security forever. He added that Israel’s security is "non-negotiable. " He also called on Palestinians to separate themselves from violence, saying that France is comfortable talking to Abbas because he is "a man of peace. " Sarkozy was speaking at a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Sarkozy and Abbas met to discuss France’s support for a proposed 21 million dollar industrial zone in the city.

Israeli guard commits suicide at Sarkozy farewell
Reuters, The Independent 6/24/2008
An Israeli guard on the perimeter of a farewell airport ceremony for French President Nicolas Sarkozy shot himself dead, causing a security stir but not endangering the visiting leader, police said. "This was in no way an assassination attempt," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. "A border policeman. . . committed suicide during the farewell ceremony. " Bodyguards hustled Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, into their plane at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport after the shot was heard. Other security men whisked Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert toward his car. Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres, who was also at the scene, returned to the aircraft to bid the Sarkozys a final goodbye after it was established that the incident was over and posed no threat. The plane then departed. According to Rosenfeld, the guard who shot himself was a paramilitary. . .

After his time spent in the region, leaving was not so simple for French President Sarkozy
Palestine News Network 6/24/2008
PNN - Something happened at the Tel Aviv airport, Ben Gurion, just before 5:30 pm Tuesday and it involved French President Nicolas Sarkozy. There is more than one story and none are official as of yet. After three vesions, let us mention that as of just after 6:00 pm a fourth and fifth version have been reported. The Israeli soldier committed suicide, or attempted suicide, and two other soldiers who witnessed this fainted. That version is being put forth by the Israeli news service, Ha’aretz. Another story is that at the Tel Aviv airport an Israeli soldier simply fainted and ended up on the ground. And yet another version is that the Israeli soldier opened fire on the French President, or then again, he may have accidentally shot himself, in which case it is reported that he is in critical condition. No one yet will comment on which is the truth, however it seems clear that an Israeli soldier is injured in some form or other.

US military chief heads to Israel
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Pentagon tries to play down announcement Admiral Michael Mullen will be in Jerusalem this week due to estimations Israel is exerting pressure on Washington to launch strike on Iranian nuclear facilities - WASHINGTON -US military chief Admiral Michael Mullen will be arriving for an official visit to Israel in the coming days for discussions on the Iranian nuclear threat, the US Department of Defense confirmed on Wednesday. Meanwhile, speculation is growing in Washington that Israel is exerting pressure on the United States to launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The press office of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that Mullen left the US on Tuesday "to go overseas to visit counterparts as well as combatant commands, and Israel is not his only stop. "Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell also tried to play down the report, saying the trip had been on the schedule for "months.

Greece, Israel Held Two Military Test Runs for Attack on Iran
Middle East Times, MIFTAH 6/25/2008
A top Greek air force official has revealed that Greece participated in two major military exercises over the Mediterranean Sea with Israel in recent weeks as test runs for possible long-range strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. News of a secret exercise was broken by the New York Times last Friday, citing U. S. officials as saying that more than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets took part in preparation for long-range strikes in the first week of June. But in Athens, an official with the Greek air force’s central command confirmed to Agence France-Presse the substance of the U. S. media report, while stating that it had taken part in not one, but two "joint training exercises" with Israel off the Mediterranean island of Crete. The manouvers, code-named "Glorious Spartan 08," took place on May 28 and June 12, and consisted of aerial exercises and knowledge exchange, said the Greek source who requested anonymity.

IAEA inspectors return from first visit to Syria
Daily Star 6/26/2008
A team of inspectors from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) returned to Vienna on Wednesday after four days in Syria. IAEA number two Ollie Heinonen, who led the delegation, told reporters that the investigation into an alleged nuclear site at Al-Kibar in the Syrian desert had got off to a satisfactory start, including the collection of soil samples. The IAEA decided to launch its probe after the United States recently handed over what it said was intelligence showing that Syria was building a reactor at Al-Kibar, which was bombed by Israeli warplanes last September. The IAEA has been critcial of the Israelis for acting unilaterally - and of the United States for waiting so long to share its information. Syria says the site was a regular building belonging to the military and was not even in use at the time of the raid.

Palestinian Police Chafe at Israeli Limitations
Alastair Macdonald, MIFTAH 6/25/2008
For Palestinian police chief Radhi Assida, an international fundraising conference in Berlin on Tuesday may provide welcome cash for kit and training. For the aid to help bring peace and security to the Middle East, however, the colonel wants the governments attending to focus on something more -- pressuring Israel to trust his force more and to end what he says are policies that limit its effectiveness and undermine its credibility among Palestinians. " All this aid will be pointless unless the Israelis ease the pressure on us," said Assida, who served for decades under arms at the side of Yasser Arafat and who now runs the new National Security Force police service in the West Bank city of Jenin. Long a bastion of guerrilla forces hostile to Israel, Jenin has been held up as a model by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of a Western-backed plan to institute non-partisan security forces capable of enforcing a peace deal with Israel by cracking down on militants bent on attacking the Jewish state.

Hamas prisoners freed in West Bank, despite PA pledge to Israel
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
The Palestinian Authority has in recent days released at least three Hamas prisoners, as part of an agreement between Fatah and its rival faction to reconcile after a year of fighting. The decision was made despite the Palestinian Authority’s promise to Israel. The militants were imprisoned in the Authority on suspicion of attempting to attack within Israel and the West Bank. The rival factions had agreed that Hamas would free Fatah prisoners in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of its own detainees in West Bank. [end]

Ex-diplomat says US should engage with Hamas
Middle East Online 6/25/2008
WASHINGTON - A former senior US diplomat on Tuesday described senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniya as a "thoughtful politician," saying the US administration should drop its refusal to engage with the Palestinian resistance movement. Richard Viets, who was US ambassador to Jordan in the early 1980s, recounted his meeting with Haniya in Gaza earlier this month as part of a private US group’s fact-finding mission to the region. "Haniya is a very smart, articulate, sophisticated, thoughtful politician. You have to be impressed sitting in the room with him," Viets told a news conference. "On the whole his comments regarding Israel I thought were remarkably balanced and non-polemical," Viets said. US media coverage had failed to convey an accurate picture of Hamas or Haniya’s stance, which was more pragmatic than often portrayed, he said.

Hamas: Rice’s statement proves US standing in the way of Palestinian dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The Hamas movement pointed to remarks made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday as further evidence that US power is the only remaining obstacle to reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. At a meeting in Berlin on Tuesday Rice reiterated the Bush administration’s view that there should be no dialogue and no Palestinian unity until Hamas "recognizes Israel’s right to exist. "She was responding to a suggestion by Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa that the only way to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is to achieve internal Palestinian reconciliation first. "You cannot have peace if there is not a partner who respects the right of the other partner to exist," she said, in an apparent reference to Hamas, which the United States refuses to deal with because it does not recognize Israel or past Palestinian agreements with Israel," Rice said.

Professor Gabriela Shalev nominated as new UN ambassador
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have nominated Professor Gabriela Shalev as Israel’s new ambassador to the United Nations, Livni and Olmert said in a statement Tuesday. Shalev, 67, is to replace Dan Gillerman, whose five-year tenure will end in a few weeks. Shalev has apparently accepted the appointment, which must be confirmed by the cabinet. The short list for the post consisted of Foreign Ministry candidates and candidates from outside the ministry. Olmert, Defense Minister Barak and other political officials reportedly proposed former Israel Defense Forces spokesman and senior vice president of the United Jewish Communities, Nahman Shai, and Israel’s former consul-general in New York, Alon Pinkas. Livni is also said to have sent out feelers to journalist Ilana Dayan.

Obama to Bush: Hamas must recognize Israel
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 6/25/2008
Democratic presidential candidate sends Bush letter expressing unwavering support for Israel. ’We must press Egypt to devote more resources and effort to stopping the smuggling of weapons into Gaza,’ he says -"We must press Egypt to devote more resources and effort to stopping the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from the Sinai, where much ofHamas’ weaponry arrives from," Democratic US presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama said in a letter addressed to US President George W. Bush. In the letter Obama reiterated many of the positions he presented at AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington at the beginning of the month. Ceasefire? Gaza crossings to remain closed due to rocket attack / Hanan Greenberg Defense minister decides not to allow transfer of goods into Strip on Wednesday.

Seal swap deal or price will rise, says Hezbollah-linked daily
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
A Lebanese newspaper editor apparently familiar with Hezbollah’s thinking warned Wednesday that if the prisoner swap with Israel is not consummated soon, the Shi’ite organization will increase its asking price for the two Israeli soldiers it has held captive since July 2006. The cabinet will vote on the prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollahduring its weekly meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday in a meeting with Karnit Goldwasser, wife of one of the two captive reservists. The families of the abducted soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, had been pressuring Olmert to bring the matter to a cabinet vote, and plan to convince the ministers to support the deal. The prime minister said he has not yet decided whether he supports the swap.

Report: Hizbullah won’t lower swap demands if IDF captives declared dead
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/25/2008
Columnist with links to Shiite group quotes Nasrallah as saying, ’Olmert can do as he pleases; he’ll find our demands are the same even if captive soldiers declared ’killed in action’ - Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah will not lower his demands in the framework of a prisoner exchange deal even if Israel declared captive soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev "killed in action", an analyst with ties to the Shiite group said in a column published by the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on Wednesday. According to Ibrahim el-Amin, seven months ago Israel attempted, through German mediator Gerhard Konrad, to pressure Hizbullah into lowering its demands by threatening to declare the captive IDF soldiers as "fallen soldiers whose place of burial is unknown. "The analyst quoted Nasrallah as saying in response, "(Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert can do as he pleases.

IDF chief rejects possibility of freezing ’killed in action’ process
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/25/2008
Ashkenazi rejects Olmert’s suggestion to delay process of declaring Goldwasser, Regev dead until Sunday’s cabinet meeting, says military rabbi only one authorized to make the call -IDF Chief of Staff Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Wednesday responded negatively toPrime Minister Ehud Olmert’s question on whether it was possible to freeze the process of declaring captive soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev "killed in action". On Monday, Chief IDF Rabbi Brigadier-General Avi Ronsky began the process of assessing the fate of captive IDF soldiers Goldwasser and Regev. Ronsky received the relevant intelligence information and will determine whether or not do declare the two soldiers "killed in action whose place of burial is unknown". The chief military rabbi is the only one authorized to make such an assertion.

German mediator to secure Hezbollah, Israel signatures on prisoner swap accord
Barak Ravid Yossi Melman and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Israel and Hezbollah have a written agreement on a prisoner exchange that the cabinet will deliberate on Sunday and possible approve. If approved, Israel will sign the deal that will then be taken to Beirut by the German mediators for Hezbollah’s signature. Meanwhile, Israel will present Egyptian mediators in Cairo later today with new formulas that it hopes will result in progress in the case of the abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The cabinet will meet Sunday to hear a briefing and deliberate over the prisoner exchange deal Israel reached with Hezbollah through German mediation. Ofer Dekel, the official charged with the negotiations on the prisoners, will brief the ministers and respond to their questions. So far the deal with Hezbollah is described in official Israeli circles as "a framework agreement.

Israel striking deal with Gazprom
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Israel is negotiating a long-term deal to buy natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom, National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Kommersant Wednesday. The agreement, covering at least 20 years, is in the final stages of preparation, the minister said, adding that he hopes it can be signed in a matter of months. The deal would reduce Israel’s dependence on Egypt as its all-but-sole source of natural gas. At the first stage, Israel would buy 4 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas a year. When demand warrants, supply will increase to 10 BCM a year. Israel wouldn’t only use the gas to fuel power plants, but also for industry, Ben-Eliezer says. But how exactly the gas would be delivered remains to be seen, he admits. One possibility is an "infrastructures corridor" stretching from Turkey to Israel, or a branch of the pipeline Gazprom is planning to build in the Balkans.

IEC denies EMG suit threat
Lior Baron, Globes Online 6/25/2008
"On the basis of measurements by Israel National Gas Lines, the Egyptian gas deviates from the dew point by a few degrees. " "Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) has never threatened to sue East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG)," said an IEC spokesman today in response to yesterday’s report by "Globes". IEC admits that there is a problem with the quality of the natural gas being delivered. It said, "On the basis of measurements by Israel National Gas Lines Ltd. , the Egyptian gas deviates from the dew point by a few degrees. The dew point is the temperature at which water droplets form at the pressure of the natural gas in the pipeline. Since the gas temperature in the pipeline is high enough above the calculated dew point of the gas being supplied, at the pressure and temperature conditions of the supplies, the gas is dry and there is no fear for the gas delivery system. "

Palestinian Ministry of Health partners with EU, WHO to launch new Mental Health program
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - As part of their ongoing support for Palestine, the European Union and the World Health Organization launched a new program for Mental Health and Awareness Wednesday. A press release from the European Commission says that the program, which will be based out of the Community Mental Health Center in Ramallah, will "help transform the provision of mental health services in the occupied Palestinian territory and bring relief to a fragile and often stigmatized segment of the population. " The EU and WHO have partnered with the Palestinian Ministry of Health in order to implement the National Policy and Strategic Operational Plan for reforming the mental health sector, established in 2004. The plan focuses on enhancing treatment, removing stigma from sufferers, and improving access to services.

Histadrut negotiating with Palestinian Labourers’ Committee over dues paid
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli sources announced on Wednesday that the Histadrut for General Israeli Laborers has been holding secret negotiations with the Palestinian Labourers’ Committee. The negotiations are over the repayment of money collected from membership fees paid by Palestinians working within Israel to the Histadrut over the past 15 years. The repayment is estimated to be in the millions of shekels. Sources pointed out that the Histadrut did transfer some money to the Palestinian trade unions as per earlier agreements. However, sources also say that dues paid were not transferred during certain periods because of security concerns. [end]

Blackouts continue across Gaza despite truce
Ma’an News Agency 6/24/2008
Gaza - Ma’an Report – After the fifth day of truce, Gazans continue to suffer from the Israeli fuel blockade. The constant blackouts in Gaza are one of the hardships residents have endured over the last year. Many hoped that with the new truce, fuel would be delivered to the local energy station and the blackouts would cease. So far, however, there has been no change in the electricity shortages. Deputy Chief of Power Authority Kan’an Obeid said that “the problem of electricity blackouts stems from the strategy of electricity rationing developed during the period when supplies were reduced by Israelis. " According to Obeid, the station itself "has the capacity to generate 80 megawatts, which is sufficient to meet peoples’ needs. "He notes that this capacity is thanks to “the Norwegian delegation that reformed the stations’ units during the last month. . . "

Cabinet approves multiyear defense budget
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 6/25/2008
The cabinet approved the budget, even though Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On had hinted that there was room to cut back the Brodet committee recommendations. The political-security cabinet today approved the multiyear defense budget, on the basis of the Brodet committee recommendations. The committee recommended a defense budget of NIS 50. 3 billion in 2009, NIS 50. 8 billion in 2010, NIS 51. 2 billion in 2011, and NIS 52. 2 billion in 2012. The cabinet approved the budget, even though Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On had hinted that there was room to cut back the Brodet committee recommendations. At a recent cabinet meeting he said, "There will be no alternative from choosing among all the issues that the government has undertaken. It will be necessary, among other things, to decide whether or not we went too far in the defense budget framework we undertook in the Brodet committee.

Knesset gives ultra-Orthodox high schools green light to ignore core curriculum
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
The Knesset yesterday passed the first reading of a bill allowing ultra-Orthodox high schools to receive state funding even without adopting the Education Ministry’s core curriculum, in contravention of a High Court of Justice ruling. Twenty-two MKs, most of them from ultra-Orthodox parties, voted in favor of the bill, which was submitted by MKs Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and Yaakov Margi (Shas). The bill also gives the ultra-Orthodox education system extensive freedom from Education Ministry supervision and seeks to set down in law that the schools will receive 60 percent of the funding provided to students in state schools. It applies to students in grades 9-12 who attend ultra-Orthodox educational institutions or schools that belong to any other population group with unique cultural attriutes, as determined by the education minister.

New body will replace police at Israel’s borders
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
In three weeks the new National Immigration Authority will start operating under the auspices of the Interior Ministry, bringing together under its umbrella all the bodies that deal with foreigners living in Israel, as well as those interested in coming to Israel. It will also handle registering Israelis in the Population Registry, as well as issuing identity cards and passports. The head of the new Authority, Yaakov Ganot, told the Knesset’s State Control Committee yesterday that the authority will take responsibility for border control in the first stage, a role now filled by the police. "We are adapting ourselves to what is done in other countries, a good many years late," said Aryeh Bar, director general of the Interior Ministry. "Those who receive visitors to the country and escort them on their way out will not be the police. "

Iqbal Tamimi - Israeli soldiers using Palestinian children as human shields
Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 6/25/2008
Israeli Soldiers force Palestinians to approach, enter and search buildings where they believe gunmen may be hiding. The civilians are subjected to different forms of manipulations to use them as human shields during operations to acquire control of the houses, detaining inhabitants in one place (often in one room of the house) and turning the houses into military barracks, and using the occupants as human shields to deter any counter-attacks. They then force them to perform acts and chores on behalf of the soldiers like opening outlets in the walls or removing the floor tiles to use as barriers to protect the soldiers near the windows. All of that happens during the time the occupation forces would open machine gun fire by its snipers from these houses to shoot at anything moving in the area. The occupation forces arrest civilians and force them to walk in front of its soldiers. . .

OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report 04 - 10 Jun 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 6/10/2008
Of note this weekGaza Strip: - The IDF killed six Palestinians, including an eight year old Palestinian girl, and injured 16 others. - Four Palestinians were killed and ten Palestinian police officers were injured during armed clashes between several suspected Palestinian drug dealers and Palestinian antinarcotics police in Shejayeh Quarter. - During an IDF military operation inside Khuza’a, the IDF levelled 45 dunums of agricultural land planted with olive trees and demolished a bird farm. - A total of 17 rudimentary rockets and 50 mortars were fired by Palestinian militants at Israel, resulting in the death of one Israeli civilian and the injury of three others. In addition, 68 mortars were fired at the IDF in the Gaza Strip resulting in the injury of one IDF soldier and the inadvertent injury of one Palestinian man.

IOA transfers arbitrarily female prisoners to notorious Damon prison
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Lawyer Buthaina Duqmaq, the head of the Mandela institution for human rights and political prisoners, said that the Israeli prisons authority has embarked suddenly on the transfer of all female Palestinian prisoners in section 11 in the Talmond prison to the notorious Damon prison in Haifa without giving reasons. Lawyer Duqmaq explained that the Talmond administration declared a state of alert in the prison and hastened to transfer the prisoners without considering the impact of this arbitrary step on the prisoners and their families where the distance to prison doubled and thus the burden on families will increase. She also reported that two female prisoners called Amna Mona and Abeer Amr will be transferred from the Jalama prison to another prison probably Damon during the coming days. The lawyer noted that Damon was built during the British mandate as a repository. . .

LEBANON: Aid agencies grapple with coordination issues
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 6/25/2008
BEIRUT, 24 June 2008 (IRIN) - As the UN’s Palestinian aid agency UNRWA appeals for US$445 million for three years of reconstruction and recovery in and around Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, a mixed picture of aid agency coordination has emerged from interviews with key players. Speaking to IRIN ahead of the 23 June donor conference in Vienna, the director of UNRWA affairs in Lebanon, Richard Cook, expressed satisfaction with his agency’s emergency response operation, though admitted the pace of reconstruction was too slow and that coordination with other agencies "could improve". A key issue raised by a number of actors interviewed by IRIN was the level of participation of local Palestinian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the cluster meetings established to coordinate aid agencies’ response to the Nahr al-Bared crisis.

VIDEO - Political cartoonists visit Israel to promote peace through satire
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for June 24, 2008. It’s amazing what bridges are built when the common language is political satire. ’Cartooning for Peace’, a movement born at a United Nations conference in 2006, brought the region’s leading political cartoonists to Israel and the Palestinian territories for an exhibit last week. The initiative was conceived by Plantu, a French political cartoonist at Le Monde, in aftermath of the rifts caused by the Mohammed cartoon crisis in Europe and a controversial Iranian Holocaust cartoon exhibit. Related articles:Danger, female cartoonist Moroccan wins first place in Iran Holocaust cartoon contestDanish newspapers reprint controversial Mohammed cartoon Also on Haaretz. com TV:Program places severely abused, hungry horses with adoptive families East. . .

Israeli army wounds an elderly Palestinian in southern Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
The Israeli army shot and wounded on Wednesday morning a Palestinian elderly man in southern Gaza Strip, less than 24 hours after homemade shells hit the nearby Israeli town of Sderot, as a truce deal between Palestinians and Israel has been agreed upon since last Thursday. Palestinian medical sources confirmed that Salem Abu Raida, 80, was wounded with several live bullets in the shoulder and that he was transferred to hospital for medical attention. Witnesses said that Abu Raida was near his house, which is located close to the Israel-Gaza border lines in the Khuza’a village in southeastern Gaza Strip, when the Israeli soldiers, manning the borders, shot him. This new Israeli shooting came less than 24 hours after two Palestinian homemade shells landed in the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. The Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in Gaza said the firing of shells was an exception. . .

Israel keeps Gaza crossings shut
Middle East Online 6/25/2008
TEL AVIV - Israel kept three border crossings with the Gaza Strip closed on Wednesday, an Israeli military spokesman said. "We are keeping the Karni, Sufa and Nahal Oz crossings closed for the time being following the firing of rockets in flagrant violation of the truce deal," spokesman Peter Lerner said, despite the fact that according to the Palestinians Israel was first to violate the truce deal. He said however that while the goods terminals were closed, the Erez passenger crossing remained open. Three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel on Tuesday, causing some damage but no casualties. The rockets were the first to be fired from the Palestinian territory since a truce between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers went into effect on June 19. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Nasser Brigades calls for joint operations committee to respond to Israeli violations
Palestine News Network 6/25/2008
Gaza / PNN -- The Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed resistance wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, called on Palestinian factions Wednesday to form a joint operations committee to respond to any Israeli violation of the ’calm. ’Brigades’ leader, Abu Abiir, stated that a decision to maintain the ’calm’ should be agreed upon by all Palestinian factions. Every option should be kept open in the event of Israeli invasions and assassinations, he added. "The struggle against the occupation is not yet over therefore we should not organize individually, but rather collectively. We must act with the utmost consideration for others," he said. "We believe that our cause cannot be fragmented if we resist the attempts and policies of the occupation. " Abiir stressed that the blood of all Palestinians is indivisible.

Israeli forces continue to shoot Palestinian farmers in Gaza Strip
Palestine News Network 6/25/2008
Khan Younis / PNN - Medical sources and eyewitnesses report that after Monday’s shooting of a Palestinian farmer in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces opened fire at more Palestinian farmers on Wednesday morning. Among them is a critical injury in the Israeli shooting east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The sources reported that the Israeli army, still surrounding the boundaries of the Strip, opened fire on a number of farmers who were working on their lands. Salim Abu Reeda is in critical condition at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. He is currently undergoing surgery. This is the second Israeli violation of the "calm" declared via Egyptian mediators on Thursday. On Monday they shot another Palestinian farmer.

IOF troops shoot 70-year-old Palestinian farmer in violation of calm
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- A 70-year-old Palestinian farmer was wounded on Wednesday morning when IOF troops fired at him while working in his field east of Khan Younis district, south of the Gaza Strip. Medical and local sources told PIC reporter that Salem Abu Reida sustained moderate to serious wounds when he was shot at by the IOF soldiers in Khuza’a village east of Khan Younis. The sources noted that the old man was hit with three bullets in his right arm, and added that he was carried to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis city. The sources said that the soldiers got out of their army vehicle near Abu Reida gate east of Khuza’a and let loose their dogs and fired at the farmers who were working in their fields.

Elderly Palestinian man wounded by Israeli gunfire in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/24/2008
Palestinian medical sources reported that an elderly Palestinian man was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli military gunfire on Monday evening as he was working on his land near the border fence in the northern Part of the Gaza Strip. The sources identified the man as Jamil Abdul-Rahman Al Ghoul, 68. He was shot in his back and is currently in a serious condition. The man was transferred to Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, and remains in a critical condition. Political sources in Gaza described the attack as the first Israeli violation to the truce which started last Thursday. Only minutes after the truce started, the Israeli navy fired four shells at the Gaza Shore. The Israeli navy said that the shells were "warning shots" after Palestinian fishermen entered "Israeli waters". Palestinian Prime Minister of the Gaza government, Ismail Haniyya, stated earlier on Monday. . .

Funerals and demonstrations against West Bank assassinations
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 6/25/2008
Jenin-- The demonstrations began last night after the assassinations of Tariq Jumaa Abu Ghali and Iyad Khanfar. Israeli forces targeted the northern West Bank’s leader of Saraya Al Quds, the armed resistance wing of Islamic Jihad, and a 24 year old An Najah University student affiliated with Hamas, Iyad Khanfar, in Nablus’ Makhfyeh neighborhood early on Tuesday. The bodies were taken from Nablus’ Rafidiya Hospital in massive funeral processions, which then continued in the home towns of the men. Further north in the West Bank’s Jenin, the body of Abu Ghali was carried from that city’s Government Hospital where his funeral began. The procession was massive with his body wrapped in the cloth of Saraya Al Quds. The march roamed the city streets amid cries of anger and chants, which condemned the Israeli crime and called for continued resistance.

Palestine Today 062508
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Wednesday June 25th, 2008. The Israeli army shoots a Palestinian civilian in Gaza and kidnaps nine others from the West Bank, these stories, and more, coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast The Israeli army shot and wounded on Wednesday morning a Palestinian elderly man in southern Gaza Strip, less than 24 hours after homemade shells hit the nearby Israeli town of Sderot, as a truce deal between Palestinians and Israel has been agreed upon since last Thursday. Palestinian medical sources confirmed that Salem Abu Raida, 80, was wounded with several live bullets in the shoulder and that he was transferred to hospital for medical attention.

Flying checkpoint near Silat adh Dhahr south west of Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces erected a flying military checkpoint near the town of Silat adh Dhahr south west of Jenin Wednesday afternoon. Eyewitnesses informed a Ma’an correspondent in Jenin that Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint were conducting thorough inspections; checking civilians’ identity cards and searching vehicles. Sources added that soldiers carried a list of names which appeared to a list of “wanted” individuals. [end]

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus; Islamic Jihad threaten retaliation
Ma’an News Agency 6/24/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - The Israeli army assassinated a Palestinians student from An-Najah University and a prominent leader of the Al-Quds Brigades in Nablus early on Tuesday morning. Israeli special forces raided the students’ second floor building in the Al-Sal’ous neighborhood in the Al-Makhfiyeh area of western Nablus and shot dead 24-year-old Iyad Khanfar, a fourth-year student at An-Najah and 23-year-old Tariq Juma’a Abu Ghali, one of the most prominent Al-Quds Bridages commanders in the northern West Bank. He had survived five previous assassination attempts. Five others were also detained for a period of time. Palestinian medical sources told Ma’an’s correspondent in Nablus that the dead bodies were transferred to Rafidya Hospital in Nablus after the Israeli army withdrew from the area. Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, director of Medical Relief in Nablus told Ma’an’s correspondent that the young men were not armed.

Israeli troops kill two Palestinians in West Bank
Middle East Online 6/24/2008
NABLUS, West Bank - Israeli troops killed two Palestinians at dawn on Tuesday in the West Bank town of Nablus, one of them a senior member of the Islamic Jihad group, the Israeli military said. The Gaza truce does not apply to the occupied West Bank, where Israel keeps up military operations, and many fear an escalation in violence there could jeopardise the agreement. Palestinian medics and security sources identified the men killed as Tareq Abu Ghali, 24, and Iyad Khanfar, a 21-year-old university student. An Israeli military spokesman confirmed troops had killed the two in an "exchange of fire," saying both were armed and that Abu Ghali was an Islamic Jihad fighter wanted by Israel. Islamic Jihad confirmed Abu Ghali was one of its senior members and vowed revenge, saying in a statement that the response "to this righteous blood will be in the heart of the Zionist entity (Israel).

Hamas: the assassination of the two martyrs emphasizes the Israeli aggression
Laila Ewaiwi & Aginces, International Middle East Media Center News 6/24/2008
The Islamic resistance group Hamas emphasized that the assassination of the two Palestinians that took place today, June 24, in Nablus is yet one more crime the Israeli occupation commited against the Palestinian people. Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesman of the Hamas movement, declared in a statement, "the assassination that took place only highlights the fact that the problem lies not in the resistance, but in the Israeli occupation" He also added that the movement will stay committed to the truce agreement, if Israel keeps their part of the deal, and called upon all those concerned to put pressure on Israel to end their crimes in the West Bank. He also emphasized the role that the resistance movement has in the West Bank in responding to these crimes, demanding that the security forces enable the resistance to exercise their role in protecting the Palestinian people.

Soldiers assassinate two Palestinians in Nablus
Ameen Abu Wardeh, International Middle East Media Center News 6/24/2008
Palestinian sources in Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank reported on Tuesday that Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians from Jenin, also in the northern part of the West Bank. Monday night after midnight, Israeli troops surrounded the house where the two reside in Al-Makhfiyeh neighborhood in Nablus and opened heavy fire at their flat killing the two residents and causing excessive damage before kidnapping five civilians, eyewitnesses reported. Palestinian civil defense who found the bodies under the rubble, identified the two as, Eyad Khanfar, 24 a student at An-Najah University, and Tareq Abu Ghali, 25 an operative of the Islamic Jihad in Jenin. Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, head of the Medical Relief Services in Nablus said that the two were shot many times in their bodies and some of the bullets penetrated their heads vertically.

Dirt barriers removed in West Bank as car-stoning ebbs
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
In the past six weeks there has been a marked drop in stone-throwing aimed at Israeli vehicles traveling on roads near the West Bank town of Qalqilyah and surrounding villages. according to Israeli liaison officials, two months ago the tally stood at many dozens of stoning incidents every month. Over the past month and a half there have been only a handful of such incidents. Israeli army officers attribute the change to activity they term "actual" on the part of Palestinian police forces deployed in Qalqilyah, and more recently also in some of the villages nearby: "They put a really strong emphasis on the informational aspect," the head of the liaison authority in Qalqilyah, Lieutenant Colonel Samir Amar, said on Tuesday. "They go into school classrooms and talk to the pupils, while underscoring that throwing stones at cars will be met by a harsh response.

Indymedia UK: Carmel Agrexco’s depot shut down in commemoration of the Nakba
International Solidarity Movement 6/25/2008
International Actions - Photos - In the early hours of Saturday morning, activists occupied and shut-down the HQ and only UK freight warehouse of Carmel Agrexco - Israel’s largest agricultural exporter from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The occupation held for over 6 hours until they were forcibly removed at 12 noon. During the occupation over 10 loading trucks intended for the warehouse were sent away. British supermarkets - accounting for 60% of Carmel-Agrexco’s total exports - had some of their orders affected. The Israeli government has a 50% stake in the company. Exports include flowers, avocados and herbs grown in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Early in the morning activists occupied and shut down operations at the Carmel Agrexco warehouse near Heathrow Airport by D-locking themselves to gates and to a lorry within the compound. New anti-apartheid website launched
International Solidarity Movement 6/25/2008
An incredibly useful new online resource has been createdto spread the word about the Apartheid system being imposed by the Israeli state in Palestine. The web site has some very simple ways for you to join the World wide anti-apartheid movement. To view the website click [below]. The creators of this new website have stated that, "the purpose of the ITISAPARTHEID. ORG web site is to use the tools of the internet and ingenuity of its readers to spread the word about Apartheid in the Israeli Occupied Territories. Web savvy people sometimes refer to this as Viral Marketing or a Guerrilla Marketing campaign. Since the media by and large ignore or are afraid to print the truth, the job of the web site is to get the word out in other ways. You can help by putting ITISAPARTHEID. ORG everywhere you can think of. -- See also:

Israeli troops kidnap a civilian from Hebron
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
Israeli troops kidnapped a Palestinian civilian from the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday midday. Local sources stated that the Israeli army broke into the family home of 21 year old Omaran Abu Husain located in "Khlet ilnar" south of Hebron before kidnapping him. His brother, who was assaulted by the army, said that troops surrounded the house and threw stones at its windows and doors, they also took the 12 family members hostage before searching the and vandalizing the house. The Israeli troops also kidnapped his brother Yousef and took him to an unknown destination. Yousef is the second Palestinian to be kidnapped by the army today in Hebron. On Wednesday morning Israeli troops attacked and searched homes in Hebron and kidnapped a Palestinian civilian.

Moussa calls in Berlin for lifting int’l veto on Palestinian national dialog
Palestinian Information Center 6/25/2008
BERLIN, (PIC)-- Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, called, during the Berlin conference for the support of PA judiciary and police, for lifting the international veto imposed on the Palestinian national dialog, underlining that the success of inter-Palestinian dialog is the main gateway to achieving peace and security in the region. Moussa’s remarks did not appeal to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice who caused a noisy uproar in an attempt to interrupt him and demanded that Hamas recognizes Israel as a condition for lifting the veto on the Palestinian national reconciliation. For her part, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the donors condition their donations to the PA to be provided as long as it has no dialog or reconciliation with Hamas, until it recognizes Israel. The Arab League head responded to the Merkel’s pro-Israeli rhetoric, saying that. . .

Palestinian security conference opens in Berlin
Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 6/25/2008
An international conference in Berlin on Tuesday aims to help Palestinianscreate their own state through grassroots security measures like puttingpolicemen on the beat and building courthouses. But the one-day conference, attended by 41 countries and due to be followedin the evening by a meeting of the Middle East Quartet a week after a trucebetween Israel and Hamas, is focused only on helping the Palestinian Authority(PA) in the West Bank and does not cover the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip, home to 1. 5 million people, has been subject to a near-totalIsraeli blockade since the seizure of power a year ago by the Islamist Hamas,which the international community refuses to talk to until it renounces violenceand recognises Israel’s right to exist. The EU Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS), set up in2005 to train the Palestinian police force, will. . .

Concrete assistance to support the Palestinian territories
Government of Germany, ReliefWeb 6/24/2008
The international community will continue to support Israel and the Palestinian territories. This was underscored by Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at the International Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and the Rule of Law. The German government will be providing 15 million euros to build the police force and the justice sector. Today’s conference has a special mandate, as the Chancellor pointed out. It is intended to help build the Palestinian state and to order the measures of international donor countries into effective packages. Specifically the conference and the German government will be focusing on promoting civilian security and the rule of law. As the Chancellor declared, "Legal certainty and reliable public order are the foundations on which to build a properly functioning democratic state.

Syrian VP: Syria allowed UN probe to prove US wrong
Associated Press, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Farouk al-Sharaa says IAEA allowed in only to prove desert site destroyed by Israeli jets was not nuclear reactor, warns they will not be allowed to visit other sites requested. UN: Results inconclusive, more work to be done - Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa said his country allowed UN nuclear inspectors to visit the Al Kibar site in the remote eastern desert, destroyed by Israeli jets last year, to prove US allegations of a covert Syrian nuclear program are false. Olli Heinonen, a deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told reporters in Vienna on Wednesday that the initial probe was inconclusive and further checks are necessary. He said he was satisfied with what was achieved on his three-day trip but "there is still work that needs to be done" in following up on the claims that Syria was hiding elements of a potential nuclear arms program.

IAEA inspectors visit alleged nuclear site in Syrian desert
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/25/2008
VIENNA: UN nuclear officials have inspected the site in the Syrian desert which the US alleges was a covert nuclear plant, a diplomat told AFP on Tuesday. But experts were doubtful that Syria would be able to claim its innocence even if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors found nothing suspicious at the site. "If the inspectors don’t find anything, it won’t prove Syria’s innocence, of course," said Mark Fitzpatrick, non-proliferation expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies. IAEA deputy director general Olli Heinonen flew to Syria Sunday for a three-day trip to investigate allegations that a mysterious site bombed by Israel last year had been a covert nuclear reactor nearing completion. Heinonen and two other experts had reached the site, at Al-Kibar in a remote desert area of northeastern Syria on the Euphrates River, and inspected it, the diplomat said.

Iran hints will develop nuke if attacked
News agencies, YNetNews 6/25/2008
Iranian parliament speaker warns Western powers it will develop nuclear bomb if provoked. ’You will face done deal blocking path of return to compromise with Iran,’ Larijani says - Ali Larijani, Iran’s parliament speaker, warned on Wednesday that the West may face "a done deal" if it provokes Iran, a hint that Tehran could build nuclear weapons if attacked. Larijani, who was once Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, says the West should take seriously a recent warning by Mohamed ElBaradei, the UN nuclear watchdog chief. ElBaradei said in an interview last week that a military strike on Iran could turn the Mideast into a "ball of fire" and push Iran to develop a weapon. In an open session of parliament, Larijani warned the West not to provoke Iran "or you will face a done deal that will block the path of your return to a compromise with Iran.

Jihad threatens to continue rocket attacks, despite truce
Barak Ravid Amos Harel Yuval Azoulay and Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
The Islamic Jihad militant group on Wednesday threatened to continue its rocket attacks on western Israel, despite a six-day truce agreement in the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday ordered the closure of all crossings through which goods enter the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian Qassam rocket fire on the western Negev a day earlier. The crossings were to have opened at 8 A. M. local time to allow for imports, increased in scale under the truce, to reach the impoverished strip. But Israeli military liaison official Peter Lerner said the crossings would stay closed until further notice. "Any reopening will be in accordance with security considerations," he said. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, accused Israel of bad faith in closing the crossings, where restrictions were tightened a year ago after the Islamist group took over the territory.

Egypt: Negotiate for Shalit until there’s a result
Ali Waked, YNetNews 6/26/2008
Prime Minister Olmert’s envoy overseeing MIA affairs heads to Cairo for refocused negotiations with Hamas for Gilad Shalit’s release. Egyptian official says both parties expected to continue talks until result finalized while Israel warns it will not be willing to pay every price - Two years after his abduction to Gaza, and with harsh rhetoric lacing the rally marking the grim milestone in his hometown, negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit will resume on Thursday in Cairo. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s personally appointed envoy overseeing MIA affairs, Ofer Dekel, is scheduled to head for Egypt in the early morning hours to launch intensive negotiations with Hamas. An Egyptian official told Ynet on the eve of the renewed talks: "We expect both delegations to deliberate this matter until they achieve a result, preferably without each party constantly stepping out for consultations.

At rally for Gilad Shalit, tears, anger and frustration
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
When Noam Shalit asked the people in the crowd last night to close their eyes and think about what Gilad was feeling at the same moment, many tears flowed. It was a rally at Mitzpeh Hila to mark the two-year anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s abduction. There have been a number of rallies over the past two years since Shalit’s abduction, but last evening’s gathering had plenty of sadness as well as anger and frustration. These feelings were all reflected in the eyes of those present, not to mention clear determination: "That’s enough. We must return Gilad home. " Hundreds took part in the rally, and Mitzpeh Hila’s residents came out in almost full force. Shlomo and Miki Goldwasser, the parents of abducted soldier Ehud Goldwasser, and Zvi Regev, the father of Eldad, also came to show support for the Shalits, as did the Avitan family, whose son’s body was returned from Lebanon a few years ago.

Adalah-NY to ADL: Demand that UNICEF reinstate Leviev as donor ''hypocritical and outrageous''
International Solidarity Movement 6/25/2008
Boycott & sanctions - UNICEF cut ties with Israeli diamond mogul over construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land - New York, NY, June 25, 2008 - The New York rights coalition Adalah-NY today labeled as "hypocritical and outrageous" the June 24 demand by The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that UNICEF reinstate Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev as a donor. In a June 24 press release, ADL Director Abe Foxman criticized UNICEF’s decision to sever ties with Leviev, saying that it "smacks of selective political discrimination. "UNICEF announced last week that it would no longer accept donations from Lev Leviev due to his involvement in the construction of Israeli settlements in violation of international law. UNICEF’s decision came after they received letters criticizing Leviev’s activities from groups including Adalah-NY, Jews Against the Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, and a visit by UNICEF officials to Jayyous, one of the West Bank Palestinian communities where a Leviev company is building Israeli settlements.

Ex-Knesset speaker: Time for two-state solution running out
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Former Knesset speaker Avraham (Avrum) Burg said on Wednesday that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about to expire. "The clock is ticking and the days of a viable two-state solution are numbered," Burg said during a conference in the Arab town of Baka al-Gharbiyeh. Burg said that the preferable solution for him would be an Israeli-Palestinian federation, which will cater to the two nationalities living in the region, since it is "too small" to accommodate two states. He called on the Israelis to relinquish their sovereignty over the Temple Mount and on the Palestinians to give up the "practice of the Right of Return," and then establish a bi-national federation. The conference, entitled "Families on Hold," dealt with the issue of Palestinian spouses of Israeli Arabs who cannot obtain permanent residency in Israel.

Top Saudi official: Ball in Israel’s court if it wants peace with us
Asaf Uni, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Prince Tourki M. Saud al-Kabeer, Saudi Arabia’s assistant deputy minister for political affairs, said Wednesday that "the ball is in Israel’s court," when asked of the possibility of establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries. Prince Tourki was speaking from Berlin, where he is attending a conference hosted by the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt. The conference is focused on examining issues related to anti-missile defense systems in Europe and the Middle East. The prince added that the prospect of striking a separate peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia before arriving at such an agreement with other Arab states is out of the question. Tourki said that Saudi King Abdullah’s 2002 Arab peace initiative "offered Israel concrete things," but that Jerusalem had failed to give a positive response.

Palestinian Leader Calls for more EU Support for Peace Process
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 6/25/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Tuesday for more active support by the European Union (EU) for the Middle Eastern peace process. Speaking at a joint press conference with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Bethlehem, he said the peace process required a "strong push" by the international community, and by the EU, whose rotating presidency was currently held by France. Abbas added, "We want the EU to have an effective political role, besides its economic one. "He expressed his content with the French stance as to many of the issues, as affirmed by the speech Sarkozy delivered before the Knesset yesterday. " Your (France’s) stances reflect true friendship and a president who is keen on the region’s interests. . . your courage is the key to resolving the conflict, and courage is what we need to create a bright future," he said. Abbas called on France to exert greater efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, lauding France’s economic role and its support for peace.

Middle East Quartet urges further steps in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace
United Nations News Service, ReliefWeb 6/24/2008
The Middle East diplomatic Quartet today stressed the urgent need for more visible progress on the ground to support ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at settling their conflict, and voiced hope that the current calm in Gaza will continue. In a statementissued following their meeting in Berlin, the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States stated that Israel’s removal of some major West Bank checkpoints and the opening of Palestinian police stations represent good steps. ‘Greater efforts are required now to project a new reality, including through further urgent steps to improve access and movement,’ the group added. The Quartet urged the parties to build on their efforts, fulfilling their obligations under the Road Map and refraining from any steps that undermine confidence or could prejudice the outcome of negotiations aimed. . .

Wednesday’s weather
Ma’an News Agency 6/25/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Palestinian meteorological center expects Wednesday’s weather to be to be hot and dry, with scattered clouds. Temperatures will rise slightly to above the annual average. Winds will be westerly to northwesterly and moderate. The sea will be calm. Thursday’s weather is expected to remain clear and hot with no changes in temperatures. Winds will be westerly to northwesterly and calm to moderate. The sea will be calm. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 22 to 32 / Bethlehem: 22 to 32 / Ramallah: 21 to 31 / Tulkarem: 24 to 32 / Qalqilia: 24 to 32 / Salfit: 22 to 32 / Nablus: 22 to 33 / Jenin: 24 to 35 / Tubas: 24 to 35 / Hebron: 20 to 30 / Jericho: 27 to 40 / Gaza City: 26 to 33 / Khan Younis: 26 to 33 / Rafah: 25 to 34

Israel bred 1,000 millionaires in 2007
Michal Ramati, Ha’aretz 6/25/2008
The number of millionaires in Israel grew at twice the average world rate in 2007, according to the World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini. Moreover, the analysts found more than a subtle taste for "green" developing, if not always for the loftiest of reasons. The number of millionaires in Israel jumped 13. 6% - by 1,000 persons - to a total of 8,200 by the end of last year. The number of multi-millionaires grew by 12%, to 97. The report defines a millionaire as an individual with liquid assets of at least $1 million, excluding primary residence and consumables. The definition of a multimillionaire is a person who has at least $30 million in the bank. Internationally, the number of high net worth individuals (HNWI) grew by 6% in 2007, and their wealth increased by 9.

Jerusalem welcomes flashy new addition to city of ancient relics
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
A ship’s sail, a crooked nail, or a giant headache - Jerusalemites can’t agree about how best to describe the newest landmark their ancient city was inaugurating Wednesday. The $73 million bridge, designed by the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, has suddenly become the most dominant shape on the historic city’s skyline. The bridge, which curves across Jerusalem’s western entrance and will eventually carry a new light rail line, is suspended from 66 white cables attached to a spire 118 meters high that towers over the surrounding rooftops and is visible from miles away. The gala dedication ceremony itself, with fireworks, dancers and speeches, cost more than $500,000. In an example of the city’s internal tensions, young female dancers were forced to wear long skirts and cover their hair after threats by ultra-Orthodox Jews to disrupt the ceremony.

Ex-Likud MK Omri Sharon completes prison sentence
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Former Likud MK Omri Sharon was released on Wednesday from prison after having completed a four-month sentence. Sharon’s sentence had been commuted by a Prisons Service panel earlier this month due to good behavior. For the next few months he will be required to check in at a police station every few days. The Prisons Service has repeatedly said over the past few montsh that the son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not receive special treatment due to his family relation. Sharon started his prison term in February, after having been convicted of a series ofcorruption charges related to his father’s 1999 primaries campaign, including fictitious registration of corporate documents, lying under oath and violations of the election code. Sharon was originally sentenced to nine months in prison and fined. . .

Finance Minister Bar-On caves in on tax reform
Stella Korin-Lieber and Zeev Klein, Globes Online 6/25/2008
"I came to the conclusion that it would be right at this time of political instability to prevent further shocks. " This evening, Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On announced that he was withdrawing his controversial plan for tax reform and taxation of advanced training funds, which are essentially a channel for tax-free savings. The Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) had threatened strikes in protest against the proposal to tax the training funds. Bar-On said, "Out of a sense of personal responsibility for the situation of the economy and for preservation of its stability I came to the conclusion that it would be right, at this time of political instability, to prevent further shocks from strikes and unsettled labor relations. " Bar-On added, "I erred in the timing and in my political assessment that it would be possible to push through the plan in its entirety, despite its controversial elements.

Olmert heads off collapse of cabinet by agreeing to primary
Ron Bousso, Daily Star 6/26/2008
Agence France Presse OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert averted a major crisis on Wednesday, reaching agreement with his Labor allies for them to reverse a decision to vote to dissolve Parliament, a move that could have brought down the government. Under the accord, Olmert agreed to a demand that his Kadima Party hold primary polls by September 25 and Labor agreed not to back opposition efforts to bring down the government, parliamentary sources said. The deal between Kadima and Labor, which is headed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, was reached just hours before the motion to dissolve Parliament was to be submitted in a preliminary reading. Kadima’s leadership is now scheduled to meet by July 10 to fix a date for the primaries, which will choose a party chief and are expected to pit Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni against Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and possibly Olmert.

Olmert plans to run in Kadima primaries in Sept.
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Senior Kadima officials yesterday commended the deal struck between Kadima and Labor to prevent the vote to disband the Knesset. "We twisted [Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s] arm and didn’t let him destroy the party," a senior Kadima source said about the agreement, which puts off the next general elections to next year. Olmert yesterday accused the opposition of trying to bring down the coalition with its criticism of the peace initiatives being carried out by the current government. "Whatever peace negotiations we might be involved in will be met with opposition from you because you just don’t want peace," Olmert said. He was speaking during a special Knesset session in the wake of a late-night deal sealed between Kadima and Labor to salvage the shaky coalition. The crisis was prevented after Olmert pledged to hold a party primary for Kadima no later than September 25.

PM associate: Talansky cross-examination won’t create sensation
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Morris Talansky’s July cross-examination will not create a sensation, a source close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday. The American-Jewish businessman is the main witness in a graft investigation against Olmert. Talansky appeared in the Jerusalem District Court last month to give his initial deposition. His cross-examination has been scheduled for July 17. In an unusual move, prosecutors won permission to depose Talansky in court even though no indictments have yet been filed in the case. They requested this early testimony because Talansky resides in the United States, and authorities were concerned that he may not return to Israel to testify in the future. Olmert’s associate insisted that contrary to what others close to the prime minister have been saying, the cross-examination "is not expected to generate a revolution or drama. "

Labor / Pines: ’It’s a fiasco’
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Labor’s chairman Ehud Barak convened the party’s Knesset faction yesterday to decide on a vote against disbanding the Knesset, two days after the party had decided to support the House’s dispersal. The turnabout followed a night-time agreement with Kadima that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would set a date for a Kadima primary, and in exchange Labor would not support the Knesset’s dispersal. "The agreement is a fiasco and contrary to everything Barak said at the news conference," said MK Ophir Pines, the only one who refused to go along with the new vote. "The agreement means we’re continuing the partnership with Olmert. A party that won’t pay the price for its principles won’t be able to be an alternative government," he said. Barak and his associates said the decision was an achievement which forced Olmert to set a date for a primary.

Olmert to opposition: You oppose the gov’t because you’re against peace
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticized the opposition during his speech at the Knesset on Wednesday, saying that "whatever negotiations we hold you will call it ’surrender,’ because you do not want peace. " In a special session dubbed by the opposition as "the government has reached its end," acting coalition chairman Yoel Hasson charged that "it is not the end of the government. It is the end of your hope. You are simply f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-e-d. You are despondent. [Opposition head Benjamin] Netanyahu is the man of ’nearly,’ the winner in the surveys, the ’sort of’ prime minister," Hasson goaded his colleagues in the opposition. But the show was stolen in a debate between Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and Gideon Sa’ar, Likud faction head. The two are among the few who, on a normal day, run the affairs of the Knesset.

Likud / Bad words for Barak
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
The Likud blasted Labor chairman Ehud Barak yesterday for reneging on his decision to vote to disband the Knesset and topple Ehud Olmert’s government. Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu had been skeptical all along, and said he did not believe Barak would go the whole length and disperse the Knesset. MK Silvan Shalom, however, was convinced that Barak would carry out the move he had agreed on with the Likud. Shalom called Barak, Minister Shalom Simhon and MK Eitan Cabel of Labor on Tuesday night, but none answered his call. At 2:30 A. M. yesterday, Cabel told Shalom, who had repeatedly said in radio interviews "tomorrow the government is going down," that there would be no vote. "Barak growled like a Doberman and ended up like a poodle wagging his tail to his master, Olmert," Shalom said yesterday.

Israeli PM clings to power ... for now
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 6/25/2008
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, appeared today to have negotiated a last-minute deal to head off a parliamentary vote that might have unseated his government from within. The Labour party, a key member of the ruling coalition and led by the defence minister, Ehud Barak, had threatened to vote in favour of a bill today that would have called for the dissolution of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset. Even though Olmert had threatened to sack any Labour ministers, including Barak, who supported the bill, Labour had appeared intent on going ahead with their threat which could have triggered early elections. The threat was the mark of a rapidly growing rift between the prime minister and the defence minister. However, late-night talks between Olmert and Barak’s aides produced a compromise in which Olmert has reportedly promised that his Kadima party will hold an internal leadership primary by September 25.

Olmert saves cabinet in last-minute deal
Middle East Online 6/25/2008
JERUSALEM - Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert averted a major crisis on Wednesday, reaching agreement with his Labour allies for them to reverse a decision to vote to dissolve parliament, a move that could have brought down the government. Under the accord, Olmert agreed to a demand that his Kadima party hold primary elections by September 25 and Labour undertook not to back opposition efforts to bring down the government, parliamentary sources said. The deal between Olmert’s centrist Kadima party and Labour, which is headed by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, was reached just hours before the motion to dissolve parliament was to be submitted in a preliminary reading. Kadima’s leadership is now scheduled to meet by July 10 to fix a date for the primaries, which will choose a party chief and were expected to pit Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and possibly Olmert.

Olmert: Opposition doesn’t want peace
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 6/25/2008
Prime minister faces irate Knesset, calls out Opposition parties for trying to topple coalition ’because you don’t want peace’ - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched a scathing assault on the Opposition parties on Wednesday afternoon from the Knesset podium, accusing them of attempting to topple the government "because you don’t want peace. " Olmert said in the government’s defense that it had launched peace negotiations with both the Palestinian Authority, and Syria: "For eight or nine years there were no negotiations with them. Of course, we can drag it out for another 10 years. " The Knesset plenum assembled for a special and turbulent session at the request of 40 MKs following the submittal of eight motions to dissolve the Knesset. The motions were withdrawn after Labor signed an agreement with Olmert’s Kadima party to support the coalition.

Nighttime compromise averts Knesset dissolution vote
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 6/25/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak reached a deal. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert succeeded at the last minute in breaking the Knesset majority in favor of dissolving the 17th Knesset in the vote scheduled for today. In a compromise with Labor Party chairman Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, the Kadima Party primaries will be brought forward to no later than September 25, and Labor Party MKs will vote against the bill to dissolve the Knesset. Before the compromise, 64 MKs were in favor of the bill and 49 MKs were against it. However, political sources expected that a compromise would be reached to avert the showdown. [end]

Security tightened around courthouses after reports of foiled attack in Beirut
Anthony Elghossain, Daily Star 6/26/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanese security services stepped up measures at courthouses across the country on Wednesday, following reports that guards had foiled an armed attack at the Beirut Justice Palace. A judicial source attributed the beefed-up security measures to the incident, but added that such a move had been contemplated by authorities since "intelligence information concerning an imminent threat to the Beirut Justice Palace began circulating earlier. "Measures implemented by the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) include setting up checkpoints in and around the Beirut courthouse in question, a security source said, because "there may be a security breach in the surrounding areas. " Last week, an unidentified man attempting to drive into the eastern lot near the courthouse was stopped at a gate reserved for judges and lawyers.

Sleiman, Siniora take fresh crack at distribution of portfolios
Hussein Abdallah and Nafez Qawas, Daily Star 6/26/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora have reportedly initiated "new moves" with respect to distributing portfolios in the new government in an attempt to put and end to the ongoing crisis. The fresh efforts also coincided with a telephone conversation on Wednesday between Siniora’s adviser Mohammad Shattah, and Free Patriotic Movement official Gibran Bassil. The meeting between Shattah and Bassil was reportedly aimed at discussing solutions to ending the deadlock. Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea said on Wednesday that Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun was the main obstacle to forming the new cabinet. "Aoun considers himself to be the only representative of Christians and therefore thinks he has the right to control the Christian quota in the next cabinet," Geagea said.

Lebanon’s oil slick cleaned but headache continues
Middle East Online 6/25/2008
BEIRUT - Two years after the worst oil spill in the east Mediterranean left thousands of tonnes of crude over three-quarters of Lebanon’s coast, the beaches are almost all clean but the troubles continue. In July 2006, in the midst of the month-long war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Israeli aircraft bombed a coastal power plant at Jiyeh, 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Beirut. Around 15,000 tonnes of oil flooded into the sea and was carried by the current, leaving 150 kilometres (95 miles) of coastline covered with thick black residue. The once glitzy tourist beaches were covered with a film of filthy discharge and the breathtaking azure sea left blackened with oily deposits. Now after two years’ work dedicated to it, the Mediterranean has recovered its blue and the white sandy beaches are back to their sparkling former glory.

Gargash reiterates UAE’s support to Palestinian cause
Government of the United Arab Emirates, ReliefWeb 6/24/2008
United Arab Emirates is keenly following up the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees in the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp in Lebanon. Speaking at the international donor’s conference for the reconstruction of Nahr al-Barid Refugee camp, currently being held in Vienna, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash said that UAE always took a strong, principled stand in supporting the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people. Gargash hailed the role of the Lebanese government in evolving a comprehensive project for protecting the rights and human dignity of the Palestinian refugees in the Nahr al-Barid Camp. With over 40,000 people living in the dilapidated homes, the Nahr al- Barid refugee camp is the largest in Lebanon. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and charities have for years been trying. . .

Adolescent-friendly learning centres support young Palestinian refugees in Syria
Marixie Mercado, United Nations Children''s Fund - UNICEF, ReliefWeb 6/24/2008
HUSEINEYEH CAMP, Syria, 24 June 2008 - – If Aziza Melkash were not in this yellow-curtained room among 31 other teenagers intently discussing research findings, she would be holed up at home with little to do and nowhere to go. As an eighth-grader living in Huseineyeh camp near Damascus, Aziza first came to the UNICEF-supported adolescent-friendly learning space (AFLS) here in 2005 to learn about child abuse. The diminutive adolescent and scores of her peers in Palestinian refugee camps across Syria have since learned something even more important: how to recognize what needs to change in their communities, and how to be part of that change. ‘Now, when I see something wrong, I speak up,’ says Aziza. Since 2005, up to 3,500 adolescents have received AFLS training on child rights and life skills – ranging from leadership and communication. . .

American tourist stoned by mob after accidentally enering Qalandiyah
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/26/2008
An American tourist was lightly injured by rocks hurled at him when he accidentally drove into the Qalandiyah refugee camp, west of Ramallah, Wednesday afternoon. The man was rescued by Palestinian policemen, and transferred shortly thereafter to the custody of Israeli security forces, who questioned him and treated his injuries. An Israeli inquiry found that the man was on his way to a wedding at Kibbutz Maaleh Hahamisha, but made a wrong turn into Area A territory, which is under full Palestinian control. After entering Qalandiyah he stopped at an intersection, at which point Palestinians approached and threw rocks at his car. Palestinians reportedly tried to force the man from his car. Word quickly reached the Palestinian police, who gained control of the crowd and protected the tourist.

Soldiers attack the Tulkarem area and kidnaps seven civilians
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/25/2008
Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli army attacked the nothern West Bank city of Tulkarem and the nearby village of Atteel on Wednesday and kidnapped seven civilians. Qiyes Al Khalil, and his brother Qyissar, were kidnapped when Israeli troops searched homes in Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem city. Meanwhile Jameel Qatesh, 23, Amjad Qallaq, 20, abd Mohaned Yassen, 21, were kidnapped in a separate attack targeting Atteel village near Tulkarem. In Siyda village Israeli troops kidnapped Hanni Al Ashkar, 19, and Sa’eed Al Ashkar, 18, on Wednesday morning. [end]

King of the West bank
Donald Macintyre, The Independent 6/26/2008
There aren’t many people who would build a replica of La Rotonda, Antonio Palladio’s 16th century high Renaissance architectural masterpiece, on top of a mountain overlooking the troubled and impoverished West Bank city of Nablus. There are even fewer who would choose to complete it during the second intifada, when Palestinian militants and armoured Israeli forces were trading daily fire a mere 15 minutes’ drive down the hill in the city’s casbah and the teeming alleys of the Balata refugee camp. But at 74, Munib al-Masri has the self confidence -- and the money -- not to worry about what many people would or wouldn’t do. Not only did he decide to hire 500 local workers to build a jaw-droppingly ostentatious home on the edge of his beloved Nablus to return to after decades as a much-travelled top international businessman; he made the domed mansion a floor higher than the Palladian original in Vicenza "because I have a large family".

Iraqi artist sees creativity as resistance
Middle East Online 6/25/2008
COLOGNE, Germany - Rafa Al-Nasiri is one of the best-known contemporary Iraqi artists on the international stage. His work is deeply influenced by the culture of Arabic script, and also by his intensive encounters with artists in China and Europe. Martina Sabra interviewed the artist at his home in Amman, Jordan: Arabic script occupies an outstanding position in contemporary Arabic art, and also in your own work. Does calligraphy play a similar role in Chinese art? Al-Nasiri:I’d go even further than that. Comparing Western, Arabic and Chinese art, I find Chinese calligraphy the most expressive. Western artists draw the word – it is more a question of the correct application of the craft than expressing an idea. The Arabs are similar – they idolise beauty, but they are ultimately also craftsmen. Chinese calligraphers, in contrast, are free.

Cartoon of the day
Juan Kalvellido, Palestine Think Tank 6/25/2008
by Juan Kalvellido [end]

Cartoon of the day, Palestine Think Tank 6/24/2008
Source: www. mahjoob. com [end]


Beit Sahour reclaims military base site
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada 6/24/2008
      USH GHRAB, West Bank (IPS) - East of Beit Sahour in Ush Ghrab, the tree line stops and the bronze, rocky desert begins. In a flat clearing on this hilltop, a small, abandoned military post is being slowly transformed from an assorted collection of cement-grey barracks into a virtual oasis for the region’s children, families and tourists.
     A former watchtower now has bright flowers painted on the roof; what was once a stark administrative office is now painted blue and pink, with a sign above the entrance reading "The Nest Cafe" in red block letters.
     The revitalization of this remote area is important, local activists say, not just to reclaim land used in the past to control and intimidate the people of Beit Sahour, but also to pre-empt a possible land steal by radical Israeli settlers. Palestinians have come here with international activists, bringing with them paintbrushes and hand tools, to spark a new kind of protest movement against illegal settlement expansion. The protest is rooted in community and creativity rather than explosive confrontation.

Occupation by Bureaucracy

Saree Makdisi, MIFTAH 6/25/2008
      A cease-fire went into effect in Gaza last week, offering some respite from the violence that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and five Israelis in recent months. It will do nothing, however, to address the underlying cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     Intermittent spectacular violence may draw the world’s attention to the occupied Palestinian territories, but our obsession with violence actually distracts us from the real nature of Israel’s occupation, which is its smothering bureaucratic control of everyday Palestinian life.
     This is an occupation ultimately enforced by tanks and bombs, and through the omnipresent threat, if not application, of violence. But its primary instruments are application forms, residency permits, population registries and title deeds. On its own, no cease-fire will relieve the beleaguered Palestinians.
     Gaza is virtually cut off from the outside world by Israeli power. Elsewhere, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the ongoing Israeli occupation comprehensively infuses all the normally banal activities of Palestinians’ everyday lives: applying for permission to access one’s own land; applying for what Israel regards as the privilege - rather than the right - of living with one’s spouse and children; applying for permission to drive one’s car; to dig a well; to visit relatives in the next town; to visit Jerusalem; to go to work; to school; to university; to hospital. There is hardly any dimension of everyday life in Palestine that is not minutely managed by Israeli military or bureaucratic personnel.

Surrounded on All Sides and Living in Fear

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 6/25/2008
      Israeli settlers from the settlements of Yizhar and Bracha attacked the Palestinian village of Bureen and its lands on Thursday, May 19, burning huge amounts of farmland and entering the village to attack residents with stones.The settlers, including children, teenagers, and adults, burned olive groves as they moved into the village.
     "These settlers are dangerous; they are aggressive and extremist," said Bureen resident Jalal Imran (38).
     During the attack Thursday a 63-year-old Palestinian woman was assaulted by the settlers, sustaining wounds that required hospitalization.The settlers also set fire to olive groves spanning the width of the mountain.When Israeli soldiers reached the village they prevented the residents from trying to put out the fires for two hours. Residents said the soldiers were only there to protect the settlers and not the Palestinian people.
     Imran said events like this happen one to two times a year. Other residents commented on the fact that they have never done anything to provoke the settlers. Imran said, "We are a peaceful, simple people. Many of us are farmers. We have no weapons. So why do they attack us?"

Recycling love, weaving hope

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 6/25/2008
      A visit to the Al-Basma Special Education Center for Youth and Young Adults in Beit Sahour
     Mr. Abdullah Awwad pushes open the gate to the Al-Basma Special Education Center for Youth and Young Adults in Beit Sahour, and is soon greeted inside by a cheerful chorus shouting "Marhaba," looking up from their projects with broad smiles. Mr. Awwad passionately returns all the greetings, making his way into each room to encourage the diligent craftsmanship of the workers.
     Mr. Awwad and a small group of people began the Al-Basma Center in 1988, in order to provide care for the developmentally challenged in and around Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala. The center, which now cares for thirty children and adults between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five, has been in its present facilities for eight years.
     Mr. Abdullah Awwad is the director, and one of the founders, of the Al-Basma Center in Beit Sahour
     "We started from scratch," Mr. Awwad said. "In the beginning, we had only one small room, and we sat on the floor because we had no tables or chairs. But where there is a will, there is always a way. And we had a will to serve."

Israeli forces broke calm in Gaza by shooting farmer on Monday, not Saraya Al Quds

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 6/25/2008
      It is being reported in the Israeli media that Saraya Al Quds, who claimed responsibility for launching projectiles from the Gaza Strip at Sderot last night, "broke the calm."
     Others are reporting that it was justified after Israeli forces assassinated the northern West Bank’s leader of the Islamic Jihad-linked armed resistance wing, in addition to a fourth year student at Nablus’ An Najah University.
     But what is not being reported is that on Monday Israeli forces opened fire on a farmer in Gaza who was working in his fields, critically injuring him. That was the "break in the calm."
     The Hamas government in Gaza is calling for a preservation of the "calm" regardless of anything that has happened, while Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday night that the crossings in the Strip would not be reopened due to the projectile launches.
     However, earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the Rafah Crossing would not be opened at all until the Israeli soldier captured while invading the southern Gaza Strip in June 2006 was released.

Slippery-Slope Ceasefire

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 6/25/2008
      No ceasefire can ever hold if it is constantly being nudged towards the edge of a precipice. For the Israel-Hamas ceasefire, designed to sustain for six months, it has taken less than a week for its walls to crack, contaminating the shaky calm enjoyed by the people of Gaza for five glorious days.
     While no one could possibly be surprised that a ceasefire between the two arch enemies would hold as long as the core issues dividing them are not addressed, it is worth questioning Israel’s intentions in first, agreeing to the tahdi’ah and then sabotaging it soon after.
     In the early morning hours of June 23, Israeli army troops raided a student dormitory in Nablus, shooting in cold blood two young men, Iyad Khanfar 24 and Tareq Abu Ghali 23. The later was reportedly a commander of the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad while Khanfar was a fourth year student at Nablus’ Al Najah University. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli troops stormed into the apartment where the two men lived and riddled them with bullets. Both Abu Ghali and Khanfar were unarmed at the time.

Crossing the Line focuses on Gaza’s hospitals

Podcast, Crossing the Line, Electronic Intifada 6/24/2008
      This week on Crossing The Line: Since the Israeli siege on Gaza began in June 2007, 184 critical care patients have died waiting for travel permits from Israel to leave the Gaza Strip and receive urgent medical treatment. Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are facing acute shortages of medical equipment and supplies, as well as important medicines such as drugs to treat cancer patients, insulin and anesthesia. Crossing The Line contributing producer and investigative journalist Nora Barrows-Friedman speaks to host Naji Ali on the crisis facing Gaza’s hospitals.
     Also this week, the Israeli army imposed a ban on West Bank residents from traveling to the Dead Sea after Israelis who manage the popular vacation site complained that mixed groups are bad for business. Melanie Takefam, International Media Coordinator of The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, speaks to Ali about the Israeli decision that discriminates against Palestinians from the occupied territories.

Zochrot Hosts ''Right of Return'' Conference in Tel Aviv

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 6/24/2008
      People gathered from many backgrounds yesterday in Tel Aviv to discuss the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees, and to hear discussions about the practicalities of implementing this right.
     Panel members and speakers ranged from artists, to philosophers, to architects, both Israeli and Palestinian. The audience was also diverse, consisting of activists and reporters from Palestine, Israel and the international community.
     The conference was organized by Zochrot - meaning "remembering" - an Israeli organization dedicated to raising awareness about the Palestinian Nakba among the Jewish population of Israel. Among the aims of Zochrot is the "Right of Return" of Palestinian refugees.
     The meeting opened with an address from a representative of Zochrot, who discussed the importance of the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees. Zochrot asserts that the Right of Return is a "moral and political basis for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel training to attack Iran

Peter Hirschberg, Electronic Intifada 6/25/2008
      JERUSALEM, (IPS) - Israeli defense experts were not surprised by a New York Times report over the weekend that the Israeli air force had recently conducted what appeared to be a rehearsal for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
     Israel, the experts say, has never taken the military option off the table and they therefore expect the air force to be training for a strike in Iran. "It is logical that the army is training for an Iranian mission," says Efraim Inbar, head of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies near Tel Aviv. "We are preparing for it. The air force is in charge of this file."
     Over 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, as well as helicopters and refueling tankers, took part in the exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in early June, according to The New York Times. Quoting unnamed US officials, the report said that the helicopters and tankers covered 1,400 kilometers, approximately the distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.