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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
29 June 2008

Israeli forces kill Palestinian youth in Tubas
Palestine News Network 6/29/2008
Tubas / PNN - Palestinian security sources reported on Sunday that a Palestinian youth died after Israeli soldiers shot him in the northern West Bank. The boy, 17 year old Mohammed Daraghma, was among several youth throwing stones at invading Israeli jeeps in Tubas. The Israeli soldiers opened fire on the young people, hitting Daraghma. An Israeli military spokesperson told the Agence France Press that the invasion of Tubas was routine and that the Palestinian youth were preparing to throw a Molotov cocktail at the armored jeeps. [end]

Israeli Cabinet approves prisoner swap with Hizbullah
Marius Schattner, Daily Star 6/30/2008
Agence France Presse OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The Israeli Cabinet gave its green light Sunday for a prisoner exchange with Hizbullah, even though two soldiers captured by the resistance two years ago are assumed by Israeli officials to be dead. Twenty-two of the 25 Cabinet members voted in favor of the deal under which the two soldiers - or their remains - are to be handed over in exchange for five Lebanese fighters and a yet undetermined number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. The deal was approved even though Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet the two soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, were dead. "Our initial theory was that the soldiers were alive. . . Now we know with certainty there is no chance that is the case," said Olmert, who nonetheless urged his ministers to approve the deal.

Eyewitness report: Funeral of 17 year old student attacked by same Israeli soldiers who killed him
Palestine News Network 6/30/2008
Hebron / Bekah Wolf - The Israeli military has been slowly escalating its intimidation tactics in Beit Ommar over the last three days, often patrolling the streets at sundown, provoking youth by parking outside of the mosque and waiting for young boys to come and throw stones before shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. The increasing terrorization of the village culminated at approximately 9:30 pm Friday when a 17 year old boy, Mohammed Anwar Al-Alami, was shot in the heart and killed. Soldiers first entered the southern West Bank’s town at 4 pm and began slowly circling the village, often stopping in the center of town, shooting a few tear gas canisters, but otherwise staying in their jeeps. They were not searching houses nor made any other indication that they were engaging in any authorized operation.

Israel reopens Gaza crossings after closures over Qassams
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Israel reopened its border crossings with the Gaza Strip on Sunday to allow a trickle of goods into the territory, putting a rocky cease-fire back on course after Palestinian rocket fire last week led to a closure of the passages. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has decided to open the border, which were closed last Wednesday after Gaza militants fired three rockets into Israel - the first such attack since the truce went into effect on June 19. More rockets were fired the next day. The decision was made following telephone security consultations between Barak, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and intelligence officials from the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces’ sensing equipment picked up the launch of a mortar shell from Gaza late Saturday, the military said, but it was unclear where it hit.

De facto Minister of Agriculture confirms Israeli aggression against Gazan farmers; promises help
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Gaza- Ma’an- Minister of Agriculture in the de-facto Hamas lead government Mohammad Ramadan Al-Agha confirmed on Sunday, rumors that Israel—despite the truce—is shooting at Gazan farmers whenever they go to their lands near the borders. Al-Agha asked the Egyptian government, as broker of the truce, to affirm the seriousness of the incidents as breaches of the truce. The statement came during Al-Agha’s inspection visit to Shokat as Sufi area and the neighbourhoods around the Sufa crossing in the south of the Gaza Strip. The visit is one of the initiatives of the Hamas lead de facto government to support the residents of Gazan border-villages and cities suffering from the current circumstances. These civilians, he said, are legendary in their ability to endure, and the de facto government wishes to support them in any way they can.

US ''concerned'' over a UN draft demanding Israel to halt settlement activities
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/29/2008
On Friday, the United States and several member countries of the Security Council, expressed what they described as "concern" over a draft demanding Israel to immediately halt its settlement planning, expansion and construction in the West Bank. The draft was discussed during unofficial talks among several countries that are members of the security council as representative of these countries presented their monthly report on the situation in the Middle East. The draft was presented by Libya through the Arab League and included a demand to condemn the Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. The draft was supposed to be discussed on Thursday but the Russian envoy demanded to delay the discussions because he wanted to watch a soccer match between Russia and Spain. The draft might be discussed in the middle of the coming week.

Report: Hamas rejects Israeli bid to free 450 prisoners for Shalit
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Hamas has rejected Israel’s offer to free 450 Palestinian militants in exchange for abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers Gilad Shalit, according to a report published Sunday in Al-Hayat - According to the report, Israel negotiator Ofer Dekel presented a list comprising 450 names of Palestinian prisoners Israel is prepared to release. Hamas had requested 1,000 prisoners be freed. A senior Hamas official said any deal with Israel must include the release of Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is currently serving five life terms in an Israeli jail, and Ahmad Sadat, of the PFLP. "Shalit had begun his third year in jail and as far as we’re concerned, he can begin a fourth year there," said the official. Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants in a June 2006 cross-border raid.

Israelis refuse 75 percent of names presented by Hamas for release from prison
Palestine News Network 6/29/2008
Jerusalem / PNN - Sources from the Israeli Prisons Department said on Sunday that moves are taking place within the prisons with the aim of compiling a list of who will be released. Among the 450 Palestinians in the exchange with Hamas, some names are known. Others are not and a sense of tension prevails within the prisons as not much information is forth coming. The only prisoner that Hamas has is the Israeli soldier captured while invading the southern Gaza Strip’s Rafah two years ago. It has been learned that some Palestinians serving life sentences, and women and children, are being moved to a different prison. They have not been informed of the purpose of the move, but it seems that those being transferred will be released. The Israeli sources confirmed that their government agreed to release 71 prisoners of the 350 requested by Hamas whom the Israelis consider to have "blood on their hands.

New law makes seeking compensation for Israeli military damages impossible
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
by proposed billBethlehem – Ma’an – A proposed amendment to the Responsibility of State Law will deny Palestinians the right to seek compensation for Israeli Army damages. The bill has passed its first reading in the Knesset. The new bill, called the Civilian Damages bill, was proposed as an amendment to the Responsibility of the State law passed at the start of the second Intifada. The bill was first proposed in 2005 as the Civil Damages Act (later termed the Intifada Law) and was passed on the third reading, it was overturned in 2006. This new effort to revive the bill and circumvent earlier objections is currently being reviewed in the Knesset. According to the Adalah Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the proposed bill will "prevent residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory from submitting tort lawsuits against the state to obtain compensation. . .

Court to debate Arab petition to nix preferential education benefits
Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
The High Court of Justice is set to deliberate Sunday a petition submitted by the higher Arab education council calling to abolish the practice of affording preferential education benefits. The court in 2006 had ruled that the government must cease categorizing towns according to regional preference for the distribution of benefits. Until the ruling, towns demarcated ’Area of National Preference A’ were granted benefits such as teacher incentives, exemption from kindergarten tuition, increased funding for transportation and extra hours in the school days. The Education Ministry was initially given a year to implement the court’s verdict, but in February 2007 asked for a six month extension. A June 2007 deliberation on the matter found that in practice, the ministry was seeking to carry out the reform over a five-year period.

Israeli military attacks funeral of slain youth
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 6/29/2008
On Saturday afternoon, Israeli military forces attacked the funeral of 17-year-old Muhammad Anwar ’Alami, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Friday night. Several of the mourners were injured. The attack took place at the Beit Ummar village cemetery, just outside the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of villagers had gathered to bury the child in the cemetery when they were attacked without warning by Israeli military forces. The soldiers fired dozens of canisters of tear gas and volleys of rubber-coated steel bullets at the unarmed civilians. After this provocation, some youth began to throw stones at the soldiers, who responded with even more rubber bullets and tear gas. ’Alami was shot in the heart on Friday night during an Israeli invasion of the town. He was not ’wanted’, nor a part of any resistance group, so it appears that. . .

Israeli forces kill Palestinian teenager in the northern West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Tubas - Ma’an – Residents of the northern West Bank town of Tubas buried 18-year-old Muhammad Nasser Sa’id Daraghmah on Sunday afternoon. Daraghmah was shot dead by Israeli troops 2am on Sunday morning. Those who attended the funeral shouted slogans condemning the killing and calling for Palestinian unity in the face of the ongoing Israeli occupation. Opening fire on stone-throwing teenagers, Israeli troops shot Daraghmah eight times, witnesses said. Another unidentified young man was arrested by the Israeli forces. Palestinian medical sources said that Daraghmah died immediately. Witnesses added that Israeli troops shot Daraghmah at close range, appearing to kill him deliberately, instead of arresting him or shooting him in his lower body. Daraghmah was arrested two years ago and served more than a year in Israeli jails.

IDF kills youth in West Bank
Efrat Weiss and AP, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Palestinian sources report Israeli troops patrolling village of Tubas shoot dead 17-year-old boy. Military says soldiers opened fire on Palestinians who hurled Molotov cocktails on them - Palestinians sources reported Sunday that Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian youth during a night patrol in a West Bank village. Ayman Abdel Razek of the village of Tubas said troops shot the 17-year-old after midnight Sunday. He says village youths often throw stones at army patrols at around that time but that the youth was unarmed. The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said the soldiers tried to resuscitate the youth but failed. The IDF said in response to the incident that the soldiers operating in the village opened fire at Palestinians who hurled Molotov cocktails at them.

Israeli bulldozers close road south of Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – An Israeli military bulldozer accompanied by a military jeep closed the road connecting Khirbat Al-Karmel with Wadi Al-Jawaya, southeast of Yatta in the Hebron governorate, on Sunday afternoon. Mariam Abu ’Aram, a board member of the Al-Jawaya Charitable Society, reported that an Israeli bulldozer closed the only road to Wadi Aj-Jawaya, where about 30 Palestinian families live, and other villages like Masafer Yatta and At-Tuwani, which has some 300 residents. Over the last few years, Israeli authorities have frequently closed the roads and pathways leading to these villages that cross Road 60, a settler bypass road that connects Israeli settlements in the area. The south Hebron hills area suffers from ongoing Israeli measures including forbidding construction and demolishing houses, confiscating cattle and property, as well as physical attacks on Palestinian civilians by Israeli settlers.

Solidarity accompaniment with shepherds in Shaab al Butum, Hebron
International Solidarity Movement 6/29/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - On the 28th June, ten international and Israeli peace activist accompanied farmers in Shaab el Butum, south of Hebron. The Palestinian farmers are threatened by severe violence from settlers and are asking for international presence. The villagers of Shaab al Butum have been troubled by settler violence for a very long time. On Wednesday 25th two Palestinian shepherds were beaten by settlers while working in the fields with their sheep and goats. Now they are asking for international presence as they are worried about further settler violence. This week they were joined by a group of international Human Rights Workers (HRW’s). The group joined the shepherds to take their sheep to their land close to the illegal Israeli outpost Mitspe Yair, where the two attackers from Wednesday had come from.

Israeli troops repress anti-wall demonstration in Nil’in, injuring 13
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Thirteen Palestinian, Israeli and international demonstrators were injured when Israeli soldiers violently repressed a peaceful a demonstration against the construction of Israel’s illegal separation wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, west of the city of Ramallah. Dozens of others suffered from various degrees of suffocation as they inhaled tear gas. According to Salih Al-Khawaja, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the separation wall in Ni’lin, "The Committee invited residents, farmers as well as foreign and Israeli solidarity activists to a peaceful rally which started from the village’s center. Meanwhile, Israeli forces gathered in an unprecedented way, doubling the numbers of bulldozers and military vehicles. " He added that before the rally reached the planned location of the wall, where Israeli construction vehicles are already working,. . .

Israeli army invade protest camp in Qaffin, detain one
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The Israeli army invaded a small protest camp near the village of Qaffin early Sunday morning. Forces detained the 13 year old son of Qaffin Mayor Sa’id Arashid, saying they would release the boy only if the Mayor agreed to close down the camp. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported that at 3am, 30 Israeli soldiers attacked the camp, which is was set up at the beginning of June, 200 meters away from the Israeli separation wall. Forces detained one boy: the son of the town’s Mayor, and threatened him with arrest. According to the Mayor, soldiers have declared the area a "closed military zone," though no papers to that effect have been produced. The Mayor was later informed that his son would be released as soon as the camp was closed. The camp was initially set up in opposition to the illegal separation wall that prevents many Qaffin farmers from reaching their land.

De facto prisoners’ affairs minister condemns continuing detention of Palestinian lawmakers
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Dr Ahmad Shweidih, Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs in the de facto Gaza government, said on Sunday that Israel’s ongoing detention of Palestinian lawmakers for over two years proves that the Israeli occupation disrespects all international norms and treaties. Speaking on the second anniversary of the apprehension of many Palestinian lawmakers after Palestinian factions kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006, Shweidih said: "Palestinian lawmakers are being detained as political hostages in order to blackmail the Palestinian people. There is no legal motive for detaining them, and so Israel detains them under so-called administrative detention without charge or trial. " The minister also explained that the Israeli military courts which pass judgment on Palestinian lawmakers lack legitimacy, and are merely a means to humiliate and punish lawmakers.

Elderly Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails denied medical treatment
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Palestinian popular committees issued a statement on Sunday appealing to humanitarian organizations to save Palestinian prisoner Shadi Shalaldah who urgently needs medical treatment. According to the statement, 60-year-old Shalaldah has served 18 years of back-to-back life sentences. He has served the past 14 years in Ramla prison. Shalaldah suffers from several chronic diseases, mainly, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. He is on a respirator and takes 26 pills every day in order to maintain control of his health. If Shalaldah is to live much longer, according to the statement, he urgently needs to be hospitalized. However, Ramala prison services refuse to transfer him to hospital. Secretary General of the Palestinian popular committees, Azmi Shuyoukhi appealed to all international humanitarian organizations and international Red Cross to intervene. . .

VIDEO - IDF targets Palestinian charities in bid to curb Hamas in W. Bank
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for June 29, 2008. Since Hamas seized power of the Gaza Strip roughly one year ago, the Israel Defense Forces has directed extensive resources to ensure that incident doesn’t repeat itself in the West Bank. Hamas-affiliated charities comprise one front on which the IDF is fighting that war. The army maintains that the militant group launders enormous sums of money from all over the world into the West Bank through those charities. Hamas is sworn to Israel’s destruction, but has long been known to step in to provide basic social services where the Palestinian Authority has failed. However, the IDF sees those charities as ploys to win the support that the militant group need to seize the West Bank.

PCHR submits lawsuit against Israeli officials via Spanish national court
International Solidarity Movement 6/29/2008
International Actions - Gaza Region - On 24 June 2008, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) filed a lawsuit at the National Court of Spain, the highest Spanish judicial council, against seven former senior Israeli military officials. These include former Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, his former military advisor, Michael Herzog, former Israeli Army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon and Dan Halutz, former Commander of the Israeli Air Force, who are all suspected of committing a war crime in the Gaza Strip in July 2002. PCHR filed this lawsuit on behalf of six Palestinians who survived an Israeli extra judicial execution operation in the Gaza Strip in July 2002. This is the first time survivors of an Israeli military attack have filed a lawsuit against members of the Israeli military in Spain.

Israeli Soldiers Assault, Abuse and Torture Palestinian Journalist
Palestine Media Center 6/29/2008
Award Winning Omer Arrives in Gaza Unable to Speak - The security officials pf the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) manning the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank assaulted, abused and strip-searched at gunpoint Palestinian journalist and photographer Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism and was honored by New American Media as the “Best Youth Voice” for 2006. “Omer returned to his native Gaza Strip on Thursday… literally unconscious and unable to speak after being beaten and tortured by Israeli troops. He is still unable to speak so I was not able to communicate with him,” Steve Amsel of Desert Peace said on Saturday. Omer was on a speaking tour of the United States.

Palestinian Journalist harassed on his way back from a Europe tour
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 6/29/2008
Palestinian journalist Mohammad Omer, from Rafah was harassed by Israeli border Authorities on his way back from a speaking tour in Europe. Upon arrival to Jordan, he was informed by the Dutch embassy that he is not welcomed in Israel. However, the Dutch embassy coordinated his entry with the Israeli Authorities and thus he proceeded to King Hussein terminal on Thursday. Israeli border police stopped him and took him for interrogation, Omer told IMEMC over the phone, adding that he was beaten by the Israeli intelligence officers. He also said that the officer asked him, "Why did you come back? we allowed you to leave because like, other Gaza youth, dream of leaving the Gaza Strip. ""Why do you leave a good life like in Europe, to come back to Gaza, there you have water and electricity and many things that you do not have in Gaza," the officer said.

Israeli security officers assault prize-winning journalist
Mel Frykberg, Daily Star 6/30/2008
Inter Press ServiceGAZA CITY: Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the Occupied West Bank last week as he tried to return home to Gaza. The incident took place on Thursday as Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza and previous recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians. Omer’s trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch Embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating his travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials.

Two more migrants, including child, killed in Sinai
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/30/2008
AL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian police shot dead two Africans, one a 7-year-old girl, in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday as they tried to cross the border illegally into Israel, a security official said. Officers opened fire on a group that included the child, a Sudanese, and a man in his thirties whose nationality was not immediately known, killing both on the spot, the official told AFP. The latest deaths take to 16 the number of migrants killed by Egyptian police on the frontier with Israel this year, he added. In February, human rights group Amnesty International slammed Egypt’s use of force at the border. [end]

Khateeb slams’ Muslims’ weak stand on Aqsa
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Deputy-head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948-ocupied Palestinian lands Sheikh Kamal Al-Khateeb has strongly condemned the Arab and Muslims’ feeble stand on the Aqsa Mosque, asserting that Israel was imposing its sovereignty on it. Khateeb also slammed the PA leadership and the PA negotiating team who sits with the Israelis despite the Israeli occupation government’s construction of more than 9,000 settlement units around the sacred Muslim shrine. He also deplored those who say that they were surprised by the Israeli construction activities in occupied Jerusalem, adding that those officials should know better than anyone else that the Israeli construction activities didn’t come to a stop since the holy city fell under the Israeli occupation in 1967. "They are indeed ignorant about the Israeli policies that prioritize the judaization of Jerusalem,. . .

Hamas warns: Israeli excavations in Jerusalem will destroy the Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement warned that the ongoing Israeli excavations which are aimed to Judaize occupied Jerusalem would destroy the Aqsa Mosque, highlighting that the Arab and Muslim countries will not be excused for not acting to save the holy Mosque from this systematic destruction. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, underlined that the Israeli excavations and judaization schemes overstepped the red lines and therefore the Movement and the whole Palestinian people will not condone to see the holy Mosque being destroyed and the Israeli occupation will have to face the consequences. Barhoum pointed out that the Israeli occupation exploits the agreements it signed with Arab countries as well as the American support and the European complicity to obliterate Islamic features in the holy city, adding that Israel also took advantage of the inter-Palestinian discord which it had created and entrenched.

PHCR suspects torture of 72-year-old man at Deir al Balah prison
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A preliminary investigation by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PHCR) suggests that the death of Taleb Mohammed Abu Sitta, 72, in the Deir al Balah police station in the central Gaza Strip on Friday was the result of torture. PCHR is calling for a through investigation into the death of the man, and full disclosure of the results. Acording to Abu Sitta’s family, Thursday afternoon police officers entered the man’s home in al-Zawaida village in the central Gaza Strip. Officers had with them Abu Sitta’s son, 26-year-old Mustafa, who had been arrested the day before. Officers searched the house, apparently for drugs. They then arrested Abu Sitta and took him to Deir al-Balah police station. On Friday morning, Abu Sitta’s body was taken by ambulance to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where he died.

Fatah accuses Hamas of detaining 49 of its ’leaders’ in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Fatah movement released the names of 49 of its members on Saturday that it says are imprisoned by the Hamas-led de facto government in the Gaza Strip. Fatah claims that Hamas authorities have forbidden the detainees families and the representatives of humanitarian organizations from visiting Fatah activists in prison. The movement also alleged that Hamas has denied the arrestees adequate medical treatment. The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has also arrested and imprisoned members of Hamas. Hamas has not yet responded to Fatah’s latest charge. Fatah statement named the arrestees as follows:Samir Al-Malfouh, Wael Al-Athamnah, Khadir Shadi, Raed Al-Muqawisi, Ghannam Ahmad, Rafeeq Abu Harbeed, Muhammad Abu Harbeed, Muhammad Shubat, Bilal Al-Athamnah, Diyab Muhammad, Khadir Al-Muqayyad, Muhanna Nasser, Hussein Dhahir,. . .

Ashraf Jum’a: Al-Aqsa Brigades still part of Fatah despite truce-breaking attack
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Ashraf Jum’a, a Fatah-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) denied a report on Tuesday that Fatah had withdrawn organizational support for its military wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, after the organization launched homemade projectiles at Israel in violation of a Hamas-Israel ceasefire in Gaza. According to Jum’a, the accusation that Fatah had withdrawn support for its fighters came from Taher An-Nunu, a spokesperson for the Hamas-run de facto government of the Gaza Strip. Jum’a, while reaffirming that the Al-Aqsa Brigades are a part of the Fatah movement, called on Fatah’s fighters to abide by the Egyptian-brokered truce. He said Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas support the truce. Jum’a also demanded that the de facto government release Mohammad Abu Ermaneh (known as Abu Qusay), the spokesperson of the Al-Aqsa Brigades in Gaza.

Hamas won’t recognize Abbas presidency past January 2009
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Hamas is stepping up its war of words against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as the acting speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, Ahmed Bachar, announced Sunday that the organization will not recognize the Abbas presidency past January 9, 2009. The move comes in reponse to a resolution passed by a special judicial panel over the weekend, according to which Abbas’ term is scheduled to end in January 2010, which also coincides with the end of the parliament’s term in office. Bachar said that Abbas’ term ought to expire four years after his election, and any deviation from that four-year window runs counter to the Palestinian constitution. Palestinian Authority officials claim that an amendment was added to the constitution upon Abbas’ election, stating that the president’s term runs through the duration of parliament’s term in office.

Assad to host Abbas for talks in July
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/30/2008
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to hold talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad next month during a tour of Arab and European countries, his spokesman said on Saturday. Syria provides shelter to Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshaal, whose movement won democratic elections in January 2006 and then touted gunmen loyal to Abbas’ Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip a year ago, effectively splitting the Palestinians into two entities. [end]

’Done deal’ for new Lebanese government done in by bickering
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 6/30/2008
BEIRUT: Rival Lebanese factions have reportedly failed to reach a deal on the distribution of portfolios in the new cabinet following reports of a possible rapprochement between Priem Minister-designate Fouad Siniora and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader MP Michel Aoun that would eventually lead to the birth of the new government. But the deal has reportedly stumbled over Aoun’s insistence on including the Public Works and Transportation portfolio in a package that was reportedly offered to him by Siniora late last week. The package offered to the FPM leader includes the post of deputy premier, the Telecommunications Ministry, and three other portfolios. Meanwhile, Future Movement MP Ammar Houri told The Daily Star Sunday that Siniora and President Michel Sleiman were close to taking a decision to go ahead with the formation of a new cabinet irrespective of whether Aoun agrees to the distribution of government portfolios.

Syria put troops in Lebanon ahead of Israeli drill - report
Daily Star 6/30/2008
A publishing house specialized in military matters reported that commercially available satellite imagery shows Syrian troops deployed on Lebanese territory along the border in early 2008, just ahead of Israel’s largest ever military drill. The report, published in Jane’s Defense Weekly earlier this month, said that images obtained through DigitalGlobe show Syrian troops being deployed in the remote and rugged hills north of the Lebanese town of Rashaya al-Wadi. The report added that these maneuvers took place just before Israel was due to hold a five-day nationwide response drill in early April. According to the report, entitled "Middle ground: Lebanon plays buffer as Syria and Israel simmer," the Syrian bases are "aimed solely at creating a defensive line in the event of an Israeli military advance and are not conduits for weaponry" smuggled from Syria to Hizbullah.

US steps up funds for covert action against Iran - report
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/30/2008
The US Congress last year approved President George W. Bush’s funding request of $400 million for a dramatic increase in covert operations against Iran to undermine Tehran’s leadership, a US magazine reported Sunday. The move reveals a "major escalation" in clandestine operations aimed at destabilizing the Islamic Republic’s religious leadership amid concerns over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, said the report in The New Yorker citing former military, intelligence and congressional sources. Among the methods being used are increased US support for minority and dissident groups and intelligence gathering about Iran’s nuclear facilities, said the article, written and reported by Seymour Hersh. Although such covert activities in Iran are not new on the part of the United States, the magazine said the "scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence. . .

Former Israeli spymaster: We have year to hit Iran nukes
Reuters and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Israel must destroy Iran’s nuclear program within the next 12 months or risk being attacked with an atomic bomb itself, the former head of the Mossad told the British Sunday Telegraph. "As an intelligence officer working with the worst-case scenario, I can tell you we should be prepared," Shabtai Shavit, who served as Mossad chief from 1989 to 1996, told the British paper. "We should do whatever necessary on the defensive side, on the offensive side, on the public opinion side for the West, in case sanctions don’t work. What’s left is a military action. " "The time that is left to be ready is getting shorter all the time," Shavit told the Telegraph. Shavit added that a victory by Democratic nominee Barack Obama in the November presidential election would significantly lower the chances that the U. S. would approve of military action against Iran.

Iranian general says 320,000 graves being dug for invaders
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/30/2008
TEHRAN: Iran is to dig 320,000 graves in border districts to allow for the burial of enemy soldiers in the event of any attack on its territory, a top commander said on Sunday. "In implementation of the Geneva Conventions. . . the necessary measures are being taken to provide for the burial of enemy soldiers," the Mehr news agency quoted General Mir-Faisal Bagherzadeh as saying. "We have plans to dig 15,000 to 20,000 graves in each of the border provinces or a total of 320,000," the general said, some of them mass graves if necessary. Bagherzadeh said Iran was keen to "reduce the suffering of the families of the fallen in any attack against our country. . . and prevent any repetition of the long and bitter experience of the Vietnam War," when thousands of US troops went missing and rumors of their being held as prisoners continued to this day.

Report: Iran preparing to fire missiles at Dimona
Ynet, YNetNews 6/29/2008
British Times quotes defense sources as saying Tehran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions following reported large-scale IAF exercise. Former Mossad chief says Israel has only one year to stop Iran from developing nuclear bomb - Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, the London-based Times newspaper reported Sunday, quoting defense sources. According to the report, the movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 1,250 miles, followed a reported large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israel Air Force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Iran warns of 'limitless' response to any military strike.

Iran says will dig hundreds of thousands of graves of ’invaders’
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Senior Revolutionary Guard commander quoted in Iranian media warning Tehran will begin digging 320,000 grave plots on country’s borders for slain soldiers of enemy armies, should they attack Islamic Republic - Iran continues to brace for a possible offensive against it. A senior Revolutionary Guards commander announced on Sunday that Iran would dig ’some 320,000’ graves for the bodies of the slain enemy soldiers killed in a hypothetical military campaign against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Brigadier General Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, whose title was given by the Iranian FARS news agency as ’the Head of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense,’ said that every border province would dig 15,000 to 20,000 graves. While he did not single out any particular ’enemy,’ the Brig. Gen.

Free Gaza invites Khudari to participate in anti-siege sail from Cyprus to Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)- The European Movement of Free Gaza invited Sunday MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, to participate in an anti-siege sail from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip next August within the efforts made to break the unjust Israeli siege. Up to 100 international volunteers and notables will sail from Cyprus to Gaza in two to six seagoing vessels of 12 to 60 passengers each. The prospective date is August 15, but will depend upon funding, logistics, weather and other factors. The journey will take approximately 24 hours, according to Free Gaza. "We   will   no   longer   wait   for the UN to enforce over 65 resolutions against Israel or for Israel to come forward and uphold the rights of Palestinians guaranteed by the universal declaration of human rights and the fourth Geneva convention.

Gazan traders reluctant to import goods, fearing fragility of truce
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
[Ma’anImages] Gaza – Ma’an – As Israel continued to delay fully opening the Gaza Strip border crossings on Sunday, many Gazan traders expressed their fears that the intermittent and partial functioning of the crossings was unlikely to change, and warned that this will prolong the disastrous economic conditions in the Strip. Gazan traders and importers, who have been unable to operate during the siege, explained that because of the fragility of the truce, they have not yet asked any of the companies they previously dealt with to ship goods to the Gaza Strip, for fear that the crossings will remain closed. Trader Abdallah Abu ’Aida told Ma’an, "I hope the truce continues, the crossings are opened, and things get strong enough so that we are able to contact the shipping companies we deal with to send products to Gaza.

Red Cross: Israel’s siege destroyed all aspects of life in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The Red Cross stated that the Israeli siege imposed over the past two years had caused devastating impact on all aspects of daily life for one and a half million Palestinians living in Gaza, adding "The Gaza economy collapsed". "Fuel and raw materials are essential to local industry. While humanitarian assistance does make a difference to a lot of people in Gaza, local production and trade must resume in order for the situation of the civilian population as a whole to improve significantly," said Katharina Ritz, the head of the Red Cross mission in Jerusalem. Ritz explained that essential items are required to keep industry running and to repair infrastructure, such as building materials which were not allowed in Gaza in over a year as well as hospitals and water-pumping stations are in dire need of spare parts to maintain and replace equipment.

Abu Zuhri: Hamas’s commitment to calm serves national interests
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Sunday stressed that its commitment to the calm agreement with Israeli occupation was in return for a price that Israel has to abide by topped by lifting the siege and ending aggression. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said in a press statement that commitment to calm was a national consensus and in response to national interests. He noted that the crossings were still being gradually and slowly opened, and added that Hamas would allow more chance to test the Israeli occupation’s commitment to the agreement especially on lifting the siege. The spokesman underlined that his Movement approved the calm out of keenness on Palestinian interests in a bid to lift the siege and alleviate the Palestinian people’s suffering. "We hope that other factions would continue to abide by calm with continued, joint evaluation on the path of calm," he. . .

Gaza Strip crossings to open gradually
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Tankers arrived on Sunday morning to Nahal ’Oz crossing point with a delivery of fuel for the Gaza Strip. This comes after Israel’s decision to close the crossings four days ago. According to Palestinian sources, the terminal will now be partially opened. Sources stated that one tanker of cooking gas and two tankers of industrial diesel for the electricity generating station are waiting to enter Gaza. All other crossings (including Karni and Sufa) are still closed. However, it is expected that quantities of wheat and fodder will be delivered through the Karni crossing, which, sources say, may be opened three days a week to allow eight truckloads per day to come through. The Sufa crossing is for the delivery of goods and remains closed. Palestinian Mnister of Finance in the Hamas-led de facto government in Gaza Ziyad Dhadha announced on Saturday that Israel. . .

Lehman’s Damocles index points to trouble for Israel
Globes Online 6/29/2008
"The ever widening trade deficit is gradually eroding Israel’s current account surplus. " Lehman Brothers’ Damocles is an external-crisis measure that looks at ten monthly indicators that are often recognized as possible predictors of external financial crises. The investment bank gives Israel a positive Damocles score of 28, the first time in five years that the country’s is positive. Generally, a higher figure implies a higher risk of "external financial crisis". Lehman Brothers notes that Israel’s current account is still in surplus but looks set to move into the red by next year if not earlier. Foreign direct investment flows have slowed compared with last year but the basic balance is still relatively strong. However, the strength of domestic demand is reflected in the ever widening trade deficit that is gradually eroding Israel’s current account surplus.

Africa-Israel exec: Leviev departure hurt
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 6/29/2008
Chairman Lev Leviev’s move to London hurt the firm’s image, although the new CEO claims it helped operations. The move to London by Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE: AFIL; Pink Sheets: AFIVY) chairman Lev Leviev hurt the company’s image, deputy chairman Nadav Grinshpon told "Globes" today. Grinshpon and new Africa-Israel CEO Izzy Cohen said that Leviev’s move to London helped the company’s operations, however. Grinshpon said, "An unpleasant situation has arisen, with huge articles about the house Leviev bought in London, while the share price was falling. This hurt Leviev’s religious public in Israel, and journalists found a new punching bag - Africa-Israel. " Grinshpon added that nothing had changed operationally at Africa-Israel. "Leviev moved to be close to his business in locations were he is strong.

ISRAEL: Ethiopian Jews disadvantaged, marginalised
Jewish Agency for Israel, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 6/29/2008
Some 110,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, mostly in the outlying suburbs of Israel’s main cities, where housing is cheaper TEL AVIV,, 29 June 2008 (IRIN) - The Ethiopian Jews who have emigrated to Israel over the past 30 years have not integrated well. A recent report by the state comptroller blamed successive governments. Former judge Micha Lindenstrauss who, as the government appointed comptroller, oversees and reviews the conduct of the state authorities, said in May the government had not done enough to assimilate fully the 110,000-strong community, whose members tend to live in the outlying suburbs of Israel’s main cities, where housing is cheaper. He said the Welfare Ministry, which provides assistance - including cash grants, vocational training and job placements - to over 65 percent of the Ethiopians, had not properly trained its employees on how to offer the right help to people trying to adjust to a new mode of living.

Cartoon of the day
Ben Heine, Palestine Think Tank 6/29/2008
Mohammed Omer as seen by Ben Heine [end]

OPT: Israel reopens Gaza border crossings
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 6/29/2008
JERUSALEM, Jun 29, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Israel on Sunday reopened several border crossings into the Gaza Strip, following a four-day closure in response to truce-violating rocket attacks from the Palestinian enclave. The Sufa commercial crossing, the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, the Erez crossing and the Karni crossing resumed operations on Sunday morning, with some restrictions, said an Israeli military spokesman. The Jewish state opened its Gaza border crossings after an Egypt-brokered ceasefire with militant groups in the Hamas-ruled strip came into effect on June 19, but closed them again on Wednesday after the Islamic Jihad (Holy War) fired three Qassam rockets at Sderot town on Tuesday in revenge for the killing of one of its militants in the West Bank. The ceasefire calls for the Gaza militants to stop rocket fire and other attacks against Israel and for Israel to gradually lift its siege on the enclave.

Palestinians: Israeli troops kill teenager in West Bank
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Israel Defense Forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during a night patrol in a West Bank village early Sunday, Palestinian medical officials and witnesses said. Troops opened fire on the 17-year-old after midnight on Sunday, a witness said, adding that village youths often throw stones at army patrols at around that time but that the victim was unarmed. The IDF said a Palestinian attacked soldiers with two Molotov cocktails in the village of Tubas and the soldiers shot him. The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said the soldiers tried to resuscitate the youth but failed. On Friday night soldiers shot and killed another Palestinian 17-year-old who Israeli and Palestinian officials said was throwing Molotov cocktails at a West Bank patrol.

IOF troops kill Palestinian youth in cold blood
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
TOBAS, (PIC)-- A Palestinian teenager was killed at dawn Sunday in cold blood at the hands of Israeli occupation forces in the city of Tobas to the north of the West Bank. Medical and local sources said that Mohammed Daraghma, 17, was killed during an IOF incursion into the town. The sources said that the soldiers killed Daraghma in cold blood when they spotted him in the main road of the city, and added that he died on the spot. The sources said that the troops took away Daraghma’s body. The IOF soldiers on Friday evening killed a 14-year-old Palestinian child during an incursion into Beit Ummar village north of Al-Khalil city. [end]

Hamas denies presence of new official overtures on prisoner swap deal
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Osama Al-Muzaini, a prominent Hamas leader, categorically denied Sunday that there were new official overtures regarding the prisoner swap deal, stating that his Movement accepted an Egyptian invitation to hold indirect talks with the Israeli side in this regard without appointing a date. In a press statement, Dr. Muzaini emphasized that Hamas will not start any talks unless it feels certain that Israel is fully committed to the truce agreement items.   The Hamas leader underlined that the Palestinian resistance will not relinquish the list of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli captive soldier, adding that Israel has to release all imprisoned women and children in addition to 1,000 prisoners serving high sentences. Dr. Ahmed Shwaideh, the minister of detainees and ex-detainees in Gaza, stated that Israel’s persistence in kidnapping PLC lawmakers. . .

Press report: Hamas refused release of its prisoners only in swap deal
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
LONDON, (PIC)-- A responsible source in Hamas has said that his Movement had rejected an Israeli offer to release 450 of its prisoners in occupation jails and to forget about other factions’ prisoners, according to a press report on Sunday. The London-based ’Al-Hayat’ newspaper quoted the unidentified source as saying that the Israeli official entrusted with the prisoners’ exchange file told the Egyptian side of the offer, which was immediately turned down and described as "ridiculous" by Hamas. The source asserted that Hamas did not change its position in the swap deal, and held the Hebrew state responsible for impeding an agreement. Hamas is not in a hurry and is ready to wait for a long time until it wins a good deal, the source said, explaining that his Movement insists on the release of all prisoners included in the list submitted with Egypt.

Thousands gather for London’s ’Salute to Israel’
Hagit Klaiman, YNetNews 6/30/2008
Israeli flags line streets of London, Manchester during celebratory solidarity event marking Israel’s 60th anniversary -Some 45,000 people took part in the ’Salute to Israel’ parade in Britain on Sunday, celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary. The parade, an annual staple in New York, was brought to the UK through the collaborative efforts of the Zionist Federation and the Israeli Embassy in London. The parade set off from Piccadilly and ended in Trafalgar Square, with floats, decorated vehicles and a band escorting participants through London’s streets. London march (Photo: John Ripkind) Guests of honor at the rally in Trafalgar were Israeli Diaspora Minister Isaac Herzog, London Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and British Education Minister Ed Balls. Minister Herzog delivered a speech that touched on the Iranian threat and efforts to. . .

Sheldon Adelson - Jewish philanthropist or meddler in Israel’s affairs?
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
A New Yorker profile of Sheldon Adelson, the American Jew born into poverty who became the third richest person in the United States, paints a portrait of a pro-Israel Republican hardliner, who has even invested heavily in an Israeli newspaper in a bid to propel Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu back into the PM’s seat. The article explores Adelson’s rise, the riches he has garnered from his casinos in Las Vegas and Macao, his switch from Democrat to Republican, and his efforts to halt the Middle East peace process, ostensibly by ousting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Adelson is "fiercely opposed to the two-state solution," the article says, going on to claim that he and former ally Olmert fell out over the latter’s decision to move ahead with peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israel agrees to free killer in return for soldiers’ bodies
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 6/30/2008
Israel agreed yesterday to free a notorious Lebanese killer and several other Hizbullah fighters in exchange for the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers whose abduction culminated in the 2006 Lebanon war. The decision to agree to the UN-brokered deal came after six hours of intense discussion by the Israeli cabinet which voted 22-3 in favour of the exchange even though it was finally revealed that the soldiers were dead. For weeks there had been growing speculation that the captured Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, were no longer alive, prompting a fierce debate over whether Israel was giving up too much to make good its promise to bring home soldiers - or the bodies of soldiers - who fall into enemy hands. Hizbullah fighters captured Regev and Goldwasser in July 2006 in a cross-border raid, provoking a 34-day war with Israel that killed 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 157 Israelis.

Sources: Hezbollah swap likely by Lebanon war anniversary
Barak Ravid and Yossi Melman, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the two Israel Defense Forces reservists abducted by Hezbollah two years ago in a raid that sparked the Second Lebanon War, are to be released in a prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah approved by the cabinet on Sunday. In exchange for the captive soldiers, Israel will release jailed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who murdered a Nahariya family in 1979, and four Hezbollah militants, the remains of Lebanese civilians and several dozen Palestinian prisoners. Sources in Israel said the swap would probably take place by July 12, when Hezbollah is planning a victory ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. After five hours of tense debate, 22 ministers voted in favor of the deal and three-Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Boim voted against it.

What does it mean? An outline of the prisoner exchange deal
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Following the cabinet’s approval of aprisoner exchange deal with the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah on Sunday, the government issued an official statement outlining the principles of the agreement:"The government approves the agreement for the release of the soldiers held hostage in Lebanon in accordance with the following:1. The kidnapped soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, will be returned to Israel. A report regarding the disappearance of Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad will be handed to Israel, in accordance with government decision number 978, taken on November 9, 2003, and the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in the Second Lebanon War that have not yet been handed over will be returned. In return for the kidnapped soldiers, Israel will release prisoners and detainees currently held in. . .

Captive soldier’s mother: I won’t feel at ease until I hold my son
Barak Ravid Jack Khoury Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
The mother of one of the Israel Defense Forces reservists who were abducted by Hezbollah in 2006 said Sunday that though the cabinet had approved by an overwhelming majority the prisoner exchange deal that would see the return of her son, she will not feel relief until the deal was executed. "I will feel relieved only when my son is back in my arms," said Miki Goldwasser, the mother of Ehud Goldwasser, adding that the details of the deal were not specified in a meeting that followed the cabinet discussion, which aimed to brief the family members on what had transpired. Miki Goldwasser also said that despite the cabinet’s approval of the exchange she "still does not see it as a done deal. " The families of both Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the other kidnapped soldier, issued a statement Sunday praising the cabinet’s. . .

VIDEO - Olmert listened to Karnit, and wept
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 6/30/2008
(Video) After government rules in favor of prisoner exchange swap, Prime Minister Olmert met in private with captives’ families for emotional talk. He’d declared their sons ’most likely dead’ just hours before. Officials say prisoner exchange with Hizbullah likely to go through within two weeks - VIDEO -After six hours of heated debate, the cabinet on Sunday voted in favor of the proposed prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah to secure the return of IDF captives Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. The motion was carried with a majority of 22 ministers, who sided with the official stance of the IDF and against that of the Mossad and Shin Bet. After the proposal was ratified, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gathered the families of the captives to his office and told them about the decision.

Bar-On: If we cede Kuntar, Barghouti will be next
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
Three government ministers voted against the prisoner swap deal Sunday-Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Housing Minister Zeev Boim. The three said that the deal constitutes a victory for the Hezbollah. "After the release of Kuntar, who will be able to stop the release of Marwan Barghouti? " Bar-On said Sunday. "Anyone who says that Samir Kuntar is no bargaining chip for Ron Arad is mistaken" he added. Bar-On continued: "We gave an official promise to the Arad family, and we can’t go back on it. " Bar-On also expressed his objection to the release of Palestinian terrorists. "It will give Nasrallah solutions for the Palestinian issues, which I believe is a dangerous precedent," he said, adding that it will also push the price for [kidnapped soldier Gilad] Shalit up.

Hezbollah: Approval of swap deal shows our word is supreme
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 6/30/2008
In response to thecabinet’s approval on Sunday of a decision to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in exchange for kidnapped Israel Defense Forces reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Hezbollah said the move was a testament to the strength of the Lebanese guerilla organization. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television quoted a senior official, Executive Council chief Hashem Safieddine, as saying the approval of the prisoner exchange also shows that the militant group’s word is "supreme. "Bassam Kuntar, the brother of Lebanon’s longest held prisoner in Israel, Samir Kuntar, also praised Hezbollah’s 2006 capture of the two Israeli soldiers. Kuntar told Al-Manar TV that the return of Lebanese prisoners from Israelshows that the resistance is ready.

Emotional, captives’ families welcome deal
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Prime minister meets in private with captives’ families after cabinet approves prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah for emotional conversation. Miki Goldwasser: Support of public, media ’a source of national pride’ - "After this difficult week we’ve just been through - my heart aches, it’s very hard for me, I’m very tired and drained inside. I don’t know how to process everything, I need at least two days of quiet to sit with myself and try to understand what’s going to happen, how it will all turn out," said a distraught Karnit Goldwasser as she came out of her meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday afternoon after the cabinet voted in favor of the proposed prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah. Olmert invited the families of captive soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev to his Jerusalem office and embraced them warmly before explaining the details of the agreement and his own internal indecision prior to the vote.

’Government failed to uphold promises to Arad family’
Roni Lifshitz, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Attorney representing family of Ron Arad and head of Born Free organization vows efforts to obtain information regarding fate of MIA navigator will continue. ’I hope that one day we will bring him back home,’ says Eliad Shraga -Acceptance of the prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah will eliminate the last bargaining chip in MIA navigatorRon Arad’s case, Samir Kuntar. Attorney Eliad Shraga head of the Born Free organization and Arad family representative told Ynet on Sunday evening that "it is a big shame that the government did not withstand the agreements pertaining to the second stage of the previous prisoner exchange deal. We will continue to attempt attaining information on Ron. I hope that one day we will bring him back home. " Sealing the DealCabinet approves prisoner swap deal/ Roni Sofer (Video) Officials say prisoner exchange with Hizbullah likely to go through within two weeks.

Dozens rally in Jerusalem, urge cabinet to okay Regev-Goldwasser deal
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Myriad of people gather in capital ahead of crucial cabinet vote on prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah. ’I hope the ministers will come to their senses and vote in favor of deal,’ says Goldwasser’s mother -Dozens of people rallied Sunday in the Government Plaza in Jerusalem and called on the ministers to approve the prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah, which would facilitate in the return of kidnapped IDF soldiersEldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. "I hope the ministers will come to their senses and vote in favor of the deal," Miki Goldwasser, Ehud’s mother, told Ynet. "We’ve spoken with the prime minister and we’ve made our case," she said. Earlier Sunday, Miki Goldwasser relayed a letter to the government, urging it to bring her son home. Shlomo Goldwasser, Ehud’s father, added that "this is the final stretch in a case involving everyone in Israel, not just the abductees’ families.

Hizbullah: Deal proves our strength
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Lebanese organization holds up prisoner exchange deal approved by cabinet as testament of its strength. Samir Kuntar’s brother says Hizbullah to marshal festivities for his return while Kuntar’s attorney says after his release he may start a family - Hizbullah celebrated the decision of the Israeli cabinet on Sunday to approve the proposed prisoner exchange deal. Kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, presumed dead by the military and government, will be traded for notorious terrorist Samir Kuntar and four additional Lebanese prisoners. In Beirut, the organization said the decision reflected the group’s strength. " What happened in the prisoners issue is a proof that the word of the resistance is the most faithful, strongest and supreme," the Hizbullah-owned Al-Manar Television quoted the organization’s Executive Council chief Hashem Safieddine as saying.

Kuntar mustn’t be freed, says Danny Haran’s brother
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Roni Keren, who lost his brother, nieces to terrorist’s murderous attack, says letting killer go may carry ’severe consequences. ’ Victim’s wife sends cabinet letter asking ministers to disregard her personal pain, make decision according to Israel’s needs - "The mere thought that Kuntar might be freed makes my stomach turn," said Roni Keren Sunday. Terrorist Samir Kuntar was jailed 29 years ago for killing Keren’s brother, Danny Haran, and his two daughters, Einat and Yael. Any prisoner exchange deal which would result in Kuntar’s release would carry "severe consequences," warned Keren: "This isn’t about revenge. This vile killer never expressed any remorse and he might end up making a triumphant return toLebanon. We cannot allow that. " Crunch TimeOlmert urges ministers to approve swap deal/ Roni Sofer (VIdeo) Despite defense officials’ warning. . .

Noam Shalit: ''˜I’m happy their nightmare is over’
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit expresses happiness for Regev, Goldwasser families saying he believes their case has no connection to release of his son; "˜each case needs to be discussed separately’ - Noam Shalit, father of Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped over two years ago by Hamas said Sunday evening that he is happy for the families of kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser who received confirmation that the prisoner exchange deal withHizbullah was accepted by the government. Shalit said to Ynet, "I am happy that the nightmare they endured for the last two years is coming to an end. "  He added that he doesn’t believe that the confirmed deal reached on Sunday is connected to the release of his son. "Each case needs to be discussed separately," he said. A Mother’s CryMothers call for Gilad Shalit’s release/ Shmulik. . .

I won’t let Hizbullah use me’
Roni Lifshitz, YNetNews 6/29/2008
In 1979 Samir Kuntar who murdered her family, now Smadar Haran refuses to let her personal tragedy impede the return of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. ’I don’t have a monopoly over pain, suffering or justice,’ she says, asking gov’t to do what is best for Israel, not her - "It is very difficult for me to be here today, I am here despite the difficulty. Kidnappings cause ongoing pain and torment for all those involved," began Smadar Haran as she addressed a press conference on Sunday while the cabinet voted on a proposal to release Samir Kuntar, the man who murdered her husband and two young girls, in exchange of captive Israeli soldiers. "Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s cynical tactic is to use victims in order to cause division, to split the public and to use the Israeli media as a sound horn and speakers for his manipulations," said Haran.

Israeli cabinet approves prisoner exchange with Hizbullah
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The Israeli cabinet approved a prisoner exchange deal with the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah that will likely result in the return of captive Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who are believed to be dead. Twenty-two out of 25 ministers voted in favor of the deal at the urging of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim, and Finance Minister Ronny Bar-On voted against the proposal. "At the end of a long process, I have reached the conclusion that as the Israeli prime minister I must recommend that you approve the proposal which will bring this painful affair to an end – even at the painful price it requires us to pay," Olmert reportedly said during the cabinet meeting. Until the meeting, it was not clear which way Olmert would vote on the deal.

Israeli cabinet approves a swap deal with Hezbollah
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 6/29/2008
On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved a prisoner swap deal with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party. The deal would see the release of the two Israeli soldiers (assumed dead) captured by Hezbollah, while Israel would release five Lebanese detainees, including Sameer Al Quntar, four Hezbollah members and the bodies of ten fighters, and will also release Palestinian detainees. Al Quntar was captured by Israel in 1979. As part of the deal, Hezbollah is to receive information on four missing Iranian diplomats and will hand Israel information on the fate of the missing Israeli navigator, Ron Arad. The Israeli cabinet approved the deal by 22 votes out of 25 during a cabinet meeting on Sunday. Israeli sources reported that the deal was supported by 18 members of the cabinet. The 18 are members of Labor party, the Pensioners Party Shas Party and Kadima party.

Cabinet authorizes swap to return soldiers
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 6/29/2008
Prime Minister Olmert told ministers that he believed that the two Israeli captives held by Hizbullah are no longer alive. The cabinet has approved the prisoner swap agreement with Hizbullah. The decision, which followed a six-hour meeting earlier today, was approved by a majority of 22-3 with ministers Daniel Friedman, Ronnie Bar-On, and Zeev Boim voting against the deal. The swap was approved after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave it his support, although he said that he believed the captured soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, are no longer alive. Olmert met the families of the captured soldiers in his office after the meeting. The deal will see the return of the two soldiers after two years in captivity. In exchange, Israel is to set free Samir Kuntar, murderer of the Haran family in Nahariya in 1979, and five other Lebanese prisoners.

Karnit Goldwasser: How could PM declare captives dead?
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Wife of kidnapped IDF soldier amazed to hear Olmert informed cabinet ministers troops are probably no longer alive. ’All we ask for is an end to this affair,’ she says - Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser, waited Sunday afternoon outside the government building in hopes that cabinet ministers would approve the potential prisoner swap deal withHizbullah. Goldwasser expressed her satisfaction with Prime Minister’s Ehud Olmert’s plan to support the move, but was amazed to hear from Ynet reporters that Olmert said he was certain Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were dead. Brother’s DilemmaKuntar mustn’t be freed, says Danny Haran’s brother / Roi Mandel Roni Keren, who lost his brother, nieces to terrorist’s murderous attack, says letting killer go may carry ’severe consequences.

Israeli government endorses swap deal with Hizbullah with big majority
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
OCCUPIEd JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli government on Sunday endorsed the prisoners’ exchange deal with the Lebanese Hizbullah party with a big majority of 22 ministers opposed by only 3 others. The government’s secretary said in a statement he read to journalists that Israel would release five prisoners including the oldest serving Lebanese prisoner Samir Al-Kuntar and would also deliver the remains of dozens of Hizbullah fighters. In return the Israeli authorities would receive the two captured soldiers in Lebanon Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser along with remains of soldiers who were killed during the second Lebanon war and a report on the fate of the missing air force navigator Ron Arad, the secretary said. He pointed out that a number of Palestinian prisoners would be released after conclusion of the swap deal.

Chief military rabbi ’convinced captives are dead’
Ronen Bergman, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Brigadier-General Avi Ronsky tells his associates information presented to him enough to declare kidnapped IDF soldiers Regev, Goldwasser ’killed in action’ - Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General Avi Ronsky reached a conclusion last Tuesday night that the information presented to him is enough to declare kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev "killed in action". According to his associates, however, Ronsky won’t announce his decision until after the government votes on a prisoner exchange deal withHizbullah. The rabbi’s aides have said that he told him the medical and intelligence information presented to him last week convinced him that the two troops were dead, but that he may wait with the announcement until Israel and Hizbullah sign the swap deal.

Ministers opposed to prisoner swap: Deal is a victory for Hezbollah
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
The three cabinet ministers who on Sunday voted against exchanging prisoners with Hezbollah, said the fact that the swap was in fact a victory for the Lebanon-based guerilla organization. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim and Finance Minister Ronny Bar-On were outvoted by 22 ministers who supported a deal that would see abducted Israel Defense Forces reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser returned to Israel in exchange for Lebanese prisoners, among them the notorious Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar. Kuntar has been jailed in Israel since perpetrating a terror attack in Nahariya in 1979 during which four Israelis were brutally killed. "After Kuntar is released, who will prevent the release of Marwan Barghouti? "asked Bar-On after the cabinet session.

VIDEO - News / Families of abducted soldiers react cautiously to prisoner swap deal
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 6/29/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for June 29, 2008. After two long years of campaigning, the families of the soldiers abducted at the start of the Second Lebanon War welcomed the government’s approval of a deal on Sunday to bring Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser home. The cabinet approved the prisoner swap deal with Hezbollah by an overwhelming majority of 22-3. But the exhausted loved ones, who were on site in Jerusalem during the six-hour cabinet meeting, reacted cautiously, refraining from expressing relief. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who voted in favor of the deal after what he said were long deliberations, declared the two soldiers dead during the cabinet session.

Families of missing Iranian Jews want answers
Gido Ran, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Government-confirmed prisoner exchange agreement with Hizbullah opens Pandora’s box when relatives of 12 missing Iranian Jews appeal to High Court in attempt to prevent government from using last bargaining chip - The prisoner exchange agreement with Hizbullah is opening additional wounds. On Monday, families of the 12 missing Iranian Jews who disappeared while trying to immigrate to Israel in the 90’s will appeal to the High Court of Justice. They are demanding that no information is provided in the framework of the swap deal about four Iranian diplomats without furthering the search of their close ones, as promised. [end]

Palestinian Customs department seize expired food products in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an- The Palestinian Customs department seized and confiscated quantities of expired food products in Ramallah on Sunday. The Public Relations department of Palestinian Customs confirmed that the seized food had been intended for distribution into local markets. Local security systems, they said, received secret information regarding the expired products, allowing them to act quickly. The department praised the swift work of all staff involved in tracking down the goods,and congratulated them on their successful detention of those smugglers trying to evade the law. [end]

Israel reopens goods crossing on Gaza border
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 6/30/2008
GAZA CITY: Israel on Sunday reopened a Gaza border crossing to allow commercial goods into the Palestinian territory, which had been sealed off after militants fired rockets in violation of a truce. At the same time, the Hamas rulers of the territory arrested the spokesman of a Palestinian faction that claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on Israel on Thursday. The Sufa crossing between Israel and Gaza was reopened Sunday morning, and an Israeli official said 60 to 70 truckloads of humanitarian aid would be allowed into the Palestinian territory in the course of the day. Israeli officials were to decide later whether to also reopen the Karni terminal that has been mainly used to deliver grain to Gaza since Israel imposed a blockade on the impoverished territory. The Nahal Oz terminal, which handles most of the fuel supplies destined for the Gaza Strip, reopened on Friday.

Zaza: Israel will open Gaza crossings partially on Sunday
Palestinian Information Center 6/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ziyad Al-Zaza, the minister of national economy in the PA caretaker government, stated that Israel would open partially on Sunday morning the Gaza crossings to allow in goods by 30 percent increase until the crossings are fully opened next July in accordance with the truce agreement items. In a press statement, Zaza said that the Egyptian mediator managed to urge the Israeli occupation to open the crossings after three-day closure, adding that the crossings will be gradually opened up to next Tuesday. The minister underlined that a sufficient proportion of commodities would be allowed in as agreed upon with the Israeli side, noting that this would contribute significantly to ease the burdens of the Gaza people who had suffered from the ravages of the Israeli siege for a long period of time. The minister called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing immediately if Israel tried to circumvent or breach the calm agreement.

Israel says to reopen Gaza border crossings
Agence France-Presse - AFP, ReliefWeb 6/29/2008
JERUSALEM (AFP)- Israel will on Sunday reopen border crossing points to the Gaza Strip for commercial goods, closed since Wednesday after Palestinian militants fired rockets in violation of a truce, an Israeli officer told AFP. ’The Karni and Sufa crossing points will be reopened Sunday at 8:00 am (0500 GMT) following the relative calm of the past few days,’ Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner told AFP. ’Around 80 trucks filled with goods and humanitarian aid should be authorised to enter the Gaza Strip on Sunday,’ he added. The Nahal Oz terminal for fuel shipments was reopened on Friday. Egypt negotiated the June 19 truce between Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement and the Jewish state, aiming to halt rocket attacks in return for Israel’s lifting of its blockade of Gaza. Islamic Jihad on Tuesday fired three rockets at Israel in what it said was revenge for the death. . .

Governor of Gaza City urges compliance with ceasefire
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The governor of Gaza City, Muhammad Al-Qudwa, called on Palestinian factions on Sunday to comply with the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire agreement with Israel. The governor said the agreement is in the Palestinian national interest, and that it will ease the suffering of Gazans, who have endured both the Israeli siege and the ongoing dispute between Hamas and Fatah. The governor said that unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached an "unprecedented" level. Al-Qudwa said Palestinians should avoid giving Israel pretexts to violate the agreement, and urged Palestinian armed groups not to attack Gaza’s border crossings, as they represent the main portals though which vital supplies of food and fuel pass. Al-Qudwa, himself an appointee of the Palestinian president, said that hoped the current state of relative calm allow for the implementation of President. . .

Palestine weather forecast: temperatures go down
Ma’an News Agency 6/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian meteorological department expects Sunday’s weather to be moderate. Temperatures are expected to drop close to the yearly average. Winds will be southwesterly and moderate. The sea will be tranquil. On Monday, the weather will be average and the skies clear. There will be a slight rise in temperatures, but they will remain around yearly average. Winds will be northwesterly and moderate, and the sea will remain calm. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 29 to 18 / Ramallah: 28 to 17 / Nablus: 30 to 19 / Qalqilia: 29 to 18 / Jenin: 32 to 21 / Salfit: 29 to 18 / Tubas: 31 to 20 / Gaza: 30 to 24 / Hebron: 28 to 16 / Khan Younis: 30 to 24 / Jericho: 38 to 24 / Rafah: 31 to 23

MK Hanegbi: Nothing wrong with political nominations
Neta Sela, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Former environment minister takes stand in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, testifies in case probing alleged political nominations during his tenure -Knesset Member Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima) testified Sunday in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court hearing regarding alleged illicit political nominations during his tenure as environment ministry. In his testimony, Hanegbi was asked if he found anything wrong with the fact that numerousLikud members approached him in order to secure jobs. "I saw nothing wrong with the practice"¦ It was a widely spread custom even before I became a minister. " Hangebi went on to tell the court that many of the party’s members asked him id he could pass on résumés and that overall, he felt "they were trying to help their children. Personally, I found this to be a good thing, that people thought working for the State is a good thing.

Ex-Balad MK Bishara may lose pension if new law passes
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.

Maori tribes to reinforce Jewish people?
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 6/29/2008
Dozens of indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand discover Judaism, study Kabbalah; one even converts to Judaism - Is Israel about to welcome new immigrants belonging to New Zealand’s indigenous Polynesian people? Israel’s Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Yuval Rotem paid an unusual visit this week to the Maori community, which has recently drawn closer to Judaism and Kabbalah. The ambassador and the embassy workers were welcomed by the community members in a Maori ceremony, which included dances, greetings in the local language, songs and the traditional "hongi" (greeting guests by pressing noses with them). The meeting was initiated by the deputy president of Auckland’s reform synagogue, a Maori man who converted to Judaism several years ago. His English name is Steve and his Hebrew name is Shimshon.


Articles


Israelis assault award winning journalist
Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 6/29/2008
      GAZA CITY (IPS) - Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza.
     Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and previous recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians.
     Omer’s trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer’s travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials.
     Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organizations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately.

Sound bombs and tear gas at nonviolent demonstration in Sarra

International Womens’ Peace Service 6/29/2008
      On Saturday 28th June, IWPS volunteers joined Palestinians and other internationals in the village of Sarra for a demonstration against Israel’s policies of land confiscation and closure.
     The village is located in the Nablus district of the West Bank and has a population of`3000. In 2002 the Israelis cut off the village’s access to the main road from Qalqilya to Nablus by building an earth mound at the entrance to the village. Now unable to cross the road, many of the village farmers cannot reach their olive trees. The road closure also means that what used to be a 15 minute journey to Qalqilya now takes 2 hours as the villagers have to travel to Nablus and cross through various checkpoints. Even to get to Nablus the journey now takes 30 minutes where it used to take only 7 minutes.
     The demonstration began at around 3pm with around 200 villagers and internationals walking down to the road block where an army jeep was already waiting. The demonstrators climbed on to the earth mound with an anti-apartheid banner and began chanting resistance songs, while some tried to remove the earth mound using spades. Another five military jeeps and armoured personnel carriers then arrived. After only a few minutes the soldiers threw a sound bomb directly in front of the anti-apartheid banner which was being carried by young boys, this was quickly followed by tear gas, despite the fact that the protest was non-violent. When the demonstration regrouped on the earth mound several youths from the village dressed in traditional Palestinian costumes performed the Dabka, a traditional Palestinian dance.

Tactics that ended apartheid in S. Africa can end it in Israel

Bill Fletcher, Jr, Electronic Intifada 6/29/2008
      The Israeli-Palestinian conflict often inspires a sense of powerlessness. What can average Americans do to bring an end to this decades-old conflict when our leaders have failed so miserably?
     And what good is speaking out about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land as the primary obstacle to peace when even former President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu are condemned for their criticism of Israeli policies?
     This month in San Jose, California, average Americans will have the opportunity to take a stand for peace and justice in the Middle East. The Presbyterian Church US’s General Assembly began Saturday and runs through Sunday at the San Jose Convention Center. At the meeting, which takes place once every two years, delegates will make policy decisions for the 2.3 million-member denomination.
     They will consider corporate engagement, up to divestment, with companies that profit from the obstacles to a just peace in Israel and Palestine. The church is considering approaches to Caterpillar, ITT Industries, Motorola and United Technologies.

Sarkozy’s Ambition in the Middle East

Randa Takieddine, MIFTAH 6/28/2008
      The visit by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to Jerusalem and Bethlehem proves that France has not changed its policy vis-à-vis the Middle East conflict. It proves that the fundamental principles that differentiate it from the US policy remain intact, with an insistence that Jerusalem should be the capital of two states, that a Palestinian state should be established, the Israeli settlement activity halted, and the obstacles before the Palestinian people removed.
     However, what has changed with Sarkozy involves form, and not content. There is also the huge ambition to secure a role in terms of a Middle East settlement. The form involved a message of affection to the Jewish people and Israel, and the use of Biblical passages in his address to the Knesset. In this speech, Sarkozy said that his grandfather was Jewish and was unable to use the word "Germany" because of the Holocaust. Sarkozy said that after everything that had happened, the German and French peoples reconciled, affirming the inevitability of coexistence between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples in two states.

Palestinian Conference in Berlin Falls Flat

Michael Scott Moore, MIFTAH 6/28/2008
      Everyone agreed on Tuesday that the Palestinians need help. And dozens of nations agreed in Berlin to donate money. But the Palestinians still don’t have a state, and the Middle East is still a powderkeg.
     A major, slightly disorganized 40-nation conference in Berlin arrived at a slightly underwhelming agreement on Tuesday, hoping to budge the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians forward. The glamorous but dull-sounding "Berlin Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security" squeezed promises of money and equipment to buck up Palestinian judicial and police infrastructure to the tune of €156 million ($242.7 million) from the international community over the next three years.
     US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was there, along with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Middle East Quartet’s special envoy. They raised €30 million more than expected. The idea was to strengthen Palestinian law and order, on the assumption that peace will be impossible without security in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Are bodies that monitor corruption…. corrupt too?

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 6/28/2008
      I was looking for information for some research about international corruption. I found Israel is almost always classified with European countries, while the Palestinian authority is classified with Middle Eastern countries, even though both are occupying the same geographical area.
     Such classification does not appear on a personal blog so that one might consider such deviation is due to a person’s lack of knowledge of geography, but such information happens to appear even on the websites of reputable organizations including … guess what? The website that monitors and reports on International corruption, like TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL.
     Transparency International is busy keeping an eye on everyone to find how corrupt organizations or countries are, but they had no time to do their homework to classify Israel and the Palestinian authorities under the same geographical classification. -- See also: Transparency International

Israeli forces harvest British seeds of violence in Palestine

Jake Norris, Palestine News Network 6/29/2008
      The military moves into a Palestinian village, demolishing whole areas of housing as a way of collectively punishing inhabitants accused of harbouring "terrorists." Villagers are arrested without explanation and taken to military prisons, while others are forced to ride on the front of trains to test the tracks for mines.
     This description could easily be mistaken for one of the daily raids carried out by the occupying Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.In fact, it is an example of the tactics employed by British soldiers during the Palestinian Thawra Al Kubra (Great Revolt) of 1936-1939.
     In Nablus alone, the last week has seen Israeli forces carrying out a number of invasions of the city, with two Palestinians assassinated on Tuesday and two more detained at dawn on Thursday. Meanwhile, some 70 years previously, British Mandate forces were employing exactly the same methods to control the Great Revolt, with Nablus once again suffering heavily as one of the centres of the resistance.

Israeli Settlement Activity Surges Despite Peace Talks

Dion Nissenbaum, MIFTAH 6/28/2008
      Blue and yellow signs advertising new homes pepper the narrow West Bank roads that wind up to gated hilltop Jewish settlements.
     "A new stage is on its way," boasts one billboard promoting a dozen homes being built in this small Israeli settlement not far from Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital.
     As construction workers press ahead with work on these modest townhouses, telephone salesmen dismiss any concerns that Israel’s pledge to restrict settlement construction in the West Bank could halt the building.
     "We have all the permits we need," said Alon, a salesman for the new homes who fielded a call from McClatchy but didn’t give his last name. "All of our projects can continue."
     In the six months since President Bush launched his late-term diplomatic initiative at Annapolis, Md., Israel has dramatically accelerated the construction of homes on land that’s central to any peace deal with the Palestinians.
     In the 11 months before the Annapolis summit, Israel sought bids to build fewer than 100 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel took from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, according to Israeli government figures. Since Annapolis, Israel has asked companies to start building more than 1,700 homes, a 1,600 percent increase.