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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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28 June 2008

CPT: roadblocks and demolition orders in southern West Bank’s Hebron
Palestine News Network 6/28/2008
PNN - The Israeli assault on the residents of the South Hebron Hills continues after attacks by both settlers and soldiers. Yesterday the Israeli military used a bulldozer to create a four foot high stone and dirt roadblock on the road between At-Tuwani Village and the town of Yatta, reports the Christian Peacemaker Teams. The town is the economic center of the area and also is the principle location of hospitals, schools and public administration offices. The Christian Peacemaker Teams in the southern West Bank’s Hebron report that the roadblock is preventing vehicular access, as well as making foot-travel or that by donkey extremely difficult. The same bulldozer also closed several routes used by tractors and trucks to reach nearby homes and structures. Several communities in the South Hebron Hills are again cut off from basic supplies such as water and animal. . .

''Horrible situation for children'', Israel blocks UN committee from entering
Missionary International Service News Agency - MISNA, ReliefWeb 6/27/2008
‘Half of the population of Gaza is made up by minors: their current situation is horrible and could worsen still’, said a special UN committee that accused Israel of having forbidden its access to Gaza ‘to hide the violations of human rights perpetrated against Palestinians’. In Cairo, Prasad Kariyawasam, president of the committee and Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the UN, said that Israeli authorities have blocked the group’s access to Gaza, forcing it to ‘interview local witnesses by phone and to speak with humanitarian operators to understand what is happening on the ground’. After outlining the damage done to the population by the longstanding blockade of Gaza, Kariyawasam stressed the serious situation faced by children, described as ‘the first victims of the siege’. According to pediatricians ‘child mortality rates have increased to become the highest in. . .

Crops poisoned by Israeli forces near separation wall in village west of Tulkarem
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – Farmers in the village of Artah, west of Tulkarem, reported on Saturday that they had lost their harvest because of a substance that Israeli forces sprayed on their crops earlier this month. According to the farmers, a tractor accompanied by an Israeli military jeep sprayed a poisonous substance called "Alber super" on crops planted near the separation wall in Artah on 11 June 2008. The farmers reported huge agricultural losses, and indicated that they need assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture and relevant institutions. On Saturday, the Social Work Committees (SWC) visited the farmers and the affected agricultural areas, which are near the Jashouri factories next to the separation wall west of Artah. The SWC human rights committee noted that such Israeli destruction of Palestinian crops violates international humanitarian law, specifically the. . .

Palestinian Journalist beaten to unconsciousness
Steve Amsel, Palestine Think Tank 6/28/2008
My dear friend and brotherMohammed Omer returned to his native Gaza Strip on Thursday"¦ literallyunconscious and unable to speak after being beaten and tortured by Israelitroops. He is still unable to speak so I was not able to communicate with him, Iwill be posting updates on his condition in future posts. Mohammed was in Britain, where he was the recipient of a prize for journalism. You can readabout it in a post I wrote earlier in the week. [link below]Mohammed’s ordeal is written about in an Action Alert issued by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a journalin which he appears regularly. Gaza Correspondent Mohammed Omer Home Again in Rafah At a June 16 ceremony in London, Mohammed Omer, author of the regular Washington Report feature “Gaza on the Ground,” received the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. . . -- See also: Steve Amsel''s previous post and Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

PCHR: First lawsuit against Israeli soldiers in Spain filed by survivors and families of the killed
Palestine News Network 6/28/2008
PNN - The victims of an Israeli attack are bringing the first lawsuit in Spain against Israeli soldiers. A team of Spanish lawyers have been working on this case with several human rights organizations, including Gaza City’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, for more than two years. Although this is just one case, that is how justice comes sometimes: one win at a time. Although it is not an unusual occurrence, on 22 July 2002 Israeli forces dropped a bomb. The PCHR says that the lawsuit is being brought before the court by six survivors along with relatives of those killed. The lawsuit, before the Audiencia Nacional (National Court), is not the first. On several occasions this court has been asked to deal with crimes against humanity, but it is the first time that the victims of a targeted Israeli attack on Palestinians have asked the court themselves.

MKs prepare bills making it harder to cede land
Shahar Ilan and Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will tour East Jerusalem today to prepare for the first reading of a bill requiring a two-thirds parliamentary majority to transfer control or authority in the capital. In another move to reinforce East Jerusalem’s status as Israeli territory, the Knesset is expected to vote tomorrow on a bill requiring a referendum before any area of the state is given up, with a focus also on the Golan. According to the referendum bill, conceding any Israeli sovereign territory would require a referendum, elections or a majority decision of 80 MKs. Although the bill would be a revolution in Israel’s legislative system, few MKs were at the debate, and only four spoke. Tomorrow’s vote on the referendum bill is expected to take place around the time of a no-confidence vote, in which many MKs would be present.

Appeal for releasing elderly prisoner bedridden in prison hospital for 14 years
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- Prisoner Shadi Shallaldah in the Israeli Ofer prison appealed to human rights organizations to urgently intervene to demand the release of an elderly prisoner bedridden in the Ramla prison hospital for 14 years suffering from deteriorating health condition and living on a respirator. Shallaldah said that prisoner Hussein Ali, 60, who is serving two life sentences, suffers from many diseases notably diabetes, asthma and hypertension and deals with 26 medicine tablets. Meanwhile, the wife of prisoner Adnan Hamarsha, the oldest serving administrative prisoner, also appealed to human rights organizations and the international community to necessarily intervene to put an end to the suffering of her husband who has been administratively detained in the Negev prison for five consecutive years without any charge.

Hamas: Truce violators in Gaza will be arrested
and AP, By Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
A Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, says his organization will arrest anyone who tries to break the cease-fire with Israel and will confiscate their weapons whether they are from Hamas or Islamic Jihad. In an interview published yesterday in Saudi daily Al-Watan, Zahar said anyone who overstepped the national consensus and harmed the interests of the Palestinian people was operating not as a resistance group would but as someone who wants to harm the resistance. Zahar added that Hamas had recently arrested gunmen who fired missiles at the Karni crossing as well as at trucks carrying goods through the crossings. "There are families who will turn their children into Hamas because they are acting against the law," Zahar said, alluding to attempts to break the cease-fire. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told reporters Friday outside a Gaza mosque that all factions. . .

Stranded Palestinians appeal for partial Rafah opening
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – Approximately two hundred Palestinians stranded in Egypt have called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to request that Egyptian Authorities open the crossing for a few hours so they can return to the Gaza Strip. The call is made during Abbas’ visit to Egypt, where he is thanking Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the Egyptian officials involved in reaching a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel. Those stranded urged Egyptian officials to show empathy and issue instructions to partially reopen the Rafah crossing. The stranded Palestinians include students and a number of hospital patients. Many expressed that they "have great confidence in Egypt, its president and all of its officials in their ability to understand their human circumstances and need to return home. " All are living under difficult psychological conditions; having been unable to visit their families for over three years.

US increases Israeli aid by $170 million
AFP, YNetNews 6/28/2008
AIPAC welcomes US deal boosting military aid by over 25% for 2009, as part of pact with Mideast allies aimed at countering ’negative influences’ of terror groups - The United States Congress approved a deal on Friday boosting its military aid to Israel to 30 billion dollars over the next decade aimed at countering a "resurgent" Iran and its allies. The deal reflects an increase in aid value of more than 25 percent. America’s pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), welcomed the congressional action, saying it would increase US aid to Israel to 2. 55 billion dollars in fiscal year 2009, up from 2. 38 billion dollars this year. "The United States has an abiding interest in the state of Israel," US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said before signing the memorandum of understanding for the aid package with the director general of the Israeli foreign ministry in Jerusalem.

VIDEO - Weekly demonstrations in Umm Salamona, Bil’in and Al-Khader
Bethlehem Region, International Solidarity Movement 6/28/2008
Video - Photos - Umm Salamona - Photos and video footage courtesy of IWPS - Demonstrations against the wall and occupation of land have been held frequently in Umm Salamona outside of Bethlehem since April this year. Today, approximately 50 protesters, half of those Israelis activists and internationals, participated in a demonstration that started out in the main street of Umm Salamona. A peaceful march was lead towards the planned construction are of the apartheid wall but was stopped by armed Israeli soldiers and policemen barricading the road with razor wire. The demonstrators chanted and tried to communicate with the soldiers but were not allowed to proceed further. Despite this fact, the protesters managed to force the roadblock. Some were violently pushed back and threatened by soldiers. The protesters responded peacefully agitating for non-violence and democracy.

Demonstration in Wadi Qana
International Womens’ Peace Service 6/28/2008
On Saturday, 21st June 2008, IWPS volunteers joined Palestinian villagers, representatives of the Palestinian Authority, internationals and Israeli activists on a demonstration / solidarity visit to the village of Al-‘Uyuun in Wadi Qana in the Salfit District of the West Bank. Al-‘Uyuun is a small village that used to have forty houses but there are now only seven as a result of house demolitions, land confiscations and displacement pressures imposed by the Israeli authorities. It is thought that the Israeli government want to annex the land for its natural water resources and for settlement expansion. Wadi Qana is a picturesque valley surrounded by seven illegal Israeli settlements, Palestinians living in the area often face problems from the settlers who attack them or vandalise their property.

Solidarity visits in the Jordan Valley
International Womens’ Peace Service 6/27/2008
On the 12th of June 2008 IWPS volunteers and their Michigan Peace Team colleagues visited Al-Hadidiya and Al-Farisiya, two threatened communities in the north of the Jordan Valley. Both communities are located in Area C as classified under the Oslo Agreement of 1995. It means that Israel has full control over security and administration relating to the territory. Thus, if they want to build new buildings or extend the existing ones, Palestinians living in Area C must obtain building permits from the Occupation authorities. Yet, their requests are denied in more than 94% of cases. Also when the Occupation’s inspection identifies a Palestinian structure being erected without the building license, they start the process of issuing the demolition order, eventually leading to the demolition.

Israel Allows Gaza Fuel Supplies
BBC News, MIFTAH 6/28/2008
Israel has allowed fuel into the Gaza Strip, but kept border crossings closed to all other goods after a Palestinian rocket fire violated a truce. This is the third consecutive day that border crossings into Gaza have been closed, preventing humanitarian and commercial goods into the area. Israel Radio reported that two mortar rounds landed in an open field on the Israeli side of the border on Friday. The military confirmed there had been two explosions, but not the cause. Palestinian militants say they are a response to Israeli violations of the truce. Prior to Friday, four rockets have been fired into Israel by Palestinian militants since an truce was agreed on 19 June. ’Retaliation’ - An estimated 600,000 litres of industrial fuel will be allowed to pass through the Nahal Oz border terminal for Gaza’s only power station, a European Union Official told the Reuters news agency. This will keep the plant running for several days.

Israel to reopen Gaza crossings on Sunday
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai decides on reopening of crossings of to allow passage of 80 trucks loaded with goods, equipment into Strip - Despite repeated Palestinian violations of the agreed upon truce, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai decided Saturday that the Gaza crossings will be reopened on Sunday. Some eighty trucks loaded with equipment and goods are expected to enter the Strip through the Sufa crossing. The Nahal Oz fuel terminal was reopened on Friday to allow the transfer of fuel to Gaza in a limited capacity. Earlier on Saturday, Islamic Jihad threatened to resume rocket attacks on Israel if the IDF continues its military operations in the West Bank. "Islamic Jihad reserves the right to respond to all Israeli violations," one of the group’s Gaza chiefs Khaled al-Batch said, but added they would "not take the initiative in breaking the calm.

Number of siege victims on the rise
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege has announced that a Palestinian cancer patient had died on Friday as a result of inability to cross the Gaza Strip borders for treatment not available in the Strip. The committee in a statement said that Difa Qassem, 55, was a resident of Beit Hanun town in northern Gaza Strip, and added that his death brought to 198 the number of victims who died due to inability to travel abroad in the absence of adequate medical services in the beleaguered Strip. For its part, the Arab doctors union supplied urgent food supplies to the besieged Strip on Friday to assist in alleviating the Strip’s shortages. Dr. Mohammed Al-Aklouk, the representative of the union in Gaza, said that the food supplies contained 50 tons of wheat and 50 tons of sugar. He urged Arab and Islamic masses along with advocates of human rights, democracy and peace. . .

70% of Gaza families under poverty line
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- A report by the PA central bureau of statistic has displayed that 57% of Palestinian families were living below poverty line and the percentage dramatically rose in the Gaza Strip to reach 70%. The head of the bureau, Dr. Louai Shabana, announced the report in a press conference, saying that the percentage in the West Bank is 34%. He pointed out that the rate of poverty in the Palestinian lands is the highest among neighboring countries due to the Israeli economic siege. Statistics also indicated that the Israeli individual’s income is 17 times higher than the Palestinian individual. Shabana said that seven million dollars should be pumped monthly into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in order to return to the poverty percentage that was prevalent before the intifada broke out in 2000.

Palestinians fire mortars at Karni crossing
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 6/28/2008
In another breach of agreed upon truce, number of shells land near crossing that is expected to be reopened Sunday; no injuries reported -Palestinians fired a number of mortars Saturday evening toward the Karni crossing on the Gaza-Israel border. It remains unclear whether the shells landed in Israeli or Palestinian territory. No injuries or damage were reported in the attacks. An explosion was heard near the western Negev community of Gabim, but a search for a rocket or mortar landing site came up empty. The Karni crossing is expected to be reopened by Israel on Sunday for the transfer of goods to the Strip within the framework of the agreed upon ceasefire between Israel and the armed Palestinian organizations in the coastal enclave. The crossings were closed down a week ago following repeated truce violations on the part of the Palestinians.

Hamas: Qassam Fire is Harming Palestinian Interests
Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid, Yossi Melman, & Jack Khoury, MIFTAH 6/28/2008
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip voiced its rage on Thursday after Gaza militants fired two rockets into southern Israel Thursday, causing no injuries but further straining a shaky, week-old truce between Israel and the Gaza rulers. The militant group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, affiliated with Hamas rivals Fatah, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s Qassam strikes. In a statement carried by the official Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Hamas warned the militant factions against violating the terms of the cease fire with Israel, saying such violations harmed the Palestinian national interest. Hamas also threatened to take the necessary steps against the violators. A Hamas spokesman said the "tahadiyeh" (calm) was a national Palestinian interest, and that anyone who tried to sabotage it was acting in an "anti-national" way. He called on Egypt, which brokered the cease fire agreement, to talk to those factions that are "motivated by anti-national politics. "

Palestinian representative to UN: Jerusalem settlements must be stopped if peace to come this year
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Riyad H. Mansour, said on Saturday that the international community should find a way to force Israel to stop building settlements in Jerusalem immediately in order to save the peace process. According to Mansour, "stopping settlement activity will give the aim of a peace agreement possible this year. "He added that his aim in calling to the UN is to "add weight to the current position of many groups, including the European Union, the Arab League and the international Quartet. "He also warned that a delay in issuing such a resolution would result in the continued construction of settlements, which would make any peace agreement more complicated. Libya seeks Security Council action on settlementsOn Friday, Libya presented the United Nations Security Council with a document demanding an end to the expansion and construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Qurei’: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to meet in Washington during coming months
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Ahmed Qurei’, announced on Saturday that the US administration has invited the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams to hold three meetings in Washington during the next three months, the first of which will be in July. In a speech delivered at the Fatah movement headquarters in Bethlehem, Qurei’ revealed that the negotiations have reached the same stage as the talks held in Taba, Egypt, in 2001, without closing any of the files relating to the core issues. Qurei’ refused to describe the present negotiations as futile, describing the current US stance as relatively neutral and noting that US interest in the negotiations has increased. Also on Saturday, during a meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Qurei’ said that a real peace that would end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would. . .

Chief Palestinian negotiator: US proposes new Middle East talks
Reuters, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Despite former statement, Ahmed Qureia tells Rice agreement with Israel possible by end of year. Top negotiator Erekat: Deal is doable, but nothing agreed -The United States has proposed new talks in a push to reach a deal on Palestinian statehood before President George W. Bush leaves office in January, the chief Palestinian negotiator said on Saturday. Ahmed Qureia said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had invited the Israelis and Palestinians to a series of trilateral discussions in New York and Washington. He added that if Israel changed some of its positions on key issues, "we can reach a deal by the end of this year. "  Earlier this month Qureia said it would "take a miracle" to reach agreement in 2008. It is unclear what has changed since. Senior Palestinian negotiator SaebResumed AttemptsErekat: 6 months to peace deal /. . .

Threat to demolish more Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, legal battle underway
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh in Jerusalem, Palestine News Network, Palestine Monitor 6/27/2008
As Israeli settlements continue to expand across occupied East Jerusalem, a legal battle is underway to prevent the destruction of 450 Palestinian homes in the district of Khallat Al "˜Ein. In preparation for the confiscation of Palestinian land, the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality has sought to argue that the residents of Khallat Al "˜Ein possess no permanent license for the housing. With the legal assistance of Attorney Al Hussein, the local residents have taken their case to the Jerusalem Court of Local Affairs. Al Hussein stated that the demolition order is an act of racism which contravenes both international and Israeli law. He affirmed that, as East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1980, the Palestinians living there have the same rights as any other citizens in the state of Israel.

DFLP to hold seperate meetings wtih Hamas and Fatah to discuss unity and truce
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) affirmed on Saturday that it will hold two separate meetings, one with Hamas and one with Fatah. The meetings will be held over the next two days to follow up on the lists of political prisoners from each party. The issue of Palestinian national dialogue will also be addressed. Member of the DFLP central committee Saleh Naser - " Abu Naser" - explained that the lists of political prisoners were presented to both the Fattah and Hamas movements. He added that the DFLP have not yet agreed on "a means of releasing the prisoners despite of the large number of proposals submitted concerning this issue. "It is hoped that this detail will be worked out during the coming meetings. In his speech Nasser affirmed the necessity of a joint discussion of the Israeli violations of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank.

Abbas’ representative, speaking in Gaza, reaffirms call for dialogue with Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ representative for human rights, Kamal Ash-Sharafi reaffirmed Abbas’ call for an end to the Palestinian state of internal division in order to end the siege of the Gaza Strip and stop Israeli aggression. Ash-Sharafi was speaking on President Abbas’ behalf at an event attended by members of several Palestinian factions, at the Rashad Cultural Center in Gaza City. The event was organized by a small human rights organization called the National Committee for the Defense of Human Citizenship. Ash-Sharafi said: "Palestinian people look forward to national dialogue and to ending the state of division, and lifting the siege imposed on the [Strip]. "Ash-Sharafi called for more action in regard to both Palestinian unity and Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Mazuz warns against amending Citizenship Law
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz warned at the weekend that a draft amendment to the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom to be brought before the cabinet for approval today - if there are no last-minute changes - would bring Israel under heavy international criticism. The amendment, proposed by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, would bar the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, or any law that supersedes it, from High Court of Justice review. If approved, Friedmann’s proposal, which was coordinated with Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, would end the legal battle against the Citizenship Law that bars Palestinians married to Israeli citizens - but not other non-Israeli spouses - from entering the country or obtaining legal status. The Labor Party demanded the bill’s removal from the agenda for today’s cabinet meeting, arguing that the Labor-Kadima coalition agreement. . .

Former MK Bishara could lose pension in Knesset vote
Zvi Zrahiya, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
The Knesset pension of former MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) is in jeopardy: The Knesset plenum will vote Wednesday on a draft law that would strip him of his NIS 7,000 monthly allowance. If passed, the law would set a precedent in Israeli labor law - and it would save the state about NIS 2. 2 million, assuming that Bishara, 52, lives to the age of 78, in line with actuarial tables. Bishara is suspected of having been in contact with Hezbollah intelligence agents during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. They allegedly paid him tens of thousands of dollars for unspecified reasons. If the law is passed, it could have consequences for MKs who travel to certain Arab states. Bishara left Israel in March 2007 and resigned from the Knesset the following month. He has not returned to Israel since then, and is believed to be living in an Arab country.

Israeli troops kill Palestinian teen
Middle East Online 6/28/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli soldiers shot dead a West Bank teenager who threw Molotov cocktails at an Israeli army patrol, the army and Palestinian officials said Saturday. The military said Israeli soldiers entered the Palestinian village of Beit Umar, near Hebron, in an operation late Friday. The troops shot a Palestinian boy who threw two molotov cocktails at them, an Israeli military spokesman said. Palestinians said the shots killed Mohammed Alameh, 17, one of a group of youths who fought the soldiers. Alameh was not a member of any Palestinian resistance group. There was no sign of retaliation from Gaza Saturday morning, where Hamas is observing a ceasefire with Israel. The West Bank is not covered by the nine-day old truce between Israel and Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip. Israel continues its closure of the crossings into Gaza, bringing food shipments. . .

The Israeli army kills a Palestinian boy near Hebron
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/28/2008
During a military operation targeting the village of Beit Omer located near the southern West Bank city of Hebron the Israeli army killed a Palestinian boy and kidnapped nine other civilians on Friday night. Witnesses told IMEMC that military jeeps stormed the village on Friday afternoon then searched homes during the search troops kidnapped nine men among them were 70 year old man. The operation last until 9:00 in the evening, Mohamed Awwad, a local journalist said. He added that soldiers then started to move out and took positions at the village entrance. Awwad told IMEMC that a military jeep stormed the village again and then fired sound bombs and tear gas at the villagers. Mohmaed Al Allami, 17 years old, was painting his house, he went to see what is happing outside his family home Israeli soldiers shot him three times in the hart, Awwad added.

IOF troops kill Palestinian teen in West Bank
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Friday evening fired at and killed a Palestinian teenager in Beit Ummar village, north of Al-Khalil city, during an incursion into the town. Locals reported that Mohammed Al-Allama, 17, was hit with two bullets one of them in the head during the confrontations between the heavily armed IOF troops and the stone throwing young men in the village. The troops withdrew from the village after rounding up nine citizens. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers set fire to old olive trees in Nizam village, south of Salfit district, in the second such incident in one week. Eyewitnesses said that the settlers poured oil and inflammable materials on the trees that date back to the Roman times before setting fire to them. Earlier in the week settlers burnt trees in Burin village, Nablus district.

Nonviolent resistance: Palestinian youth launch campaign to sue British government
Palestine News Network 6/28/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- A group of young Palestinians launched a campaign on Saturday to prosecute the British government and hold it accountable for its intrinsic role in the Palestinian catastrophe, Al Nakba, via the Balfour Declaration and subsequent events. Balfour may have been from 1914, but the British Mandate continued through to the inception of the Israeli state which destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages, displaced thousands, and led to a refugee population in the millions. The youth committee held a press conference today at the Ramattan News Agency in Ramallah. The Director of the Palestinian Journalist Union, Naim Toubais was in attendance, along with Association Council member Nihad Abu Ghosh. The lawsuit was presented to the British court and to The Hague on Friday with the intention of gathering one million signatures from Palestinians at home and abroad.

Humanitarian case launched against former Israeli Defense Minister in Spain
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Spanish National Courts heard their first International and Humanitarian Law suit against Israel on Tuesday. The suit has been launched by six survivors of a 2002 Israeli bomb attack and the relatives of attack’s casualties. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), the thirty five-page suit is being filed against Israeli Defense Minister (2001-2001) Benjamin Ben Eliezer, and six individuals who were acting under his orders at the time. Those charged were involved in a bomb attack launched on the Gaza neighborhood of Al Daraj. According to the suit, the events of the attack of 22 July 2002 were disproportionate with its goal. PCHR reports that the actual target of the one-ton bomb was Salah Shehadeh, a suspected Hamas commander. The bomb, however, not only destroyed Shehadeh’s home, but several others surrounding it.

Palestinian youth launch a campaign to sue the British government
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – A group of Palestinian youth launched a campaign Saturday to sue the British government for the crimes it committed against the Palestinians beginning with the Balfour declaration and ending with the Nakba. During a press conference held at the Ramatan News Agency in Ramallah representatives of the Palestinian youth organization Watanuna – meaning our homeland- announced that they will attempt to gather one million signatures from Palestinians around the world, and attach the petition to a document to be filed with international and British courts. Watanuna has been described as an organization that "represents Palestinian youths in Palestine and in the Diaspora who aim at making their generation aware and active; showing them how to serve their community and to play a leading role in gaining their rights and defending important issues.

Palestinian Journalists’ Bloc condemns cruel treatment of award winning Gazan
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Journalists’ Bloc issued harsh statements Saturday against the cruel treatment by Israeli soldiers of Gaza journalist Mohamad al-Mughier. Al-Mughier lives in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, and was attacked while on his through the Allenby Bridge. The Bloc said in a statement to Ma’an that "al-Mughier wasbrutally interrogated andbeaten by Israeli soldiers while entering the West Bank on his way home from Britain, where he received the ’Martha Gelhorn Journalism Prize’ for 2008. "Al-Mughier was being recognized in the United Kingdom for his collection of stories published in the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs. The Bloc affirmed its solidarity with al-Mughier whose work marks a new high for the "accomplishments of Palestinian journalists on the world stage.

Egypt police kill African man, 7-year-old girl at Israeli-Egyptian border
Reuters, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Refugees shot as they try to infiltrate border south of Rafah crossing, bringing refugee death toll at border to 16 this year. Other African migrants detained by police - Shooting at Israeli-Egyptian border:The Egyptian police shot and killed Saturday two African refugees, including a seven-year-old Sudanese girl as they tried to cross the border into Israel, security and hospital sources said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the security sources said an Egyptian patrol opened fire on the refugees to stop them from getting across the border south of the Rafah crossing. They added that seven other African migrants had been detained, including the dead child’s mother. Their deaths bring to 16 the number of refugees killed at the border this year. Hospital sources said the other victim was an unidentified African in his thirties who was killed by a gunshot wound to his back.

Egyptian police kill African man, 7-year-old girl at Israel border
Reuters, Ha’aretz 6/28/2008
Egyptian police shot and killed two African migrants, including a seven-year-old Sudanese girl, as they tried to cross the border into Israel onSaturday, security and hospital sources said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the security sources said an Egyptian patrol opened fire on the migrants to stop them getting across the border south of the Rafah crossing. They added that seven other African migrants had been detained, including the dead child’s mother. Their deaths bring to 16 the number of migrants killed at the border this year. Hospital sources said the other victim was an unidentified African in his thirties, killed by a gunshot wound to his back. Egypt has pursued a crackdown on African migrants that has seen up to 1,000 Eritrean asylum seekers deported since June 11, despite UN objections.

Dubka against apartheid
International Solidarity Movement 6/28/2008
Nablus Region - Photos - Demonstrators from Sarra village danced dubka on a roadblock in defiance of tear gas and sound bombs fired by the Israeli army as part of the Summer Against Apartheid. Approximately two hundred villagers, supported by international activists, marched to the road block which restricts their freedom of movement. ‘This is Apartheid’ read the banner held by protesters who stood in front of Israeli soldiers, while others began to clear the earth mound road block with shovels. The soldiers, who had been waiting for the demonstration to arrive, refused to speak with people from the village who tried to explain the action. They responded aggressively with sound bombs and tear gas. Protesters remained at the road block and continued to work to remove it while further armed forces arrived. Soldiers finally agreed to talk with demonstrators and ordered them to leave the area.

Majority of ministers to vote in favor of prisoner swap with Hizbullah
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Sunday marks zero hour in detrmining fate of MIAs Regev, Goldwasser. Ministers to be briefed on swap details, followed by PM Olmert’s statement, cabinet vote. Minister Avraham: Price is painful, but it will not be an obstacle to returning soldiersNearly two years after they were kidnapped to Lebanon, the Israeli government is expected to approve Sunday the exchange deal with the Hizbullah for the return of IDF captives Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. In a poll conducted by Ynet, 18 out of 25 cabinet members said they would vote in favor of the deal to return Goldwasser and Regev in exchange for terrorist Samir Kuntar, four Hizbullah members imprisoned in Israel and the remains of additional members. Contrary to previous reports, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert intends to bring the deal with the Hizbullah for a vote during the cabinet meeting. Olmert’s office refused to report his stance, explaining that he will be presenting it before the ministers.

Cabinet to vote on prisoner swap with Hezbollah today
Amos Harel Barak Ravid and, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Yoav Stern The cabinet is expected to vote today on whether Israel will accept the United-Nations mediated prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah. "A quick decision needs to be made, yes or no," said a security source close to the negotiations, warning that if the plan fails to gain approval, it might "sentence the families of [Ehud] Goldwasser and [Eldad] Regev to a life of uncertainty. "The agreement will be brought before the cabinet today. The ministers will be briefed by Ofer Dekel, the official appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to negotiate for the release of the three Israel Defense Forces soldiers held by Hezbollah and Hamas, and some of the security service heads. The agreement currently enjoys broad support in the cabinet. However, if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who still has not made his position clear, expresses reservations about any of the parts of. . .

Abducted soldier’s wife: Sunday’s cabinet vote may be last chance
Jack Khoury Barak Ravid and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Karnit Goldwasser, wife of abducted IDF reservist Ehud Goldwasser, on Saturday said that it was essential that the cabinet vote Sunday on theprisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah , after a senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office assessed such a vote was unlikely. "This is the first real chance of bringing back Ehud and Eldad [Regev]," Karnit Goldwasser said, "and I’m afraid it could well be the last chance, if the cabinet doesn’t vote. We are all very concerned. "Israeli reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were captured in a cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas in July 2006, sparking the Second Lebanon War. Sunday’s discussion will be the first time that the cabinet meets to discuss the matter. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has not made his position clear yet, despite a likely majority in favor of. . .

Iran army chief warns of missiles on Israel if attacked
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
TEHRAN - The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned that if his country is attacked, Tehran would strike back by barraging Israel with missiles and controlling a key oil passageway in the Persian Gulf, according to a newspaper report published yesterday. The report in the conservative Jam-e-Jam comes after the disclosure of a recent Israeli military exercise over the Mediterranean Sea that was seen as sending a message to Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari told the Iranian paper that there were strong deterrents against striking Iran including the country’s missile power, the vulnerability of Israeli and U. S. forces in the region and the low probability of a successful attack. Iran has spread its nuclear facilities over various parts of the large country and has built key portions underground to protect if from possible Israeli or American airstrikes.

Iran: Man charged with spying for Israel
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 6/28/2008
FARS reports authorities detain man suspected of spying for Mossad, says surveillance equipment provided to him by Israeli intelligence agency displayed in Revolutionary Court -Iranian authorities have recently detained a man suspected of spying forIsraeli intelligence agency Mossad in exchange for money, FARS reported on Saturday. According to the Iranian news agency, the man’s lawyer defended his client in the Revolutionary Court on Saturday and the presiding judge said the verdict would be announced in a week. The Iranian Students News Agency, during the court hearing the prosecution displayed surveillance apparatus allegedly given to the man, said to be in his 40s, by Mossad. About six months ago an indictment was filed against First Sergeant Major (res. ) David Shamir, a former IDF mental health officer, who was charged with offering to. . .

Iran to control Gulf oil route if attacked
Middle East Online 6/28/2008
TEHRAN - The commander of the Revolutionary Guards said Iran would impose controls on shipping in the vital Gulf oil transit route if the Islamic Republic came under attack, a newspaper reported on Saturday. Speculation about a possible attack on Iran because of its disputed nuclear ambitions has risen since a report this month said Israel had practiced such a strike. "Naturally every country under attack by an enemy uses all its capacity and opportunities to confront the enemy. Regarding the main route for exiting energy, Iran will definitely act to impose control on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz," commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari told Jam-e Jam newspaper. Iranian officials have in the past sent mixed signals about whether it would use oil as a weapon in any confrontation. Tension between Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, and the US over its. . .

Former Israeli banker pleads guilty in U.S. fraud scheme
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
LOS ANGELES - An Israeli banker pleaded guilty Friday to participating in a decade-long tax fraud and money laundering scheme that cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of at least $33 million. Joseph Roth, 66, of Tel Aviv, a former banker with United Mizrahi Bank, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit tax fraud, U. S. Attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek said. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for October 20. Roth is among eight people and five charities indicted by a grand jury last year. Prosecutors said the defendants helped people avoid paying federal income taxes by having them make contributions to charitable groups run by Spinka, a New York-based Orthodox Jewish group. The lead defendants in the case - Rabbi Moshe E. Zigelman and Grand Rabbi Naftali Tzi Weisz of Brooklyn, New York - were accused. . .

Blast kills two in north Lebanon city of Tripoli
Middle East Online 6/28/2008
TRIPOLI, Lebanon - An explosion ripped through an apartment block in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, killing two people and wounding more than 17, medical sources said. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast in the city’s Bab Tibbaneh area, where nine people were killed in clashes that erupted on Sunday between supporters of the government and followers of the opposition. It was not yet known what caused the explosion. An official at Tripoli’s Islamic Charity Hospital said 17 of those wounded were given first aid for light injuries and released while three others were kept in for treatment. The first floor of the building, with four apartments, was destroyed by the explosion along with several stores on the ground floor. Cars parked nearby were damaged. Lebanese troops and police reinforcements were seen deploying in the area.

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish wins Moroccan award
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Moroccan House of Poetry is awarding its "Al-Arkana World Poetry Award" to the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish this year. Darwish, a Palestinian refugee from the north of what is now Israel, will receive the award at a ceremony and poetry reading in the Moroccan capital, Rabat on 24 October. House of Poetry’s Arkana Prize Committee said that the award, named for a tree that grows mainly in the Moroccan south, is given to a poet who "defends the values of diversity, freedom and peace. " "Darwish’s experience includes different cultural periods that are wrapped by a deep knowledge of poetry and its geography, and a vital awareness that poetry is fated to be transformed and renewed which makes it always opened to the future," the committee said. "Since the first moment of being a poet, Darwish was determined to look for pain and joy, life and. . .

Mahmoud Darwish wins poetry prize in Morocco
Palestine News Network 6/28/2008
Morocco / PNN -- The luminous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish has won the International Park Award from the Moroccan House of Poetry. No Palestinian is translated into more languages than Darwish. His poems are political, are true to life and reality, and are deeply emotional without being sentimental. A Chinese poet won the prize in 2002 and a Moroccan poet in 2004. This year’s panel of judges included distinguished critics, scholars and poets themselves. Mahmoud Darwish was born in 1941 during the British Mandate in Palestine in the village of Al Birwah. One of his most well-know poems is "I Come from There," and one of the most impressive examples of his political resistance is "State of Siege. "

Iran military chief says Israel can’t stop nuclear program
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards warned Israel against launching a military strike on Iran, adding that any such attack would not halt Iran’s nuclear program given that Tehran’s nuclear capabilities are at an advanced stage. In comments published on Saturday in the Iranian newspaper Jam-e Jam, the Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Israel "is completely within the range of the Islamic republic’s missiles" and it cannot confront Iran’s missile power. "The enemy possibly wants to delay our nuclear activities by attacking our nuclear sites, but any interruption would be very short since Iranian scientific ability is different from that of Syria and Iraq," he said. Jafari suggested Iran’s allies in the region, who include Lebanon’s Shi’ite militia Hezbollah, could also retaliate.

Iran state media: Man on trial for allegedly spying for Israel
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Iranian state-run radio is reporting that a man is on trial in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on charges of spying for Israel. But details were vague. The report did not identify the man but said the charges against him include spying for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in return for money. The radio report says the man’s lawyer defended his client in court Saturday. It didn’t provide any further information but said more details would be released in the next few days. No other information about the case was immediately available [end]

Iran: Israeli strike will not delay nuclear activity
AFP, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Chief of Revolutionary Guards warns Israel is within range of Iranian missiles; says State could strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, but interruption would be short ’since Iranian scientific ability is different from that of Syria and Iraq’ - General Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, has issued a new warning against Israel not to attack it, saying the country is well within range of its missiles, the Iranian Jam-e Jam newspaper reported on Saturday. "This country (Israel) is completely within the range of the Islamic republic’s missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime, despite all its abilities, cannot confront it," he said. " There is the possibility that by attacking Iranian nuclear sites the enemy wants to delay our nuclear activities, but any interruption would be very short since Iranian scientific. . .

Outgoing Georgian ambassador says concerned over Iranian nuclear program
Dana Zimmerman, YNetNews 6/28/2008
’Persian nation educated and wise; I’m convinced Iranians will find positive solution to crisis,’ Lasha Zhvania says in special interview with Ynet before returning to Georgia after three years in Tel Aviv, ’we vehemently oppose Tehran’s statements that Israel has no right to exist’ - "Just like any other country, we too are concerned over Iran’s nuclear program, and I hope there is still room for diplomacy," outgoing Georgian Ambassador to Israel Lasha Zhvania said this week in a special interview with Ynet. Zhvania, 35, was elected in May to the Georgian parliament as the representative of Tbilisi’s Chugureti district and will leave Israelon Sunday after just over thee years. "The Persian nation is an educated and wise one, and I am convinced they (Iranians) will find a positive solution to the (nuclear) crisis," he said.

Barack Obama to travel to Europe, Mideast this summer
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama plans to visit the Middle East and Europe this summer, taking time off from campaigning in the United States in an effort to boost his foreign policy credentials. Obama’s campaign toldthe likely nominee will travel to Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The Illinois senator has also said he intends to visit Iraq and Afghanistan this summer; his campaign would not say whether those stops would be part of the trip to the Mideast and Europe. The campaign also would not disclose the dates of any of the plans in an attempt to protect Obama’s security. Obama’s campaign manager said this past week that Iraq and Afghanistan would be part of an official congressional trip. The other stops are part of a campaign-funded visit.

US Congress approves $170 million increase in military aid to Israel
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The US Congress approved a $170 million increase in military aid to Israel under the framework of a new ten-year plan on Friday. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel lobby group, welcomed the increase, pointing out that it reflects the close relationship between the US and Israel and the new challenges faced by both, including Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and increase the influence of "extremist elements" in Gaza, Lebanon, and the West. The deal means that US military aid to Israel will increase by over 25% in 2009, and will total some $30 billion over the next decade. It comes in the framework of a new military pact and increased military aid to America’s Middle East allies including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states. The deal represents the largest military aid package Israel has ever received from the US, and the longest time commitment.

US Congress approves Israel military aid increase
Middle East Online 6/28/2008
WASHINGTON - The US Congress has approved a 170 million dollar increase in security assistance to Israel as part of its new 10-year, 30 billion dollar defense aid commitment to Tel Aviv. The money for Israel was part of a larger supplemental spending bill that included 162 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation gained final approval in a 92-6 Senate vote late Thursday. America’s pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, welcomed the congressional action, saying it would increase US aid to Israel to 2. 55 billion dollars in fiscal year 2009, up from 2. 38 billion dollars this year. "The US commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge is the cornerstone of American policy in the region," AIPAC said in a statement Friday. "This year’s package holds heightened significance for US security interests, as the US and Israel face new challenges.

Obama plans visit to Israel this summer
Associated Press, YNetNews 6/28/2008
In unusual pre-election tour, US presidential candidate to visit Europe, Middle East in effort to boost his foreign policy credentials. Trip to Israel may reinforce Jewish vote -Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama plans to visit the Middle East and Europe this summer, taking time off from campaigning in the United States in an effort to boost his foreign policy credentials. Obama’s campaign told AP the likely nominee will travel to Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The Illinois senator also has said he intends to visit Iraq and Afghanistan this summer; his campaign would not say whether those stops would be part of the trip to the Middle East and Europe. Presidential HopefulObama to Bush: Hamas must recognize Israel / Yitzhak Benhorin Democratic presidential candidate sends Bush letter expressing unwavering support for Israel.

South African delegation: Israel’s acts will never bring peace to the region
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A South African parliamentary delegation stated Saturday during a visit to the PLC headquarters that South Africa supports the Palestinian people and rejects the unjust Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, pointing out that Israel’s acts will never bring peace to the region and its apartheid wall isolates the Israeli community. The head of the delegation said that the Israeli government and the Knesset (Israeli parliament) tried to hinder their visit to Gaza and conditioned their meeting with Israeli officials on canceling this visit, adding that the delegation refused the Israeli blackmail and insisted on visiting Gaza. The head of the delegation underlined that South Africa sympathizes with the kidnapped Palestinian lawmakers in Israeli jails, noting that he is doing his best to meet with PLC speaker Aziz Dweik and other MPs imprisoned in Israeli jails.

Canadian PM: Israel’s right to self-defense unshakable
Ohad Pas, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Canadian prime minister receives humanitarianism medal from Jewish organization for standing by Israel; during acceptance speech says ’groups, regimes seeking destruction of Israel will never bring peace or justice to Palestinians’ - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Friday that Canada would continue to stand by Israel, and object to international decisions detrimental to the State. "Our support for her right to exist is unshakable. Our support for her right to self-defense is unequivocal," Harper said during a speech before supporters of the Jewish organization B’nai B’rith International, who awarded him the Gold Medallion medal for humanitarianism, making him the first Canadian to receive the award. "Today, there is no longer any hesitation or ambiguity in Canada’s position," he said, calling Israel a "friend and ally.

US Congress endorses an increase in Israel’s security aid
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
WASHINGTON, (PIC)-- An Israeli newspaper reported that the US Congress approved a 170 million dollar increase in Israel’s security aid as a part of a new plan aimed to provide the Hebrew state with 30 billion dollars over the next 10 years. 92 congress members voted to increase US aid to Israel while only six members opposed the bill. The Israeli Yediot Ahronot newspaper said that AIPAC welcomed the congressional step, saying it would increase US aid to Israel to 2. 55 billion dollars in 2009 up from 2. 38 billion dollar aid this year. AIPAC added that such assistance would help Israel and US to face new challenges such as the "Iranian attempt to acquire nuclear weapons and the growing influence of the anti-Zio-American groups in Gaza and Lebanon".

Supports / Don’t kill Udi and Eldad
Ex-POW Uri Shahak, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Uri Shahak, who served in intelligence during the Yom Kippur War, was captured by the Syrians. This morning, in an open letter to the cabinet members as they deliberate the prisoner swap with Hezbollah, he writes: "I permit myself to write in the name of Goldwasser and Regev, because I myself have been where they are now. For eight months I was in Syrian captivity. . . four of them unbearable, in solitary confinement. I endured harsh interrogations, and physical and mental torture. Every single moment I knew with all my being that Israel, which had sent me into battle, would do all it could to bring me home. "Shahak wrote that when he was captured, "no one knew what happened to me, and I was declared missing. "A month after his capture, his wife received an official letter from the Interior Ministry, stating he was dead.

Karnit Goldwasser: Last chance to bring captive soldiers home
Ynet, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Cabinet to possibly vote on swap deal with Hizbullah Sunday. ’This feels like the final opportunity to release the captives,’ Goldwasser’s wife says. Barak: Our duty to bring soldiers back dead or alive -"There is a feeling that this is the last chance to bring back Udi and Eldad; if cabinet does not seize the opportunity (and vote in favor of a prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah on Sunday), it may take years (before the captives are returned)," Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser said Saturday. "If the deal falls through, I’m afraid we’ll have three more cases like Ron Arad," she said, referring to her husband, Eldad Regev and kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Regev and Goldwasser were both kidnapped by Hizbullah gunmen during a cross-border raid on July 12, 2006.

Security sources: Shalit talks progress under Hamas cease-fire
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
The security establishment believes there has been some progress in the Egyptian-mediated negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit since the cease-fire with Hamas went into effect 10 days ago. Ofer Dekel, the Israeli official charged with negotiating for Israel’s abducted soldiers, returned from a trip to Egypt early Friday morning, following a series of meetings with Egyptian intelligence officials. Dekel is trying to establish binding procedures for the negotiations with Hamas, and gain the Islamist group’s commitment to talks regardless of developments in the security situation along the border with the Gaza Strip. In Cairo, Dekel met with the Egyptian intelligence chief, General Omar Suleiman, who has led the Egyptian push for indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas. In parallel with the meetings with Dekel, the Egyptians held talks with Hamas representatives.

Mothers flood the country with yellow until Gilad comes home
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
A convoy of 10 cars with 40 mothers wearing yellow ribbons arrived Friday morning at the Erez crossing into the Gaza Strip. They were holding signs that read "Let Gilad’s sun shine," referring to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. "We don’t have spare children," was another message. One of the organizers, Israela Shidlov, said that "the state that knows how to draft its children unconditionally must know how to release them unconditionally. Gilad’s life is priceless. " Shidlov said during the week that their demonstration was triggered by "unacceptable" statements by former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon. He had said that sometimes Israel should be willing to sacrifice prisoners of war if the cost of their release is too high. Shidlov said the demonstration was an apolitical protest by mothers of soldiers.

Hamas: Continued closure of crossings obstructs role of Egypt
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday said that the Israeli occupation authority’s continued closure of the Gaza commercial crossings was obstructing the Egyptian role in its capacity as the sponsor of the calm agreement. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that the agreement followed Palestinian consensus and that any violation is followed up with the Egyptian side and with all parties concerned with ensuring success of calm. The IOA did not abide by the calm mechanism on the ground and is obstructing the most important article of calm namely opening crossings and allowing entry of basic life necessities into the Strip, he elaborated. Speaking about another issue, Barhoum said that Israel is dealing with the question of prisoners’ exchange in a way meeting its own needs and does not care less about the Palestinian people’s ambitions.

Haniyeh: All Palestinian Factions Should Honor Truce
Roee Nahmias, MIFTAH 6/28/2008
Hamas wants quiet in Gaza: Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called Friday on Palestinian factions to adhere to the Gaza Strip lull agreement with Israel. " The factions and the people accepted the lull in order to secure two interests – an end to aggression and the lifting of the siege. Therefore, we hope that everyone honors this national agreement," he said following Friday prayers. Earliar Friday, two mortar shells were fired at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. One landed near Kibbutz Kfar Aza in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, and the second one hit an open area. There were no reports of injuries or damage in the latest violation of the fragile ceasefire. On Thursday, a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel exploded near a gas station in an open area in Sderot’s industrial zone. There were no injuries.

Islamic Jihad threatens to resume rocket attacks on Israel
AFP, YNetNews 6/28/2008
’If the Gaza crossings points do not reopen, if the siege and aggression do not stop, the calm will go up in smoke,’ terror group leader says in response to killing of 17-year-old Palestinian in West Bank by IDF -Islamic Jihad threatened on Saturday to resume rocket attacks onIsrael if it continues military operations in the occupied West Bank, while Gaza’s ruling Hamas said it had arrested militants and would lock up any violating a truce with the Jewish state. The threats came after a Palestinian teenager was killed in Hebron in the West Bank overnight as he threw petrol bombs at Israeli soldiers, the military said, putting further strain on the week-old ceasefire. Mohammad al-Alami, 17, was shot in the face and body by Israeli soldiers who came under attack with stones and fire bombs during clashes in Beit Umar, near Hebron, in the south of the territory, Palestinian police said.

Gaza’s de facto police: Israel’s closure of borders violates truce terms
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The police affiliated to the Hamas-run de facto government in the Gaza Strip declared that Israel’s ongoing closure of Gaza’s borders is a "clear and dangerous violation" of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire agreement. In a statement released on Saturday, the police reaffirmed Hamas’ previously-stated position that Israel is violating the terms of the Egyptian-brokered truce. The Israeli defense minister ordered the borders re-sealed last Monday in response to a barrage of homemade projectiles fired from Gaza. According to the reported terms of the truce, Israel was required to ease its year-old blockade of the tiny Gaza Strip. As the occupying power, the Israeli military maintains control of the Strip’s borders, airspace, and territorial waters. The police confirmed that in the four days after the ceasefire went into effect, Israel allowed a slight increase in. . .

Al-Zahar: Anyone violating ceasefire will be detained
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/28/2008
Hamas leader warns armed Palestinian factions that any infringement of truce agreement will result in arrest, disarming of violators, as deviation from agreement harms interests of Palestinian people - Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar announced Saturday that his organization is calling on all Palestinian factions to honor the ceasefire agreement with Israel, and has even pledged to arrest any party caught violating the agreement, including Hamas operatives, and to disarm them. In an interview with Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, al-Zahar said that "anyone that violates the ceasefire agreement will be arrested, and his weapon will be taken from him. This is also true for operatives of Hamas andIslamic Jihad. Deviations from the general agreement and the harming of the interests of the Palestinian people is not the opposition’s plan, but rather harmful to it.

Haneyya calls on Palestinian factions to respect truce with Israel
Palestinian Information Center 6/28/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, called Friday on the Palestinian factions to respect the calm reached with the Israeli occupation in order to end the suffering of the Palestinian people. Haneyya told journalists that the factions accepted the calm to achieve two advantages, which are, to stop the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people and to lift the siege, expressing hope that everyone would consider that for the higher national interest. In a related context, Dr. Khalil Al-Haya, a member of the Hamas parliamentary bloc, categorically denied the allegations which say that the truce agreement includes secret items, saying Egypt told the Palestinian factions about the truce agreement’s items and they in turn announced their commitment to them. In an interview with the PIC reporter, Dr.

Militant Hamas as reluctant moderator
Ilene R. Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, ReliefWeb 6/27/2008
Can Gaza’s ruling militants keep other armed groups from spoiling a six-month cease-fire with Israel intended to improve life in the impoverished coastal strip? - JERUSALEM - Hamas, which for more than 20 years has been the Palestinian militant movement that most fervently rejected peace with Israel [? ], today finds itself in the odd position of being the group trying to get its comrades in arms to hold their fire against the Jewish state. But the week-old truce – agreed upon between Israel and Hamas and contingent on Gaza’s disparate armed factions keeping their guns quiet – looked closer to crumbling Thursday after militants again fired rockets into southern Israel. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade struck Thursday two days after an attack by another group, Islamic Jihad. In response, Israel has kept its crossings with the Gaza Strip shut, which it had opened to allow in much-needed goods, indicating that both sides were reneging on promises made in the Egyptian-brokered deal.

Palestine weather forecast: the heat wave breaks
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The Palestinian Meteorological Department says the heat wave affecting the region will end on Saturday. Temperatures will drop but remain higher than the seasonal average. Winds will be northwesterly and moderate. The will be slightly rough. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 30 to 20 / Ramallah: 29 to 19 / Nablus: 31 to 21 / Qalqilia: 30 to 20 / Jenin: 33 to 22 / Salfit: 30 to 20 / Tubas: 32 to 21 / Gaza: 31 to 25 / Hebron: 29 to 19 / Khan Younis: 31 to 25 / Jericho: 39 to 25 / Rafah: 32 to 24

Bureau of Fatwa and Legislation: President Abbas’ term to coincide with current PLC mandate
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The PA Bureau of Fatwa and Legislation issued a statement on Saturday saying that the President Abbas’ term will extend to the end of the legislative mandate of the second Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), which was elected on 25 January 2006. Councillor Abdel Karim Abu Salah, head of the Bureau, said in the statement that "the forthcoming presidential elections must be held simultaneously with the legislative elections. According to the law, the period preceding the legislative elections is the complete term of the presidential mandate. " He pointed out that the time period between legislative elections is considered equivalent to the presidential mandate, and stressed that new presidential elections should be held in parallel with the next legislative elections.

PA Civil Affairs chief: all Palestinians will be granted IDs this year
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian Civil Affairs Director Hussein Ash-Sheikh said on Saturday that Palestinian officials have managed to issue identity cards for 70% of Palestinians who previously lacked them. Ash-Sheikh said he believes that the issue of Palestinians without ID cards will be totally resolved by the end of 2008. In a telephone call with Ma’an during a ceremony organized by the National Committee for the Defense of Human Citizenship in the Gaza City, Ash-Sheikh said: "We got 32,000 identity cards for families from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, thus we ended the first part of this issue and we hope to end the second half by the end of this year. " Ash-Sheikh said that there had been about 55,000 Palestinians without ID cards that would allow them to reside legally in their own country. Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) after the signing. . .

DFLP to hold separate talks with Fatah and Hamas over internal dialogue
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/28/2008
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine -DFLP- stated on Saturday that the movement will hold separate talks with Hamas and Fatah officials on the issues of National Unity and the truce deal between the resistance groups in Gaza and Israel. According to the statement that was faxed to press the talks will take place over the next few days. The meeting will also include follow ups on the lists of political prisoners from each party to be exchanged with the captured Israeli soldiers in Gaza Gilad Shalit. Saleh Naser, member of the DFLP central committee, said that the lists of political prisoners were presented to both the Fattah and Hamas movements. Adding that DFLP have not yet agreed on "a means of releasing the prisoners despite of the large number of proposals submitted concerning this issue. "It is hoped that this detail will be worked out during the coming meetings.

Fatah youth election in Gaza was sabotaged, committee says
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Fatah movement’s branch in the Gaza Strip denied media reports on Saturday that Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas would certify the results of an incomplete election for the leadership of the organization’s youth wing held last Thursday. In a statement released Saturday the Fatah movement in Gaza said that the elections had been obstructed, and accused unnamed actors of "conspiring and sabotaging and distorting the image of Fateh and its history. " Fatah’s Gaza committee plans to launch an investigation into the alleged wrongdoing, and that the perpetrators would be "brought to account by the movement and would punished according the internal rulings and bylaws of the movement. "

Israeli Politicians Avert Elections
Mark Lavie, MIFTAH 6/28/2008
Israel stepped back from the brink of political turmoil Wednesday after the two main parties in the ruling coalition hammered out a last-minute compromise to prevent the passage of a bill calling an election. This gives Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a few more months to pursue peace talks with the Palestinians and to try to win release of three captured soldiers. But the price was agreeing to a primary election in September that is likely to end his reign. Olmert’s main coalition partner, Labor, was poised to vote in favor of a bill to dissolve the parliament and call elections Wednesday. Labor’s support would have guaranteed approval, mostly symbolic at this stage because the bill would have needed to pass three more parliamentary votes to become law. Olmert had threatened to fire Labor Cabinet ministers if they voted for the election bill. That would have removed his parliamentary majority and made elections inevitable. An election campaign would put peace efforts far onto the back burner.

Palestinian student released after six and a half years in Israeli prisons
Ma’an News Agency 6/28/2008
Nablus/Salfit – Ma’an – Israel released a Palestinian student after six and a half years in prison on Saturday. Rawdi Ma’zouz Yassin, a student at Al-Quds Open University was seized by Israeli special forces from his home in the northern West Bank town of Salfit in 2002. He has been imprisoned by Israel since then. Israel currently holds more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners, and arrests more during daily raids, mainly in the West Bank. Palestinians view these detainees as political prisoners. [end]


Mona (a Jerusalemite) tells about the silent ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land
Palestine Think Tank 6/28/2008
      This is the story of all Palestinians - Message from Mona (a Jerusalemit:
     Dear Friends and Family,
     I am writing to share a little about what is happening in my life lately.As most of you know, I have been in Jerusalem since March 18 with Ramzi who at the time had barely turned 5 months.We left Habib and made the sacrifice to be apart for the coming 4 months for the sake of preserving my Jerusalem ID, to keep my residency status.I know this might sound strange, but as a Palestinian who has lived her whole life in Jerusalem, and despite the fact that my family has lived in Jerusalem and Palestine for centuries, according to the Israeli law, Palestinians living in Jerusalem are only residents but not necessarily permanent residents, and therefore are at risk all the time of losing their residency rights.
     For the past 3 years, I have been married to Habib, a Palestinian by blood but an American by citizenship, because Habib’s Jerusalem residency was revoked in 2004- although Habib was born in Jerusalem, and has lived there until his adult life. Anyways, now it was my turn to renew my entry visa to “Israel” (yes, I needed a visa in my own country)- I met with a lawyer who asked for a substantial amount to help me renew my entry visa, which would preserve my residency until the next time I have to renew (a maximum of 3 years), but this time the Israelis refused to renew it and instead told me that since I made the decision to marry an “American”, who can’t reside in Jerusalem...

Is Riad Hamad’s case as dead as his body??

Adib Kawar, Palestine Think Tank 6/28/2008
      92 years after the martyrdom of his grandfather for the cause of Arab nationalism, a man was killed for devoting his efforts to his people, the Arabs of the Middle East. He was hanged in slightly different manner by the new colonialists of Palestine. Riad was born in Beirut in a Lebanese family; his grandfather, Omar Hamad, was hanged by the Ottoman Turkish ruler of what is now Syria and Lebanon, because he was an Arab nationalist who struggled for the liberation of the Arab homeland and its unity. Hamad, the grandfather, and his comrades resisted the Ottoman occupation of most of the Arab homeland. He was among 14 others who were hanged in Martyrs Square in Beirut and 23 were killed in Martyrs Square in Damascus by the Ottoman Ruler of this Turkish occupied Arab land, Jamal Pasha known Al-Jazzar (The Butcher).
     The Martyrs’ Statue, on which Riad’s name should be engraved besides that of his grandfather.
     Riad inherited the struggling resistance sprit of his Arab nationalism from his grandfather, Omar, and when he emigrated to the U.S. he carried with him this spirit and ideas. Riad the Lebanese by birth, and now American by nationality, still kept his spirit and conviction and started his fight for the pan Arab cause of occupied Palestine and its displaced indigenous Arab population, and concentrated on the welfare of the unfortunate Palestinian children scattered throughout occupied Palestine and its Arab surroundings.

A chilly experience - Confronting the reality in Hebron through Breaking the Silence tour

Anne Paq, International Middle East Media Center News 6/28/2008
      The tour of Hebron and its settlements, organized by the organization "Breaking the Silence" was once again disrupted by a group of settlers on Friday, 27 of June. "Breaking the Silence" is an organization made of discharged Israeli soldiers who work to expose the reality of the occupation in the Palestinian territories.
     Even before the start of the tour, the organizer warned the group that it was not certain that the tour could proceed as planned. In the previous visit, the settlers attacked the group and threw some boiling liquid to the group, injuring one Spanish photographer. He also asked the participants not to answer to settlers’ provocations no matter what happens.
     At the first stop in Kyriat Arba settlement, located next to Hebron, a whole groupe of settlers, including children, were obviously waiting for the bus of Breaking the Silence. They quickly surrounded us and started to shout and prevented the organizer, Yehuda, to move around. The police intervened but let the settlers continue their show. One of the settlers had a loudspeaker blasting that made the tour guide comments impossible to hear.

Historical memory fades as quickly as last weeks news

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 6/28/2008
      The Israeli press is continuing to place the onus of the "breach in calm" on Islamic Jihad’s armed resistance wing. Saraya Al Quds launched projectiles from the Gaza Strip after Israeli forces assassinated two people in the northern West Bank, including its leader.
     However that was not the breach in ’calm.’ Israeli forces shot a Palestinian farmer in the Gaza Strip the day before the West Bank assassinations.
     Today Yediot Ahranot, an Israeli news service, wrote that Islamic Jihad cannot seem to understand that the ’calm’ does not extend to the West Bank, therefore they breached the ’calm.’ On the day of the Israeli assassinations in the West Bank and the Palestinian projectile launches in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz printed a similar story; at least blaming Saraya Al Quds for breaching the ’calm,’ when only the day before Israeli forces opened fire on a Palestinian farmer in the Gaza Strip.

Doha unravelling

Lucy Fielder, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      As political wrangles play out on the streets, the brief accord hatched in Doha is in danger, reports from Beirut Click to view caption A Sunni fighter responds to a source of fire during clashes in Bab Al-Tebbaneh neighbourhood in the northern Lebanese port city of TripoliUnresolved disputes and sectarian rancour have bubbled to the surface in Lebanon this week, jeopardising the brief respite provided by the Doha agreement to end the 18-month political crisis. Having filled a six-month presidential void by the election of Michel Suleiman on 25 May, the country may be on the brink of yet another political vacuum. Lebanon’s leaders have returned to what they do best -- squabbling over cabinet seats and jockeying for position.
     In a possible taste of things to come in the event of a breakdown, clashes broke out in the northern city of Tripoli between Sunni anti-Syrian government supporters in Bab Al-Tebbaneh and supporters of the opposition in Alawis. At least nine people were killed and 50 injured.
     Sectarian fighting between the two areas has been common for years, but exacerbated when the country polarised between the pro-Western ruling faction and their opponents three years ago. Security incidents have been frequent over the past couple of weeks, and last week, at least three people were killed in clashes in the eastern Bekaa Valley, also an area with mixed Sunni-Shia pockets.

The past as prelude? Negotiating the Palestinian refugee issue

Rex Brynen, Chatham House, ReliefWeb 6/26/2008
      Summary points:
     The question of Palestinian refugees has long been one of the most difficult issues in dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. With the onset of renewed peace talks following the Annapolis summit of November 2007, it is once again an issue that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators must address.
     The two sides are in a worse position to resolve the issue than they were during the last rounds of permanent status negotiations in 2000–01. The political weakness of the Israeli and Palestinian governments is compounded by heightened mistrust between the two societies, as well as by a hardening of Israeli public attitudes against even the symbolic return of any refugees to Israeli territory.
     There is now a substantial accumulated body of work on the Palestinian refugee issue to guide and inform negotiators and policy-makers. This includes past official negotiations among the key parties, wider discussions among regional states and the international donor community, unofficial and Track II initiatives and a considerable body of technical analysis.

Taking a cue from Israel

Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      Fatah’s change of tune is better late than never.
     Despite continued blame-casting, Hamas and Fatah are getting themselves ready for Arab-mediated reconciliation talks aimed at restoring Palestinian national unity and ending the year-long rift between the two largest political factions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
     No concrete date has been designated for the intensive talks, but reliable sources in the Gaza Strip have intimated that Egypt is about to extend the invitations to both Hamas and Fatah for the resumption of the inter-Palestinian dialogue. The sources said the commencement of the talks was only a matter of days or one week at the maximum.
     Efforts to end the enduring crisis between Fatah and Hamas acquired a new momentum recently when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced his willingness to restart reconciliation talks with Hamas without any preconditions. Hamas welcomed the announcement, made on 6 June, saying it was willing and ready to sit down with Fatah any time and in any place to end the long-standing rift between the two sides.

Relief or calm before the storm?

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 6/26/2008
      Though Israel’s motives aren’t clear, its inability to cow Hamas is.
     Rihab, 39, wasn’t able to convince her husband Saleh Abu Samha, 42, to buy curtains last Friday in Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where they reside. Abu Samha told Al-Ahram Weekly that the logic he was working by in denying his wife’s request was that the price of curtains, like all other goods, is incredibly high because of the siege. He argued that they should wait until a comprehensive truce is reached so that goods can be imported in a natural manner at lower prices.
     Many people in the Gaza Strip are working by the same logic as Abu Samha. Jamal Hamid, 45, is a civil servant, and says that throughout the siege he has been unable to buy clothes for his six children because of the insanely high prices. He hopes that he will be able to purchase clothing as soon as the commercial crossings fully open, and prices return to their normal levels.

Preferring Hamas and Hezbollah

Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
      it is impossible not to be impressed by the skilled work that we have witnessed in recent weeks. A German mediator ran between Israel and Hezbollah; an Egyptian mediator came and went between Hamas and the government of Israel. A taboo subject was broken and oaths evaporated. It appears that the official agreement between Israel and Hezbollah on how prisoners and captives will be exchanged will be signed today. An agreement on a package deal for the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit is also on the verge of being concluded (verbally) - and in both these deals public opinion is fully involved. The Internet and television are full of views on the deals, T-shirts are being printed with photos of the abducted soldiers, rallies are held, Shalit’s book is being sold, stickers are stuck on motorbikes and public service announcements...
     ...But the closeness, which is very focused and therefore highly effective, distorts the background from which it emerged. First of all, it distorts the fact that Israel is negotiating with groups and not states. The Palestinian Authority, like the Lebanese government, had nothing to do with these negotiations. They watched from afar how those groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, are taking onto themselves the authority of states and holding negotiations that are not only about the release of prisoners. Every such negotiation has diplomatic and political aspects. After all, if only Hezbollah. not the government in Beirut, can gain the release of Lebanese prisoners, and if only Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian factions have the power to bring about the collapse of Israel’s policy of sanctions and opening the crossings into the Gaza Strip - what’s left for the state above them to do.

Citizenship law makes Israel an apartheid state

Amos Schocken, Palestine Monitor 6/28/2008
      The [Israeli] government’s decision last week to extend the validity of the Citizenship Law (Temporary Order), for another year, is evidence that the legal barriers preventing severe discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens and harm to their civil rights have been removed.
     This extension is the eighth since the law was first passed in 2003, and it shows just how naive Justice Edmond Levy’s position was when he refused to join in the 2006 decision by five judges from the High Court of Justice, who stated that the law was unconstitutional, that it contravened the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, and that it must be removed from the law books. Levy explained his refusal by saying that he saw no need to intervene because only two months remained until the law expired. However, at the end of the two months, the law was extended by a year, and now they want to extend it for yet another year.
     Had Levy known that the law’s limited validity was nothing but a deception aimed at preparing a discriminatory and unconstitutional law, there is no doubt he would have joined the five justices’ majority opinion that it was unconstitutional and should be removed. We must hope that the High Court of Justice, when it rules on the new petition submitted against the law after it was extended in 2006, will take into account that the term "temporary provision," which both the government and Knesset take pains to stress, is a deception. We are talking about, in effect, a permanent law.