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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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4 July 2008

Hamas freezes talks over ’non-respect’ of Gaza truce
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/5/2008
GAZA CITY: Hamas said on Friday it had suspended negotiations on the release of a captured Israeli soldier because the Jewish state was not respecting the terms of a truce with the Islamist movement. "Hamas has suspended indirect negotiations with the enemy over [Gilad] Shalit because of the non-respect by the enemy of the terms of the truce, notably the opening of crossing points and authorizing the entry of all merchandise" into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Osama al-Muzeini said. Muzeini, the Islamists’ pointman on Shalit, was speaking as Israel again sealed off Gaza in retaliation for a rocket attack, itself a violation of the June 19 cease-fire between the two sides. The truce was supposed to lead to the easing of a crippling blockade Israel imposed after the Islamist movement seized power in Gaza more than a year ago, but the military said the crossings would stay closed until at least Sunday.

Israel recloses crossings, Gaza isolated again
Missionary International Service News Agency - MISNA, ReliefWeb 7/4/2008
Israel has reclosed all the crossings with the Gaza Strip, some of which had been opened in the past days under a truce in force since June 19. The decision was taken after militants fired a Qassam rocket into Israeli territory yesterday afternoon. Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner specified that the crossings for the passage of goods will remain closed also today. Both the rocket attacks and border closures constitute violations of the truce reached between Israel and Hamas under Egyptian mediation. The crossings remained closed for a total of seven days on 12, including today. A reaction arrived immediately from Hamas, which announced the suspension of negotiations for an exchange of prisoners, including the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. ‘We do not believe that it makes any sense to negotiate the release of Shalit, when Israel shows no commitment to respecting the truce’, said Hamas spokesman Musa Abu-Marzouk.

PCHR Publishes a Report on Extra-judicial Execution of Palestinians
Palestine News Network 7/4/2008
Gaza - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has published a new report titled, "Extra-judicial executions ’ Official, Declared Israeli Policy" covering Israeli extra-judicial executions against Palestinians during the period from 1 August 2006 till 30 June 2008. The report is the ninth of its kind in a special series on extra-judicial executions by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against Palestinian activists during Al-Aqsa Intifada. The first part of the report discussed international standards prohibiting extra-judicial executions. These included the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) and additional protocols and the Rome Statute. The second part discussed the official Israeli position vis-à-vis extra-judicial executions. Israeli legislative, executive, and judicial authorities officially support this policy, making Israeli the only state in the world that officially commits these crimes.

5 people injured by at demonstration in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 7/4/2008
Ramallah Region - On Thursday, about 100 Palestinians, joined by international and Israeli solidarity activists, demonstrated in Ni’lin against the construction of the apartheid wall. As the protesters arrived at the site of the demonstration, the Israeli army was waiting. When the peaceful demonstration started, the protesters were met with tear gas and rubber bullets, most of which aimed directly at them. Five people got injured by the bullets; one boy was hit on the head and one Canadian international was hit on the shoulder, leaving them bruised, but none severely wounded. Around 15 people had severe reactions to the tear gas. The demonstration went on for about two hours, and the Israeli army kept shooting at the protesters, even as they were trying to leave the area. The people of Ni’lin are struggling to keep their land, from being confiscated by the construction of the apartheid wall.

B’Tselem: ''Palestinian child abused during arrest, tortured during interrogation''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) reported that a Palestinian child was tortured by Israeli soldiers while arresting him and was also tortured in an Israeli prison during interrogation. The child, Majid Jaradat, 13, was kidnapped by the army on November 13, 2007, after the soldiers claimed that he hurled stones at them during a demonstration in Sa’ir village, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. In his affidavit, Jaradat stated that he was severely beaten by the soldiers when they arrested him and that they kicked him on his back. He added that the abuse continued after he was moved to Azion Police Station as he was beaten by the interrogators. Following interrogation, Jaradat was moved to Ofer detention facility. Jaradat was later on "convicted" of hurling stones at the soldiers and was sentenced to two months.

The Israeli army attacks protesters in Um Salamunah
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/4/2008
The Israeli army attacked a peaceful protest organized by the villagers of Um Salamunah located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday morning; three protesters were kidnapped by the army. Local sources said that scores of villagers supported by Israeli and international peace activists marched from the main entrance of the village heading towards the lands that are in danger of being confiscated due to the construction of the Wall. The participants held Palestinian flags and banners condemning the Israeli actions of building of the wall and also calling for the unity among Palestinians. Soldiers attacked the protesters and kidnapped three activists, one Israeli, and two Palestinian, and when other protesters tried to stop the jeep from taking them away troops forced the activists away, using riffle-butts and batons.

Israeli Attorney General: destroying homes of Palestinian attackers is legal
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
March 2008 [Ma’anImages] Bethlehem – Ma’an - There is no Israeli law that bans the demolition of the homes of Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israel, the Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said on Thursday. After consultations with the State Prosecution office and the Israeli General Security Services, Shabbak, Mazuz arrived at his ruling, saying "the individual examination of the circumstances of each incident must be carried out by the Shin Bet and the army in coordination with the Justice Ministry, as is customary. " Immediately after a Palestinian man plowed a massive construction vehicle into a bus in West Jerusalem on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered his government to look into the legality of destroying the home of the bulldozer driver’s home in East Jerusalem. Four people, including the attacker, were killed in the rampage, which left a bus overturned and a number of cars flattened.

Israeli Defense Minister calls for collective punishment of families of Jerusalem attackers
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
The families of two men who carried out attacks against civilians will be punished for the actions of their relatives, said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday. Barak called for the demolition of the homes of the men’s relatives, a move which was condemned by Israeli human rights group B’tselem as "a grave breach of international humanitarian law. " The group added that punitive home demolitions, which constitute about 10% of the home demolitions carried out by the Israeli state (the other 90% are administrative demolitions), are "a clear case of collective punishment, which violates the principle that a person is not to be punished for the acts of another. "The two men, Hussam Duwiyat and Alaa Abu Dhaim, both carried out attacks against Jewish civilians in Jerusalem, and both men were killed by Israeli forces during the course of their attacks.

Barak okays construction of dormitory at Hebron seminary
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 7/4/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week authorized construction of a dormitory at a religious school in the Beit Romano neighborhood of Hebron. The yeshiva was surprised to learn it had gained approval, having only heard of it after a Haaretz inquiry on the matter. The yeshiva said construction had been delayed for years due to a defense ministry ban. The interim head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Hananel Etrog, said Barak’s predecessor, MK Amir Peretz, had refused to approve the request. "We’ve been working on this for years," said Etrog. The Beit Romano neighborhood was built in the 1980s and is home to the Shavei Hebron yeshiva and its 250 students. The area was returned to Jewish control after six Israelis were killed near the Beit Hadassah stronghold in 1981.

Transportation crisis; Gaza fuel shortage reaches into all aspects of life
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Sixteen days after the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel the crisis in the Gaza Strip remains unsolved. The continued restrictions on fuel entering the area have ramifications far beyond the perpetual blackouts, and cooking oil shortages. Indeed, the transportation situation within the Strip has been acute for months. Gazans were relying on the ceasefire agreement so that fuel would make its way into local gas tanks, and allow workers to get to their jobs, villagers to buy supplies from nearby cities, and materials to be distributed around the region. Abdullah, a 40-year-old resident of Khan Younis, a city in the south end of the Gaza Strip, working in commerce in Gaza City which is a little over twenty kilometers away, explains that he has to "leave home at seven in the morning and wait for the vehicles in the Khan Younis square for hours in order to be able to reach work on time.

558 stranded Palestinians pass through Rafah before Israel closes crossings
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - Five hundred and fifty eight Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing are now back in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources announced on Friday morning. Media spokesman for General Administration of crossings affiliated to the de Facto government, Muhammad Sultan ’Adwan, said that on Thursday the 558 Gazans were taken to the Gaza Strip in 11 buses on Thursday morning. In an interview with Ma’an he said: "The functioning of the crossing was smooth and orderly and we reject the rumors that the de facto police are unable to manage the crossing. " On Thursday evening the Israeli authorities closed all the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel after Palestinians fired a home made shell at the Western Negev at around four o’clock. An unknown Palestinian group calling itself the Bader Forces claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israel reclosure of crossings dampens Gazans’ hopes
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 7/4/2008
By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA, July 4 (Reuters) -Israel responded to Thursday’s rocket attack by again closing its border crossing with Gaza on Friday, dampening hopes among Gazans that a ceasefire between Hamas and the Jewish state might ease an Israeli-led blockade. A truce brokered by Egypt on June 19 calls on militants in the Gaza Strip to halt rocket fire in return for Israel gradually lifting its blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. But, the Israeli army’s killing of a top militant commander in the occupied West Bank, sporadic rocket attacks and periodic Israeli closures of Gaza’s crossings have strained the truce. Like thousands of Gazans who had hoped the ceasefire would offer respite from the stifling blockade, 60-year-old Kefaya Abu-Odah is angry at Gazan militants who have been breaching the truce, prompting Israel to shut the border crossings.

Gazans prohibited within 300 meters of Israeli border
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Jerusalem- Ma’an – Israeli daily newspaper Maariv reported on Friday that Israeli security sources announced that Palestinians are not allowed within 300 meters of the Gaza-Israel border. Israel justified this decision by referring to the reported increase in the number of Palestinians who have attempted to get close to the separation wall constructed on the border. [end]

Gaza to Get Cement for First Time in a Year
Adel Zaanoun, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
The Gaza Strip was to receive its first cement shipment in a year on Wednesday as Israel prepared to reopen border crossings it shut down after militant rocket attacks breached a truce. The Hamas rulers of the impoverished Palestinian enclave and the Israeli authorities said the cement would be shipped to Gaza on Wednesday as Israel eased its blockade. Authorities initially spoke of five tonnes of cement, but later said five truckloads would be sent to Gaza. "They will be delivered in the course of the day," Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner told AFP. He said this would mark the first time in one year that cement is being allowed into the territory. On Wednesday morning, dozens of empty lorries lined up on the Palestinian side of the Sufa crossing waiting to load the shipments of cement and other supplies. Israel, which blacklists Hamas as a terror group, imposed a tight embargo after the Islamists violently seized power in the densely-populated coastal strip more than a year ago.

PCHR Weekly Report: 2 Palestinians children killed, 8 wounded
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/4/2008
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 26 June -- 02 July 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that Israeli forces killed two Palestinians. In addition, 8 Palestinians were wounded, including 2 children and a woman, 5 of whom were attacked in Ne’lin village near Ramallah. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:In the West Bank, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian children and wounded 7 civilians, also including 2 children. Israeli forces conducted 44 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, Israeli forces arrested 42 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children. On 26 June 2008, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian child in Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron. Israeli forces troops moved into the village and opened fire. The child was killed when he was near his house.

Israeli Army disperses anti wall demonstration in Al Ma’sara
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear gas bombs at a group of protesters in Al Ma’sara Friday. The rally was organized by the residents of Al Ma’sara, a village south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The action was in protest of the separation wall being built by Israel which will cut through some of the village land. Eight protestors were slightly injured and five others were arrested. Among those injured were Hasan Brejieh, a member of the Anti Wall committee and Ahamad Taqatqah, as well as three international activists. The weekly protest began in response to a statement from the Popular Committee Against the Wall (PCAW) which called on Palestinians and international activists to help hold Israel to the decision made by International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICJ) and the UN that the construction of the wall inside the West Bank is illegal.

Residents demonstrate against the wall in Al-Khader, near Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethelehem – Ma’an – The Popular Committee for Resisting the Wall organized a demonstration in Al-Khader, near Bethlehem, on Friday afternoon, against Israel’s construction of the wall on the village’s lands. Al-Khader residents performed their Friday prayers at the southern entrance of the town near the site of the wall. Protesters chanted slogans denouncing the Israeli occupation and affirming their determination to remain steadfast in the struggle to maintain access to their land. More than 150 local residents participated in the demonstration, together with international and Israeli solidarity activists. Participants headed towards the area threatened with confiscation because of the wall construction, but were prevented from reaching it by the Israeli army. Israeli soldiers presented the demonstrators with documents and a map declaring the area a ’closed military area’,. . .

The Khader village protests the Israeli wall
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/4/2008
The village of Al Khader, located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, organized on Friday midday a nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli wall being built on the village land. [end]

Ni’lin: Apartheid by candlelight
International Solidarity Movement 7/4/2008
Ramallah Region PhotosOn Wednesday evening the villagers of Ni’lin held a candle-lit procession to outside the expanding settlement of Hashmoniim. Villagers and international peace activists marched towards the nearby settlement and stopped at the site where the Israeli state is building the wall that will cut Ni’lin off from it’s land. Before leaving the construction site of the wall, demonstrators blocked the road to prevent the bulldozers from working the following day. Flares were shot towards the protesters, though it was unclear whether these were shot by Israeli soldiers or settler security personnel. The villagers of Ni’lin protest against the construction of the apartheid wall several times a week - by making peaceful demonstrations, holding prayer meetings, candle processions and other kinds of non-violent activities.

Barak to IDF: Prepare to raze terrorists’ homes
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Defense minister orders IDF to begin preparations for razing home of east Jerusalem terrorist who carried out bulldozer attack; Barak also seeking demolition order for home of terrorist who carried out Jerusalem Yeshiva attack - Preparing for demolitions: Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF Friday to start issuing demolition orders for the home of the east Jerusalem terrorist who carried out the recent bulldozer terror attack. Barak is also seeking a demolition order for the home of the terrorist who perpetrated the Mercaz Harav yeshiva massacre in Jeruaslem. The Defense Ministry’s Legal Adviser Ahaz Ben-Ari will coordinate the move with the IDF. However, despite the preparations for demolition, IDF officials will also look into alternatives, such as sealing off the homes.

Meretz leader criticizes proposed demolition of Palestinian bulldozer attacker’s home
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - The leader of the left wing Israeli political party Meretz, Haim Oron has criticized the Israeli government’s proposal to demolish the home of the Palestinian bulldozer attacker. Oron told Israeli radio that he understands the feelings of anger aroused by the bulldozer attack, but added that Israelis should not rush to take revenge. He said the disadvantages of house demolitions outweigh the benefits, especially as the attacker’s family were not aware of what he was planning to do. Oron added that if the attacker was affiliated to a resistance faction, they may respond to the demolition of his family home. Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered his government to look into the legality of destroying Dwayat’s East Jerusalem home.

Jerusalem ’Bulldozer Terrorist’ was Palestinian Father-of-Two Hossam Dawiath
Sheera Frenkel, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
A Palestinian construction worker at the wheel of a digger went on a rampage in central Jerusalem today, killing at least three people and injuring 45 in an act that brought terror back to the streets of Israel. Hossam Dwayyat, a 31-year-old Arab resident of East Jerusalem, wrought havoc on one of Jerusalem’s main thoroughfares, driving into oncoming traffic and leaving a trail of mangled vehicles in his wake. He was caught on film as onlookers saw him take a digger from his construction site and plough through cars queuing on Jaffa Street. The bulldozer overturned one bus and struck another before Dwayyat was shot dead by security officers. He had driven more than 200 yards towards Jerusalem’s bustling Mahne Yehuda souk before he was stopped. “I saw him coming towards me and I froze,” said Chava Shimoni, a 24-year-old student who was making her way to lunch in the market. “I could see his eyes and he looked so focused. A man shoved me out of the way. It was a miracle that I survived. ”

Israeli forces storm the village of Kafr – Hares to protect settlers visiting religious shrines
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Salfit – Ma’an - Israeli forces stormed the village of Kfar- Hares on Thursday night to protect Israeli settlers visiting religious shrines, Palestinian security sources said. The sources told Ma’an that Israeli patrols backed up by Israeli troops overran Kafer-Hares and erected tents at the entrance to the village to ensure the safety of Israeli settlers. Earlier that day settlers attacked the houses of citizens in the village. The sources confirmed that the Israeli forces climbed on the rooftops of houses in the village, as well as set up checkpoints in the village to restrict the villagers’ movement. [end]

Israeli Settlers Fire Two Rockets on Palestinian Village in West Bank
Kuwait News Agency, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
Israeli settlers fired two rockets toward Boreen village near Nablus city north of the West Bank, Palestinian security sources said on Tuesday. The source said two settlers from Baraka settlement near the village fired the two rockets targeting Palestinians, but caused no injuries. The rockets dubbed (Sharon-1, Sharon-2) fell in a deserted area causing fire only, the sources said. Couple of days ago, settlers fired a rocket without causing injuries, and Israeli military said an investigation into the incident was opened, noting that the rocket was locally made inside the Israeli settlement. In response, a spokesman for the Palestinian authority blamed the rocket attacks on Israeli authority and military. Source: , 2 July.

One Palestinian wounded, 4 missing in a tunnel collapse in Rafah
IMEMC & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
Palestinian sources reported on Friday at night that one Palestinian was wounded and four others went missing went a tunnel on the border between Rafah and Egypt collapsed during evening hours. Medical sources reported that Mohammad Al Basthteeny, 23,was moved to Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah after suffocating while trying to save four residents who went missing under the rubble of the collapsed tunnel. Al Bashteeny is in a serious condition while the fate of the four missing residents remains unknown. So far, armed groups in Gaza did not make any statements regarding the incident. It is worth mentioning that some tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt borders are dug by smugglers while others are dug by fighters in order to smuggle arms and ammunition into the coastal region.

Gaza tunnel collapses
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Four Palestinians were injured when a tunnel between Egypt and Gaza collapsed on Friday. Dr Muawiya Hassanein, director general of ambulences and emergencies for the Ministry of Heath told Ma’an that “ Mohamad al Bashteeni- 23- arrived at the local hospital of Abu YousefAn- Najjar breathing with immense difficulty. He had attempted to rescue four Gaza residents trapped in a tunnel between Egypt and Gaza. Al Bashteeni was almost suffocated by the collapsing tunnel, said Dr. Hassanein, and the fate of the four Gazans is unknown. [end]

Hamas suspends talks on Israeli soldier’s release
Middle East Online 7/4/2008
GAZA CITY - Hamas said on Friday it had suspended negotiations on the release of a captured Israeli soldier because the Tel Aviv was not respecting the terms of a truce with the democratically elected resistance movement. "Hamas has suspended indirect negotiations with the enemy over (Corporal Gilad) Shalit because of the non-respect by the enemy of the terms of the truce, notably the opening of crossing points and authorising the entry of all merchandise" into the Gaza Strip, said Osama al-Muzeini, the Hamas pointman on Shalit. Muzeini was speaking as Israel again sealed off Gaza. The truce was supposed to lead to the easing of a crippling blockade Israel imposed on Gaza more than a year ago, a move condemned by the international community and dubbed by human rights groups as “collective punishment”. The Israeli military said the crossings would stay closed until at least Sunday.

Hamas says talks on Shalit deal suspended
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Palestinian organization accuses Israel of delaying negotiations aimed at securing kidnapped IDF soldier’s release, due to decision to close crossings following rocket fire. Senior Hamas member tells Ynet decision has yet to be made on whether to attend new round of talks in Cairo - Hamas’ deputy politburo chief, Moussa Abu Marzouk, has said that his movement "has suspended the negotiations regarding (kidnapped IDF soldier) Gilad Shalit, due the Israeli decision to close the crossings in response to the firing of rockets into its territory," the London-based Arabis-Language al-Hayat newspaper reported Friday. A senior Hamas member stated Friday in an interview with Ynet that Israel was delaying the talks aimed at securing Shalit’s release. According to the source, the failure to reopen the crossings constitutes a violation of the ceasefire and prevents any progress in the talks.

Hamas suspends Shalit talks over Gaza closure
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
Hamas is suspending negotiations over the release of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit due to Israel’s closure of Gaza Strip crossings, the London-based Al-Hayyat quoted a senior group official as saying on Friday. "It makes no sense for us to begin negotiating on the matter of Shalit’s release when Israel is not committed to the calm," Hamas official Moussa Abu-Marzouk told the daily. Israel closed its commercial crossings to Gaza on Friday, a day after a Qassam rocket fired from the coastal territory struck near the western Negev town of Sderot. It was the sixth incident of rocket fire since a fragile Egyptian-brokered cease-fire went into effect on June 19. Since then,the IDF says 11 rockets and mortars have been fired toward Israel. In his interview with Al-Hayyat, Abu-Marzouk accused Fatah of orchestrating the rocket attacks in order to sabotage Hamas.

International Architects’ Union to boycott Israel?
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 7/4/2008
World Architecture Congress in Turine may adopt proposal to expel Israeli architects from organization over their involvement in settlement construction - The International Architects’ Union (UIA) may adopt a proposal Saturday to boycott Israeli architects and expel them from the organization over their involvement in the construction of settlements in the territories. The union, comprised of more than 1 million architects from 116 countries worldwide, is holding its annual World Architecture Congress in Turine, Italy, with 8,500 participants from across the world. The boycott was initiated by a group of architects, mostly British, as well as several Israeli, Palestinian and Arab architects. The group submitted a proposal to expel Israel from the UIA, stating that the Israeli architects are lending a hand to violations of international law by helping. . .

Jordanian music festival boycotted over organizer’s ’ties to Israel’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/2/2008
AMMAN: Arab singers will boycott a music festival in Jordan next month over claims it is being set up by the same company which organized Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations in May, a union leader said on Monday. The month-long Jordan Festival, scheduled to open on July 8, will feature local and international artists including tenor Placido Domingo and jazz pianist and vocalist Diana Krall. Several Arab singers will boycott it after calls by Jordan’s 14 Islamist-dominated professional trade unions, said Shaher Hadid, president of the Jordan Artists Association. Jordan’s Tourism Board, however, denies that Publicis Groupe, the company involved in the Israeli festivities, is involved in the festival. "Publicis Groupe has nothing to do with Jordan Festival," Tourism Board chief Nayef Fayez told AFP. "Another French company, Les Visiteurs du Soir, is organizing the event and it has been contracted by the Tourism Ministry.

Iraqi MPs voice outrage after President shakes Barak’s hand
Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
BAGHDAD - Several members of the Iraqi parliament called on President Jalal Talabani on Friday to apologize for shaking handswith Ehud Barak at a conference in Greece this week, saying that by shaking the Israeli defense minister’s hand he had violated Iraqi law. Talabani, a Kurd, was introduced to Barak by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a Socialist International meeting near Athens on Tuesday, where the historic handshake took place. The handshake, largely ignored by Iraq’s media but covered in the Israeli press, sparked heated debate in Iraq’s parliament on Thursday. Like many Arab countries, Iraq does not recognize Israel. Some members accused Talabani of breaking Iraqi law, although it was unclear what the law says about Israel.

Iraq: MPs slam Talabani-Barak handshake
Reuters, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Iraqi members of parliament livid, demand apology from president for shaking hands with Barak -Several members of the Iraqi parliament called on President Jalal Talabani on Friday to apologize for shaking hands with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a conference in Greece this week. Talabani, a Kurd, was introduced to Barak by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a Socialist International meeting near Athens on Tuesday, where they shook hands. The handshake, largely ignored by Iraq’s media but covered in the Israeli press, sparked heated debate in Iraq’s parliament on Thursday. Like most Arab countries, Iraq does not recognize Israel. Some members accused Talabani of breaking Iraqi law, although it was unclear what the law says about Israel. " I told the speaker it was a slap in the face for the Iraqi people," said Ahmed al-Massoudi,. . .

Syria says ’premature’ to talk of direct Israel contact
Reuters, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Day after Jewish state calls for quickly starting face-to-face discussions, Syrian Foreign Minister Moualem states, ’The moment when we feel that we’ve got the agreed common ground between us and the Israelis, which covers all elements of a peace agreement, we will agree on the location of these direct talks’ - Syria’s foreign minister said on Friday it was premature to talk of direct peace negotiations with Israel, a day after the Jewish state had called for quickly starting face-to-face discussions. A third round of talks between the long-time foes started in Istanbul on Tuesday and ended on Thursday with an agreement to hold a fourth round of indirect negotiations in Turkey in late July, a Turkish government source toldon Thursday. Peace NegotiationsSyria and Israel agree to hold fresh talks / Turkish official says Damascus, Jerusalem to hold. . .

Direct Syria-Israel Talks Imminent, Turkish Officials Say
Roee Nahmias, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
Sources in the Turkish Foreign Ministry estimate that direct peace negotiations between Israel and Syria will follow the next round of indirect talks between the countries, London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Wednesday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s advisors, Yoram Turbowitz and Shalom Turgeman arrived in Ankara on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the possibility of launching direct talks with Syrians. The fourth indirect round of talks is scheduled to begin in two weeks’ time. A date for the launching of the direct negotiations, as well as the level of the officials who will participate in them will be determined following Syrian President Bashar Assad’s trip to Paris in about a week-and-a-half. Al-Hayat quoted the Turkish sources as saying that France is also assisting in the talks, primarily with regards the Shebaa Farms land dispute. Earlier this week Assad dubbed the political climate in the Middle East "positive", and called on the EU to increase its involvement in the peace talks with Israel.

Secret meeting between Masha’l and Arab-Israeli MK
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Head of Hamas’ politburo Khalid Mash’al held a secret meeting with Arab member of the Israeli Knesset Mohammad Barakeh in Abu Dhabi on the the sixtieth anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), the Arab Israeli newspaper Kul Al-Arab revealed on Friday. The newspaper described the pre-planned meeting as "deep and serious" but did not give details of what was discussed. Barakeh has refused to comment on the meeting but said that “the issue of achieving Palestinian unity is what occupies my time and we are ready to make all of the necessary efforts to bring this about. ”[end]

Report: MK Barakeh meets Mashaal in Abu Dhabi
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Hamas politburo chief, Hadash chairman stay in same hotel during conference held in United Arab Emirates last month. Talking to Ynet, Barakeh refuses to address meeting but slams initiative to demolish Jerusalem terrorist’s house - Hadash chairman, Knesset Member Mohammad Barakeh, met recently with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Abu Dhabi, the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab reported Friday. Ynet had learned that MK Barakeh traveled to the United Arab Emirates on June 17 to attend a conference and stayed in the same hotel as Mashaal. According to the report, the two met during a special symposium marking 60 years since the Nakba (the "disastrous" establishment of the State of Israel). No additional details were available. MK Barakhe refused to confirm the meeting, but told the newspaper that "the issue of Palestinian unity is something that keeps me busy all the time.

MK Barakeh reportedly met with Hamas’ Meshal in Abu Dhabi
Haaertz Service, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
The chairman of the Hadash faction, MK Mohammed Barakeh, has met secretly with Hamas’ political bureau chief, Khaled Meshal, the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab newspaper reported on Friday. According to the report, the two met in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of a conference marking 60 years since the Palestinian "nakba," or catastrophe. Hadash has been known to take a much more critical line toward the Islamist Hamas group than other Israeli Arab factions. When asked about the meeting, Barakeh told Haaretz he was committed to brotherhood and unity with the Palestinians, but would not say whether or not the talks had taken place. "I will do all that I need to achieve this unity, based on the Palestinian principles and on the Arab peace initiative," Barakeh said.

Haniyeh: Israel must lift Gaza siege
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Hamas leader accuses Israel of violating Gaza ceasefire, demands opening of crossings - Blaming Israel, again: Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas-ruled Gaza, accused Israel Friday of not living up to its part of the Gaza Strip truce. " We still say that maintaining the calm is a national interest, but the Israelis must commit to lifting the siege and opening the crossings," Haniyeh told reporters after Friday prayers at a Gaza mosque. Earlier, Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said talks on freeing abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit were frozen. " The Hamas movement has decided to suspend the talks on the captured soldier Gilad Shalit because Israel has violated the calm agreement by closing the crossings," Abu Zuhri toldTelevision News. On Thursday, a senior Hamas figure said the Islamist group refuses to pass on any additional signs. . .

De facto government: frequent closures of crossings shows Israel reneging on truce
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The de facto government in the Gaza Strip on Friday condemned Israel’s closure of the Gaza crossings, saying this shows Israel is reneging on the conditions of the truce. In a statement to Ma’an the de facto said that Palestinian factions remain committed to the truce but Israel’s refusal to allow goods through the crossings into the besieged coastal sector is proof that Israel is ignoring the terms of the truce agreement. They called on Egypt to move to ensure Israel abides by the agreement and stops the policy of frequent closures. [end]

Israel closes Gaza crossings for third time after rocket attack
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 7/3/2008
JERUSALEM, Jul 03, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) --Israel closed its border crossings with the Gaza Strip again on Thursday following a rocket attack from the Hamas-ruled enclave, further straining the shaky truce. The rocket hit an open field near the border town of Sderot in the afternoon, causing no casualties, which is at least the fifth such attack since the Egypt-brokered truce went into effect on June 19. Following the latest violation, for which no group has claimed responsibility, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the army to close all the border crossings with the Palestinian territories. The move marks the third time that the Jewish state closes the border in response to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip since the implementation of the ceasefire. The previous two closures last four days and one day respectively.

Israeli media: Olmert and Abbas close to agreement on borders
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli media sources revealed details of a draft agreement on the issue of Palestinian borders made between Palestinian President Mahmuod Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday. According to the reported draft agreement Israel will give the Palestinians a “security passage” through Israel as part of a land swap. The deal would see land from inside the Green Line handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in exchange for the land currently occupied by Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The principles of the draft agreement are based on Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders, although a number of settlements would remain in the West Bank. The land exchange would see a passage constructed between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, over which Palestinians would have full control.

Oslo godfather says no hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace deal
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – There is no hope of a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis under the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli President Simon Peres has said. According to Israeli media reports, Peres made his comments during a dinner last Saturday with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and the Jordanian ambassador and French ambassadors. He said that Abbas has not enough support among Palestinians to implement any security agreements. The internal Palestinian political division between Hamas and Fatah, which Abbas is unable to resolve, is jeopardizing any hope of a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal he said. The Israeli press underestimated Perez statements saying: "So this is the new Middle East which was predicted by the Oslo Godfather!"The current head of the Israeli state was dubbed "the Olso Godfather" when as Israeli foreign minister he participated. . .

Mideast Leaders Meet in Japan for Talks
Agence France Presse, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
Senior officials from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority held talks Wednesday in Japan in a bid to lay the groundwork for peace by improving the Palestinian economy. Japan, which is seeking a greater role in the Middle East, hopes the talks will lead to a deal on its signature project in the region -- starting an agro-industrial park in the West Bank. The proposed project near Jericho "demonstrates an understanding of the relationship between prosperity and ensuring a lasting peace of all of our region," Jordanian Foreign Minister Salah Bashir told reporters at the talks. But he said the best way to resolve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict was to deliver on a two-state solution endorsed by a summit last November in Annapolis, near Washington. " The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the core issue of the Middle East. If we solve that we have better ability to address the other political challenges but also the prosperity and economic challenges," Bashir said.

De facto Ministry of the Interior: Fatah ''prisoner list'' filled with names of criminals, security threats
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Prisoners in Hamas security posts are criminals and Palestinian security risks, not political prisoners, according to the statement of a representative of the de facto Ministry of the Interior for the Gaza Strip made Friday. The Interior Ministry affirmed, "the individuals named on the lists published by Fattah through the media are imprisoned based on criminal acts or as security threats. " The official cited the case of Ali Mattar, whose name has been published on a list of political prisoners held by Hamas. Mattar, said the official, killed a policeman guarding a clinic in the Shaet’e Refugee camp. During the incident Mattar and stole the officer’s weapon while others killed Husien Abu A’jwa a well known religious man. Others on the list, according to the official, were imprisoned for collaborating with the Israeli army and participating with its undercover. . .

Dahlan says Hamas leaders confused, against Palestinian national interest
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethelehem – Ma’an – Mohamad Dahlan, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the Fatah bloc calls Hamas leaders obsessed and confused. The remark came in response to a statement issued by Mosa Abu Marzq deputy of the head of Hamas political bureau to the "al-Hayah" Arab daily newspaper based in London. Dahlan said that the article, published Friday, was “‘ridiculous" and expressed a "state of obsession and confusion among the leaders of Hamas. "He continued, saying that the behavior of Hamas officials has "revealed [the party’s] real nature to the Palestinians after boasting about its resistance many years. ”Dahlan added that “Abu Marzuq has accused [him] of supporting the firing of home made shells from the Gaza Strip and aiming at causing the failure of the ceasefire. ”He responded to this criticism by saying that “it seems that the Hamas movement and its. . .

Haniyeh: Israel must stick to truce; Hamas supports national unity
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - "Israel’s violation of the truce is due to a lack of seriousness," said Prime Minister of the de facto government Ismael Haniyeh on Friday. After Friday prayers at the As-sarayah mosque in central Gaza City, Haniyeh said that "Israel has to open crossings and stop aggression against Palestinians. " He demanded a realization of the conditions of the truce agreement, including the Rafah crossing and the issue of national dialogue which Egypt agreed to broker, in addition to Gilad Shalit issue. With regards to the recent Hamas training operation at the Fatah headquarters, seen by many as a take over of the premesis, Haniyeh added that, "our visit to the presidency headquarters in Gaza is a normal visit and had no bad intentions. "

Israeli forces invade Nablus area refugee camp, injure 12 Palestinians
Palestine News Network 7/4/2008
Nablus / PNN - Israeli forces invaded the northern West Bank’s Fara Refugee Camp Friday morning. Young people inside the Nablus area refugee camp threw a barrage of stones at the invading forces. Israeli sources report that one of the jeeps was damaged. Five explosives were launched during the attack, without any injuries to the soldiers. However, Israeli soldiers injured 12 Palestinians. [end]

Settlers throw stones at Israeli leftists near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli sources said that a group of extremist Israeli settlers from the illegal settlements of Shelo and Benyamin threw stones at a bus of Israeli peace activists while they were touring the area near the West Bank city of Nablus. No injuries were reported except for damages caused to the bus. [end]

Five explosive devices launched at Israeli forces near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Five locally manufactured explosive devices were launched at an Israeli force in a field north east of Nablus on Friday morning, Israeli sources said. The sources added that there were no casualties among the soldiers. [end]

Occupation extends isolation of Sheikh Jamal Abu al-Hayja
Palestinian Information Center 7/4/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Ahrar Centre for Prisoners Studies has learnt that an Israeli military court  decided to extend the isolation of Sheikh Jamal Abu al-Hayja, a prominent Hamas leader, for the sixth year running. Sheikh Abu al-Hayja is serving nine lives plus 20 years. He is in a bad health condition as he lost one of his arms during the Israeli occupation massacres at the Jenin refugee camp and he caught some skin diseases in the isolation cells of the Ramlah prison. The same court refused a request made by Sheikh Abu al-Hayja to meet his son Abdel-Salam who is serving a seven and a half years sentence or his other son Asem who is in administrative detention for the past three years. The court told Sheikh Abu al-Hayja that he should not be allowed to meet anyone in this world. The wife of Sheikh Abu al-Hayja said she was worried about his deteriorating health and expressed. . .

Detained Hamas leader remains in solitary confinement after six years
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 7/4/2008
The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies reported on Thursday that an Israeli Military Court decided to extend solitary confinement against Sheikh Jamal Abu Al Haija, one of Hamas’ leaders, who is currently in solitary confinement in the Al Ramla prison. Abu Al Haija was sentenced to nine life-terms and additional twenty years. He is in very bad health, as one of his hands was amputated during the massive Israeli assault against the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. Abu Al Haija is also suffering from a skin disease. The Israeli assaultagainst the camp started on April 3 and lasted through April 13. The United Nations said after the attack that the Israeli army killed 58 Palestinians, wounded hundreds of others and leveled at least 200 homes. Abu Al Haija filed an appeal to the Israeli court to allow him to meet both of his detained sons, but his request was rejected.

Marcel Khalife competition: an affirmation of the Palestinian right to culture, art and society
Palestine News Network 7/4/2008
PNN / exclusive -- A group of young Palestinians carrying musical instruments went to Jerusalem to participate in the Marcel Khalife contest. This event is not only prestigious due to the caliber of the musicians and Khalife himself; it is an affirmation of the rights of Palestinians to enter their city which is slated to be the capital of the future Palestinian state, despite Israeli attempts to the contrary. Israeli officials refused to grant entry permits to several contestants. They were allowed by organizers to participate via video conference. Others were literally "smuggled in" to Jerusalem, according to organizers. Palestinians must pass numerous checkpoints, travel lengthy routes to enter through the Wall, and obtain Israeli permission. Remaining in the city for its own residents becomes more difficult on a daily basis as well due to home and land confiscation and demolitions, and to Wall construction. The Marcel Khalife competition is also an affirmation of the right to Palestinian society, art and culture.

Barak to discuss Iran’s nuclear program with USA
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israel Radio announced that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his head of staff Gabi Ashkenaz will visit the United States in the next two weeks. The Radio added that Barak and Ashkenazi will discuss US aid to Israel with their American counterparts. TheUS Congress agreed last Friday to increase American aid pledged to Israel to $170 million USD. This aid package is part of American Defense aid allocated to Israel amounting to $30 billion USD over ten years. Israel said that it needs this aid because Iran is implementing a program aiming at getting a nuclear weapon under a civil program which Tehran rejected earlier. [end]

Iran delivers response to big powers’ nuclear offer - but details remain a secret
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/5/2008
TEHRAN: Iran on Friday handed world powers its "constructive and creative" response to their letter presenting proposals to end the five-year standoff over its contested nuclear program, top officials said. "The Islamic Republic has prepared and presented a response to the letter of the six countries with a constructive and creative view and a focus on common ground," state television quoted top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili as saying. A spokeswoman for the EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, later confirmed the response had been delivered Friday evening in a letter to him and to the foreign ministers of the six countries that submitted the offer, though gave no other details. The spokeswoman, Cristina Gallach, had earlier said Solana had held "positive" talks with the Iranian side. Jalili’s comments came in a telephone call to Solana, who has fronted talks with Tehran. . .

Military action ’would destabilise Iraq’
Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad, The Independent 7/5/2008
Iraq will be plunged into a new war if Israel or the US launches an attack on Iran, Iraqi leaders have warned. Iranian retaliation would take place in Iraq, said Dr Mahmoud Othman, the influential Iraqi MP. The Iraqi government’s main allies are the US and Iran, whose governments openly detest each other. The Iraqi government may be militarily dependent on the 140,000 US troops in the country, but its Shia and Kurdish leaders have long been allied to Iran. Iraqi leaders have to continually perform a balancing act in which they seek to avoid alienating either country. The balancing act has become more difficult for Iraq since George Bush successfully requested $400m (£200m) from Congress last year to fund covert operations aimed at destabilising the Iranian leadership. Some of these operations are likely to be launched from Iraqi territory with the help of Iranian militants opposed to Tehran.

Strike and we’ll strike you back, warns Tehran
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, Anne Penketh and Kim Sengupta, The Independent 7/5/2008
Iran has handed over its long-awaited response to the West’s offer of incentives to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programme, after a warning by one of its top military leaders that any strike against it would trigger war. Details were not immediately disclosed of last night’s response, which follows an offer by the US, Britain, Russia, China, Germany and France of a deal under which Iran would halt uranium enrichment in return for a long-term agreement to ease sanctions and allow Tehran to continue developing civil nuclear power. Before the response, however, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Mohammed Jafari, was quoted by the Iranian state news agency as saying: "Iran’s response to any military action will make the invaders regret their decision and action. "MrJafari had already warned that if attacked, Iran would launch a barrage of missiles at Israel and close the Strait of Hormuz, the outlet for oil tankers leaving the Persian Gulf.

Palestinian family donates son’s organs to save Israelis
Middle East Online 7/4/2008
BETHLEHAM, West Bank– The family of an 18-year-old Palestinian civilian, who died after being shot by Israeli security guards a few weeks ago, have donated his organs to save the lives of six Israelis. Patient "A" was clinically dead when he was transferred to the intensive care unit in Sheba medical centre in Tel Hashomer, and doctors were unable to resuscitate him. The Hebrew daily newspaper Ma’ariv reported that his family decided to donate his organs to those who needed them, regardless of their race, religion or identity. The National Centre for Organ Transplants promised to keep information concerning his identity confidential for the safety of his family who live in an area under the Palestinian Authority. The families of the recipients were told about the identity of the donor but have also agreed to keep the information confidential, according to the newspaper.

cartoon of the day
Carlos Latuff, Palestine Think Tank 7/4/2008

Families of missing Iranian diplomats arrive in Beirut
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Preparations for prisoner exchange with Israel being completed in Lebanon. As part of deal, Jewish state to deliver report on fate of four Iranians who vanished in 1982 - The family members of four missing Iranian diplomats have arrived in Lebanon ahead of the implementation of a prisoner exchange betweeIsrael and Hizbullah, the Iranian news agency Fars reported Friday. The family members were expected to meet with Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Kassem, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouda Siniora, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and a representative of the United Nations secretary-general. As part of the prisoner swap deal, Israel is expected to submit a report to the UN regarding the fate of the four Iranian diplomats, who Iran claims were captured by Israel 26 years ago and are being held in its prisons.

Larijani: Israel based on supremacy of Jewish race
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Iranian parliament speaker says his country operating against Jewish state due to its racist policy. ’This method, of Israel negotiating with one Palestinian group while fighting another, cannot yield a result,’ he states - Senior Iranian official analyzes Israeli society. Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has accused Israel of leading a racist policy, which makes it impossible for the Jewish state to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, the IRNA news agency reported Friday. In a ceremony at the Interior Ministry in Tehran, Larijani said that "Iran opposes the Zionist regime because it has become empty from inside, and even if they hold 10 more conferences and mislead the Arabs, they will always have an internal problem. "Crucial ConditionUS holds firm to demands Iran suspend enrichment/ AFP Although Washington does not rule. . .

Reconstruction of South is still far from complete
Zeynep Goksel and Eugene Yukin, Daily Star 7/5/2008
BINT JBEIL: Reconstruction efforts in Lebanon’s South seem to be in full swing after the havoc wrought by the 2006 summer war with Israel. In general, progress is being made in the villages that were most devastated during the summer of 2006. But while work appears intensive, vast piles of debris linger in village after village as reminders of the nightmare that gripped this region two years ago. Workers continue to slave away, renovating buildings and restoring basic infrastructure. Recovery in a place like Bint Jbeil, quite close to the border with Israel, is a rather blurred image. Much of the town - especially its central commercial area - was leveled during the conflict, with about 2,800 houses either destroyed or damaged. Reconstruction efforts are certainly under way, but far from complete. Life seems to have stalled in this Southern town, whose market was once the biggest. . .

Hezbollah expected to report Arad died in Lebanon over a decade ago
Amos Harel Yoav Stern and, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
Yossi Melman Tags:prisoner swap HezbollahIsrael is waiting for a report from Hezbollah regarding the Lebanese Shi’ite organization’s efforts to locate missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, defense officials said on Friday. The officials told Haaretz that the German mediator charged with overseeing the negotiations for a prisoner swap deal was given initial information regarding the content of the report, and has updated Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel on the matter. In the report, which is part of a broader prisoner exchange deal mediated by the United Nations, Hezbollah is expected to say that it did not manage to locate Arad, who was shot down near Sidon in 1986, but details its activities and concludes that the navigator died in Lebanon over a decade ago. The report will be given to Ofer Dekel, the Israeli official charged with negotiating the. . .

UK envoy finesses ’terrorist’ label on Hizbullah’s armed wing
Daily Star 7/5/2008
BEIRUT: The British ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Mary Guy, clarified her government’s recent move to classify the military wing of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization in an interview published in the Lebanese daily As-Safir Friday. Guy denied implications that the announcement’s timing was suspicious after wide-spread speculation that it was intended to coincide with the prisoner exchange deal between Hizbullah and Israel. "This decision has been studied for a long time and it became necessary to announce it quickly due to the legislative process of the United Kingdom," she said. "The Ministry of the Interior presented its request to Parliament on July 2 so that it could be researched before its session on the 22nd of this month. " Guy also emphasized that the ban did not apply to Hizbullah’s political wing, and the British government was open to direct communication with the party. . .

Religious leaders call for unity among Lebanese
Daily Star 7/5/2008
BEIRUT: Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah said on Friday that the resistance could impose a new victory on Israel through the impending prisoner swap. He added that the victory calls on the Lebanese to get out of their "tight personal calculations" and deal with the resistance as a source of protection from Israel. In his weekly Friday sermon from the Imamayn Hassanayn Mosque in Haret Hreik, Fadlallah said the "quasi-consensus" over the resistance’s "historic achievement" should pave the way for a comprehensive national stand, which consists of an introduction to resolving pending internal issues, including the formation of a new government. "We feel very relieved toward the different stands that confirmed the importance of the resistance’s achievement," he said. Hizbullah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, confirmed on Wednesday that his group had agreed. . .

Lebanese groups hail prisoner swap ’victory’
Daily Star 7/5/2008
BEIRUT: The Follow-Up Committee for the Support of the Lebanese Detainees in Israeli Prisons (FCLD) and the Khiam Rehabilitation Center for the Victims of Torture held a news conference on Friday after a prisoners swap deal was reached between Hizbullah and Israel earlier this week. The two organizations congratulated the resistance for "this great victory. "FCLD secretary general Mohammad Safa said the files of detainees would not be closed until all Palestinian and Arab prisoners were released. "The committee is a partner in the resistance’s big victory," he said. "It is the unknown soldier in the liberation process of Samir Kontar and his friends and in all previous exchange deals. "The Israeli government on Sunday approved a deal to hand over five Lebanese militants to Hizbullah in return for two Israeli soldiers whose capture caused Israel to launch the 2006 war.

Haaretz: Barak okays construction of dormitory at Hebron seminary
Uri Blau, International Solidarity Movement 7/4/2008
Hebron Region - Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week authorized construction of a dormitory at a religious school in the Beit Romano neighborhood of Hebron. The yeshiva was surprised to learn it had gained approval, having only heard of it after a Haaretz inquiry on the matter. The yeshiva said construction had been delayed for years due to a defense ministry ban. The interim head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Hananel Etrog, said Barak’s predecessor, MK Amir Peretz, had refused to approve the request. "We’ve been working on this for years," said Etrog. The Beit Romano neighborhood was built in the 1980s and is home to the Shavei Hebron yeshiva and its 250 students. The area was returned to Jewish control after six Israelis were killed near the Beit Hadassah stronghold in 1981.

Hamas suspends talks on Shalit
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/5/2008
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, stated that it suspended its indirect talks with Israel on the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Palestinian fighters two years ago. Hamas said that this decision was made as Israel continues to violate the truce deal which was achieved through Egyptian mediation. Usama Al Mazeeny, one of the political leaders of Hamas, said that Israel violated sections of the truce deal by not opening the crossings, and barring the entry of goods and supplies to the Gaza Strip. "If the enemy is not committed to the truce deal, negotiations will just be a burden", he stated, "These violations mean that the enemy will not be committed to any new deal". The Hamas leader also said that the goods which made it into the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the truce on June 19 are less than the minimum requirements".

Hamas suspends negotiations on Shalit until Israeli occupation implements truce
Palestinian Information Center 7/4/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas has decided to suspend the indirect negotiations with the Israeli occupation on a prisoner exchange deal until the latter complies with the conditions of the Egyptian brokered truce. Osama al-Muzaini said in a press statement on Friday: "We will not go [to Cairo] for a new round of negotiations on a prisoner exchange deal before the occupation shows commitment to implementing all the articles of the truce, which will be reviewed by the movement in a couple of days. "Muzaini said that his movement has received an invitation from Egypt on Tuesday to send negotiators to Cairo for a new round of talks, but his movement declined because it rejects the idea of entering a new round of negotiations before previous agreements are implemented, especially the truce issue. He added that the goods and fuel that were allowed into the Gaza Strip over the past few days show. . .

Hamas: negotiations on release of Shalit suspended
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas have suspended any negotiations on a prisoner swap with Israel that would include captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Friday. Barhoum told Ma’an that Hamas have always maintained that the Hamas truce with Israel and the issue of a prisoner exchange deal are separate issues and each should be taken on their own merit. Egypt will call for an indirect dialogue between Hamas and Israel to discuss Shalit’s case only after Israel abides by all of the terms of the truce, including opening the Gaza crossings, Barhoum added. Israel has not met the conditions of the truce as the coastal sector is still under siege, the crossings remain closed and only very small amounts of food and fuel are being allowed in, he said. Barhoum added that Hamas is not prepared to deal with negotiations on any other issues as long as. . .

Hamas and Israel: Strange Bedfellows
Paul Scham, Middle East Online 7/4/2008
WASHINGTON – On June 19, Israel and the Islamist political/militia group Hamas began an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire after months of dithering. The terms (not officially revealed) apparently provide that Hamas will cease launching rockets at Israel from Gaza, Israel will not attack Gaza, and Israel will increase the supplies allowed into the enclave. It is limited to Gaza, does not include the West Bank, and is supposed to last six months. Although a few rockets have since been launched by non-Hamas factions, and Israel retaliated by temporarily reimposing the blockade; two weeks into the ceasefire, as this is written, it seems that a stabilisation has occurred. Among other things, Hamas has made clear it will move against any Palestinian group attempting to disrupt the peace. Paradoxically, this cease-fire (tahdiya, or “calming” in Arabic), which was met by much scepticism, may. . .

Prisoner claims to know Majdi Halabi’s whereabouts
Tal Rabinovsky, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Father of Druze soldier who has been missing for three years, receives phone calls from prisoner saying his son was taken into territories, held near Nablus. His uncle Samich Halabi: It strengthens us to know he was kidnapped, did not go missing - Three years have lapsed since the disappearance of Druze soldier Majdi Halabi, and this week his family received a surprising phone call about their loved one. A man identifying himself as a prisoner said that Halabi was kidnapped, taken to the territories and being held near Nablus. The man said that "Halabi is safe and sound," and offered the unmistakable detail that the missing soldier smokes L&M Red cigarettes. Police officials said that the Damon Prison inmate who has called the family in the past, is known as a bother to them and has no substantial information regarding the case.

Syrian opposition groups call for protests in Paris to mark Assad’s visit
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/5/2008
PARIS: Syrian opposition parties called on Friday for a protest rally to mark President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Paris next week, to demand a halt to rights abuses in the country. President Nicolas Sarkozy invited Assad along with some 40 foreign leaders for the launch of a new Union for the Mediterranean, aimed at boosting cooperation between European Union and Mediterranean rim states. The Syrian leader will meet Sarkozy on the eve of the summit, and stay on for France’s Bastille Day ceremonies on July 14, sealing the renewal of high-level contacts between Paris and Damascus. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem was in Paris to prepare Assad’s visit, the first by a Syrian leader in seven years. In a statement issued Friday, Syrian opposition groups called for a rally in Paris on July 13 to demand an end to the "arbitrary arrest of intellectuals and political opponents,". . .

Syria says ’premature’ to talk of direct contact with Israel
Reuters and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
Syria’s foreign minister said Friday it was premature to talk of direct peace negotiations with Israel, a day after Israel had called forquickly starting face-to-face discussions. A third round of talks between the long-time foes started in Istanbul on Tuesday and ended on Thursday with an agreement to hold a fourth round of indirect negotiations in Turkey in late July, a Turkish government source said Thursday. "It’s premature to answer this question," said Walid al-Moualem when asked when direct talks could be held. "The moment when we feel that we’ve got the agreed common ground between us and the Israelis, which covers all elements of a peace agreement, we will agree on the location of these direct talks," he said in a question and answer session at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI).

Muslim Syria marks ’year of St Paul’
Middle East Online 7/4/2008
DAMASCUS - Predominantly Muslim Syria has launched a celebration to mark 2,000 years since the birth of Saint Paul, who converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus and helped spread the new religion to the non-Jewish world. A mass was attended by both Christians and Muslims in the capital of officially secular Syria, with other events being organised over the next 12 months with the help of the tourism ministry. "Syria is an example of brotherhood between Christians and Muslims," Tourism Minister Saadallah Agha Qalaa told the official SANA news agency. "This is down to its location at the crossroads between Asia, Europe and Africa. " The mufti of Syria, Sheikh Badreddin Hassun, called Syria "the cradle of the monotheistic religions. " This week a walk was organised "in the footsteps of St. Paul" in the Old City of Damascus, including a visit to the underground Hanania. . .

Syrian FM: Assad-Olmert meeting in Paris not on agenda
AFP, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem says President Assad will not be meeting Prime Minister Olmert on sidelines of upcoming Paris conference; talks between countries ’only just beginning’ FM Muallem says - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem Friday quashed speculation that President Bashar Assad could hold a historic meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the sidelines of an upcoming Paris summit. "That is not on the agenda," the Syrian minister said, addressing the possibility that Assad and Olmert would be meeting. French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited Assad along with some 40 foreign leaders for the launch of a new Union for the Mediterranean, aimed at boosting cooperation between European Union and Mediterranean rim states. Muallem was in Paris to prepare Assad’s visit, the first by a Syrian leader in seven years.

Israel-Syria talks proceed; USA takes no position
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – United States ambassador to Israel Richard Jones said on Friday that Washington will not intervene in negotiations between Israel and Syria that have recently resumed. He indicated that these negotiations are a private Israeli affair and said that the United States will not comment on the issue. Jones noted that the US, like many other Israeli officials, is cautious about contacts with Damascus but it will not object to the renewal of negotiations. Meanwhile, a Turkish government official said that “Syria and Israel agreed to hold a fourth round of indirect talks in Turkey at the end of July. ” They are currently scheduled to hold fifth and sixth rounds of talks in August, and according to the official, “during their meeting in July they will decide if the talks of August will be direct or indirect. ”

Iraq’s Shiites protest against security deal with America
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/5/2008
BAGHDAD: Large crowds of Iraqi Shiites denounced Friday the security pact Baghdad is negotiating with Washington for a long-term US military presence. In Baghdad’s Sadr City, the bastion of hard-line cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Shiite men, women and children shouted anti-American slogans as they demonstrated against the security deal after Friday prayers. "No, no to colonization! Out, out you occupier!" the crowd shouted in the center of Sadr City, where fierce battles raged in March and April between Shiite militants and US forces in which hundreds of people were killed. The fighting ended with a truce on May 10. Washington and Baghdad are negotiating a security pact on the long-term foreign-troop levels in Iraq. Last November US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed to sign the pact by July 31of this year.

Obama shift gears on issues, including Iraq
Stephen Collinson, Daily Star 7/5/2008
Agence France Presse WASHINGTON: Barack Obama bills himself as a new brand of leader poised to drain Washington’s swamp of political cynicism. But despite spellbinding calls for "Change We Can Believe In," the Democratic hopeful is not shirking from cold-eyed positioning to boost his hopes of victory over Republican White House hopeful John McCain. Obama has turned down the crowd-swooning oratory since beating Hillary Clinton to the Democratic nomination last month. The Illinois senator has switched to a general election strategy, making a beeline for the fabled political center, with policy adjustments, tonal shifts and speeches extolling faith and patriotism. Obama also appeared to be maneuvering for room on Iraq, after his anti-war stance and calls for immediate troop withdrawals underpinned his primary triumph.

Hundreds of Palestinians stranded in Egypt cross into Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/4/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- The information officer in the PA crossings bureau Mohammed Odwan confirmed on Thursday that the Egyptian authorities allowed 558 Palestinian citizens stranded at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing point for months to cross into Gaza Strip. In an interview with the PIC, Odwan said that the PA team operating the Rafah crossing point was working normally and in a good manner, and that the PA police were in control of security situation at the crossing point and efficiently impose law and order there. He also underlined that ability of the team of the PA crossings administration stationed at Rafah proves that violence erupted on Wednesday at the border point wasn’t a defect on the part of the team, but rather it was an accidental matter. Hundreds of Palestinian citizens (many of them sick) angry of the Egyptian reluctance to let them cross into Egypt to receive. . .

Egyptian Police Injured in Gaza Border Clash
Reuters, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
Palestinians clashed with Egyptian police at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Wednesday when some of the Palestinians tried to force their way across, witnesses said. Dozens of Palestinians from the territory, controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas, pelted Egyptian border police with stones, injuring at least six of them, Egyptian security and medical sources said. Live television footage showed Egyptian forces firing water cannon and hurling rocks in response as they sealed the gates to the crossing, the only corridor between Gaza and Egypt. It has mostly been closed since Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in 2007. Palestinian officials and witnesses said Hamas had beefed up security at the site after the violence and was restoring control, ordering people to leave and forcing the crowd back across the Palestinian border.

This Week In Palestine - Week 27 2008
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/4/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 16 m 0s || 14. 6 MB ||This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for June 28th, through July, 4th, 2008. As Hamas calls for the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing, two Palestinian patients died in Gaza due to the Israeli siege. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Sam Orwell has the details: Bil’in Three activists were injured by Israeli forces on Friday in the weekly protest against the separation wall in Bil’in; near the West Bank city of Ramallah: two of them are French activists and the third one is Mohamad Ali Abo Sa’di 65 years old. Additionally dozens of protesters were treated for tear gas inhalation.

PCHR: Israel maintains policy of extrajudicial executions
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
[Ma’anImages] Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel commited 96 extra-judicial executions of Palestinian activists between 1 August 2006 and 30 June 2008, according to a report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). In a report on extrajudicial executions released this week, PCHR stated that "Israeli legislative, executive, and judicial authorities officially support a policy of extra-judicial executions, making Israeli the only state in the world that officially commits these crimes. " Extrajudicial executions often go under the Israeli label "targeted killing" or "military response," and generally aim at the assassination of someone identified as a political leader. According to the PCHR report, the "most notable tools" for the extrajudicial executions are targeting by military aircraft, operations by under-cover units, ambushes, and house sieges.

Policeman Convicted of Killing Arab Escapes
Erfat Weiss, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
Where in the world is Yanai Lalza? The police are attempting to locate Yanai Lalza, a Border Guard police officer who killed a Palestinian boy in Hebron. Lalza for supposed to begin serving his prison term last week but failed to report at the jail. Despite the police’s request, Lalza was not held in detention and was supposed to report to prison at the set date. Lalza was sentenced to six and a half years in prison after being convicted of killing a 17-year-old Palestinian in December 2002. Lalza was convicted of manslaughter by the Jerusalem district court. The incident in question, which involved Lalza as well as three other Border Guard officers, was videotaped. According to the indictment, the four police officers kidnapped the Palestinian teen and later threw him out of a speeding jeep. The Palestinian teenager’s head slammed against the ground and he was killed. The judge in the case decided to impose a relatively lenient sentence on Lalza, citing his "difficult family circumstances. "

Palestinian nonviolent resistance undeterred: Israeli forces injure three
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/5/2008
Nablus - Three demonstrators were injured in the western Ramallah town of Bil’in during the weekly march and demonstration against the Wall, land confiscation and settlement expansion. Israeli forces attacked Palestinians and foreign supporters, including a French national and 65 year old Bil’in resident Mohammad Ali Abu Sadi. Dozens of others suffered suffocation from toxic gas inhalation. But the Palestinian nonviolent resistance goes on in Ramallah’s Bil’in and in southern Bethlehem. No amounts of Israeli violence or arrests have been able to stop the people. The Palestinian Red Crescent Ambulance crew was on hand to aid in the relief efforts on Friday. Families from Bil’in, who are losing most of their land despite international law and Israeli court changes to the Wall route, were joined by international supporters, including some Israelis.

Three injured in the weekly Bil’in protest
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Three protesters were injured and dozens inhaled tear gas on Friday during the weekly protest held in the village of Bil’in, west of the West Bank city of Ramallah. A group Bil’in residents joined by international and Israeli peace activists marched towards the illegal separation wall after the Friday prayers carrying Palestinian flags and banners. The protesters took to the streets of the village while chanting slogans calling for national unity and denouncing the construction of the separation wall and settlements. As the demonstrators neared the wall they spread out in a line along a portion of it. The Israeli soldiers fired tear gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets at protesters and prevented them from reaching their lands on the other side of the wall. According to local Palestinian sources, Ibrahim Burnat, who was shot in the leg with. . .

Two international activists and a Palestinian injured in Bil’in Weekly Protest
Abdullah Abu Rahma, International Middle East Media Center News 7/4/2008
Three activists were injured by Israeli forces on Friday in the weekly protest against the separation wall in Bil’in; near the West Bank city of Ramallah: two of them are French activists and the third one is Mohamad Ali Abo Sa’di 65 years old, in addition to the dozens of protesters were treated for tear gas inhalation. [end]

Group claiming bulldozer attack warns Israel against retaliation in East Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 7/4/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Ahrar al-Jalil Brigades, which claimed the 2 July "bulldozer attack" in Jerusalem, have advised the Israeli army a statement released that they should not seek out targets in East Jerusalem in response to the bulldozer incident. The Brigades added in a statement made Thursday that “yesterday we taught you [Israel] a new lesson," the statement continued saying that if the army attacks residents in East Jerusalem, "there are more to come. " Ahrar Al-Jalil is a self-proclaimed militant group based inside Israel. Witnesses to the Wednesday attack say a bulldozer from a Yaffa Road construction site broke through barricades onto the major street, injuring pedestrians and motorists, as well as attacking a single-decker Egged bus. The attack left four people dead and more than 70 injured. The driver of the bulldozer, shot by a nearby soldier, was identified. . .

Iran: Any attack on our nuclear facility will be beginning of war
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 7/5/2008
Tehran will consider any military action against its nuclear facilities as the beginning of a war, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported Friday. The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, was quoted as saying that any country that attacks Iran would regret doing so. According to the report, Jafari has warned that such a step would be the beginning of war. However, the general was also quoted as saying that he considers it unlikely Iran’s adversaries would attempt an attack. In a newspaper interview last week, Jafari warned that if attacked, Iran would barrage Israel with missiles and choke off the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a narrow outlet for oil tankers leaving the Persian Gulf. Israel carried out a large military exercise last month, seen throughout the media as a rehearsal for an attack on Iran.

The Janus-like Arab human rights groups
Daily Star 7/4/2008
What United Nations literature calls national human rights institutions (NHRIs) have emerged in recent years in the Arab world. A few of them - for example in Morocco and Palestine - have attained some autonomy in confronting governments. Most Arab NHRIs, however, have been unable to garner legitimacy in their society because they are seen as government organizations. In addition, the relationship between these institutions and independent human rights groups is often tense, especially when it comes to civil rights and political and constitutional reform. All NHRIs in the Arab world were created by the ruling elite during two waves of activity over the past two decades. The first wave occurred in the 1990s, when governments in certain countries - Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Palestine, and Yemen - launched these institutions as part of a package of policies to shore up wavering political legitimacy at home and absorb social crises.

Nobel peace prize winner warns against war on Iran
Middle East Online 7/4/2008
TEHRAN - Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi warned on Thursday against launching a military attack against Iran or imposing economic sanctions over its contested nuclear programme. "We not only are against military action on Iran but are also against economic sanctions," Ebadi said in a speech in Tehran. "They would spread destitution in Iran and we will do our best to prevent this disaster occurring," the 2003 Nobel peace prize winner said, according to a transcript of her speech. Her address marked the formation of a "National Peace Council" of around 70 dissident Iranian politicians, social activists and intellectuals. The list of people who signed on as founding members of the council included figures like Ibrahim Yazdi, head of the outlawed but tolerated Freedom Movement and Hashem Aghajari, who was sentenced to death but pardoned for apostasy.

Venezuela calls on OPEC to subsidize oil for poor
Middle East Online 7/4/2008
CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Thursday called on the OPEC cartel to absorb the costs of the oil import bills of the world’s 50 poorest countries, predicting that the price of crude is "going to continue rising. " "OPEC, or some of its members, should take the responsibility to supply these countries through special mechanisms, subsidies, donations, agreements. It is not going to make us any richer or poorer," he said at a meeting of the non-aligned movement at Isla Margarita on Venezuela’s northern coast. Chavez said he thought the price of crude, which hit a new record over 146 dollars a barrel in London trading on Thursday, would "continue to rise, and not because (oil exporters) want it to; it is not our fault. " But, he said, "We should not allow the price of a barrel to fall heavily on poor countries. "

Iran responds to world powers’ nuclear offer
AFP, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Tehran offers ’constructive and creative’ response; more talks to be held in coming weeks - Iran on Friday handed world powers its "constructive and creative" response to their letter presenting proposals to end the five-year standoff over its contested nuclear program, top officials said. " The Islamic republic has prepared and presented a response to the letter of the six countries with a constructive and creative view and a focus on common ground," state television quoted top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili as saying. A spokeswoman for the EU’s Javier Solana later confirmed that the response had been delivered Friday evening in a letter to the European Union’s foreign policy chief and to the foreign ministers of the six countries that submitted the offer. She gave no details of the letter.

US holds firm to demands Iran suspend enrichment
AFP, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Although Washington does not rule out less strict pre-negotiations, State Department spokesman says Tehran must suspend uranium enrichment as condition for US participating in formal nuclear talks with Islamic republic - The United States on Thursday maintained its demand that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment as a condition for Washington participating in formal nuclear talks with Tehran, although it did not rule out less strict pre-negotiations. "We have talked to the Iranians previously via the P5-plus-1 and Mr. Solana about various ways to get to full-blown negotiations," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, referring to grouping of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, as well as EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana who has engaged Tehran on nuclear issues.

British minister: Muslims feel like Jews of Europe
Ynet, YNetNews 7/4/2008
UK’s first Muslim minister attacks growing culture of hostility against Muslims in kingdom. ’I don’t mean to equate that with the Holocaust,’ he stresses, ’but in the way that it was legitimate almost - and still is in some parts - to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way’ - Britain’s first Muslim minister has said that many Muslims in the United Kingdom feel targeted like "the Jews of Europe," The Independent reported Friday. Shahid Malik was appointed as a minister in the Department for International Development (Dfid) by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown last summer. In an interview scheduled to be broadcast on Monday in a Channel 4 Dispatches program marking the third anniversary of the

International Poll: Most Publics - Including Americans - Oppose Taking Sides in Israeli - Palestinian Conflict
PCPO, MIFTAH 7/3/2008
 Dr. Nabil Kukali:" I see a positive shift in the view of the American people towards the balance of the roles of the adverse parties of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict".  Most Publics—Including Americans—Oppose Taking Sides in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Israeli, Palestinian, American and Arab Leaders All Get Low Marks On Efforts to Resolve Conflict  Most Publics Favor UN Playing Robust Role in Peace EnforcementCollege Park, MD—A new WorldPublicOpinion. org poll of 18 countries finds that in 14 of them people mostly say their government should not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just three countries favor taking the Palestinian side (Egypt, Iran, and Turkey). No country favors taking Israel’s side, including the United States, where 71 percent favor taking neither side.

Lighting the lamp of Arabic caricature in London
Olivia Snaije, Daily Star 7/5/2008
Review LONDON: The late president of Germany, Johannes Rau, once remarked, "for politicians there has always been only one thing worse than being caricatured - and that is not being caricatured. "This statement evidently does not apply in the Middle East. Witness "Lighting Lamps," an exhibit of political cartoons by seven Middle Eastern artists that just went up at the London offices of The Guardian daily. Steve Bell, The Guardian’s searing political cartoonist and principal illustrator, was instrumental in bringing his Arab colleagues to London. The man who depicts US President George W. Bush as a monkey [some sort of simian, in any case] and regularly lambastes British and US foreign policy in the Middle East says he’s always been interested in the region. Bell traveled to Syria in 2007, where he met acclaimed cartoonist Ali Ferzat, and subsequently went on to Jordan.

’Please don’t send us Arab workers’
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 7/4/2008
Manpower agency manager affiliated with National Insurance Institute specifically states in bureau documentation that he refuses to employ Arabs; Jaffa woman sues him for NIS 100,000 - A 33-year-old Jaffa resident who was referred by the Employment Bureau to a manpower agency working with Israel’s National Insurance Institute did not receive the job because she is Arab, the Yedioth Tel Aviv newspaper reported Friday. The supervisor who was supposed to take her in at the place of employment spoke of the official Employment Bureau document which states black on white, "Please don’t send us Arab workers. "  This week, the women submitted a claim to the Labor Court through Attorney Iris Farhi, suing for NIS 100,000 ($30,543. 47). The letter stated that "the defendants have inhumanely emphasized the difference between Arabs and Jews in Israel in the 21st century.


Wall slices off al-Khader’s famous vineyards
Adri Nieuwhof writing from al-Khader, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/4/2008
      Since early January the Palestinian village of al-Khader located near Bethlehem in the West Bank has protested against Israel’s construction of the Apartheid Wall and Jewish-only settlements built on village land every week. Al-Khader is known in the region for its vineyards which produce excellent-quality grapes. In the past they were sold all over the West Bank and Israel but farmers can no longer get their produce to the market. I traveled to al-Khader to witness the impact of the wall on the village at the invitation of Samer Jaber of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.
     At his apartment in al-Khader, Samer shows me a map of the al-Khader area located on the western edge of Israel’s "Greater" Jerusalem. The wall will cage the villagers of Battir, Wadi Fukin, Husan, Nahallin, and will cut off residents of al-Khader and Beit Jala from their fertile lands. Roughly 40,000 Israeli settlers inhabit this region of the West Bank with some 20,000 Palestinians.Once the wall is completed, al-Khader residents will only be able to access their land through a pedestrians-only turnstile located south of the village.The farmers will require permission from from Israel to bring vehicles and large equipment to their land through a gate 20 kilometers from the village. Samer tells me that two houses next to the wall have received demolition orders, because the owners built their houses without Israeli permission.

The narrative of a young woman: her eyes, life and hope under occupation

Manar Wahhab, Palestine News Network 7/4/2008
      Bethlehem - I will begin with the story of leaving in 1948 with the words of my grandmother. "Before the British left in May 1948, they humiliated the Arabs."
     "We used to think that they sold petrol for only five dinars but when we opened the bottles we discovered that they sold us water!"
     She continued, “I want to tell you what had happened to me and my family when we lived in Al-Ramlah [a village the Israelis took in 1948]…my six children and I sat at home [one of her children is my father]. Two men knocked on the door. When we opened the door, they told us to leave the house because there would be clashes. We didn’t believe them. I was cooking for my children. Then we suddenly heard shelling and bombing. I took my children and went to the Catholic convent to hide. There we met a lot of people, both Christians and Muslims. The children were afraid and cried because of the sounds they heard. There was no food or water anymore. So we were obliged to bring what we had in our houses. The Israeli soldiers told the boys and men to visit a specific place if they wanted to get permission to be in the streets, but the Israelis were lying: when the men went to the place they all were taken to prison. The Israeli airplanes shelled most of the houses. The snipers killed many boys, men, women, and children, even dogs and cats in the street.&rdquo.

The BBC ignores the beating of Palestinian journalist they interviewed only days before

David Halpin, Palestine Think Tank 7/4/2008
     Dear Olivia,
     My first message to you was on 06/28/2008 at 08:33 PM.
     I see no report of the assault on this journalist on the BBC web site. Assuming you are on holiday, I am copying this to senior colleagues. To this lay person, there would appear to be several reasons to report that which Mohammed Omer has and is suffering.
     1. The BBC were sufficiently interested to interview him on BBC World Service just before he left for France. I provided the contact number for that to happen.
     2. It is true is it not that an unprecedented number of journalists have been killed in Iraq - at least 250? 9 have been killed in Gaza. The alleged barbaric treatment of this young journalist should be reported; the louder the silence, the greater the state impunity.
     3. If this was Alan Johnston and not a Palestinian (albeit of great talent), the story would have been number one...

Moment of truce

Saleh Al-Naami, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/3/2008
      In a reversal of roles with Fatah, Hamas is now policing armed resistance in Gaza, writes Mohamed Abu Ermana, spokesman for the military wing of Fatah in Gaza, was shocked when members of the internal security service of Ismail Haniyeh’s dismissed government asked him to report to the police. The day before he told reporters that Fatah didn’t recognise the Egyptian-brokered truce between Hamas and Israel and would continue to fire rockets at Israel. Now he was under arrest.
     It sounds odd that Hamas would detain anyone for involvement in attacks on Israel. But given the outrage expressed by the Palestinian public at rocket attacks carried out by some Palestinian factions directly after the truce went into effect, the Haniyeh government apparently felt justified to do so. According to a public poll conducted by the Gaza-based Mustaqbal Research Centre, 86 per cent of Palestinians support the truce agreement and more than 70 per cent are angry with the factions that violated the agreement.

Peace talks are Olmert’s ticket to political survival

Gerald M. Steinberg, Daily Star 7/4/2008
      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has again demonstrated his skill in manipulating Israel’s dysfunctional electoral system. After surviving the Winograd commission reports on the mistakes made in the 2006 Lebanon war, Olmert faced another wave of calls to resign following testimony related to corruption charges. But through an agreement with Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, a Knesset vote was cancelled that would have led to national elections in the fall and would probably have returned opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to power. Unless there are new political "earthquakes" (always a possibility in Israel), the current coalition is likely to continue until at least the spring of 2009.
     As a result, and as part of a survival strategy that includes shifting the focus of media attention, Olmert’s "peace offensive" remains very much on the table. The issues include the negotiations for a "shelf agreement" with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and talks with Syria. The prisoner exchange negotiations with Hizbullah and Hamas and the unwritten cease-fire agreement that entered into effect in Gaza on June 22 are also part of this offensive.

Unite to negotiate a real truce

Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, Electronic Intifada 7/4/2008
      After nearly one year of a suffocating siege imposed on Gaza by the Israeli military establishment, a truce agreement was reached between Hamas and Israel. This followed months of dedicated Egyptian good offices. Rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli settlements were to stop in return for gradually lifting the blockade. A ceasefire sustained for six months would then roll over to the West Bank. A hostage Israeli soldier would be released in a separate deal involving exchange of Palestinian prisoners. Future negotiations would set the terms for opening the borders between Egypt and Gaza.
     Hamas vowed to respect the agreement as did other Palestinian factions. In addition to Hamas, only Islamic Jihad is to be taken seriously. Fatah, the faction linked to President Abbas, has long and vehemently criticized rocket firing from Gaza.
     Five days into the long awaited ceasefire, Israel allowed the entry of tissues and sanitary napkins into Gaza as a form of "good will." Simultaneously, it carried out an early morning raid against a student hostel in Nablus, killing two Palestinians in their beds.

Iqbal Tamimi - ''Will you remember my name?''

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 7/4/2008
      When one Israeli person is killed or kidnapped, the media makes sure every single person hearing the news would know the name of that person, giving the incident a human dimension. But this has never been the case with Palestinians who have been killed, imprisoned or kidnapped by the Israeli authorities.
     Palestinians are considered as a demographically abundant population, it is alright not to know their names; they are ignored on a human level. Their names are never mentioned. When Palestinians are killed you only hear about numbers, their blood is diluted by the media manipulators who do not have the decency to respect human life on both sides.
     This is why I thought of mentioning the names of a few young Palestinian men who died inside Israeli prisons. When you read their names, remember that each one of them has a family and friends, and each of them has his own dreams and hopes, and his blood screams at you, "WILL YOU REMEMBER MY NAME?" And most of all, almost all of them were killed inside Israeli prisons during interrogations before being convicted or standing in a court to a fair trial. The majority are very young, this is another tactic of Israeli authorities to empty the country of its people as soon as possible.

United by a Bulldozer - And I think to myself...

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/4/2008
      According to Haaretz, the Shin Bet security service, the (IDF) Military Advocate General, the Defence Minister Barak and the Prime Minister Olmert himself are all backing the demolition of terrorists’ homes.
     Not much can be said; at last, Jews start to agree on something among themselves, not only do they agree, they even compete among themselves to be the most outspoken about it. They all want to lead the current Hebraic belligerence championship. Each of them tries to shape and reshape an authentic image of vengeance. One may have to admit: compassion is not an appreciated feature in the Jewish state.
     In fact, it is almost amusing to read Olmert’s statements:
     "This is an attack which came from within Israel into Israel," says the observant Israeli PM."It creates a string of scenarios we never thought we would have to deal with in the past."  He continues, and I do not know whether to laugh or to cry. Israel invests so much effort in racially based discrimination of its Palestinian citizens (whom they themselves tag as "˜Israeli Arabs’ rather than just fellow Israelis) yet, they somehow fail to predict that one day it all may spark out. I honestly find it hard to believe...