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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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14 July 2008

Israeli forces continue raids in Nablus, arrest five, local residents braced for attack
Palestine News Network 7/14/2008
Nablus / PNN -- Israeli forces stormed the Askar Refugee Camp and the mall in Nablus at dawn Monday. Five Palestinian youth were arrested and transferred to unknown locations. Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that Israeli military vehicles completely surrounded the camp, blocking all entrances and trapping Palestinians inside. They also reported that Israeli forces raided shops in the Nablus Mall. For the last week, Israeli forces have carried out consecutive raids in Nablus, closing about 40 civilian and commercial organizations. Israeli forces invaded the Nablus Municipality last Wednesday, confiscating its contents. In another past attack on a government building, all that remains is the building’s steel frame and a pile of cement ruble in the middle of a vacant office. Mohammad Ayyash, a political activist in Nablus, told PNN on Friday that the city was expecting Israeli forces in invade this week.

Palestinian injured by Israeli fire, near Deir Al-Balah
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Palestinian was shot by Israeli soldiers, near Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on Monday morning. The Israeli authorities informed their Palestinian counterparts that soldiers opened fire on a Palestinian man, who was ten meters way from the border near the Kisufim crossing, east of Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Palestinian security sources say that coordination is ongoing to transfer the injured man to hospital. His identity is not yet known. It is also still unclear whether he is still alive. [end]

Israel approves factories in West Bank colony
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/15/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel has approved the construction of 25 factories in a Jewish settlement in the heart of the Occupied West Bank, a spokesman for the settlement said on Monday. "We have received authorization from the Ministry of Defense to pursue construction on the site of our industrial area," Ariel settlement spokesman Reuven Shapira told AFP. "Around 10 factories exist and the project is to reach 35 factories in this area," he said, adding that work resumed on Monday. Shapira said the ministry had frozen the Ariel project around a year ago to check its feasibility. The settlement lies south of the Palestinian city of Nablus and is one of the biggest in the Occupied West Bank. The expansion of illegal colonies in the Occupied West Bank is widely regarded as a major obstacle to the success of peace talks with Israel formally relaunched at a US conference in November.

UNRWA official calls on Israel, Egypt to open Gaza crossings
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 7/14/2008
GAZA, Jul 14, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- John Ging, an official with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip on Monday called on both Israel and Egypt to fully reopen Gaza Strip border crossing points to ease the difficulties of life in the impoverished enclave. Ging, who is the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, told a news conference held in Gaza that keeping Gaza Strip Crossings closed "contradicts with the international laws on human rights. " After the militant Hamas movement took control of the Gaza Strip last summer, Israel closed down all crossing points into Gaza and refused to operate Rafah crossing point between Gaza Strip and Egypt. Hamas movement’s spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said earlier on Monday that despite a ceasefire agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, according to which Israel opens border crossings into Gaza in. . .

3350 Palestinian students take college entrance exam in Israeli prisons
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Three thousand three hundred fifty Palestinians in Israeli jails began the Palestinian college entrance examination (the Tawjihi) on Monday after Palestinian and Israeli officials struck an agreement. The Palestinian Minister of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Ashraf Al-Ajrami, said he met with Israeli prison authorities and secured their cooperation, allowing young Palestinians in Israeli prisons to take the crucial test. Tens of thousands of Palestinian students take the Tawjihi at the end of their third year of secondary school. The exam plays a large role in determining whether Palestinians will be accepted by universities.

Report: Israel reneging on Shalit agreements
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Palestinian source says Israel now refusing to release prisoners sentenced to lengthy jail terms or those who murdered soldiers, settlers - Hamas’ delegation to Cairo is under the impression that Israel has reneged on all of the understandings reached over the past few months regarding a prisoner exchange deal that will include the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, according to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. The newspaper quoted a Palestinian source as saying Monday that Egyptian mediator Omar Suleiman informed Hamas representatives last week that Israel is refusing to release prisoners who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms and insists on not freeing those convicted of murdering soldiers or settlers. According to the report, Israel and Hamas previously had agreed that during the first stage of the prisoner swap 350 Palestinian prisoners will be released in exchange for Shalit’s transfer to Egyptian custody.

Palestinian businessmen, Israeli officials meet at Erez
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A meeting was held on Sunday evening between Israeli and Palestinian officials at the Erez crossing, knowledgeable sources told Ma’an. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that Palestinian dignitaries, 40 businessmen and representatives of the industrial sector in the Gaza Strip took part in the meeting. The delegates requested the Israelis allow the goods, which have been held at the Ashdod terminal for over a year, into the Gaza Strip. They also requested an increase in the quantity and quality of goods shipped to the Gaza Strip. The sources described the meeting as "positive and fruitful. "The Israelis promised to increase the quantities of fuel shipped to the Strip and to facilitate the movement of traders, the sources added. On Sunday, 150 tons of cooking gas was shipped to the Gaza Strip in addition to 354,000 litres of diesel and 562,000 litres of industrial diesel.

The Israeli army intends to turn a military base in Hebron into an Israeli settlement
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
Local sources reported on Sunday night that the Israeli army expanded one of the military bases in the northern West Bank city of Hebron, as it added a number of mobile houses into the area. Eye witnesses reported that they saw Israeli vehicles carrying mobile houses into the military base which is located in between two Israeli settlements in the West Bank city of Hebron. This military base seems that it will turn into a new Israeli settlement. [end]

Israeli settlers stake claim to abandoned West Bank military base
Ma’an News Agency 7/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – More than one hundred Israeli settlers, some of them armed, set up camp in an abandoned military base in the West Bank town of Beit Sahour on Monday night in what may be the establishment of an illegal settlement outpost. “We’re here to build a Jewish city, with the help of God,” one teenage boy settler told a half-dozen journalists, as he scouted out his new campsite, camera in hand. While Palestinian families gathered for a festival in a public park less than 100 meters away, Israelis from the nearby settlements of Efrat, Har Homa, Gush Eztion, and Tekoa arrived in a chartered bus and private cars. A handful of Israeli soldiers and civilian police looked on, blocking the road between the military base and the park, keeping journalists out of the military base. The settlers, among them families, a Russian-speaking security guard and a contingent of. . .

Israeli settlers invade park in Beit Sahour, assault IMEMC Staff
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
At least 150 Israeli settlers invaded the local park at Esh Ghrab in Beit Sahour and laid claim to the place, then held a barbecue at the location. Armed settlers arrived at the place, which is an evacuated military base owned by people and municipality of Beit Sahour Monday evening and brought with them barbecue grills and said they want to camp there for few days. As IMEMC reporter Ghassan Bannoura and photographer Rami Rishmawi approached the site, settlers started pushing them away although it was obvious that they are journalists. According to Bannoura, Israeli soldiers who accompanied the settlers intervened later and stopped the settlers assault. This is not the first time the settlers attempt to colonize this site. The first time they came on May 15, 2008 while Palestinians were commemorating the 60 anniversary of the 1948 Nakba when around 800 thousand Palestinians. . .

Medical death toll in Gaza due to Israeli siege reaches 208
Palestine News Network 7/14/2008
Gaza / PNN -- Since the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip began a year ago Palestinian medical patients have been awaiting "permission" to leave the Strip for necessary treatments. On Monday the death toll of those waiting reached 208. One of the youngest died today, 19 month old Hadil Jawad Al Haddad. Spokesman for the Popular Committee to Confront the Blockade, Rami Abdo, quoted medical sources regarding a death this morning of Latifa Mohammad Sain. She lived in western Gaza City’s Beach Refugee Camp. Her son pointed out that she was in dire need of treatment for leukemia and that the family had attempted to obtain Israeli "permission" for outside treatment for 10 days. Elsewhere sources also announced the death of 36 year old Abu Matar Mughraqa. He was one among many suffering from cancer and died because of a lack of necessary medication due to the siege.

Death toll 208 as three more patients die in the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli siege
Rula shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
Medical sources reported that the number of patients who died due to the Israeli siege on the Gaza strip reached 208 as three patients were announced dead on Monday morning. Medical sources reported that Latifa Kafina died on Monday morning of leukemia. she couldn’t get the permission to leave the Gaza Strip and get treatment. The patient’s family reported that they tried for over ten days to get permission, but they got it only after she was dead. Moreover sources in Gaza reported that 36 year old Suhaila Abu Hweshel died of cancer on Monday after being banned to leave the Gaza strip to outer hospitals for medical treatment. In addition Ahmad Abu Ajwa, an old man with diabetes, was pronounced dead on Monday for being unable to get life saving medical treatment out of The Gaza strip because the army banned him from getting the permission.

Al-Khudari: Israeli blockade affecting education in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip is affecting education in the Gaza Strip, Chairman of the Popular Committee For Countering the Gaza siege blockade and deputy in the Legislative Council Jamal Al-Khudari said on Sunday. In a speech at a school graduation ceremony in the Gaza Strip, Khudari said that Israeli restrictions has meant that students have been unable to get to their universities. However, he said that in spite of the restictions, universities in the Palestinian territories were preparing for the new academic year. "Despite all the difficulties imposed by the Israelis universities have been able to develop programs, plans and teaching methods to accommodate the new students and to resist the blockade," Al-Khudari added.

VIDEO - Get on the Boat to GAZA!
Free Gaza Movement, Palestine Think Tank 7/14/2008
YouTube Video about the situation in the Gaza Stri and the Free Gaza Movement. [end] -- See also: Free Gaza Movement

The Israeli Army invades Nahaleen village west of Bethlehem city
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
Official Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli army invaded the village of Nahaleen western the West Bank City of Bethlehem on Monday at dawn. Officials reported that a number of Israeli military vehicles invaded the village at dawn from the main entrance, and spread troops all around the village, closing all entrances and neighborhoods. Official sources reported that the Israeli army launched a wide search campaign over several homes and ransacked some of them. No abductions were reported. [end]

The Israeli army invades Cofferdam Village West of Jenin City
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Monday at dawn Cofferdam Village in the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Locals reported that the Israeli army invaded the city with dozens of military vehicles and walked through several streets. In addition, witnesses reported that the soldiers shot sound bombs and sprayed live ammunition randomly, and used police dogs while ransacking several houses in different neighborhoods in the village. The Israeli army withdrew after several hours and no abductions were reported. [end]

Dalal Al-Mughrabi brigades open fire on Al-Julma checkpoint near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Fatah-affiliated Dalal Al-Mughrabi brigades claimed responsibility for shooting at the Al-Julma military checkpoint, near Jenin early on Monday morning. The brigades said in a statement that a number of their members had managed to approach the Al- Jalama checkpoint and open fire, before withdrawing safely. They added that the attack was a response to Israeli crimes against Palestinians. [end]

Israeli forces storm village near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - Israeli forces raided the town of Kafr Dan, west of the city of Jenin, searching a number of buildings overnight, witnesses reported on Monday. Residents of the town told Ma’an that Israeli forces conducted house-to-house raids from 1am to 5:30am. No one was arrested. [end]

Ministry of detainees embarks on activating issue of Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of prisoner affairs in the Gaza Strip continued its consultative meetings with many personalities and its visits to concerned institutions in order to activate the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails locally and internationally. A delegation of the ministry headed by deputy minister Mohamed Al-Katari met with MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, and discussed with him ways of joint cooperation between the committee and the ministry, and the impacts of the Israeli siege on Gaza families who have been deprived from seeing their imprisoned relatives in Israeli jails for 13 consecutive months. For his part, Dr. Ahmed Shweideh, minister of prisoner affairs, visited the family of prisoner Owaida Kallab and listened to their explanation about the suffering of the prisoner who spent more than 20 years in Israeli jails. . .

Israeli legislature moves forward with bill to strip citizenship rights for certain crimes
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
The Internal Affairs Committee of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) has voted to approve a bill that would strip Israelis of their citizenship rights if they are convicted of crimes of treason, espionage, committing acts of violence that the state defines as ’terror’ acts, or violating ’national allegiance’. Critics have called the bill overly broad, and say that it will unfairly target Arab-Israelis, and does not give a clear definition of what violating national allegiance means. After passing through the Committee, the bill will now move to the full Knesset for approval. In the Committee, nine Knesset members voted for the bill, and three voted against it. The Knesset previously approved a bill that prevents Israeli Knesset members from visiting Israel’s ’enemy’ countries, including Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

Knesset Panel Okays Bill to Revoke Citizenship of Terrorists
Shahar Ilan, MIFTAH 7/14/2008
The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved on Monday a bill that would enable the Interior Minister to revoke citizenship or residency of people who were convicted of offenses of abetting terrorism, membership of a terrorist organization, espionage or treason. The committee passed the bill, submitted a year ago by Likud MK Gilad Erdan, on to the Knesset plenum for second and third readings. The approval makes redundant a number of similar bills submitted to the Knesset after the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. These were perpetrated by East Jerusalem Arabs, who enjoy a resident status and unrestricted mobility in Israel. [end]

Nonviolence Network in the Arab Countries
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/14/2008
For more than 50 days villagers of Ni’lin have been protesting against the expansion ofIsrael’s illegal wall, which runs directly through their fields and destroys their crops. Last Thursday the Israeli army has responded to the protests with disproportional force. Our local partners have reported a wave of random arrests and beatings. Bulldozers destroyed public property, while Israeli troops were shooting at civilians with tear gas, sound grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. The Nil’in Popular Committee, a local NGO and member of the Nonviolence Network in the Arab Countries (ACNV), reported that by last Monday 50 villagers were injured withrubber-coated steel bullets some of them seriously. Hundreds of people have beenreported to suffer from respiratory problems due to teargas. Freedom of expression was curtailed in an intimidation campaign on journalists carried out by the Israeli military.

Bill to strip citizenship of terror collaborators
Zvi Lavi, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Internal Affairs Committee approves bill allowing minister of interior to pull Israeli citizenship of anyone convicted of violating national allegiance, treason, espionage, committing act of terror - A bill which would allow the minister of interior to revoke the Israeli citizenship from anyone found guilty of violating their national allegiance will soon be brought before the Knesset for its final readings. The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved the bill’s formulation on Monday, making it ready for its second and third Knesset readings. The bill passed its first reading with nine MKs voting in favor of it and three - MKs Yossi Beilin (Meretz-Yahad), Dov Khenin (Hadash) and United Arab List-Ta’al Chairman Ibrahim Sarsur - negating. According to the proposed bill, the minister of interior will be able to revoke the. . .

VIDEO - Member of the Popular Committee in Ni’lin arrested during demonstration
Video by Israel Putermam, International Solidarity Movement 7/14/2008
Ramallah Region - Video - Photos - More than 100 villagers from Ni´lin, together with international and Israeli activists, marched towards the nearby settlements that unlawfully separates the village in two. The peaceful demonstrators were intercepted at the entrance to the village by the Israeli army who used excessive force to drive them back. They fired teargas, stun bombs and rubber bullets into the crowd on sight with no provocationFive demonstrators were injured, including one Swedish international solidarity activist who was shot by a teargas canister fired as a projectile missile causing deep burns. Others were hit by rubber bullets and one man, Salah Mohammad Al Khawaja was injured, arrested and then taken by the Israeli authorities. Al Khwaja is one of the leaders of the Committee Against the Wall in Ni’lin.

The Israeli army invades Nablus’s City mall and kidnaps five Palestinians
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
Local sources reported that dozens of Israeli military vehicles invaded the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday at dawn, and raided the city mall kidnapping five Palestinians. Locals reported that the Israeli army invaded the mall at about 4:00a. m. And crashed the main entrance and ruined some of the shops. Locals also reported that the Israeli army announced that mall a closed area and banned anyone from getting in or out. Moreover official security sources reported that the Israeli army kidnapped five civilians from the city after ransacking several houses north of the city at dawn. The kidnapped Palestinians are: Ahmad Khandur, Yusuf Habush, Ahmad Munder, Abdullah Aldimbati and Musa al Tanbur.

PLO leaders see test of PA’s strength in response to Nablus raids
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) met in the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday to confront Israel’s violations of PA control in the city. "We are facing an evident challenge, whether all organizations in the Palestinian territories will be under control of the PA, or under the occupation’s regulations," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, an aide to the Palestinian president, speaking to the gathered officials. Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian leadership would take action against Israel’s incursions in Nablus, but did not specify what form that action would take. Israel raided the Nablus Mall and a number of mosques and charities in the city last week as a part of a crackdown on Islamic organizations in the West Bank. Nablus’, like other population centers in the West Bank, is designated by the Oslo interim agreement to fall under full PA control.

Israeli media expects PA to stop negotiations with Israel; agree with Hamas on technocrat government
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli media outlets on Monday say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to distance himself from Israel and the US in the interests of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. "Smiling in Paris, Abu Mazin plans to move away from Israel and the US starting in Cairo," one headline read. The sources added that the expected negotiations between Hamas and Fatah are the first step towards a declaration of a Palestinian coalition government of technocrats rather than a national unity government as has been recently discussed in the media. The Israeli sources mentioned three major points which have already been agreed on, but no timetable has been set for their implementation -1- Hamas will agree to disband the de facto government in the Gaza Strip, if there is agreement on a technocrat government and the jurisdiction of ministers in that government.

Mishaal affirms keenness on patching up inter-Palestinian rift
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
SANA’A, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of the Hamas Movement, on Sunday affirmed during talks with Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a that his Movement is keen on healing the inter-Palestinian rift the soonest. He told reporters after the meeting, also attended by a senior level Hamas delegation, that his visit to Sana’a aims at having consultations with the Yemeni president and senior officials on Palestinian developments. He said that his visit also targets rallying Arab supportive stands for the Palestinian rights and steadfastness in addition to lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip and ending the aggression on the West Bank. Means of overcoming obstacles hampering the Palestinian national unity were also tackled, Mishaal underlined. The Hamas leader said that foreign intervention was impeding progress in this direction, citing Arab League. . .

Resheq: Dialog efforts may not succeed due to American veto
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Izzat Al-Resheq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, played down on Monday the success of any efforts made at the present time to make PA chief Mahmoud Abbas sit at one table with Hamas leaders in light of his commitment to the American veto imposed on the national dialog. In a press statement to the Quds Press, Resheq underlined that Abbas has not received the American and Israeli permission for dialog with Hamas, ruling out the possibility of initiating dialog with Fatah during the current year under these circumstances. The Hamas leader stated that Hamas officials started a tour to a number of Arab countries to explain the Movement’s stance towards many issues especially the national dialog, the truce and the prisoner swap deal. He said that Hamas is also keen on retaining the Yemeni efforts to reconcile the Palestinian rivals moving especially the Sana’a. . .

Hamas refuses government of technocrats
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday denied receiving any proposal or hearing of a Palestinian agreement to form a government of technocrats that allows entry of Arab forces to supervise the restructuring of security apparatuses in Gaza. Ismail Radwan, one of the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, said in a press release that no one could sidestep Palestinian legitimacy and any solution to the internal Palestinian rift should be based on respecting results of the Palestinian elections and abiding by previous understandings such as the Cairo, Makkah and Sana’a declarations. The PLO and the PA security apparatuses should be restructured in a way serving Palestinian people’s interests, he stressed. Radwan asked Egypt to double efforts to pressure Israel into abiding by the calm agreement. He also said that the Arab League and the Arab countries should have a more effective role in reuniting Palestinian ranks.

Bahar rules out possibility of holding national dialog at present time
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting speaker of the PLC, ruled out the possibility of holding national dialog between Hamas and Fatah for the time being, holding PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and the American administration responsible for deepening the internal rift in the Palestinian arena. In a press statement to the Resala newspaper, Dr. Bahar said that there is an American veto on the PA chief banning him from opening dialog with Hamas, pointing out that Abbas retracted his initiative for dialog and refused to sit down with Hamas. The acting speaker underlined that Abbas’s visit to Damascus deepened the gap between Hamas and Fatah, adding that the visit negatively cast a shadow over the Palestinian political scene because he wrongly thought that he would succeed in isolating Hamas through refusing to meet with its leaders.

Villagers from Jordan Valley community demand water, electricity in Ramallah protest
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Residents of the West Bank village of Al-Jiftlik, in the Jordan valley north of the city of Jericho, staged a demonstration to demand water and electricity at the Palestinian Prime Minister’s office in the city of Ramallah. The villagers say their community has been cut off from water and electricity, and are demanding that the Palestinian Authority take action. After rallying in front of the Prime Minister’s office, the demonstration moved to the headquarters of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Representatives of several Palestinian national and Islamic parties participated in the protest, including Mustafa Barghouthi, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative. Much of the West Bank has been suffering a severe water shortage this summer, due to a drought, a reduction of supplies from the Israeli national water company, and an overall lack of Palestinian water infrastructure.

Red Cross reports devastating water crisis for West Bank Bedouins
Palestine News Network 7/14/2008
Amman / PNN -- As most Palestinians are now, Bedouin shepherds in the West Bank are suffering from a severe water shortage as a result of successive years of drought and Israeli restrictions, according to a report distributed by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Amman. According to the report, "After three consecutive years of drought, nomadic groups in the Israeli controlled West Bank are on the edge of an emergency situation. "The report also said that "severe movement restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities exacerbate their plight. Israeli settlements, bypass roads, military areas, and nature reserves prevent the movement of herds and inhibit access to grazing areas and water. " The Red Cross has distributed emergency water to 1,000 people and their herds of 50,000 goats in the southern West Bank, among the most severely afflicted areas.

In a fresh violation of calm, IOF soldiers shoot and wound Palestinian
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- A Palestinian man was shot and wounded on Monday at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces stationed east of Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza Strip. PIC reporter said that the soldiers opened their machinegun fire at a group of Palestinian citizens near the border fence separating the Strip from the 1948 occupied lands. The IOF troops have violated the calm agreement on 20 occasions in less than a month. They killed a Palestinian teen a week ago in the same area. [end]

Farmer prevented from reaching his land in Kufr Qalil for second consecutive day
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/14/2008
Date of incident: July 14th 2008 - Time of incident: Between 7. 20am and 11. 45am - Place: Land near Kufr Qalil - Witness/es: IWPS, international activists - Description of Incident: On Monday 14th July IWPS volunteers and other international activists again joined a farmer and his family as they tried to access their land in Kufr Qalil for the almond harvest. At approximately 7. 20am the family and internationals split into two groups with the first to work above the road leading into the settlement of Bracha, and the second below it. When the second group made their way to the land below the road, there was already an army jeep and a mini bus full of settlers waiting for them. There was an older man, in his fifties, and eight boys, between ten and thirteen years old, in the minibus. Some of the boys carried long sticks.

The Israeli army kidnaps a civilian from West Bank city of Hebron
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
The Israeli army invaded the Southern West Bank city of Hebron on Monday morning and kidnapped a civilian, taking him to an unknown detention camp. Locals reported that the Israeli army kidnapped the 22 years old Hamada Abu Aisha from eastern the city leading him to an unknown detention camp. It also has been reported that the Israeli troops stopped some of the civilians at the center of Hebron City and checked their IDs but no abductions were reported. [end]

After eight years, Wissam Abuajwa walks to freedom and an education
Donald Macintyre in Gaza, The Independent 7/15/2008
There was no mistaking the breadth of Wissam Abuajwa’s triumphant smile yesterday as he reached the last passport check at the crossing with Israel on his way out of Gaza for the first time in eight years. When a man has been waiting so long to acquire the qualifications he needs so he can return and do something positive for his own stricken society, it is a moment to savour. Yet the first words uttered by this polite but determined man after realising at last that he would be able to do his master’s at Nottingham University’s world-class school of chemical and environmental engineering were ones of almost formal thanks. "I am glad that the UK Government and Mr Kim [the Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells] intervened, and I am happy the Israelis responded to that," he said. He also thanked Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy, to whom he had written from Gaza "where I and some 1 1/2 million other Palestinians have been imprisoned since 2008".

Tony Blair to visit The Gaza Strip on Tuesday
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
Palestinian sources reported that the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the envoy of the International Quartet Committee for peace in the Middle East will visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Official sources reported that the former British Prime Minister tony Blair will have a tour around the schools of the United Nations Agency for Relief and employing the Palestinian refugees UNRWA in Northern the Gaza Strip and will meet with the manager of the UNRWA operations in the district John Jing and other Palestinian independent figures. Official sources pointed out that Blair will reopen the next phase in the sewage project in Beit Lahia City in the northern Gaza Strip during his 3 hours duration visit. It should be noted that this is the first visit for a high standard foreign official to The Gaza Strip since the Hamas movement took over the situations in the Gaza Strip since last June.

Hamas: Blair’s visit to Gaza of humanitarian nature
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Monday said that Gaza was open before all visitors from any part of the world with the exception of the "Zionist enemy", explaining that the visit to Gaza on Tuesday of Tony Blair, the international quartet committee’s envoy to the region, was of humanitarian nature. Ismail Radwan, one of the Hamas leaders in the Strip, said in a press statement that his Movement and the Palestinian government in Gaza were aware of the visit and added that the government had arranged the necessary security preparations for the visit. He noted that the visit indicates that security was prevailing in the Strip, and asked the world community in this regard to lift the "oppressive siege" on Gaza. The Ramattan news agency quoted senior sources as saying that Blair, the former British prime minister, is slated to visit the Strip on Tuesday to tour a number of UNRWA. . .

Blair to visit Gaza Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - International Quartet envoy Tony Blair will visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to inaugurate a new sewage project in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, political advisor of the de facto foreign minister Ahmad Yousef said on Monday. Yousef told Ma’an that Blair will also meet businessmen from the Gaza Strip, but that he was not planning any meetings with members of the de facto government. He explained that the de facto government have security measures in place for Blair’s visit, which he described as "a positive initiative for the Western World to consider the Palestinians’ suffering. "He added that he hoped the visit would initiate the end of the Israeli siege of the coastal sector.

Sheikh Hamad meets Olmert to discuss Mideast peace
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/15/2008
DOHA: Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday in Paris on the sidelines of a Mediterranean Union launch summit, the official QNA news agency reported. It said the two leaders discussed "efforts to relaunch the [Middle East] peace process" and "the possibility of lifting the [Israeli] blockage imposed on the Gaza Strip," which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. The Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, who doubles as foreign minister, also took part in the meeting, QNA said. Qatar maintains contacts with Israel despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations and has since 1996 housed an Israeli trade office. Representatives of the two countries hold frequent meetings. Ties with the Jewish state are a highly controversial issue in the Arab world in the absence of concrete progress toward a settlement of the 60-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

VIDEO - Olmert, Assad a touch away on Champs-Elysees
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/14/2008
(Video) Mediterranean Forum ends with festive Bastille Day military parade but no handshake for Israeli, Syrian leaders - PARISThe leaders of Israeland Syriahave never been closer: A mere one or two meters stood between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Syrian PresidentBashar Assad Monday, as the two participated in France’s annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Video courtesy ofInfolive. tv The two did not shake hands. In fact, Assad avoided making eye contact with Olmert, turning his back to him. During the diplomatic meetings in Paris, Olmert warned of the weapon smuggling from Syria toHizbullah. No Direct ExchangeReport: Olmert relays message to Assad in Paris/ Israeli, Syrian leaders fail to shake hands during Mediterranean Forum in French capital, but continue to exchange messages through Turkish mediator.

Hillis: Euro-Mediterranean conference meant to help Israel merge in the region
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Jihad Movement has accused France on Sunday of attempting to create a presence for itself in the region with the aim to open conduits of normalization between the Hebrew state and the Arab countries. Waleed Hillis, the spokesman of the Movement in Gaza Strip, pointed out that the attempt of French president Nicolas Sarkozy to bring PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli premier Ehud Olmert together in a meeting was meant to encourage other Arab leaders participating in the Euro-Mediterranean union conference to sit with Olmert. "This meeting [of Abbas and Olmert] has no political importance as it was clear the French president was attempting to use Abbas’s presence as a channel to have more meetings between Olmert and other Arab leaders present in the conference", said Hillis. He also charged, "In general, the Western rule couldn’t incline to the justice. . .

Qatar emir meets Israeli PM in Paris
Middle East Online 7/14/2008
DOHA - Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday in Paris on the sidelines of a Mediterranean Union launch summit, the official QNA news agency reported. It said the two leaders discussed "efforts to relaunch the (Middle East) peace process" and "the possibility of lifting the (Israeli) blockage imposed on the Gaza Strip," which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. The Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, who doubles as foreign minister, also took part in the meeting, QNA said. Qatar maintains contacts with Israel despite the absence of diplomatic relations and has since 1996 housed an Israeli trade office. Representatives of the two countries hold frequent meetings. Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visited Qatar in April to address a democracy forum.

Syria basks in diplomatic breakthrough
Sami Moubayed, Asia Times 7/15/2008
DAMASCUS - "Our telephone number is 202-456-1414. When you are serious about peace, call us. "These were the words of former United States secretary of state James Baker in June 1990 when he suspended dialogue with Yasser Arafat, claiming the Palestine Liberation Organization was still committed to armed war with Israel and thereby not interested in peace. In 1991, the Americans insisted on bypassing Arafat during the Madrid peaceconference, to punish him for his support of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, right afterthe invasion of Kuwait. When talks started in Washington - then Oslo - however,the Americans realized there could be no peace without Arafat’s participation. That is why they had no choice but to dial his number when they wanted somebodyto make the historical handshake on the White House lawn with Israeli primeminister Yitzhak Rabin inSeptember 1993.

Sarkozy under fire for hosting Assad at Bastille Day parade
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/15/2008
PARIS: France celebrated Bastille Day on Monday under a cloud of controversy as Syrian President Bashar Assad joined dozens of leaders to watch the traditional military parade on the Champs Elysees. UN chief Ban Ki-moon was the guest of honor at the festivities with two units of UN peacekeepers leading off the march from Paris’ Arc de Triomphe down to Place de la Concorde. But President Nicolas Sarkozy’s invitation to Assad has angered opposition politicians and some in the French military who served in an intervention force in Beirut that was attacked in 1983, when Syria was the main power broker in Lebanon. Making a diplomatic comeback after years of ostracism, Assad was among the more than 40 leaders who Sunday inaugurated the new Mediterranean Union, Sarkozy’s flagship project to bolster cooperation between Europe, the Middle East and north Africa.

Germany presses Syria on arms smuggling
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/15/2008
BERLIN: Syria must stop arms smuggling across its border with Lebanon if it wants to continue to emerge from international isolation, Germany’s deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg said Monday. Steg said German Chancellor Angela Merkel held impromptu talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad on the sidelines of a Mediterranean summit Sunday as a result of Damascus’s announcement it would open diplomatic ties with Lebanon. He said Berlin and the international community were now waiting for Syria to follow through on its pledge and to address other issues that had led the West to isolate the country. "If Syria aims to show its good will with this announcement then it could also follow up with good deeds and that would include, for example, a readiness to ensure that the alleged - at least never ruled out - weapons smuggling over the land route to Hizbullah is stopped," Steg said.

Iranian official fires shot across Syria’s bow over Israel talks
Daily Star 7/15/2008
BEIRUT: A senior Iranian official criticized Syria in remarks published Monday, warning that Damascus’ close ties with Tehran could be damaged if it reached a full-fledged peace deal with Israel. "Deep changes will affect the nature of Iranian-Syrian relations if Damascus signs a peace agreement with and recognizes Israel," Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat quoted Hussein Shariatmadari, an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying in an interview. "Iran does not recognize a state called Israel in the region and would not be pleased. . . for an Islamic country like Syria or Turkey to negotiate with her," added Shariatmadari. He acknowledged that his comments were based on his "personal opinion," but also argued that this was supported by a majority of the public in the Islamic Republic. Shariatmadari also drew a line between Syria’s talks with Israel, brokered. . .

Syria’s Assad: Israel will pay a direct price for attacking Iran
Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that a military attack against Iran over its nuclear program would have grave consequences for the United States, Israel and the world. Speculation of a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities has mounted following a report that Israel staged an Air Force exercise which was a rehearsal for such an attack. "It will cost the United States and the planet dear," Assad said in an interview with France Inter radio, adding that such an attack, if it occurred, would have an impact on Israel. "Israel will pay directly the price of this war. Iran has said so. The problem is not the action and reaction. The problem is that when one starts such action in the Middle East, one cannot manage the reactions that can spread out over years or even decades," he said.

Assad: Iran attack would hurt US, Israel
Reuters, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Syrian president tells France radio that any attack on Tehran would have grave consequences ’for entire world’; warns Israel will be one to ’pay price of war’ -Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that a military attack on Iran over its nuclear program would have grave consequences for the United States, Israel and the world. Speculation of a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities has mounted following a report that Israel staged an air forceexercise which was a rehearsal for such an attack. "It will cost the United States and the planet dear," Assad said in an interview with France Inter radio, adding that such an attack, if it occurred, would have an impact on Israel. "Israel will pay directly the price of this war. Iran has said so. The problem is not the action and reaction.

With whom will Syria make peace?
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
The peace between Israel and Syria has in the past few days seemed closer and farther away than at any other time. Each side has passed messages to the other that bear witness to the seriousness of their intentions, the teams have been in contact for several months through Turkish mediation, and in Paris this week, Syrian and Lebanese journalists spoke with Israeli journalists almost without any interference. At the same time, Ehud Olmert was striving for personal contact with Bashar Assad, but to no avail - because the Syrian president considers Olmert a weak prime minister, and he does not sell his gestures on the cheap. The Paris summit convened by the French president this week perhaps did not strengthen the Olmert government, but it definitely allowed the Syrian president to enter Europe by the front door. That is what Assad said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, and it seems that his assessment was not incorrect.

UNRWA’s Commissioner-General signs four agreements valued at US$ 6 million with the Saudi Committee
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in, ReliefWeb 7/13/2008
Jeddah, 13 July 2008 - UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd, is in Jeddah today to sign four agreements valued at US$ 6 million with the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People. "These generous donations from His Royal Highness Prince Nayef bin AbdulAziz and the Saudi Committee are deeply appreciated, as they will help alleviate the suffering of Palestine refugees in Gaza", the Commissioner-General said. The Saudi Committee donation includes US$ 5 million in cash and in-kind to assist with food aid, medicines, medical equipment and fuel for Gaza. UNRWA will also receive medicines and medical supplies worth US$ 1 million for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. In the past, the Saudi Committee contributed US$ 1 million to rehabilitate shelters in Gaza and in the West Bank. The Commissioner-General stressed: "The funds for fuel will be particularly. . .

Palestine Today 071408
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/14/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Monday July 14th, 2008. The Israeli army invades several cities in the West Bank and shoots a civilian in Gaza, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast Medical sources reported that the number of patients who died due to the Israeli siege on the Gaza strip reached 208, as three patients were announced dead on Monday morning. Three patients died this morning because they were unable to get out of the Gaza strip to seek medical treatment. Israel placed the Gaza Strip under total siege in June 2007. Last month, Israel agreed to open the border crossings around Gaza after Egypt mediated a truce deal between Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza.

The National: Protesters target Israeli jeweller
Sharmila Devi, The National, International Solidarity Movement 7/13/2008
NEW YORK - Human rights protesters took to the streets in New York last week to continue their campaign against an Israeli billionaire who is suspected of building settlements in the occupied West Bank. Adalah-NY, a Jewish-Palestinian umbrella group of activists, vowed to maintain pressure on Lev Leviev, a real estate and diamond mogul who is one of the richest men in Israel, over his suspected activities in the West Bank and to prevent him from opening more Leviev diamond jewellery stores in Dubai. "There is growing awareness around the world about Leviev’s blatant human rights abuses," said Daniel Lang-Levitsky, a spokesman for Jews Against the Occupation, which is part of Adalah-NY. Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, announced last month. . .

Possible prisoner exchange leaves questions for thousands of families: who will make the list?
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 7/14/2008
Jenin - Riyad Abdullah Bani Hassan is the only member of his family still able to attempt to try to free his brother from Israeli prison. He has been running from agency to institute in an attempt to get 42 year old Othman Bani Hassan’s name on list for the prisoner exchange a Palestinian. The Jenin family has not seen Othman outside of prison for 25 years. Israeli forces arrested him as a 17 year old boy. Until 12 years ago family visits were possible, but since this stopped the Bani Hassan family lives under an ever darkening cloud of grief. They have no idea what his status is concerning the prisoner exchange, but say that every happy occasion becomes one of sadness due to the absence of Othman, including Riyad’s wedding. But still he fighting for the inclusion of Othman’s name in the next prisoner exchange.

Israel transfers Lebanese prisoners ahead of exchange deal with Hizbullah
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/14/2008
(Video) Lebanese newspaper says prisoner swap between Israel, Hizbullah to commence 9 am Wednesday at Nakura crossing; Israel transferring four prisoners slated for release to prison where Kuntar is held. Hizbullah planning mass rally in Beirut to honor returning prisoners - VIDEO -The Israeli Prison Service transferred Monday morning four of the Lebanese prisoners slated for release in the framework of the upcoming exchange deal with Hizbulllah from the Ashmoret Prison to the Hadarim Prison, where terrorist Samir Kuntar, who is also included in the deal, is held. The four prisoners, who had been held at Ashmoret since the Second Lebanon War, were taken to Hadarim by van at around 10:40 am. Video courtesy of infolive. tv Lebanese newspaper Al- Safir reported Monday that the prisoner exchange deal betweenIsrael and Hizbullah will take. . .

Barak: UN resolution on Lebanon war is a failure
The Associated Press and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday branded the United Nations resolution that ended the Second Lebanon War a failure, saying that it had not achieved the aim of disarming the Hezbollah guerilla organization in Lebanon. UN Security Council resolution 1701 ended the month-long 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which broke out after the latter abducted two Israeli reservists in a cross-border raid. Barak told his Labor Party on Monday that the resolution had not worked, does not work now and will probably never work. Israel has complained that despite the resolution’s call for a strict ban on arms shipments to Hezbollah, the group has rearmed and now has a larger rocket arsenal than it did during the war. "Hezbollah is continuing to ignore [the resolution] with the ongoing intimate assistance of the Syrian," the defense minister said.

Barak: Resolution 1701 a failure
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Two years after Second Lebanon War, defense minister criticizes UN resolution that brought it to an end, says ’Hizbullah continues to arm itself with Syrian assistance’. Netanyahu slams prime minister, says ’people expect to replace government’ - In light of the recent two-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Defense Minister Ehud Barak had some harsh criticism for the stroke that led to its finalization. At the Labor faction meeting that took place Monday afternoon, Barak referred to the armament ofHizbullah, saying that "Security Resolution 1701 did not work, doesn’t work, and is a failure. Hizbullah continues to arm itself with Syrian assistance. "22 Years LaterArad family demands all material on Ron / Roi Mandel After receiving new photos, journal of captured navigator, family furious over planned swap deal with Hizbullah.

PM: Hezbollah’s Arad report unsatisfactory
Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
The cabinet will discuss Hezbollah’s report on its efforts to determine the fate of missing Israeli airman Ron Arad today and will be briefed on its assessment following deliberations by the heads of the country’s intelligence organizations. According to a source in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s entourage to Paris, the result of the cabinet’s final vote on the prisoner exchange will be based on what it hears in this briefing. Meanwhile, the Goldwasser and Regev families renewed their campaign this week to convince cabinet ministers to support the prisoner swap with Hezbollah, fearing that despite the cabinet’s approval of the deal on June 29, last-minute problems might pop up. In particular, the families are worried that criticism of Hezbollah’s report on Ron Arad, and the fact that his fate remains a mystery, could provide an excuse for cancelling the deal.

Ron Arad’s family gets photos of missing IAF navigator
Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 7/14/2008
The family of Ron Arad received late on Saturday two previously unseen photographs of the missing Israel Air Force navigator as well as sections from his diary. Channel 10 aired the pictures for the first time on Sunday. Arad, who was captured when his plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986, is seen in one of the pictures wearing pajamas and appears to be wounded in his left shoulder. The photograph seems to have been taken in 1987. Some of the diary fragments are dated from 1987, although they are not sequential, and it is likely that there are more sections still in Lebanon’s possession, according to Channel 10. The photos and sections of Arad’s diary were transferred to the family within the framework of the upcoming prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hezbollah, which is set to take place on Wednesday.

Four prisoners included in swap deal transferred to Kuntar’s jail
Jonathan Lis Jack Khoury and Anshel Pfeffer , Haaretz Sevice, Ha’aretz 7/14/2008
The four Lebanese prisoners to be released as part of the prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah are to be transferred on Monday from Ashmoret prison to the Hadarim prison, which is currently holding Samir Kuntar, a focus of the upcoming swap for kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Kuntar has been jailed since 1979 for a terror attack in the north, in which a father, his four-year-old daughter, and an Israeli policeman were killed. Kuntar began saying good-bye to his cellmates at Hadarim Prison on Sunday. Kuntar has been told that he will be released soon. The Israel Prisons Service made public the names of the five Lebanese prisoners to be released. The names of the four Lebanese prisoners are Chadar Zidan, Maher Kurani, Mohammed Sarur and Hussein Suleiman.

IDF wary Hizbullah may return to antics after prisoners’ swap
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Defense establishment officials express concerns over intelligence assessments indicating Shiite group gained considerable military strength since Second Lebanon War, may prove to be more formidable - Israeli security establishment officials fear Hizbullah will boost its rearmament efforts and may look to escalate the situation along the northern border following the implementation of the upcoming prisoner exchange deal. The officials believe, however, that Hizbullah is wary of a harsh Israeli response and will therefore act with caution. Under the deal, which is expected to take place on Wednesday, [end]

Israel, Hezbollah prepare for prisoner swap
Middle East Online 7/14/2008
NAQURA - Israel and Lebanon were making final preparations on Monday for a high-profile prisoner swap, with the Hezbollah militant group planning celebrations for what it hails as a major victory over its enemies in the Jewish state. Israel is to free five Lebanese prisoners on Wednesday, including a militant held for three decades over a grisly triple murder, in exchange for two soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a deadly cross-border raid two years ago that triggered a devastating war in Lebanon. It is also set to transfer to Lebanon the bodies of almost 200 Hezbollah fighters and release a number of Palestinians under the prisoner swap mediated by a UN-appointed German diplomat. The Iranian and Syrian-backed Shiite movement plans a hero’s welcome for its fighters, with celebratory banners and Lebanese and Hezbollah flags lining the main highway from the Israeli border to the southern port city of Sidon.

Relatives of policeman killed by Kuntar to reappeal court
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/15/2008
With last week’s petition rejected, Shahar family refuses to give up hope of delaying notorious terrorist’s release ’even if by one hour’ -The relatives of policeman Eliyahu Shahar, who was murdered by Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar during a cross-border raid on Nahariya in 1979, have once again petitioned the High Court of Justice against the imminent prisoner exchange deal, despite the court’s rejection of a similar plea last week. Murdered policeman’s brother, Yoram Shahar, said that "even if I can delay the release by an hour - I’ll do it. " The deal with Hizbullah was agreed upon in principal by the government about two weeks ago, but was conditioned on receiving a final report from the Lebanese organization, with further details about missing navigator

Hizbullah builds ’triumphal arch’ on eve of prisoner exchange
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/15/2008
Pictures of Samir Kuntar, Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Mugniyah adorn roads leading to Sidon; al-Manar television network celebrates ’divine victory’. Return of Israeli family’s murderer to launch ’party of the decade’ in Lebanon - The government is expected Tuesday to ratify Israel’s prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah, which will commence at 9 am Wednesday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who returned from Paris on Monday night, announced before taking off that thereport delivered by Hizbullah on the fate of missing Israel Defense Forces navigator Ron Arad was "insufficient". In the meantime, the preparations for the victory celebrations on the other side of the border are underway. Hizbullah members set up a "triumphal arch" near the Rosh Hanikra (Naquora) crossing, where the exchange is scheduled to take place - Hizbullah fighters and terrorists’ bodies. . .

Lebanese and Israelis regard expected swap very differently
Daily Star 7/15/2008
Israel and Lebanon were making final preparations on Monday for a high-profile prisoner swap, with Hizbullah ready to celebrate a major victory over its Israeli foes. Israel is to free five Lebanese prisoners on Wednesday in exchange for two soldiers captured by Hizbullah in a deadly cross-border raid two years ago that caused the Zionist state to launch a devastating war against Lebanon. It is also set to transfer to Lebanon the bodies of almost 200 Palestinian and Lebanese fighters, some from Hizbullah, as well as release a number of Palestinians under the swap mediated by a UN-appointed German diplomat. Hizbullah plans a hero’s welcome for its fighters, with celebratory banners and flags lining the main highway from the Israeli border at Naqoura to the southern port city of Sidon. "We are a people who will not abandon our detainees in prison," reads one banner, taken from a pledge by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Paris summit: Leaders pledge to work for WMD-free Middle East
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Officials from 43 nations from Mediterranean’s shores vow to work together to create stable, safer Middle East - Forty-three nations, including Israel and Arab states, pledged Sunday to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction at the close of a summit to launch an unprecedented Union for the Mediterranean aimed at securing peace across the restive region. In a final declaration, Israel,Syria, the Palestinians along with countries across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa agreed to "pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction. " The countries committed to "consider practical steps to prevent the proliferation" of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems. It was unclear, however, how the signatories, who included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and . . .

Fayyad in Indonesia for conference in support of PA
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Sunday arrived in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and met with foreign minister Hassan Wirayuda during a conference aimed at supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA). According to Fayyad, the conference demonstrates support for the Palestinian people as it emphasizes that several countries of the world back the Palestinian right of freedom and independence. Fayyad updated the Indonesian foreign minister on the latest developments in the Palestinian arena as well as the challenges which the Palestinian people and their national authority face. The PA is making every possible effort to strengthen its institutions in order to fulfill the needs of the Palestinian people. These efforts are impeded by serious obstacles imposed by Israel, such as the crippling siege on the Gaza Strip and the increasing. . .

Health minister pays official visit to Turkey, meets with his counterpart
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
ISTANBUL, (PIC)-- Dr. Basim Na’eem, the health minister, paid an official visit to Turkey at the invitation of the humanitarian relief foundation (IHH) during which he met with Turkish health minister Dr. Recep Akdag and other officials and visited the Palestinian wounded hospitalized there. Dr. Na’eem said he briefed the Turkish health minister on the tragic humanitarian situation in Gaza as a result of the Israeli siege, adding that Dr. Akdag favorably received his request for supplying Gaza hospitals with medical needs and qualifying Palestinian doctors. During his visit, the Palestinian health minister visited the Palestinian patients, whom the IHH humanitarian relief foundation brought to Turkey for treatment, to get informed about their health conditions.  Naim also paid a visit to the IHH headquarters and thanked the foundation for its aid.

Iran: Missile drill causing massive Israeli emigration
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 7/14/2008
IRNA news agency proudly reports to citizens of Islamic Republic that due to military maneuver held last week, of which evidence was said to be ’doctored’, Israelis have begun to fearfully evacuate country -Iran continues to enjoy the dubious success of themilitary missile drill, which the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard held last week. The Iranian news agency IRNA reported to the country’s residents on Monday that the Israelis were so terrified by the display of power that it has sparked a mass emigration. Iran’s national news agencies have become famous for their hyperbolic reports on the state’s successes, and this time was no exception. According to recent reports, there has been an increase in "massive emigration from Tel Aviv following the military maneuver. "Photoshop? Did Revolutionary Guards doctor missile photos? / Ynet Discrepancies. . .

Iran says missile tests boost its position in talks
Reuters, YNetNews 7/14/2008
’Military maneuvers helped Islamic Republic to go to negotiating table with full hand,’ Deputy Defense Minister Ezatti says ahead of talks with EU on Tehran’s nuclear program -Iran’s missile tests last week will strengthen its position in diplomatic efforts to resolve an international standoff over Tehran’s disputed nuclear plans, a senior official was quoted as saying on Monday. "The maneuvers helped the Islamic Republic to go to the negotiating table with a full hand," the official IRNA news agency quoted Deputy Defense Minister Nasrullah Ezatti as saying. Ezatti, a brigadier-general who is in charge of coordinating armed forces logistics, was speaking five days before Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was expected to meet European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Geneva.

Despite no confidence vote, Olmert won’t dismiss Labor ministers
Mazal Mualem and Zvi Zrahiya, Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
Labor lawmakers voted against the government on a round of ministerial appointments Monday, giving strength to a motion of no confidence in the government and risking dismissal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office later in the day, Olmert accused the Labor Party of reneging on previous agreements signed with Kadima, but hinted that he would not make good on his threat to dismiss the ministers if they voted against the government. Dismissing the Labor ministers would have left him without a legislative majority and open the door to early elections. By rejecting the appointments of Kadima MKs Ruhama Avraham-Balila and Eli Aflalo as tourism minister and absorption minister respectively, Labor MKs and ministers supported what was declared a no confidence vote at the request of the Likud faction chairman, MK Gideon Sa’ar.

Olmert confidant refused to answer questions about cash that premier allegedly received
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
Attorney Uri Messer, whom police had hoped would prove a key witness in one of the investigations against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - the Morris Talansky case - has decided not to cooperate with police. During a three-hour interrogation under caution on June 18, Messer systematically refused to answer questions about the case, in which American Jewish businessman Talansky is suspected of giving Olmert some $150,000 over the course of about a decade. Messer was also questioned about allegations that while serving as industry and trade minister, Olmert used his longstanding friendship with the minister to obtain unwarranted benefits from the ministry for his clients. Haaretz has obtained the full nine-page transcript of the interrogation, excerpts of which are being published here for the first time. The transcript reveals some of the difficulties in the investigation - specifically,. . .

Gazan woman gives birth to quadruplets
Ma’an News Agency 7/14/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – A 23-year-old Palestinian woman, Zeinab Ahel, gave birth to quadruplets – three boys and one girl - in Ash-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Monday. Palestinian doctors, performed a cesarean section on Ahel. The children are named Mohammad, Ahmad, Mahmoud and Nour. This family lives in a humble house in the Ad-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza. The four newborn children have one older sister named Lina. The father, 37-year-old Mo’in Ahel, is, like most Gazan men, unemployed. Gaza’s economy has been destroyed by years of Israeli bombardment and blockade. “I used to work in construction years ago and I’m unemployed now and I’m afraid I can’t provide living for [the children],” Ahel said. He appealed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, de facto Prime Minister Isma’il Haniyeh, and charities to help him support his children.

VIDEO - AlJazeera: Norman Finkelstein versus Ariel Sharon’s advisor on the wall
International Solidarity Movement 7/14/2008
The Israeli separation wall making its way through the West Bank cuts to the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli issue: Will the final settlement between these two peoples be negotiated, or imposed unilaterally by Israel? [end]

Map of Palestinian traditional costumes
Posted by Mary Rizzo, Palestine Think Tank 7/14/2008
Image of map of Palestine featuring distinctive traditional cosumes. [end]

Muslim hacker attack shuts down TASE corporate action site
Yael Gruntman, Globes Online 7/14/2008
The "Maya" site was off the air for 90 minutes towards the end of trading yesterday. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE)’s corporate action site, "Maya" was disabled for an hour and a half yesterday, after malicious hackers, located in Muslim countries mounted an attack on the site. Users attempting to access the site received an error notice. The "Maya" site is not connected to the TASE’s trading activity and platforms, and aside from jamming the "Maya", the hackers did not manage to tamper with the information on it, or cause any other damage. A number of Israeli websites have come under attack by Muslim hackers in recent months, the most notable of which was the website of the Bank of Israel , which was shut down for three days. The hackers also managed to insert a defamatory announcement in Arabic on the home page of the central bank’s site.

Noam Shalit: Don’t free Palestinians while my son still held in Gaza
Jack Khoury , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
The father of an Israeli soldier kidnapped and held for the past two years in the Gaza Strip lashed out Monday at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over a plan to release dozens of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Noam Shalit’s son, Gilad, was abducted from his army base close to the Gaza Strip in a cross border attack in June 2006. Two of his comrades were killed in the attack by Gaza militants. Subsequent negotiations, primarily brokered by Egypt, have failed to bring about his release. Olmert agreed to free the prisoners, held by Israel since the 1993 Oslo agreement, following a request by and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when they met this week at the Mediterranean Forum in Paris. Shalit told Haaretz that Abbas had not done anything to secure Gilad’s release during the first year after his kidnap, before Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Dollar falls to NIS 3.32 against shekel
Tal Levy, Ha’aretz 7/15/2008
The U. S. dollar weakened by a steep 1. 5% against the shekel yesterday, ending the day at an official exchange rate of NIS 3. 329. The effect of the Bank of Israel’s sudden intervention in support of the dollar late last week lasted exactly two business days, during which the greenback appreciated by 5. 6% against the shekel. On Thursday the central bank said it would buy $100 million a day instead of $25 million, a practice begun in March. The excuse is to beef up Israel’s foreign-currency reserves, but analysts agree that Governor Stanley Fischer’s real, though unstated, purpose is to shore up the dollar against the shekel to help Israel’s bruised exporters. What the central bank’s move achieved was to dissociate the shekel-dollar from the dollar’s behavior in other world markets, said Eran Basson, VP investments at Gift Asset Management.

Israeli high-tech salaries under pressure
Shahar Zadok, Globes Online 7/14/2008
Economic uncertainty and a falling exchange rate have hurt high-tech’s ability to compete. The Israeli high-tech industry, which has enjoyed sustained expansion since 2003 and has been one of the main engines driving economic growth, is now at a crossroads. The uncertainty surrounding the global economy and falling shekel-dollar exchange rate have severely harmed its ability to compete in global markets and ensure the sector’s companies maintain reasonable profit margins. The high-tech industry’s principal resource is its human capital - the highly-skilled labor force which constitutes an important and critical factor in the technology industry’s costs. But with the industry’s labor force earning its income in shekels and the revenue on technology sales in dollars, the industry is increasingly finding itself facing an uphill battle.

Danny Katz’s murderers turned down for early release
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Despite President Shimon Peres’ decision to shorten their prison term by one-third, Israel Prison Service’s parole committee denies appeal - Another turnabout in the case of murdered teen Danny Katz:After President Shimon Peres decided to shorten the prison term of three of teen Danny Katz’ murderers to 30 years, the parole committee of the Israel Prison Service refused to shorten their term by a third on Monday. The committee explained its decision by saying that the pleaders did not enter a rehabilitation process and deny having executed the murder as well as the other offences they were charged with. Therefore, states the committee, the three are still holding "the same dangerous and murderous position as when they first entered prison. " The teen’s father, Moshe Katz, expressed his satisfaction with the decision, though knowing full. . .

Draft dodger sentenced to 9 months in jail
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Military court throws the book at man who has been dodging draft for nearly seven years claming seminary school was keeping him ’too busy’ - A military court sentences a young Israeli man who has been dodging the draft for the past seven years to nine months in prison. Monday’s sentence is the harshest noted in the Israeli military code for such an offence. "In Israel, military service is mandatory. It is not subject to debate," said the judge. Military police have arrested several hundreds young men who have been avoiding their military service. Some were released from custody after the military authorities were to ascertain that they have indeed failed to receive their drafting orders. The less fortunate were sentences to various two-to-six months in jail for failing to report to the military induction center as ordered.

Livni, Dichter fear Olmert ’keeping vote quiet’
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/15/2008
Advisors to foreign, internal security ministers attempt to gather votes for alteration of party code enabling primaries, say Olmert distracting members from vote with political issues in order to prevent possibility of elections - The investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the negotiations with Syria, and the prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah are all distractions that causeKadima leaders to fear party members will forget about the vote for the alteration of the Kadima code, which will allow the party to hold primary elections for its chairperson. "Many of the Kadima council members don’t even know about the vote for the alteration of the code," a source affiliated with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday. Sources within the party have claimed that Olmert is attempting to "keep it quiet" in order to prevent the recruitment of the majority needed for the vote.

Labor votes against government
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Party MKs, Minister oppose new ministerial appointments after Knesset votes against MK Braverman’s appointment as Finance Committee chairman. Vice Premier Ramon estimates PM Olmert won’t fire Labor minister over their vote. Despite revolt, government reshuffle approved by Knesset - The Knesset plenum on Monday approved the government’s request to appoint Knesset Member Eli Aflalo (Kadima) as immigrant absorption minister and Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima) as tourism minister. Forty-five MKs voted in favor of the motion, while 42 opposed it. Likud faction chairman, MK Gideon Sa’ar, asked the Knesset to view the voting as a vote of confidence in the government. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is currentlyin Paris, also viewed this as a vote of confidence. The voting was followed by a political drama, after the appointment of Labor MK Avishay Braverman as chairman of the Finance Committee was not approved.

US Jews to Olmert: Intervene in Drukman case
Ynet, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Jewish community leaders adamantly oppose disqualification of former Soviet Union Jewry’s conversion, stating "˜few crises have so divided Israel from North American Jewish community’ - The United Jewish Communities, the federations of North America (UJC) sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which they request his personal involvement in finding a solution for the current conversion crisis. The letter, signed by Chairman of the UJC’s Board of Trustees, Joseph Kanfer and President Howard M. Rieger was sent in light of the Rabbinic Court’s announcement that it intends on disqualifying thousands of conversions of people from the former Soviet Union which were carried out under Rabbi Chaim Drukman. Drukman is the head of a special conversion campaign whose goal is to accelerate and simplify the conversion process.

PM’s ex-bureau chief questioned on Cremieux affair
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Investigators question Shula Zaken on alleged illicit discount Olmert received during purchase of Jerusalem flat -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken was questioned by the National Fraud Unit Monday morning in relation to the Cremieux affair, in which the prime minister is suspected to have received an illicit discount on Jerusalem real estate. Zaken, who has yet to be interrogated on this affair, was last questioned by police on Friday in the framework of the "cash envelopes" investigation involving Olmert’s relations with US businessman Morris Talansky, but she reserved the right to remain silent. Law enforcement official reported of progress in the Cremieux investigation, saying it is expected to be concluded following the "cash envelopes" and

UNRWA calls for opening all Gaza crossings to improve humanitarian conditions
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Karin Abu Zaid, the UNRWA commissioner general, has called for opening all Gaza crossings including the Rafah border terminal between Egypt and Gaza Strip as a basic prerequisite to improve the humanitarian conditions in the Strip. She said in a press release that the situation in the Strip did not change and the crossings should operate in full in order to allow access of all construction material so as to enable UNRWA operate its major projects in the Strip. She added that all 93 UNRWA projects in the Strip were paralyzed for almost a year other than the projects sponsored by international organizations to the tune of 200 million dollars. Abu Zaid said that conditions for her agency did not change after the calm agreement, adding that sometimes they get materials less than the usual amounts. She pointed out that she would have a meeting with Israeli officials in the. . .

UNRWA calls on Israel and Egypt to fully reopen Gaza crossings
Palestinian Information Center 7/14/2008
GAZA,(PIC)-- John Ging the director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip called Monday on Israel and Egypt to fully reopen the Gaza commercial crossings and the Rafah border crossing, highlighting that the closure of these crossings is illegal and against international law on human rights. In the presence of heads of universities and humanitarian institutions, Ging told a press conference that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is still worsening despite the Palestinian full commitment to the ceasefire. "As long as the Palestinians are fully committed to the truce, why don’t Israel and Egypt immediately open the crossings in order to make the Palestinians in Gaza feel that there is a positive change in their life? "the UN official questioned. The UN official stressed that at this time last year about 400 trucks were allowed into Gaza and now only 100 are let in.

Rabbi Bigman: Women can sing ’in innocence’
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 7/14/2008
Following spat over Bnei Akiva singing contest, head of religious kibbutz decides to allow women to sing in public if song is not intended to seduce men, suggests five criteria by which singing can be deemed ’innocent’ - "Restrictions can be eased on listening to a woman singing when there is a clear assessment of innocent listening to innocent song," Rabbi David Bigman, council head of the religious Kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa has determined, following the separation of girls and boys during the Bnei Akiva singing contest held in Givat Shmuel. In his answer to a question sent to him following Ynet’s coverage of the report, the rabbi explained that the Halacha (Jewish law) does not forbid listening to women singing, as long as the song is not intended for sexual provocation. Thus, he explained, religious girls may be permitted to pursue singing careers.

Cartoon of the day
Bendib, Palestine Think Tank 7/14/2008
Cartoon by Bendib [end]


’Worse than Apartheid’
Gideon Levy, MIFTAH 7/14/2008
      I thought they would feel right at home in the alleys of Balata refugee camp, the Casbah and the Hawara checkpoint. But they said there is no comparison: for them the Israeli occupation regime is worse than anything they knew under apartheid. This week, 21 human rights activists from South Africa visited Israel. Among them were members of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress; at least one of them took part in the armed struggle and at least two were jailed. There were two South African Supreme Court judges, a former deputy minister, members of Parliament, attorneys, writers and journalists. Blacks and whites, about half of them Jews who today are in conflict with attitudes of the conservative Jewish community in their country. Some of them have been here before; for others it was their first visit.
     For five days they paid an unconventional visit to Israel - without Sderot, the IDF and the Foreign Ministry (but with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and a meeting with Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch. They spent most of their time in the occupied areas, where hardly any official guests go - places that are also shunned by most Israelis.

Occupier’s neglect allows neighborhood to be used as dump

Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/14/2008
      The Jerusalem Municipality’s gross, prolonged neglect of East Jerusalem has led to the Dahiyeh al-Salam neighborhood becoming a pirate garbage dump. The Municipality has not yet kept its promise to renovate the refuse site.
     Dahiyeh al-Salam is one of East Jerusalem’s most neglected areas. The streets in the neighborhood, which lies in the northern part of East Jerusalem, are in complete disrepair and are strewn with piles of refuse, and the Municipality provides almost no services to its residents. This has enabled criminals to turn the neighborhood into a pirate garbage dump.
     For years, in 2007 in particular, dozens of privately-owned garbage trucks have come from West Jerusalem and dumped large amounts of construction, medical, and industrial debris in areas adjacent to residents’ homes. The unsupervised and disorderly dumping is done for free, while fees of dozens of shekels a ton are charged at the regulated dumping sites located relatively far from the city.
     According to residents of the neighborhood, the garbage dump is run by criminals, who react violently when residents oppose the dumping. The dump is a sanitation hazard: strong odors, dust, flies, and smoke from frequent fires. Also, children playing in the junk are exposed to dangerous refuse and some have complained of shortness of breath.

Access restrictions and sewage contamination from settlement cause problems for farmers in Az Zawiya

International Womens’ Peace Service 7/14/2008
      Az-Zawiya is a town of approximately 5000 inhabitants, located 5 kilometers west of Salfit and 24 kilometers south of Qalqiliya. 24,000 dunams of land belonged to Az-Zawiya before 1948, but 3,000 were lost to the military practice area, 3,000 to the Israeli-only Highway 5, and 1,025 to the settlement of Elqana, which was established in 1977.
     Today 12000 dunams of the villages’ land are behind the Apartheid wall. The access to this land is restricted. Palestinian farmers are required to obtain permits before they attempt to get into their land through the so called "agricultural gate" in the Wall. The criteria for obtaining the permit is very restrictive, so much that only 800 villagers so far have been granted one.
     The gate in the Wall is only opened at 7.30am, 10.30am and 4.30pm. It is located about half an hours walk from the village, in the valley between the Israeli-only Highway 5 and the settler road to Elqana which is currently under construction.

Jenin Camp: Then and Now

Editor Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 7/14/2008
     Walking through the streets of Jenin Camp, one would hardly know that it has been a refugee camp for almost sixty years. To the outsider, it looks like a typical Palestinian village. But it doesn’t take too much digging to uncover the truth that the aesthetic appeal hides.
     In 1953, these refugees were forced from their homes in villages near Haifa and settled on a plot of land about one square kilometer near the West Bank city of Jenin (several of these villages can be seen from rooftops of the camp). The first refugees had only tents to live in but as the years passed they gradually built more permanent structures as they saw their return becoming less and less likely. The camp is now "home" to nearly 13, 000 people.
     The Occupation has devastated the Palestinian economy and the refugees have experienced this more than any other group. Poverty levels among Jenin refugees are three times higher than refugees from other West Bank districts. Refugees do not own their own land or their houses; therefore, they have paid to have the houses built, but they have no deed for the land or the structure. Furthermore, in the past the only income for some families was low paying work in Israel, but now even that is not an option.

Another channel attempts to infiltrate the Arab world

PNN editorial, Fadi Abu Sa''ada, Palestine News Network 7/14/2008
      Euro News has just begun to join many channels who have done the same before: add another channel in Arabic to the existing English. They have created the Euro News Arabic service.
     The political climate in the region and specifically the European role in the Middle East is what led to the launching of this channel, however it should have learned from the mistakes of others. The Europeans are trying to enter the Arab world through the media. It does not work.
     Al Hurra channel, the official US Arabic channel, did not fool any one of us. We know how the shells fall since the blast began. The Arab world does not accept what it is fed; it questions. The US channel was launched to convince the Arab world of its foreign policy, particularly in Iraq and Palestine. This project fell flat and empty. No one was taken in.

The futility of holding elections under a foreign military occupation

Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank, Palestinian Information Center 7/12/2008
      It is often said that a wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountain top. It is also said that a wise man learns from the mistakes of other people, an imbecile learns from his own mistakes, but a fool learns neither from the mistakes of others nor from his own mistakes.
     Unfortunately,  these adages  apply squarely and accurately  to the American-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah. Its foolishness just transcends reality as it keeps repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over again.
     Like  an irredeemable  drunkard who drinks so much that he begins to think that  he is the greatest person on earth, the PA seems thoroughly convinced that it is a "œstate," or at least a state in the making, that it has "œauthority,"  even "œsovereignty," when in fact it has neither.

Photostory: Breaking the Silence’s tour disrupted

Anne Paq writing from Hebron, occupied West Bank, Electronic Intifada 7/14/2008
      On 27 June, I took part in one of the regular tours of the West Bank city of Hebron and its settlements organized by the organization Breaking the Silence. Breaking the Silence is a group of Israeli army soldiers and veterans who work to expose the injustice of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Once more, the tour was disrupted because of the settlers.
     Before the start of the tour, organizer Yehuda Shaul -- one of the founders of Breaking the Silence and a former Israeli soldier who served 14 months in Hebron -- warned the group that it was uncertain if the tour would proceed as planned. During the previous tour of Hebron, on 17 June, Israeli settlers attacked the tour group and threw boiling liquid at them, injuring a Spanish photographer. Nevertheless, Yehuda asked that we not answer answer to the settlers’ provocations no matter what happened.
     At the first stop in Kiryat Arba settlement next to Hebron, a group of settlers, including children, were already waiting for the bus to arrive. As soon as we exited the bus, they quickly surrounded us and started to shout and prevented Yehuda from moving and talking about the settlement. Israeli police intervened but let the settlers continue their disruption.

Fourth Inning of the Iran-US Game

Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Online 7/14/2008
      WASHINGTON - If the tensions in the Middle East between the American-Israeli-led side and the Iranian-Syrian-led side were a baseball game, this would be the fourth inning of a regulation nine-inning game. The players are warmed up, and have had a good look at each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and are now prepared to get to the nitty-gritty core of the contest.
     The contest underway comprises arenas and means that transcend the simplistic but prevalent portrayal in Washington of Iran as a “problem” that must be resolved. Things are much more complex, and some of the subtle nuances are emerging for the first time.
     In the past four weeks I have been in Washington, I have heard people speak more of Iran than of the local Nationals baseball team, because the Nationals are not playing well and the Iranians are. News coverage and discussions of the Iran-US and Israel-Iran dynamics both shot up this week, due primarily to Iran’s testing of medium- and long-range missiles.

Iran, Israel and Nuclear Elephants

Nadia Hijab, Middle East Online 7/14/2008
      Whatever else it is, Iran’s nuclear quest is not short on drama. Israel and Iran have just flexed their military muscles in highly publicized exercises and tests. The P5+1 - the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China, all permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany - just brandished another acre of carrots and rainforest of sticks at Iran.
     In the US Congress, resolutions to impose a naval blockade against Iran, among other measures, have been cosponsored by nearly half the House and a third of the Senate, in complete disregard of the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate that says Iran no longer has an active nuclear weapons program.
     These histrionics have cloaked the elephant in the room -- indeed, whole herds of the ivory-tusked beasts are hidden from view, each carrying its own weight again in loads of hypocrisy. Take just three of the elephants: Israel’s huge nuclear arsenal and the more modest stores of India and Pakistan.

Why Not?

Uri Avnery, MIFTAH 7/14/2008
      IF YOU want to understand the policy of a country, look at the map - as Napoleon recommended.
     Anyone who wants to guess whether Israel and/or the United States are going to attack Iran should look at the map of the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.
     Through this narrow waterway, only 34 km wide, pass the ships that carry between a fifth and a third of the world’s oil, including that from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
     MOST OF the commentators who talk about the inevitable American and Israeli attack on Iran do not take account of this map.
     There is talk about a "sterile", a "surgical" air strike. The mighty air fleet of the United States will take off from the aircraft carriers already stationed in the Persian Gulf and the American air bases dispersed throughout the region and bomb all the nuclear sites of Iran - and on this happy occasion also bomb government institutions, army installations, industrial centers and anything else they might fancy. They will use bombs that can penetrate deep into the ground.

Is it the same for all of us?

Ibrahim Turner, Palestine Think Tank 7/14/2008
      When I see Gaza being bombed or the settlers beating up old Palestinian women on their own land, I feel outraged.
     When I see Israelis lamenting about the homemade rockets hitting their houses and a child loses a leg, I feel outraged, but do I harbour a suspicion that ‘they had it coming?’ Often on camera there are Palestinians who shout ‘Why? What have we done to deserve this?’ And conversely there are again on camera Israelis shouting, ‘They are animals and should be exterminated!’
     Now I do not wish to belittle the Palestinian suffering, after all the fourth (or is it the third?) most powerful army in the world against defenceless, for the most part, Palestinians seems like a no win situation for the Palestinians.
     You can find credible articles all over the Internet about the connivance and deceit of the Israelis in negotiating for peace, building more settlements on Palestinian land while the talks go on. But all these details, if you will pardon my use of that word for horrific deaths and injuries, are mostly irrelevant.