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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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6 July 2008

Israeli settlers burn 20 almond trees, shot at Palestinian farmers and poison sheep belonging to villagers
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/6/2008
Date of incident: 3 July, 2008 - Time: around 4 p. m. - Place:Burin, Nablus district - Witness/es: Villagers - Description of Incident: On Thursday July 3rd, illegal Israeli settlers once again attacked the village of Burin. The illegal settlers succeeded in setting fire to a field of almond trees, burning at least 20 trees (approximately 3 dunums of land) before Israeli soldiers forced the settlers from the area and called the fire brigade. According to Palestinian farmers, approximately 15 settlers approached the village at around 4pm and began throwing stones. They were soon joined by another 20 to 25 settlers. During the attack, the illegal settlers also fired at the feet of Palestinian farmers and attempted to beat them when they tried to protect their lands and herds. As well, the settlers placed poison on the ground in an attempt to poison and kill herd animals belonging to village residents.

Masked Israeli Settlers attack shepherds near Hebron
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/6/2008
The Israeli Information Center For Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) published a video footage on Friday showing masked Israeli settlers carrying batons and attacking Palestinian shepherds near the illegal settlement of Susia near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The video footage showed four masked settlers carrying sticks approaching the famers and attacking them. Three Palestinians were hospitalized after sustaining injuries, one of the wounded was a 58-year old Palestinian woman who suffered fractures in her hand. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli police spokesperson in the Hebron area, said that no arrests were made. One of the attacked Palestinian farmers, identified as Imran Al Nawaj’a, 31, told Reuters that he along with his aunt and uncle, 58 and 60 years old, were tending their sheep last Sunday when two Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene and ordered them to leave.

Israel reopens Gaza crossings in keeping with Hamas truce
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
Israel reopened border crossings to the Gaza Strip on Sunday in keeping with a truce with Hamas, allowing much-needed supplies to begin flowing into the territory. "The Sufa, Nahal Oz, and Erez crossings are open for the passage of goods, including cement and fuel," Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner toldAFP , adding that Erez was also open for sick Gazans requiring treatment in Israel. Since the truce took effect on June 19, Israel had closed the crossings three times in response to rocket attacks by Fatah-allied militants and small armed groups. Israel took the decision to reopen the crossings because there had been no further rockets or mortar rounds launched from Gaza since an attack Thursday, Lerner said. On Sunday, there was a slight renewal of tensions when a gunshot was fired from the Gaza Strip at an Israeli farmer driving a tractor near the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, according to the Israeli military.

Western Ramallah nonviolent resistance holding its ground
Palestine News Network 7/6/2008
Ramallah / PNN -- Western Ramallah’s nonviolent resistance remains under attack with at least 13 people shot and injured on Sunday. Three days ago Israeli forces declared the western Ramallah village of Nil’in, active in the nonviolent Palestinian resistance against the Wall, a "closed military zone. "The demonstrations have continued despite a major Israeli assault. Since Friday the village Nil’in has not stopped with the demonstrations. Throughout Saturday and into the night the people of the town stood their ground despite injuries and arrests. The medical clinic is out of supplies, the town is under blockade, no journalists can enter, and hundreds of Israeli soldiers are inside opening fire. Youth are throwing stones. On Sunday medical sources report that as the demonstrations continue Israeli forces injured 13 Palestinians.

IDF to step up campaign against Hamas in W. Bank
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
The Israel Defense Forces will soon be stepping up its campaign against Hamas’ civilian infrastructure in the West Bank, shutting down a large number of Hamas-affiliated charities, confiscating their property, and searching computers and documents that detail their activity. The IDF has been carrying out similar raids in the Hebron, Qalqilyah and Ramallah areas since the beginning of the year, but the campaign will now be expanded to additional parts of the West Bank, in the wake of approval from Israel’s legal authorities. After receiving permission to seize property that provides Hamas-affiliated associations with income, even if they are not directly linked to terrorism, the IDF has shut down a mall in Hebron, confiscated buses and prohibited the opening of a new school in Hebron due to ties with Hamas-linked Islamic associations.

Abbas meets Assad on prospects for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Syria on Sunday looking for insight on his Islamist rivals’ attitudes to reconciliation - but he had no plans to meet the Hamas leader in person while in Damascus. Palestinian officials said Abbas’s two-day visit to Damascus, where Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal lives in exile, would focus on discussions of Arab efforts to help end the rift between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement following the Islamists’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip a year ago. Abbas would discuss the issues with Syrian President Bashar Assad but, senior Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters, "President Abbas will not meet Meshaal in Damascus or anywhere else before Hamas commits to end its coup in Gaza. " Palestinian officials said the gaps between Hamas on the one hand and Fatah and other factions of. . .

Barak: Demolish J’lem terrorists’ homes
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the Israel Defense Forces to issue injunctions calling for the demolition of the homes of two East Jerusalem men who carried out terror attacks in the capital, Army Radio reported Friday. The first home to be demolished would be that of Hussam Duwiyat, who plowed a bulldozer into a string of vehicles in downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding dozens. The second terrorist in the injunction is Alaa Abu Dhaim, who in March gunned down eight students and wounded many more at Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. Both were killed by security forces during their attacks. Barak’s order was mainly based on Thursday’s announcement by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz that razing terrorists’ homes is legal. Mazuz told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Barak that rulings made by the High Court of Justice over the years. . .

VIDEO - News/ IDF: Jlem attacker’s home should be sealed off, not demolished
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 news roundup for July 6, 2008. Home Front recommends the Jerusalem attacker’s home be sealed off, not demolished. Activity in a Galilee cemetery suggests preparations for a prisoners swap with Hezbollah are underway. More than 100 kilograms of cocaine are confiscated at a Haifa port. [end]

Police conclude Jerusalem bulldozer killer acted alone
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Israel Police have concluded that a Palestinian construction worker who killed three Israelis with a bulldozer in Jerusalem last week acted alone and not as part of a militant organisation, a spokesman said on Sunday. "(He) improvised the attack on his own," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on a day when hundreds of officers were on hand to protect some 30 Israelis who demonstrated near the dead attacker’s house to demand his family home be demolished, or in case the protest turned violent. Husam Duwayit crushed cars and overturned a bus on Wednesday on one of Jerusalem’s busiest streets. No major militant group claimed responsibility and relatives and neighbours described Duwayit, 30, as a troubled man with a record of drug offenses. They insisted the family had been unaware of his intentions.

Israeli forces fire on farmers in northern Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces used machine guns to fire on Palestinian farmers who were tending their fields near the high-tech border fence in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday. As a result of heavy fire, farmers were forced to abandon work in their fields which they had only begun after a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions went into effect on 19 June. The Israeli military announced on Friday that it would reserve fire on any Palestinians who come within 300 meters of the Israel-Gaza border, despite the ceasefire. Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military took over the frequencies of local radio stations to warn locals than anyone who approaches the border would be shot. The Palestinian local initiative for countering Israeli aggression in the town of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, called this decision "a death penalty for thousands of farmers,". . .

Israeli army opens heavy fire towards farmers in northern Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/6/2008
The Israeli army opened heavy fire early on Sunday morning towards Palestinian farmers in areas, adjacent to the border electronic barbed wire fence with Israel in northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli army fire today came following an Israeli decision to shoot at any moving object just 300 meters away from the border fence. The decision was delivered earlier to Egyptian mediators who brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians three weeks ago. The local popular committee for encountering the Israeli aggression in the northern city of Beit Hanoun, considered the decision as a real threat to thousands of Palestinian farmers, who earn a living in the area. Witnesses said on Sunday that dozens of local farmers fled the scene following the sporadic gunfire in the area, two weeks after they have got use of the ceasefire deal.

IOF troops open fire at Palestinian farmers in northern Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The IOF troops on Sunday morning opened fire at Palestinian farmers working in their lands near the border fence in northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian eyewitnesses reported. Many Palestinian farmers returned to cultivate their lands which they had abandoned before the truce, but Israel decided to ban citizens and farmers from approaching a distance of less than 300 meters from the Gaza borderline. Palestinian citizens told the PIC reporter that Israeli warplanes on Sunday morning flew extensively over the Gaza city, Khan Younis and Rafah in addition to areas of northern Gaza Strip which caused panic among children and women. The Israeli military research division had prepared a document in which it recommended to the decision-making circles to carry out limited and concentrated military attacks against Gaza and called for reconsidering Israel’s current policy towards the Strip.

Palestinians shoot at Nahal Oz farmers
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/6/2008
No injuries reported after Gaza gunmen open fire at farmers working in kibbutz field. Crossing from Israel to Strip reopened Sunday morning - Palestinians opened fire Sunday afternoon at farmers working in fields near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Gaza vicinity. There were no reports of injuries. This is the first time gunmen shoot at farmers since the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect about two and a half weeks ago. Since the truce began, Palestinians have fired several Qassam rockets and mortar shells into the western Negev on a number of different occasions. The truce was last violated on Thursday, as a Qassam rocket exploded in an open area in the western Negev. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Following the rocket fire, Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the army to close all the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip. -- See also: IDF: Negev farmer''s tractor damaged by stones, not Gaza sniper

IDF: Negev farmer’s tractor damaged by stones, not Gaza sniper
Fadi Eyadat and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
A farmer operating a tractor near the western Negev Kibbutz Nahal Oz said a Palestinian sniper in the bordering Gaza Strip opened fire at him on Sunday afternoon. Several hours later, however, the military admitted there was no sniper attack, saying damage to the tractor might have been caused by a stone. The farmer sustained no injuries. A police sapper from the nearby city of Sderot arrived at the scene but could not determine whether a shooting had taken place because he could not locate a bullet. Military sources also said that an IDF observation post failed to identify the origin of the gunfire. The incident occurred hours after Israel reopened its border crossings with Gaza, a measure stipulated by a truce agreement between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Palestinian sources to PNN: latest crime by Israeli settlers under protection of soldiers
Palestine News Network 7/6/2008
Hebron / PNN / Palestinian witnesses reported that Israeli settlers again attacked the residents of southern Hebron. Sources told PNN that a group of particularly fundamentalist settlers attacked a Palestinian shepherd who was grazing his sheep on Palestinian land. An Israeli settlement, Asael, was built nearby, also on Palestinian land. The settlers came and set fire to the fields which prompted several other Palestinian farmers to rush to the field to save the life of the shepherd who was caught in the middle of the flames. Palestinian security sources and eyewitnesses, including foreign activists, continued to tell PNN that when a group of Palestinian and foreigners entered the area together, dozens of settlers pounced on them and began a major physical assault. Israeli soldiers were nearby, from the beginning of the setting of the fire, yet did nothing.

Jewish ''Klansmen'' tie Palestinian to power pole, beat him savagely
Khalid Amayreh in el-Sammou, Hebron, Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
Even in his wildest dreams, Midhat Radwan Abu Karsh never imagined that one day he would be tied  up to a power pole and savagely beaten by bigoted Jewish settlers who believe that non-Jews are animals in a  human shape. Yet, this is exactly what happened to him earlier this week when four Jewish terrorists ganged up on the 31-year-old Palestinian teacher  as he was hiking in his land,  awaiting Israeli peace activists whom he wanted to brief  on  the daily acts of vandalism, harassment and land theft at the hands of  fanatical Jewish settlers, protected by the army and backed by powerful political parties. Abu Karsh accuses the settlers of being  hell-bent on driving Palestinians away in order to take over their land. "As I was standing in my land, suddenly four settlers descended from the settlement of Asnael, and started cursing and beating me with clubs. "

VIDEO - Palestinian: Soldiers looked on as settlers assaulted me
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/6/2008
(Video) Man beaten by settlers in South Mount Hebron on Saturday tells Ynet of moments of fear, IDF troops’ failure to intervene. ’I called out to the soldiers for help, but they didn’t move,’ he says - VIDEO -A Palestinian beaten by settlers in South Mount Hebron on Saturday claimed IDF soldiers stationed in the area refused to help him. "I was beaten by the settlers for about 40 minutes. They hit me all over my body, but mainly in the head, the stomach, the pelvis and the shoulders. I lost consciousness a few times, and when I woke up I called out to the soldiers who were there, ’Help, stop them, help me,’ but they didn’t move," the man, Abu Karash, told Ynet on Sunday morning. Video: Assaf and Efrat, ISMAbu Karash, a teacher, received medical treatment at the Hebron hospital.

DCI: IOF troops physically assaulted 10-year-old Palestinian boy in Qalqilya
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
QALQILYA, (PIC)-- Defense for children international-Palestine section (DCI-PS) documented in a report a brutal physical assault on a 10-year-old boy called Ezzat committed on June 11 by IOF troops seeking information on the location of a handgun, while he was in his father’s shop selling fodder and eggs along with his youngest brother and sister in the Sanniriya village, Qalqilya. According to the report, the boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach for half an hour. He was deeply shocked and lost two of his teeth as a result of the assault. One of the Israeli soldiers threateningly shouted in Arabic, "Your father sent us to you to collect his gun", the terrified Ezzat responded: "My father does not own a gun". The soldier responded by slapping Ezzat repeatedly, then ordered his little brother and sister to leave the shop and forced him to search for the alleged gun in fodder sacks.

Soldier rebuked for taking lighter from Ramallah house
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/6/2008
IDF fighter says he seized pistol-shaped device for fear troops would mistake it for weapon, hurt man carrying it - A fighter in the Combat Engineering Corps charged with plunder after taking a pistol-shaped lighter from a house in the West Bank city of Ramallah has been reprimanded and won’t be sent to jail. The military court was convinced that the soldier believed the lighter might accidentally cause his fellow troops to accidentally hurt innocent people due to its resemblance to a real gun. For months, members of the Military Defense Counsel have been working to prove that the indictment filed against Corporal A. was the result of a erroneous and unfair decision. The soldier was charged with the offense of plunder, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment, as well as a criminal record for life.

In Palestine: 449 dead, including 66 children in first half of 2008
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 7/6/2008
449 Palestinians were killed including 66 children in the first half of 2008, according to a report by the Palestinian ministry of health. [end]

General Staff: Use force in response to Qassams
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Israel should respond to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip with a targeted military response, the Israel Defense Forces General Staff stated in a document distributed to government and military leaders last week. Israel has so far responded to infractions of the two-week-old truce with Hamas by closing its crossings into the Strip. Several IDF officers reportedly believe that Ehud Barak’s decision to close the crossings did not go far enough. They say Hamas wants the calm to continue because it serves the organization’s interests, and that Israel cannot allow itself not to respond definitively to the rocket fire. Meanwhile, Hamas said Friday it was suspending talks over the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit until the crossings are reopened. Osama al-Muzaini, the Hamas official in charge of the talks on Shalit, said the organization. . .

Rafael reports successful test of Iron Dome anti-Qassam missile system
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Rafael has successfully completed a series of test in the short-range missile defense system it is currently developing as part of the project code-named "Iron Dome. " Security sources said yesterday that the trials, which were carried out at a test ground in southern Israel, were successful. The tests involved the launching of a number of Tamir missiles - the type that is expected to be used by Iron Dome to intercept Qassam and Katyusha rockets - and engineers evaluated its capabilities, in terms of such variables as effective range, command and control from the ground, speed and maneuverability. Defense sources estimate that by the end of 2008 Iron Dome will be ready to undergo a major test that will evaluate the system’s ability to intercept rockets. The test will include the launch of a rocket that will simulate a Qassam or Katyusha, which Tamir will then try to intercept.

Ten months after govt. decision, Sderot schools remain unprotected
Mijal Grinberg, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Tenders for the construction of schools in Sderot with the necessary fortified areas capable of protecting against rocket attacks are still pending, as a result of a dispute between Sderot municipality and the Interior Ministry. The cabinet decided to construct schools in Sderot capable of withstanding rocket blasts 10 months ago, but not only have the projects not started, still no party has secured the tender. Originally, the matter was handled by the relevant department at the Sderot municipality, however the winner of the original tender led to an investigation against the city’s mayor, Eli Moyal, for possible conflict of interest. The tender issuing process and the decision were revoked by the Interior Minister, and in a letter by ministry director Aryeh Bar-Shelach to Moyal, the entire process used by the municipality was declared improper.

More proof of Sderot’s exodus: Fewer births and fewer kids in school
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
About a year ago, Danny and Keren Dahan from Sderot were trying to decide whether to give their 4-year-old twins Stav and Raveh a baby brother or sister. But the escalation of Qassam rockets made the decision for them. "We decided that this is not the time or place to have another baby; it would be irresponsible," Dahan says. It seems the Dahans are not alone. Statistics Haaretz obtained from the health and interior ministries show a 15-percent decline in Sderot’s birth rate in the first half of this year from the same period last year - to 154 from 182. The decline was not felt dramatically after the Qassams started falling in 2001, but only when the firing escalated in May 2007. The declining birth rate also results from families leaving the city; their numbers can be gauged by registrations for the city’s schools because children. . .

Gaza beaches polluted due to the siege
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The health ministry in the PA caretaker government has warned the public in the Gaza Strip against swimming in Gaza waters due to the continued pumping of sewage water into the sea as a result of the fuel shortage caused by the Israeli siege that prevented work of the sewage treatment station. Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, director of ambulance and emergency in the ministry, said that the warning was meant to protect Palestinian citizens against contagious and skin diseases after the sewage water and other refuse were being dumped into the sea along with the presence of harmful sea weeds off the Gaza coasts. An academic study in Gaza warned that microbes in the sewage water could live in the salty water of the sea for different periods of time, and added that the civilians would almost certain to contract various diseases that could range from slight inflammation to the fatal meningitis.

Gaza struggles with waste between closure and Palestinian terror attacks
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Jerusalem Post 7/7/1908
SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip - When a toilet is flushed in Gaza City, the waste sloshes straight into the Mediterranean sea. A yearlong standoff between Israel and Hamas has left the territory’s sewage system in a state of collapse, flooding its postcard-pretty coastline with human waste at the start of summer’s swimming season and sending a fierce stench wafting over this crowded refugee camp and other nearby neighborhoods. The sewage problems could have potentially deadly consequences: Last year, five people were killed when a small waste reservoir collapsed. Health officials say other reservoirs are endangered, too, and the health threat from raw sewage could become deadly serious unless the situation is addressed soon; the World Health Organization already has warned people not to enter the sea. "If the amount of sewage dumped into the sea remains at this rate, we’ll be facing a dark future for sea water in Gaza," said WHO official Mahmoud Daher.

Barak orders Gaza crossing points open
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided on Sunday to reopen key border crossings with the Gaza Strip after closing them on Thursday. The Erez, Nahal Oz, and Sufa crossings will be opened, while the Karni crossing will remain closed for repairs, Israel Radio reported. Fuel and humanitarian aid, including food and medicine will be allowed into the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the Israeli military has been ordered to respond with force to homemade Palestinian projectiles that may be launched from Gaza. Israel agreed to ease its year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip as a part of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that went into effect on 19 June. It has since re-sealed Gazas borders in response to homemade projectile attacks, which also violate the truce.

Radwan: Hamas accepted an Egyptian invitation to discuss Rafah crossing
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Radwan, one of the Hamas political leaders in Gaza Strip, has revealed that his Movement had received and accepted an invitation from Egypt to discuss the issue of the Rafah terminal between Egypt and the Strip. The spokesman in a press release on Sunday said that there was no date fixed for talks with the concerned parties mainly the European Union, Egypt and the PA leadership. Shifting to the statement by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman that Abbas would not meet Hamas leaders during his Damascus visit, Radwan said that the statement was clear evidence on Abbas’s insincerity regarding the Palestinian national dialog. Abbas’s call for dialog was not serious, he said, citing Abbas’s refusal to meet any of the Hamas leaders and his rejection of all invitations to start dialog and instead he insisted on the futile negotiations after ten days in Washington.

Hamas: Israel is playing with fire when threatening to attack Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement warned Sunday that Israel is playing with fire when it threatens to wage military assaults on the Gaza Strip at the pretext of rocket attacks, highlighting that Israel has to mull over before taking such a perilous step. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, underlined that the percentage of Gaza crossings openings are still less than it used to be prior to the calm. He added that this reflects Israel’s willingness to manipulate the truce agreement terms, to use them in a way serving its interests and to blackmail Hamas and other Palestinian forces into complying with its conditions regarding the file of its captive soldier Gilad Shalit. The spokesman also stressed that Israel’s acts towards the calm will have negative results on Shalit’s file, noting that Hamas and the Palestinian factions are assessing the. . .

Israel to reopen Gaza border crossings
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 7/6/2008
JERUSALEM, July 6 (Reuters) - Israel was reopening some border crossings with Gaza on Sunday, an official said, after it closed them on Thursday following the launch of a rocket into the Jewish state by Palestinian militants. Reopening the crossings will allow goods into the largely blockaded territory and humanitarian cases into Israel for medical treatment. The rocket landed in an open area and did not cause any casualties. Regardless of the firing, the crossings are generally closed from Friday afternoon to Sunday during the Jewish day of rest. Israeli official Peter Lerner said the Erez crossing, the main passage for people between Gaza and Israel, would be opened to allow Gazans in need of urgent medical attention travel into Israel. He said the Sufa crossing would be opened to allow goods and cement into the Gaza Strip, and the Nahal Oz fuel depot would also be opened.

De facto Palestinian health minister meets Arab Leage leader in Cairo, promises change
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian de facto Minister of Health Basim Na’im met with Amr Mousa, secretary general of the Arab League in Cairo on Sunday, where the two discussed the health situation in the Gaza Strip. During the meeting Na’im stated the necessity of securing a passage for more than 1000 Palestinian patients and 5000 urgent cases out of Gaza, and called on the Arab League for support. The meeting came during the periodical meeting of Arab physicians held in Cairo on 3 and 4 July. Na’im also asked the Arab League’s secretary general to provide scholarships for Palestinian students to study certain majors not available in Palestinian universities. He also stressed the utility of sending Arab scholars to the Gaza Strip to help develop medical staff and specialties there. Mousa also expressed his opinion that Palestinian humanitarian demands reflected natural and inalienable rights.

Hamas: Progress on Shalit deal to be kept away from media
Jack Khoury and Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Hamas denied reports on Sunday that the negotiations over the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit have stalled. The deputy head of the Hamas politburo, Dr. Mussa Abu Marzuk, said that the reports are incorrect and talks on the matter of a prisoner exchange will be carried out in secret, away from the media. In an interview to Al-Shams Radio in Nazareth, Abu Marzuk said that both sides, Israel and Hamas, are interested in achieving progress on the prisoner swap. "The Shalit case will be handled away from the eyes of the media and journalists - this was the agreement on this matter. It is not correct to talk about a freeze or a delay in the negotiations because there have been no substantive or practical moves on this issue," the senior Hamas figure said.

Abbas and Olmert to meet in Paris
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet on the sidelines of an international summit in Paris on 13 July, the PLO’s chief negotiator said on Sunday. Chief Negotiator Sa’eb Erekat confirmed the two leaders would meet during the international conference convened by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to launch a "Mediterranean Union" aimed at increasing cooperation between Europe, north Africa, and the Middle East. Following the Paris meeting, the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams will fly to Washington, DC to meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 16 and 17 July. [end]

Peres calls Abbas and denies statement made in front of Jordanian Ambassador
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - Israeli President Shimon Peres called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to deny statements he was reported to have made against the peace process and against Abbas. According to an earlier report by Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, Peres made the statements at a dinner party at the home of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday. The comments are reported to have been made in front of the Jordanian ambassador to Israel. According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abbas received a phone call on Sunday from Peres who denied what was reported by media regarding what he said about Abbas. During the phone call, Peres affirmed his dedication to the peace process, saying that his position on it has not changed. Peres’ comments, according to Haaretz Hebrew, were that the chances to achieve a peaceful resolution with Palestinians appeared impossible. . .

Israeli premier, Palestinian president to meet in Paris
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at an international conference in Paris later this month, a senior Israeli official toldAFP Sunday. The two are expected to attend a July 13 summit hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to launch a new "Mediterranean Union" aimed at boosting cooperation between the EU and North African and Middle Eastern states. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two leaders would hold one-on-one talks on the sidelines of the meeting. Olmert, Abbas and their respective negotiating teams have met regularly since a US-hosted conference last November formally relaunched the Middle East peace process after a near seven-year hiatus. Both leaders, along with US President George W. Bush, have vowed to reach a comprehensive agreement resolving the decades-old conflict by 2009, but the negotiations have so far shown little sign of progress.

Israel imposes West Bank curfew in bid to end protests against separation barrier
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel enforced a curfew in the West Bank village of Nilin on Sunday after dozens of people were wounded in weeks of protests against a proposed extension of its controversial separation barrier. "Since this morning there has been a curfew in Nilin due to the significant rise in violence near the Palestinian village," a military spokesman said. "For over two months violent riots have taken place in Nilin. "The spokesman added that there was no time limit on the curfew and that it would remain in effect until the violence stopped. Dozens of demonstrators have been wounded during protests in recent weeks, and on Sunday alone 13 Palestinians were treated for rubber bullet wounds and dozens more for tear gas inhalation, according to local medics. During the last two months at least 10 Israelis have been wounded, including three soldiers, five border policemen, and two maintenance workers.

Palestinian villagers defiant as Israeli forces tighten blockade of Nil’in
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Israeli forces laid siege to the West Bank town of Nil’in, northwest of the city of Ramallah, for a third day on Sunday in an attempt to repress popular protest against Israel’s illegal separation wall. Witnesses said at least 17 people were injured on Sunday; five are in the hospital in serious condition. Five others were arrested and tens of people are suffering from teargas inhalation. The contents of five houses have been destroyed, a number of others have been teargased and sound bombed. The village’s clinic is running out of medicine due to the blockade. Journalists have been barred from entering the village. Israeli forces began an indefinite blockade of the village on Friday, anticipating more protests against the construction of the illegal Israeli wall. Six hundred villagers defied the curfew on Friday, joining a weekly prayer-demonstration.

33 Palestinians wounded in Na’lin confrontations
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces used live ammunition and gas canisters to disperse Palestinian demonstrators in Na’lin village, west of Ramallah city, wounding 33 citizens. Witnesses said that the IOF troops sealed the main eastern entrance to the village with cement blocs and sand barriers and blocked citizens, foreign sympathizers and media personnel from reaching the village to take part in the peaceful anti separation wall protests. They added that the confrontations between the IOF soldiers and villagers continued from afternoon Friday till a late hour Saturday, adding that a number of the wounded were taken to Ramallah hospitals. Ayman Nafe, the mayor of Na’lin, said that the soldiers arrested nine young men including two 16-year-old twins, assaulted a wedding and injured a number of invitees.

Occupation Forces rampage in Ni’lin village
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/6/2008
Today is the third day of curfew in Ni’lin, west Ramallah. All access roads are closed. At around 11 am this morning, the villagers broke the curfew imposed by the occupation forces. Clashes ensued and have been ongoing until the evening. 17 have been injured, 5 of them are in hospital, dozens more are suffering breathing problems from the teargas. The occupation forces are throwing teargas and sound grenades into the houses. 5 houses have been raided and furniture and electronic equipment destroyed. 5 people have been arrested, others beaten and detained for hours. The people in Ni’lin expect the curfew to last. Basic needs of the village cannot be covered for more than another three days.

Peace Now organizes settlement tours
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Poll ordered by left-wing movement reveals 73% of Israelis have not visited West Bank in recent years. Following data, group decides to hold summer tours to settlements, outpost to explain its stance - A poll ordered recently by the Peace Now left-wing movement reveals that some 73% of Israelis have not visited the West Bank over the past few years, and those who have, did it as part of their military service or due to a family event. Following the data, the movement decided to hold summer tours to settlements and outpost in order to allow people to closely examine the situation there. A movement official said that one of the most difficult problems is explaining the current state of affairs in the territories, settlements and outposts to the Israeli public - as people find it difficult to understand the impacts of the settlement construction without personally visiting the area.

Army blocks more roads in South Hebron Hills
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/6/2008
The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), stationed in the occupied southern West Bank city of Hebron, reported on Sunday that the Israeli army installed three more roadblocks between Hebron and the nearby villages of At Tuwani and Yatta. The CPT reported that a military bulldozer massed a 4ft mound on the At-Tuwani village side of the road, using cement blocks, boulders and dirt. The army also ripped cement from the road itself, damaging it significantly. Later on the soldiers removed the roadblock leaving the road damaged and later on installed another roadblock on the opposite side of Route number 317. Moreover, soldiers placed three earth months blocking access roads to tractors and trucks that travel to and out of Yatta village. The CPT reported that there are six barriers currently blocking the roads between At Tuwani and Yatta.

Man shot by anonymous gunman near Jenin, transfered to Israeli hospital by helicopter
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Jenin- Ma’an- Israeli sources said that a young Palestinian man arrived at Rihan checkpoint west of Jenin today with serious injuries. Israeli soldiers administered first aid and then saw that the man was transferred by an Israeli helicopter to an Israeli hospital for treatment. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that 26-year-old Haitham Jad Kabaha was shot in the head by an anonymous gunman on the road near the town of Arraba west of Jenin. The Israeli army denied shooting the young man, and confirmed that he arrived at the checkpoint injured and in serious condition. [end]

Israeli forces raid Jenin and Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank city of Jenin and the nearby town of Qabatiya on Sunday firing in the air and deploying sonic bombs. No casualties or arrests have been reported. Palestinian security sources stated that Israeli patrols stormed Jenin at 1:00am and roamed the streets. They withdrew one and a half hours later. Just after storming Jenin, Israeli forces invaded the southern neighborhood of Qabatiya and withdrew later. [end]

Life sentence for Qassam ’engineer’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Beersheba District Court hands down two life sentences to Sharif Ziyada after convicting him of attempting to duplicate Gaza manufacturing of Qassam rockets in West Bank -The Beersheba District Court handed down two life-sentences and an additional eight-year sentence on Sunday to Gaza Strip resident Sharif Ziyada, who was convicted of attempting to bring the Qassam rocket manufacturing industry to the West Bank. Ziyada, who was arrested while trying to infiltrate the Egyptian border into Israel in October 2005, was convicted of heading an initiative to begin manufacturing rockets in the West Bank on behalf of the Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. Two additional operatives - Kazem Dib and Kamal Aisa - were arrested along with Ziyada, who is considered the second-highest ranking member of the PRC.

PRC leader given to two life sentences plus eight years by Israeli military court
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Gaza- Ma’an- An Israeli military court in Beer Sheva sentenced a prominent leader of the An-Nasser brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Sharif Ziyadeh (Abu Omar) to two life sentences plus eight years last Sunday. Ziyadeh was accused of being a leader of the An-Nasser brigades in Gaza city and in the north of the Gaza Strip. The court found that he had headed a training exercise for resistance fighters and suicide bombers, and coordinated and planed several operations in the West Bank in addition to the bombing of an Israeli Merkava tank, killing three soldiers. [end]

Tehran offers negotiations but without nuclear freeze
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday offered to negotiate on its nuclear drive but without a freeze on uranium enrichment, in its first comments since responding to an international package aimed at ending the standoff. Its military chiefs, meanwhile, warned that the Islamic republic would close the Strait of Hormuz which is vital for oil exports and use "blitzkrieg tactics" in the Gulf waterway if it came under attack. "Iran will not go back on its rights on the nuclear issue," government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said. "The will of the Iranian people is firm and will continue to follow the principles defined by the supreme guide [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]," the spokesman said at a news conference. "Iran insists on negotiations [with world powers] while respecting its rights and avoiding any loss of international rights," Elham said, referring to Tehran’s refusal to give up on nuclear enrichment.

U.S. reported to fear Israeli strike won’t take out Iran nukes
Haaertz Service, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Senior United States defense officials fear that a much-anticipated Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would fail to destroy them due to lack of intelligence about their location, the Sunday Telegraph reported. The British newspaper stated that evidence of the CIA and Mossad espionage agency’s dearth of knowledge on the matter emerged during recent Israel-U. S. talks. Citing an official familiar with the discussions who has briefed Iran experts in Washington and London, the Sunday Telegraph stated that the talks were between Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Israeli generals. Despite the gaps in intelligence, the Pentagon chiefs worry that Israel will feel compelled to act within the next 12 months, despite no guarantee that it can do more than slow Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

US concerned Israeli strike in Iran ’doomed to fail’
Ynet, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Sources in Pentagon tell UK’s Sunday Telegraph meeting between Joint Chiefs of Staff chair, IDF chief left Americans worried Israel feels it has to attack Tehran, even if intelligence doesn’t indicate such strike would be successful -The heads of the Pentagon have expressed concerns that an Israeli plan for a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would fail to destroy the them, as both the CIA and the Mossad’s intelligence seems lacking in details of the bases’ location,The Sunday Telegraph reported. According to the report, the American commanders are worried that Israel will feel compelled to act within the next year; even if it has no assurances that it can do anything more than just slow Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. GallIran vows to pursue nuclear work despite incentives / Tehran vows to continue uranium enrichment program after handing EU its response to latest incentives proposal.

Ankara looks to extend mandate of troops in UNIFIL
Daily Star 7/7/2008
ANKARA: The Turkish government submitted Wednesday a motion to Parliament asking it to extend the mandate of Turkish troops under the banner of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for an additional year. The motion, signed by Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reiterated that Turkish troops were allowed to stay for one year in Lebanon under UN Resolution 1701 dated August 11, 2006, and the Turkish Parliament’s decision on September 5, 2006. The Turkish troops’ mandate in Lebanon was extended on September 5, 2007 for one year following a decision made by the Turkish Parliament. [end]

’Illicit’ settler food sold in UK stores
Paul Gallagher, The Observer, The Guardian 7/6/2008
Supermarkets accused of duping customers with ’West Bank’ produce grown in Israeli settlements - Food grown on illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is being sold in Britain, often to customers who assume they are buying goods from Palestinian-owned farms. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Somerfield have all admitted sourcing produce from Israeli-owned farms on Palestinian territory but claimed that labelling the goods ’origin: West Bank’ gave enough information for the customer to make an informed choice. All the leading supermarkets claim they are complying with EU law, which states that the origin of a producton a food label can be given as a geographical region rather than a country - providing the meaning is clear to the consumer. Campaigners say customers are being duped into believing they are buying goods from Palestinian-owned farms, when in reality they are contributing to the economies of the illegal settlements.

Israel set to exhume bodies of Hezbollah dead
Yossi Melman and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Israel is set to begin exhuming the bodies of Hezbollah fighters buried in the cemetery for enemy dead at Amiad ahead of a swap deal with the Lebanon-based guerrilla group, a military official said on Sunday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the army would begin exhuming the bodies on Monday as part of the deal for the release of two Israeli soldiers captured two years ago. The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported on Sunday that the first phase of a prisoner swap between Israel and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group would begin as early as Thursday. There was no official confirmation of the report from any other source. The exchange is to occur over three phases, the first of which will include the release of Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and three other prisoners, according to the Ma’an report.

Israel hands Hizbullah list of demands before swap
Daily Star 7/7/2008
Israel has informed Hizbullah that it will require ten days to complete the prisoner exchange from the time the agreement is signed, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Sunday. The newspaper reported that the swap is expected to begin on or around July 20. According to Haaretz, this request was one of several that were passed by Ofer Dekel, Israel’s negotiator in charge of prisoner exchanges, to United Nations-appointed German mediator, Gerhard Konrad, during their meeting in Europe last Thursday. Hizbullah seized Israeli Army reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser in a cross-border raid in July 2006. Israel responded to the border incident by launching a devastating 34-day war on Lebanon. Dekel also passed on a list of questions and demands for Hizbullah regarding the group’s report about missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad.

PFLP: prisoners swap to include PFLP members, thanks Lebanese resistance
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Member of the Political Office of the PFLP Maher At-Taher said Sunday that the prisoners’ exchange deal between Hizbullah and Israel will include prisoners and corpses of members of the PFLP. In a press statement, At-Taher described the inclusion as a "great accomplishment achieved by the brave Lebanese Resistance. " The achievement of Hizbullah, the statement continued, shows "that by resistance, will, persistence, endurance and adherence to principles and tenets we can achieve our goals and press the Israelis to acknowledge all of our rights. " At-Taher continued saying that he hopes the "Palestinian Resistance will be able to achieve such an accomplishment through its prisoner’s exchange negotiations. " At-Taher’s statement reiterated that the PFLP will exert all possible effort to help end factional divisions, and to move towards the realization of Abbas’ initiative between Fatah, Israel and Hamas.

Ayman Juda Brigades ask Hizbullah to help bring home bodies of two Gazans
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Ayman Juda Brigades, a branch of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, called on Hizbullah Sunday to include two corpses of Gazan "martyrs" in the prisoners swap deal with Israel. The corpses the Brigades are calling for are those of Fadi Al-’Amoudi from Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip who participated in a bombing operation at the Erez crossing on 17 April 2004. The second is that of Na’il ’Umar from Ash Shati’ refugee camp in Gaza City who participated in a resistance mission against Israel in Kfar Darum on 18 April 2004. The Brigades are requesting that the bodies be returned to their families for burial. The Brigades applauded Hizbullah for including the corpses of Dalal Al-Mughrabi and Yahya Scaf in their deal with Israel. They said delivery of corpses is the least that can be done for their families, thus enabling them to burry their sons in Muslim cemeteries.

Israeli media: PA officers say Nasrallah made Israel kneel, it understands only force
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli media say prisoner swap gave the wrong message. The Hebrew daily Maariv reported Sunday that “the exchange deal signed between Israel and Hizbullah in addition to helping resume Israel-Hamas talks over captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, motivated the Palestinian Authority and its men”. The newspaper quoted high a ranking officer of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as telling a correspondent, “Hassan Nasrallah made you drop to your knees and you respond by making Abbas kneel as well”. The official is reported to have continued, “you [Israel] proved by this that you understand nothing but the language of force. "The official added that if those Israel wishes to negotiate with are forced to beg for the lives and bodies of Israeli prisoners, "after a while you’ll find no one to talk to.

Poll: Majority of Israelis support prisoner release
Poll: Majority of Israelis support prisoner release, YNetNews 7/6/2008
War and Peace Index finds clear majority of Israelis support prisoner swaps which would ensure return of POWs Eldad Regev, Ehud Goldwasser and Gilad Shalit; 64% believe Hamas will violate ceasefire, 75% oppose ceding Golan Heights - Israel NewsSixty percent of the Israeli Jewish public supports the prisoner exchange deal Israel signed withHizbullah in an effort to free kidnapped IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, even though it means releasing all the Lebanese prisoners it holds, including Samir Kuntar; and only 32% oppose it, the War and Peace Index revealed Sunday. The War and Peace Index is conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. Published monthly since 1994, it is run by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann and is compiled of a monthly telephone survey of 600 Israeli citizens representing the various sectors in Israeli society.

Assad vows to help Palestinian factions reconcile
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Assad held talks Sunday with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after pledging to help achieve inter-Palestinian reconciliation, state news agency SANA reported. The agency quoted Abbas as saying that he would also discuss with Assad "peace talks with Israel. " Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political chief of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which seized power in Gaza a year ago during deadly fighting with Fatah forces loyal to Abbas, is based in Syria. The takeover effectively split the Palestinians into two entities as Abbas’ security forces fled from the impoverished territory for the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Last month Abbas called for talks with Hamas, breaking with his previous position that the movement must relinquish power in Gaza before any negotiations can take place.

Syria’s Role / Assad pushing for Palestinian unity
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
"When we come to Syria we are coming to our second country," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Syrian President Bashar Assad flatteringly when the two met in Damascus on Sunday. This "homecoming" was initiated by Assad, who recently stepped up his involvement in the Palestinian arena - at Egypt’s expense. During his two-day visit, Abbas is expected to meet with several leaders of Palestinian factions, with the exception of Hamas politburo chief, Khaled Meshal. The meetings appear to be part of a broader Syrian effort to bring rival Hamas and Fatah closer to national reconciliation. Last Thursday, Assad met with Meshal and after Abbas’ visit to the Syrian capital, another Fatah delegation is due to engage in a dialogue with Hamas. Assad is competing in an arena which Egypt monopolized, until recently.

Minutes of meeting reveal attempts made by Abbas to obstruct national dialog
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Minutes of a meeting held on June 24 by Palestinian factions loyal to the Fatah faction and attended by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas revealed that the latter categorically refuses any national dialog with the Hamas Movement and has hindered reconciliation efforts made by Amre Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League. The minutes, which were published on Sunday by the Palestine newspaper, disclosed that the attempts to embarrass and upset Hamas through media were the broad heading which Abbas’s ambassador in Cairo was keen on. The minutes also said that the PLO factions worked on blocking any chance for dialog with Hamas. "The Hamas Movement wants to talk to Fatah only"¦. . It is impossible to hold bilateral dialog with Hamas," Abbas told the PLO factions during the meeting. Abbas also pointed out that he called on the secretary-general of the Arab League to spare his efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah.

Fayyad denies launching separate plan for reconciliation with Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denied on Saturday that he had developed his own plan to restore Palestinian unity, instead reaffirming support for President Mahmoud Abbas’ own call for dialogue and unity. "There are no new initiatives except president Abbas’ initiative which reflects his view that national unity is a necessity. What has been spread in the media about a Prime Minister’s initiative was only additional explanation of president Abbas’ initiative and call for Palestinian unity," Fayyad said. In early June, Abbas issued a call for direct talks between his West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-led de facto government in the Gaza Strip. Fayyad was speaking during a visit to the southern West Bank city of Hebron, a city known both as the engine of the Palestinian economy and the site of some of the most militant Israeli settlements.

National unity talks in Damascus continue amidst much rhetoric
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Damascus- Ma’an/Agencies- Abbas arrived in Damascus on Sunday for a two-day-visit with Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad and members of the PLO executive committee. During his visit, Abbas will also meet with Deputy of the Syrian President Farouq Ash-Share’ and Foreign minister Waleed Al-Mu’allem in addition to scheduled sessions with members of a number of Palestinian factions, excluding Hamas. President Al-Asad met with the head of Hamas’ political office Khaled Mash’al on Saturday, one day before Abbas planned to discuss with him the possibility of a meeting between himself and Mash’al. Representatives from both Hamas and Fatah, however, have expressed doubt that this meeting will take place. Official spokesperson of Hamas Fawzi Barhoum said that“Fatah refuses to meet with us. "He said that Abbas had announced that it is " too early to meet with Mash’al," and wonders,. . .

Bardawil: Abbas’s refusal to meet Mishaal is submission to US dictates
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary bloc, stated Sunday that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to meet with Khaled Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, during his visit to Damascus is in compliance with American dictates imposed on him. In a press statement, Dr. Bardawil underlined that this position of Abbas was unreasonable because it came after his fuzzy call for national dialog, noting that Abbas’s initiative will not be active as long as it is being vetoed by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Regarding the expiration of Abbas’s post as a PA chief next January, the spokesman explained that according to the law, the PLC speaker becomes the president of the PA for 60 day until the election of a new one. Meanwhile, the Israeli Maariv newspaper revealed that the PA chief asked Israeli premier Ehud Olmert not to release. . .

Resheq: We wish Abbas could free himself from US veto on national dialogue
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Senior Hamas political leader Ezzat Al-Resheq has condemned on Sunday the statements of the close associates of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that he wouldn’t meet with Khaled Mishaal, the supreme political leader of Hamas. Abbas arrived to the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday in a two-day visit to that Arab country. "The statements of Abbas’s aides that he won’t meet Mishaal reveals that the US and Israeli veto on the inter-Palestinian national dialogue still there", asserted Resheq in an interview with the Quds Press. He also explained that although no meeting between Abbas and Mishaal had been arranged yet, Hamas leadership was and still is open for a meeting with Abbas in order to end the Palestinian political division. Nabil Abu Rudaina, the spokesman of Abbas, confirmed that the PA chief won’t meet Mishaal nor any other Palestinian faction based in Syria,. . .

Abbas will not meet Hamas leaders during Damascus visit
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with Hamas or any other Palestinian factions’ leader during his visit to Syria on Sunday, said , Abbas’ spokesperson. Abbas will meet only with Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad. Abu Rdeina’s comments came after a meeting in the Jordanian capital Amman with Robert Serry, Special Coordinator of the United Nations for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General. According to Abu Rdeina, Abbas and Al-Assad’s meeting will address Palestinain-Israeli peace negotiations, and newly-opened indirect talks between Israel and Syria. Asked if the meeting would tackle the issue of Palestinian reconciliation, Abu Rdeina said Abbas’ initiative for reconciliation is still in effect as it was part of the Arab League Summit decisions.

Abbas won’t meet with Mashaal in Damascus
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Palestinian, Syrian leaders discuss conflict between Palestinian factions, negotiations with Israel, indirect Israel-Syria talks. Abbas aides say no chance of meeting with Hamas politburo chief Mashaal -Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Sunday afternoon with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. The two leaders discussed the conflict between the Palestinian factions, the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the indirect talks between Israel and Syria. But despite earlier reports of a possible meeting between Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, Palestinian officials said Abbas’s two-day visit would not include a such a summit.

Israeli official: Syria ready to sever ties with Iran
Ynet, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Former Foreign Ministry director-general involved in indirect talks between Israel, Syria says President Assad willing to break off close links with Tehran if US gives his country financial, military backing -Syria is ready to break off its close links with Iran if the United States gives it financial and military backing, former Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel has told The Sunday Telegraph. Liel said that progress has been made in the unofficial talks between Jerusalem and Damascus, but that long months of negotiations may still be ahead. According to the diplomat, who has been engaged in low-key "second track" discussions with Syrian representatives for many months, Syrian President Bashar Assad is increasingly open to a deal which would greatly weaken Iranian influence in the region.

Former top Israeli diplomat says Syria ready to cut Iran ties
Haaertz Service, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
A former senior Israeli diplomat has asserted that Syria is willing to cut its close relations with Iran in return for financial and military backing from the United States, the Sunday Telegraph reported. Alon Liel, a former director general of the foreign ministry, told the British newspaper that Syrian President Bashar Assad is increasingly open to a peace deal with Israel which would greatly weaken Iran’s influence in the Middle East. The Sunday Telegraph reported that Liel - who has been engaged in low-key "second track" discussions with Syrian representatives for many months - has said the prospect of an agreement with Syria was growing, though a new U. S. president might be necessary before a deal could be finalized. The official’s comments came after Syria held a third round of indirect negotiations with Israel in Turkey this week.

Damascus blames inmates for deadly prison riots
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
DAMASCUS: Syrian authorities on Sunday blamed inmates for provoking riots in a prison for political detainees during which human-rights groups said at least 25 people were killed. The official SANA news agency said security forces took action to put down a violent protest which broke out on Saturday by prisoners in Saydnaya jail - one of Syria’s largest - without making clear whether order had been restored. But the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a brother of one detainee said rioting continued Sunday. "Prisoners sentenced for crimes of terrorism and extremism caused trouble. . . in the Saydnaya prison. They attacked their comrades during a prison inspection," SANA said. The agency did not mention any casualties but it said that "a security force unit immediately took action to remedy the situation and restore calm in the prison.

State seeks to boost Jewish immigration from former USSR
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
The Jewish community in the former Soviet Union could disappear in a generation unless assimilation is curbed there, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. The government decided to set up a special body to increase immigration from those countries and strengthen Jewish identity there. In the special cabinet discussion, a representative from Nativ - a once-covert agency founded in the Prime Minister’s Office in the 1950s to bring Jews to Israel, and to serve as a liaison for Jewish dissidents in the Soviet Union - told the ministers that there are some 880,000 people in its former territories who are eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. More than half, the representative added, are not Jewish according to religious law.

Olmert: 80% of Russia’s Jews assimilating
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Prime minister presents cabinet with data on slumping immigration from former Soviet Union, increase in assimilation abroad. Current situation may cause Jewish community in former USSR to vanish, he warns -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began Sunday’s government meeting with a discussion about the declining numbers of immigrants coming form the former Soviet Union toIsrael. According to the data presented by the prime minister, there is a dramatic rise in the number of immigrants, who choose to leave Israel a few short years after arriving, and moreover, a greater assimilation rate amongst former Soviet Union Jews. Cabinet meeting (Photo: Reuters) The ministers were also given a review of the new data by representatives of the Foreign and Immigrant Absorption ministries. "This is a very disconcerting situation, form the Jewish communities’ point of view," said Olmert.

PA caretaker government slams US stand on Aqsa TV
Palestinian Information Center 7/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The governmental information office in the PA caretaker government under Premier Ismael Haneyya has strongly condemned the US congress stand on the Aqsa satellite TV channel, asserting that the channel was a legitimate and nationalist TV station. The US congress was studying a draft resolution of classifying a number of Arab TV satellite channels, including the popular Aqsa TV channel among other TV channels as "terrorist channels" that must be "boycotted and closed down". Hassan Abu Hasheesh, the head of the office, asserted in a statement he issued on Sunday and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC that the US stand comes in the framework of the US mentality and ideology of dominating "hearts and minds of the people". "This is a flagrant US violation of human rights and the right of expression that the USA had been bragging of sanctioning and protecting long time ago", Abu Hasheesh explained.

Hammad: US congress stand on Aqsa TV politically motivated
Palestinian Information Center 7/5/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Chairman of the administration council of the Aqsa satellite TV channel Fathi Hammad has condemned on Saturday the draft resolution of the US Congress to tag the channel as a terrorist channel, describing the step as "politically motivated". "This is a clear political decision which aims at silencing every free voice attempting to expose the US and Israeli practices in the Arab and Muslim worlds" asserted Hammad in a statement he issued in Gaza, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC. He also explained that prime mover behind that decision was to serve the "Zionist occupation" that aims at gagging the channel being a pro-resistance channel, and highlighting the Palestinian issue and the suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation. Hammad also highlighted the role of the channel in demonstrating the true picture of the Palestinian issue,. . .

Market Report / Tel Aviv keeps falling, real estate drops by 4.5%
Nathan Sheva, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Another day of losses hit the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange as real estate shares continued their free fall. The TA-25 lost 1. 2% and closed at 1,018 points yesterday, and the TA-100 fell 1. 8% to close at 916 points. The TelTech-15 was down another 2. 8%, dropping below the 200-point barrier. Turnover was NIS 1. 5 billion, just about average for a Sunday with foreign investors off for the weekend. Inflation, fears of a recession in the United States and worries about further write-offs, combined with record-high levels for oil prices - these are only part of the story during the past few days. What has Israeli investors really worried are fears that the economic slowdown elsewhere in the world has finally hit Israel. Bad local economic news included a report yesterday in TheMarker that supermarket sales in May slowed down and June tax revenues were the lowest in a year and a half.

Doing business in Israel is tough, and only getting tougher
Guy Lashem, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
There are many Hebrew words, which lack counterparts in other languages. The word "macher," which actually comes from Yiddish and means a middleman who can solve problems, fix things and cut red tape with the authorities, is just such a word. Attempts to find similar words in other languages have failed miserably. While not invented in Israel, macher certainly reached new heights here: In a survey conducted in 2004 for TheMarker among 300 senior executives in Israel, over a quarter admitted they think it is legitimate to use the services of a macher when dealing with government institutions. Last year’s State Comptroller Report also covered the dealings of such brokers in the public sector. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote in the report the use of such machers poses a threat to public confidence in the rule of law.

Gaydamak: Rise and fall?
Irit Avissar and Dror Marmor, Globes Online 7/6/2008
He is fast, aggressive, and grandiose - as are his deals. 1. Arcadi Gaydamak’s entry into the Israel capital market characterized his personality - fast, aggressive, unpredictable, and grandiose. In April 2007, Gaydamak took the capital market by surprise with the acquisition of real estate developer Ocif Investments and Development (TASE: OCIF) and then went on a buying spree. Within three months, he had taken over four companies in different sectors. One year on, it would appear that the hopes and dreams have evaporated into thin air. The shares of the companies Gaydamak bought plummeted. None of them has made an exceptional business move, and some of the people he brought in have left. Last week, the Gaydamak empire suffered yet another blow, when Uri Shani, who just six months earlier was appointed Gaydamak’s business manager, suddenly announced he was stepping down.

Olmert corruption case spreads to US
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police have sent two senior investigators to the US to expand a corruption probe linked to embattled Premier Ehud Olmert, a spokesman said Sunday. "Two senior officials from the police’s fraud department, Lior Rice and Tzahi Habekin, are in the US for two-and-a-half weeks to continue the corruption investigation involving. . . Olmert," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. He added that the two detectives would seek to obtain documents from several US banks and companies related to a corruption investigation into financial contributions given to Olmert before he became premier. The corruption probe, the most serious of four pending investigations involving the increasingly unpopular premier, is focused on donations given to Olmert by the Jewish-American financier Morris Talansky.

Mossad agent is latest dupe of Baron-Cohen
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/7/2008
It was a modest sting, just a gay German in leather and stud. But the former Mossad spy fell for it. Sacha Baron-Cohen, creator of Ali-G, Borat, and now Bruno, a flamboyant German rock star and television personality, had struck again. The victim was Yossi Alpher, a Mossad agent of 12 years turned analyst and commentator. "Vat’s zee connection between a political movement and food? Vy Hummus? "Bruno asked his bemused guest. "Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political movement. Hummus is food," replied Alpher. "Ya, but vy hummus? Yesterday I had to throw away my pita bread because it vas dripping hummus. Unt it’s too high in carbohydrates," said Bruno. Alpher and a Palestinian guest were supposedly being interviewed for a documentary that would explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the world’s youth.

Former police officer seriously injured in Rafah shooting
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A former Palestinian police officer was shot and seriously wounded by two unidentified gunmen on the Mediterranean shore at Tal As-Sultan, north of the city of Rafah, in the Southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. Palestinian medical sources said the victim of the attack was 26 years old. The gunmen fled following the shooting. [end]

Turkish court charges two generals in ’coup plot’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
ISTANBUL: A Turkish court has charged two retired generals in connection with a shadowy grouping that allegedly planned to oust the government, the Anatolia news agency said Sunday. Hursit Tolon and Sener Eruygur, former four-star generals, were charged with "setting up and leading an armed gang" and remanded in custody, media reports said. They were among 21 suspects - most of them known government critics - rounded up Tuesday in dawn raids in five cities as part of a controversial probe into a network called Ergenekon, which allegedly aimed to discredit and oust the country’s Islamist-rooted ruling party. The detentions came at a time when the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) was defending itself in court against a possible ban for violating Turkey’s strict secular order. Media reports claimed that police also seized in Tuesday’s swoop a secret plan designed to. . .

Iraq becoming major hub for international narcotics smuggling
Salam Faraj, Daily Star 7/7/2008
Agence France Presse BAGHDAD: War-torn Iraq is emerging as a key conduit in the global drugs trade, as criminal gangs exploit its porous border with Iran to channel their illicit goods to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The Iraqi authorities say that since the 2003 US-led invasion the trade in illegal opiates, cannabis and synthetic pharmaceuticals has risen steadily, and that many drugs originating in Afghanistan enter Iraq via Iran. Statistics are hard to come by in devastated Iraq, but the Baghdad government says a rising number of traffickers are being caught at border crossings with Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. "A large number of smugglers are being arrested," interior ministry spokesman Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf told AFP, adding that many were being detained in the southern Iraqi provinces of Basra and Maysan.

Fatah foreign relations commissioner meets Spanish foreign minister
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Fatah movement’s Foreign Relations Commissioner Abdallah Al-Ifranji headed a delegation on Sunday representing the movement to the 37th conference of the Spanish Socialist Labour Party in Madrid. Al-Ifranji met with a number of Spanish officials including Spanish Foreign Minister Ángel Moratinos. Al-Ifranji updated the Spanish officials on the latest developments in the Palestinian political arena as well as ongoing negotiations with Israel. He also tackled Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinian people, which he said impede the progress of the peace process. The Spanish officials reiterated their support to the Palestinian people and their right to establish their own independent state calling, for serious consideration of the Middle East question and for commitment to the decisions made at the Annapolis conference in the US in November 2007.

DFLP: Israeli threats for Gaza retaliations manipulation of truce
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Bethlehem- Ma’an- Israel is looking for a pretext to manipulate truce conditions, said the spokesman of National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Abu SalimAccording to the spokesman, it is Israel’s latest threats to Palestinians launching projectiles at Israeli areas, which shows its lack of commitment to the conditions of truce. The truce, says AbuSalim "has not fulfilled Palestinians’ aspirations," noting that the continued closings of crossings means that life conditions have not altered much. He warned Israel that such threats are taken seriously and if Israel decides to retaliate against the people of Gaza, it is "with the resistance’s right" to protect their people.

Tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak halts flow of cash to Israeli charities
Guy Leshem, TheMarker Correspondent, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
TheMarker has learnt that over the past few months, Russian-Israeli tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak not made good on promises to transfer large funds to a number of Israeli charities. Attorney David Brodetzky, the legal adviser for Gaydamak’s Social Justicepolitical party, confirmed Saturday that the billionaire businessman had halted the flow of financial donations. Gaydamak’s donations in recent years had totaled in the tens of millions of dollars. Half a year ago he froze the activities of the Gaydamak Foundation, an organization that was supposed to concentrate the businessman’s charitable activities. The foundations offices in Givat Shaul in Jerusalem are now closed. The tycoon’s promises to donate tens of millions of shekels to different charitable organizations were made under much media exposure, with particular attention given. . .

Palestine Weather Forecast: Sunday
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Temperatures will drop slightly on Sunday, rendering the weather fine and not unbearably hot, the Palestinian Meteorological Department says. Temperatures will be close to the seasonal average, and a moderate to brisk westerly wind will blow. The sea will be tranquil. Monday’s weather will be generally clear and temperatures begin to rise gradually. Winds are expected to be southwesterly to westerly and moderate, and the sea will remain calm. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 18 to 29 / Ramallah: 17 to 28 / Qalqilia: 18 to 29 / Salfit: 18 to 29 / Nablus: 19 to 30 / Jenin: 21 to 32 / Tubas: 20 to 31 / Hebron: 16 to 28 / Jericho: 24 to 38 / Gaza City: 24 to 31 / Khan Younis: 24 to 31 / Rafah: 23 to 32

Despite global turmoil, Israelis’ financial assets reach record
Zeev Klein, Globes Online 7/6/2008
Israelis’ financial assets portfolio was NIS 288,900 per capita in May. Despite global market turmoil and the shekel’s appreciation against the dollar and euro, Israelis’ financial assets grew by an additional NIS 16. 5 billion in May 2008 to NIS 2. 08 trillion, an all-time high, according to Bank of Israel data published today. Israelis’ financial assets portfolio was NIS 288,900 per capita in May. The average financial assets portfolio among the top ten percent was NIS 1. 15 million. Israelis’ financial assets portfolio grew by 6. 6% in January-May, and by 3% in real terms, excluding inflation. [end]

Lawmakers slam Knesset adviser for favoring wiretap inquiry
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
Lawmakers from both the right and left slammed Knesset legal adviser Nurit Elstein yesterday for her view that there is nothing wrong with a commission of inquiry investigating the police’s wiretapping in the Haim Ramon case. Former justice minister Ramon, a Kadima member who is now vice premier, was convicted in early 2007 of forcibly kissing a female soldier. Ramon’s attorneys complained during his trial that police had kept the fact of the wiretapping hidden from them, and that this had harmed Ramon’s case. "The Knesset legal adviser’s involvement in every issue that serves her masters from Kadima while exceeding her authority, is no longer surprising," State Control Committee chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-National Religious Party) told the cabinet yesterday. "Everyone is taking part in the revenge campaign, like in the Mafia.

Ma’aleh Adumim mayor Kashriel sued for sexual harassment
Ruth Sinai, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
A municipal employee filed a sexual harassment suit yesterday against Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, in which she accused him of abusing his position as her superior. In her suit, which seeks NIS 350,000 in compensation, the woman also accused the municipality of not only mishandling her complaint against the mayor, but of persecuting her for having filed it. The plaintiff, a single mother who was worked for the municipality for 28 years, said the verbal and physical harassment began in 2000. In one case, for instance, when she said she did not feel well, Kashriel responded, "you need a good f---," the suit reads. When informed that her partner had become a paraplegic, Kashriel asked: "Can he still f---? "He then complained that his wife "accustomed me to good sex, and now that she has back problems, I miss it.

Cabinet orders comptroller to review use of wiretapping
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
The cabinet on Sunday ordered the state comptroller to review the use of investigative wiretapping, in response to criticism over the handling of a sex offenses case involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s deputy, Minister Haim Ramon. Media and commentators said the issue was an attempt by Olmert’s allies to discredit the police and state prosecutors at a time when the prime minister is under criminal investigation over alleged corruption, which he denies. After five hours of discussions, cabinet members stopped short of ordering a state inquiry similar to the one that examined shortcomings in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Ministers voted instead to have the state comptroller, the main government watchdog, investigate the use of eavesdropping in broad terms.

Israelis call for attacker’s home to be razed
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/7/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Around 30 right-wing Israelis staged a demonstration at the East Jerusalem home of a Palestinian man who killed three people in a rampage with a payloader last week to demand its destruction. "Right here, right now, destroy this house," they chanted as they gathered in the Arab village of Sur Baher outside the house of Hossam Dwayyat, 30, who was shot dead Wednesday after ploughing through a busy Jerusalem street. Another 45 people were wounded in the attack in which Dwayyat smashed an earthmover into two buses, overturning one, and crushed several cars. The protest in Occupied East Jerusalem was held without incident as police deployed in force around the home, a police official said. Israeli authorities, including Premier Ehud Olmert, have mulled destroying the house, even though a previous military inquiry found the practice was ineffective in deterring militant attacks.

Demolition of Jerusalem terrorist’s house suspended since 2004
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Ynet learns City Hall’s previous motions to tear down house of terrorist who carried out bloody bulldozer attack in capital were crushed by Municipal Court at family’s request - The Jerusalem Municipality filed a motion asking the court to order the demolition of the east Jerusalem home of Hossam Dawyyat, the terrorist who carried out the bulldozer attack in central Jerusalem, back in 2004, but was denied. The municipality issued an order for the Sur Baher’s house demolition in mid 2004, due to building violations. In September of that year, Hossam Dawyyat’s father petitioned the Jerusalem Municipal Court for a continuance, in order to appeal the decision to tear down the family home. He filed several other similar motions in the past four years, the last one in April of 2008. RetaliationMazuz: No legal obstacle to razing terrorists’ homes / Following. . .

Lebanese leaders in final stages of talks on unity government
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 7/7/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s rival political parties were in the final stages of agreeing on the makeup of a new unity government on Sunday, with a cabinet lineup expected to be announced within the next 48 hours. Significant progress was reportedlymade between the two camps after a meeting between Prime Minister designate Fouad Siniora and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Saturday. The two sides reportedly agreed on which portfolios would be given to the retired general in the new cabinet. The various parties of the March 14 alliance were reportedly sorting out their differences over the distribution of the remaining portfolios, and reports on Sunday said that the final government line-up would be decided once parliamentary majority leader MP Saad Hariri returns to Beirut. Siniora said on Saturday that he was confident that a national unity government for Lebanon would be announced soon, but dismissed reports that it was imminent.

IDF Rabbinate prepares to exhume enemy dead ahead of Hezbollah deal
Amos Harel Yoav Stern and Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
The Military Rabbinate called up reservists last week in anticipation for the prisoner exchange with Hezbollah that is expected to take place sometime in the middle of next week. Both Israel and Hezbollah expect the deal to take place on July 15. Meanwhile, preparations are ongoing at the cemetery for enemy dead at Amiad in the upper Galilee, where the remains of Hezbollah dead are to be exhumed and transferred to Lebanon as part of the deal. Defense sources said yesterday that the remains of approximately 200 Lebanese will be transferred to Lebanon at the Rosh Hanikra border crossing. The remains are those of 10 Hezbollah fighters, as well as Lebanese civilians killed by Israel Defense Forces fire in the security zone in southern Lebanon or along the border with Israel. In addition, the deal includes the remains of dozens of Palestinians belonging to various militant organizations.

Army prepares to exhume terrorist’s bodies
Hagai Einav, YNetNews 7/6/2008
Military Rabbinate receives orders to report to Israel’s cemetery for enemy combatants ahead of imminent exchange with Hizbullah, which Palestinian media reports is scheduled to take place on Thursday - Military officials believe the exhumation process will begin this Monday, or Tuesday at the latest - when a command center will be established to handle the transfer of the caskets. To this end, several reservists from the Military Rabbinate have been summoned for duty. The identification procedure will be conducted by the rabbinate. Meanwhile, all in Israel will be closely monitoring reports from the other side and the fates of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Work begins at the cemetery (Photo: Avihu Shapira) Throughout the day the army pressed on with preparing the ground at the cemetery, clearing brush from around the graves before the bodies are exhumed.

Waltz with Nasrallah
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
Last Wednesday negotiations that went on for almost two years reached a highly successful conclusion, from the viewpoint of Hassan Nasrallah. "No Arab country has been able to close its file of prisoners and MIAs," the secretary general of Hezbollah said, as though he himself were a head of state. Still, even now he stuck to custom and offered not a scrap of information about the condition of the Israeli abductees. On the other hand, he effused generosity toward his political rivals. "This is a victory for all of us," he declared. "We should all celebrate. "It is not only a Lebanese victory, he said, but one of all Arabs and Muslims. Gloating and smiling, Nasrallah took the unusual step of describing in detail the negotiations with Israel, emphasizing in particular his guiding principles: total secrecy; release of all the Lebanese. . .

Stage one of prisoners swap to begin Thursday
Ma’an News Agency 7/6/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The expected prisoners swap deal between Israel and Hizbullah will be conducted at three stages, the first of which is scheduled to begin on Thursday, according to informed Palestinian sources. The first stage will include the release of Samir Al-Quntar along with three other detainees, the source confirmed. Stage two will begin six days after the completion of stage one and will see the delivery of the corpses of Dalal Al-Mughrabi and others to their families for burial. Stage three will be completed a few days later see the release of 199 bodies from Israeli morgues. One hundred and fifty of the corpses are those of Palestinian fighters. In anticipation of phase two, the Fatah office of Preparation and Organization has completed preparations to receive the bodies in a large official ceremony.


A lull in Gaza? Not for the sick
Physicians for Human Rights - PHR, ReliefWeb 7/6/2008
      Physicians for Human Rights - Israel Gaza Update 06 Jul 2008
     In spite of the agreement between Israel and Hamas (in effect since 21.6.08), there has been no improvement in Israeli policy toward patients in Gaza, and it even appears to have worsened.
     Added to the impediments imposed by the GSS on people seeking to leave Gaza for medical treatment, patients are suffering increasing bureaucratic difficulties caused by the army, which prevent them from realizing their right to health.
     Decline in the number of patients leaving via Erez Crossing:
     In the past month and a half there has been a decline in the average number of patients leaving Gaza via the Erez crossing to receive treatment. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gazaand the Palestinian representatives at Erez crossing, the number of patients permitted to leave has decreased sharply, and only 15-20 patients now leave Gazaeach day.
     These data are consistent with the sharp increase in the number of patients contacting PHR-Israel because they aren’t able to leave for treatment. Over the past four months, at least 120 patients have contacted PHR-Israel each month because their applications to leave Gazahave not been granted by Israel.

My new birthday

Areej Ja''fari writing from Deheisheh refugee camp, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/5/2008
      I am a third generation of the Palestinian Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist forces. The Nakba is not just an occasion we commemorate on 15 May at the same time Israel celebrates its establishment -- but a constant memory. I now feel that I am a very lucky person. I never felt lucky before my new birthday: the day I visited my destroyed original village of Deir Rafat, where my grandfather and his family lived before they were forced out in 1948.
     From that day I started my new life. I was very scared at the beginning as I approached the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints even though I had a permit to enter Jerusalem. These feelings of fear vanished the moment I reached some of the destroyed villages of my friends’ families and neighbors. Driving from the Dheisheh refugee camp, crossing the checkpoint and entering the land we were dispossessed of 1948, is like I am in a different country. The green trees, fresh air, no houses, and beautiful landscape that I have not seen in many countries I have visited around the world.

’Why did they treat me like that?’

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 7/6/2008
      He has already seen everything. At 24, he has already been documenting the horrors of his city, Rafah, for six years. He photographs and writes, seeking to be a voice for those who are voiceless, as he puts it. On his Web site Rafah Today ( - like that of USA Today or Israel Today, only from Rafah - he paints a picture for readers around the world of the horrors of his city, the most afflicted of all cities in the anguished Gaza Strip, in strong and shocking colors. You will see there demolished houses and crushed bodies, tanks shelling people’s homes and lost children. He also writes for various publications abroad, including The Washington Report, several papers in Europe and, primarily, in Scandinavia, as well as for the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency.
     He has already seen everything, including the demolition of his own family’s home and the death of his young brother who was killed by seven bullets that pierced his body. Now he has suffered a breakdown. It wasn’t the destruction or the killing, but the relatively slight humiliation he experienced last week on the Allenby Bridge, when returning from a speaking tour in several European capitals, including London, where he was awarded the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, that broke him both mentally and physically.

A binational reality

Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
      How nice that this time, too, the terrorist was a "lone wolf," a drug addict or just a nut case. Just so long as Jerusalemite murderers are not acting on behalf of terrorist groups. "Wild weeds" can grow in any garden. We also once had a strange doctor who carried out a massacre in a mosque; his family erected a glorious tombstone in honor of the "saint." No one proposed razing the family’s home for the purpose of "deterrence" - and justifiably so. If we assume that this was the case of a deviant, demolishing the home of his family will deter the next deviant in the same way that the death penalty deters people who decide to blow themselves up in a bus, in the hope of having fun with 70 virgins in paradise. Deterrence is relevant when it is applied to trends in the mainstream, not in the sidelines of society.
     The murderer at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva and the terrorist with the bulldozer did not represent an organization. Worse still: They reflect the mood of thousands of residents in Israel’s capital. A terror organization can be tracked down, declared illegal and its leadership can be arrested. Discontent that originates at the grassroots needs no guidance, is not controlled by anyone’s decisions, and it is much more difficult to contain. This is the way it was in the first intifada, and to a certain extent also in the second intifada. The organizations did not create the wave. They rode it.

The plebiscite absurdity

Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
      The Knesset members are panicking. The Golan Heights are about to slip out of Israel’s grip and return to their owner. Best hurry up and secure them with heavy legislative chains, lest peace between Israel and Syria sneak up and prove too tempting for the government.
     This sentiment concerns the plebiscite law the Knesset passed last week - albeit in its first reading only - which states that the public, and not the government or the Knesset, will determine whether to give back the Golan Heights or any other territory under Israeli sovereignty.
     ...After all, the Knesset members who voted for this bill agree the public is wiser than they are. Let the public decide and the MKs serve as its couriers. That way, we can safely legislate the next war.
     But it is not the MK’s status as an elected representative that is at stake, nor is it the government’s status as the entity responsible for making political decisions. At least not now. The bill, if passed into law, might jeopardize the very existence of negotiations with the Syrians, and without negotiations, there is no need to decide on withdrawal.

Dividing Jerusalem

Uzi Benziman, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
      On June 9, 1967, two days after Israel Defense Forces troops reached the Western Wall, Anwar al-Khatib, the Jordanian official responsible for administering the Jerusalem district, was whisked away to the Ambassador Hotel in the eastern part of the city for a meeting with IDF General (res.) Chaim Herzog, who only minutes earlier had been appointed the military governor of the West Bank.
     Khatib requested that the Israeli authorities permit some Arab families to relocate across the river to the east bank of the Jordan, where their relatives were waiting. Not only did the Israeli governor agree to the request, he adopted the idea wholesale and undertook a policy of encouraging every East Jerusalemite to take up residency in the Hashemite Kingdom.
     To that end, Israel unleashed a public relations campaign and arranged for organized trips, which were designed to spur the Arabs into abandoning the city. Herzog also made sure to compel Khatib to place his signature on a note affirming that the initiative was a Jordanian one.

Palestinian water shortages rooted in American-Zionist cooperation during British Mandate

Jake Norris, Palestine News Network 7/6/2008
      When the British arrived in Palestine at the close of World War I, they declared that their arrival would usher in a new period of modernity and prosperity. Nowhere would this be more keenly felt than in the area of water and irrigation. Working together with Zionist settlers and American hydraulic engineers, Britain would introduce new technologies that could raise the living standards of all Palestinians.
     In 1922 Winston Churchill summed up British arrogance by stating that "anyone who has visited Palestine recently must have seen how parts of the desert have been converted into gardens’.the Arabs of Palestine would not in a thousand years have taken effective steps towards irrigation".
     Yet a regular and reliable supply of water is anything but a certainty for Palestinians today. With the mains system often cut off for days on end, the rooftop tanks that dominate the skyline are often empty. This constant uncertainty over life’s most basic necessity is partly due to the naturally declining water resources in the region. It is also, however, the product of Israeli policies which are themselves rooted in the British Mandate period..

International poll marks shift in US public opinion towards Palestine and Israeli occupation

Dr. Nabil Kukali, PNN, Palestine News Network 7/5/2008
      PNN - Dr. Nabil Kukali presents the latest public international poll on the position of world leaders in their dealings with the problem in Palestine vis-à-vis the Israeli occupation. He says that he sees a positive shift in the view of the American people, while all countries receive relatively low marks for efforts to solve the crisis. The United Nations Security Council is widely viewed as the only solution at this point.
     College Park, MD—A new 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.
     The poll of 18,792 respondents was conducted by, a collaborative research project involving research centers from around the world and managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.

Living forever by bombardment

Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 7/7/2008
      So what is the "great plan"? As things look now, this is the way Israel is planning its future: Every time some Middle Eastern country tries to obtain nuclear weapons, Israel will bomb it. Bomb - and bombard. Beyond the problematic assumption that we are allowed to do what others are not allowed, and what is secure in our hands is dangerous in the hands of others, this kind of conduct will lead to disaster. We tried twice, in Iraq and in Syria, and it worked; it is doubtful it was essential.
     Now it seems we are going to try a third time against Iran. It may even be successful, but nothing lasts forever. It will end in catastrophe. From bombardment to bombardment, that is not the way for Israel to establish itself in the Middle East in the long term. But no one discusses the long term beyond tomorrow.
     We could and should now discuss the chances, and especially the risks, of an attack on Iran. We usually hold such a discussion, if at all, under impossible conditions: either retrospectively, when it is too late, lacking information or after receiving disinformation. Those in on the secrets are also the ones to make the decision. But those in on secrets always lean in a belligerent direction; war is the only doctrine and craft they know. So it is very dangerous to depend solely on them.