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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
18 July 2008

EU, Greek Parliament, foreign supporters attacked during anti-Wall nonviolent Palestinian demo
Palestine News Network 7/18/2008
Bil’in / PNN -- Dozens of Palestinians are injured in Bil’in Village for demonstrating against the illegal actions of Israeli forces. The Palestinian nonviolent demonstrations in this western Ramallah village against the Wall, settlement expansion and land confiscation are a weekly occurrence. The inhabitants of the village of Bil’in held Friday’s demonstration after noon prayers. With them were foreign and Israeli supporters, along with members of the European Union and the Greek Parliament. However, the Israeli military met the nonviolent resistance with its reoccurring theme: absolute violence. Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets and noxious gas, leaving the nonviolent demonstrators in absolute danger. Israeli forces also blocked the roads and arrested several people in order to squelch the nonviolent resistance: but to no avail.

Two sick children die on Thursday due to the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza
Rula Shahwan - Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Thursday evening that a 10-month old infant died at a local hospital in Gaza after Israel barred his family from transferring him to a hospital outside the Gaza Strip. Earlier n Thursday a 6-year old child died of kidney failure. The sources stated that Waseem Hamdan, 10 months, needed urgent medical treatment out of the Gaza Strip as the ongoing Israeli siege emptied Gaza hospitals of the basic equipment and medications. Earlier on Thursday a 6-year old child, identified as Imad Al Oweiny, died of kidney failure, at a local hospital in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli siege on Gaza led to the death of more than 211 patients, including 46 children. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip reported that although one month passed since achieving the truce deal, Israel did not implement its side of the side of the. . .

More injuries as Israeli army attack demonstration in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 7/18/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - On the 17th July, the village of Ni’lin today continued its struggle against the construction of the illegal Israeli occupation wall that will annexe large quantities of Palestinian land. Approximately 200 locals, Israeli and international activists struck out against Israeli apartheid in a two-pronged strike on the construction site of the wall. Photos courtesy of Activestills - The first, smaller group, was met by Israeli soldiers in a gully by the site. The soldiers fired tear gas at them from the mountain side, in the process igniting several fires. Moreover, they tried to arrest Palestinian participants without cause. They were rebuffed by international and Israeli activists who blocked the soldiers from reaching their targets. Whilst the confrontation was proceeding the fires grew and spread.

15 detained in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces launched a wide campaign of arrests and seized 15 locals at Madama and Asira, villages in the Nablus region, when they raided the area in the early hours of Friday morning. Local sources told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided Madama, south of Nablus at dawn on Friday and detained 10 locals. A further 5 were arrested in the nearby village of Asira. Those arrested were: Ali Tayyeb Faraj, 27 - Bassem Sidqi Nassar, 27 - Bashir Hamid Zyaddeh, 24 - Hani Sedqi Nassar, 20 - Hashem Thib Nassar, 32 - Mohammad Tayyeb Faraj, 21 - Qa’ed Samir Nassar, 30 - Rami Mohammed Nassar, 29 - Sheriff Nassar, 28 - Thaer Samir Nassar, 23 From Madama - Ahmed Khalil Makhlouf, 18 - Emad Aziz, 30 - Walid Hamdan, 25 - Hammam Hosni 23 - and one other unknown from Asira.

Thirteen detainees wounded in Majeddo prison
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
In a letter that was leaked on Wednesday from the Majeddo Israeli prison, the detainees stated that Israeli soldiers broke into the prison and attacked them with batons and clubs. Thirteen detainees were wounded and suffered concussions and bruises. The detainees said that the soldiers broke into their rooms and violently attacked them without any explanation. They also stated that there were also attacked several days ago after the soldiers broke into section 9 of the detention facility and used water hoses, clubs and batons against the detainees after claiming that they refused to stand in front of the prison warden to be counted and searched. The administration placed five detainees in solitary confinement and imposed high fines on five other detainees after claiming that they violated the instructions of the prison administration.

Medical reports contradict Israeli claims on abuse of journalist
Sanjay Suri and Mel Frykberg, Daily Star 7/19/2008
Inter Press Service - LONDON: Medical reports seen by IPS appear to confirm the testimony of IPS Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer of physical abuse at the hands of Israelis last month. Omer said he was physically and mentally abused at the Allenby crossing into Gaza while on his way back from a European tour. In London, he was awarded the Martha Gellhorn prize for investigative reporting. Omer left for Europe through an agreement secured by Dutch diplomats to escort him in and out of Gaza. The abuse was reported June 26 as Omer was searched at the crossing in Israeli custody while a Dutch diplomat waited outside. According to Omer’s testimony, he was forced to strip by an Israeli officer wearing a police uniform. He was pinned down on the floor with a boot on the neck. He says he collapsed during interrogation, and when he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened.

Nasrallah proposes German mediation to free Shalit
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethelehem- Ma’an – Hizbullah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah has proposed German mediator Gerhard Konrad broker a deal between Hamas and Israel to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israeli TV Channel 2 revealed on Friday. The Israeli political analyst Amnon Abramovitz said that "a senior Hizbullah official has conveyed this proposal to the German mediator, who in turn has conveyed the idea to Israel. " Meanwhile, a well informed source revealed to Ma’an that Hamas is looking for a strong broker to tackle the issue of Shalit. The source said that Hamas is frustrated because Egypt is dragging their feet over the issue of Shalit, the control crossings and the truce with Israel. There are internal consultations to search for a strong broker to help in solving the case of Shalit. "Hamas will not take the file away from Egypt but would not mind having new mediators,". . .

Hamas says learned from Hizbullah deal
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Hamas source says Islamist group expects Israel to harden stance in negotiations for release of Gilad Shalit following pardon of Kuntar in swap with Hizbullah: ’The deal proves that patience and fortitude will lead to us seeing celebrations here (in Gaza) similar to those in Lebanon’ - With Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser laid to rest, all eyes are now focused on the ongoing efforts to secure the release of Gilad Shalit - who was taken captive before them and is still being held in the Gaza Strip. This coming Tuesday he was meant to be discharged after having completed his three years of mandatory service. Shalit’s friends, who will be discharged without him, have announced they intend to stage a protest march beginning at the army’s recruitment center in Gilad’s name. For now Hamas is refusing to discuss Israel’s demand it make changes to the lists detailing which prisoners it wants released in return for Shalit.

Palestinian students light up the streets after passing the Tawjihi
Palestine News Network 7/18/2008
PNN - Tawjihi results are in and the streets have turned into carnivals. Kids are driving up and down the same roads, honking, hanging their heads out of the windows and shouting for joy. They are teenaged girls and boys who have just succeeded in something that they have spent the entire year studying for. Out of the total of 75,838 students who took the exam, 41,651 passed in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. The end of high school exam means that it is possible to go on to universities. Without passing the Tawjihi, there is no chance. The last year of high school is dedicated solely to studying for the test. So many people were checking for the results that the PNN server stopped working and local Jawaal telephones did not function either due to the high volume of people calling with congratulations.

Six arrested in Israel for allegedly plotting attack on Bush
Amos Harel and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/19/2008
Israel Police and the Shin Bet Security Service have arrested six Arabs - two of them Israeli citizens and the other four Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem - with alleged links to the Al-Qaida terror network. A gag order lifted on Friday revealed that the suspects allegedly planned to attack U. S. President George W. Bush’s helicopter during one of his recent visits to the region. An indictment has been issued against the suspects at the Jerusalem District Court. The men range in age from 21 to 24. According to the charges, the suspects had been in contact with Al-Qaida over the Internet with the purpose of establishing a terror cell in Israel. The indictment states that one of the suspects - a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - provided Al-Qiada with photographs from his cellular phone of the U.

6 Israeli Arabs charged with operating al-Qaeda cell
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Hebrew University students indicted of trying to build terror infrastructure in Jerusalem. One of suspects allegedly collected information in attempt to shoot down helicopter carrying senior official during US President Bush’s visit to Israel - Cleared for publication: The Shin Bet and the police have arrested six Israeli Arabs, four of them residents of east Jerusalem, on suspicion of planning to operate an al-Qaeda cell inIsrael. Among the suspects are students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The six suspects were identified as: Ibrahim Nashef, 22, of Tayibe, a physics and computer sciences student at the Hebrew University; Muhammas Najem, 24, of Nazareth, a chemistry student at the Hebrew University; Yusef Sumarin, 21, of the Jerusalem village of Beit Hanina; Anas Shawiki, 21, of the Jerusalem town of Jabel Mukaber; Kamal Abu Kwaider, 22,. . .

Neighbors stunned by reports on Arab Israeli al-Qaeda cell
Raanan Ben-Zur, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Tayibe resident detained on charges of al-Qaeda links not a troublemaker, neighbor says -The indictments filed on Friday at The Jerusalem District and Magistrates’ Courts against six Israeli Arabs on charges of planning to build an al-Qaeda infrastructure inIsrael came as a shock to residents of the northern Arab Israeli town of Tayibe. The news that 22-year old local resident Ibrahim Nashef was part of the terror cell caught his neighbors by surprise. "We had no idea whyhe was arrested," a Tayibe resident said, "it’s no small matter. This is about belonging to an international terror organization in our backyard. If they arrested him for belonging to Hamas we would somehow fathom and understand that this was a small local terror organization, but being part of al-Qaeda - that’s a big thing, very big.

Weekly peaceful Protests of the wall continue in Al Khader
Doris Norrito, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
Close to a hundred Palestinians from the village of Al Khader located near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem were joined by International peace activists for the weekly prayer and march in protest of the illegal wall Israel is building on village land. Participants were led in prayer and reminded of the history of the region and the importance of the land for the Palestinian people. "For generation after generation we have been connected to this land," the leader said, "and we’ll stay here and march together. Samer Jaber, spokesman for the activists said the protesters meet each week at a distance of eleven kilometers from the Green Line, a dividing point established in 1949, that separates Israel from Palestine. As organizers from popular committees for land defense began to march, Israeli soldiers left their truck which had been stationed a few meters from the assembled group.

Ni’lin: Despite mounting brutality by the Occupation forces, 1,000 villagers protest the Apartheid Wall
Stop The Wall 7/18/2008
Latest News, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign,Today, 1,000 villagers from Ni’lin, the surrounding villages and international supporters marched in a powerful demonstration to the area were bulldozers are destroying the people’s lands. This comes a day after the Occupation forces had injured 7 people in clashes in Ni’lin. The crowd of protestors gathered in the center of the village and marched to the lands allotted for the construction of the Wall. Eli Barashi, an Israeli firm, is working in cooperation with the Occupation army on the Wall. The villagers gathered for the Friday prayer on the threatened land. Occupation forces kept their distance, as work was had halted for the day. This mass demonstration was another powerful show by the villagers that the brutality of the Occupation will not stop their determination to fight for their land and rights.

Two arrested in latest Ni’lin demonstration
Stop The Wall 7/16/2008
Latest News,Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Demonstrations continued yesterday in Ni’lin against the construction of the Apartheid Wall. Organizers have decided to target the bulldozers, in an effort both to hurt the construction company financially and to force the workers off the land. At least 300 people attended yesterday’s demonstration, which began at the 3:00 in the afternoon. The march was intended to reach the work site when a majority of soldiers had left the area. However, when remaining Occupation soldiers spotted the demonstrators, they opened fire, forcing them back. Three people were injured from rubber bullets, including Popular Committee member Muhammad Amira who was shot in the hand. In addition, a number of people suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation Two persons, Sahal Khawaje and Hassan Moussa, were both arrested and are being held in an unknown location.

IOF troops cause loss of hearing to a Palestinian teenager
Palestinian Information Center 7/18/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Eighteen-year-old Abdullah Khalaf has lost, on Friday, his hearing when he was hit by a stun grenade fired by the IOF troops who raided the village of Eizaryyah to the east of occupied Jerusalem. The stun grenade hit the teenager in the face causing, in addition to permanent loss of hearing, burns to his face and hair. Munketh Abu Roumi, director of the press office of  Asrana society in Jerusalem district, said that as Abdullah came out of his house to go to an outside toilet he was surprised by the bomb fired at him by the IOF troops. Abdallah was previously arrested by the IOF and sentenced to serve a prison term by the Ofer military court near Ramallah. Meanwhile, IOF troops arrested on Thursday evening and Friday morning arrested 13 young Palestinians from the villages Madma and Asira al-Qibeya near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Youth wounded near Jerusalem
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
The Asrana (Our Detainees) Center reported on Thursday evening that an 18-year old youth was wounded in his head in addition to sustaining burns in the head and face after Israeli soldiers hurled a sound bomb at him. The youth, Abdullah Jamal Mubarak, also lost his hearing sense , apparently permanently, as the concussion grenade exploded near his ear also causing burns to his face and hair. Monqith Abu Roomy, head of the Media Office at Asrana Center in Jerusalem district, stated that Mubarak was heading towards an exterior toilet near his home when the soldiers hurled the concussion at him. The wounded youth is a former political detainee as he was earlier kidnapped and sentenced for membership with the Fateh movement.

The Israeli army invades Kobar village and Qalandia refugee camp
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Friday at dawn Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem city. Soldiers surrounded one of the houses and ransacked it. Official sources reported that 13 Israeli military vehicles invaded the refugee camp and ransacked the home of Mohammad Emter. Soldiers left the area later on, no kidnappings were reported. Moreover, official sources reported that 4 Israeli jeeps invaded on Friday at dawn Kobar, village north of central West Bank city of Ramallah, and drove through its neighborhoods. [end]

Detained PLC head facing a deteriorating health condition
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
The presidency of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) expressed deep concern over the deteriorating health condition of the Legislative Council head, Dr. Aziz Dweik, who is imprisoned by Israel along with dozens of legislators and officials. In a press release, the PLC stated that Dr. Dweik underwent surgery at the Al Ramla Prison Hospital on Thursday, and is still in a bad health condition. His health started deteriorating three months ago. He was kept at the prison hospital which lacks the basic tools and equipment for more than two months as the Israeli Authorities are refusing to allow him to be hospitalized at a specialized hospital. The PLC stated that these acts violate the international law and the Fourth Geneva Conventions. Also, the PLC called on Amro Mousa, secretary-general of the Arab League, and UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, to intervene for the release. . .

Al Ma’sra protest calls for the release of all Palestinian prisoners
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/18/2008
Today the weekly protests of al Ma’sra, south of Bethlehem were dedicated to the fate of the 11 000 Palestinian prisoners still lingering in Israeli jails. Dozens of villagers gathered in the center of the village and marched to the lands currently being destroyed by the bulldozers for the Apartheid Wall. The demonstration was dedicated to the prisoners that still remain in the Occupation’s jails. This happened a day after the prisoners exchange that brought 5 prisoners and the remains of almost 200 Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab freedom fighters from Israeli hands to their families. The villagers chanted slogans and called for the release of the remaining 11 000 Palestinian prisoners. As soon as the villagers reached their land where the bulldozers were working, the occupation forces launched tear gas and sound grenades at the march to disperse the people.

Conditions in Ramon prison may result in major unrest
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Ibtisam Anati, a lawyer from the Al-Hurriyat center for human rights, said on Friday that the harshness of the conditions at Ramon prison in the south of Israel was threatening to result in major unrest. Prisoners have declared that they will go on strike if the situation does not change. The discontent in the facility comes as a reaction to the apparent, repeated assault of the inmates by prison guards, as well as the general conditions in the prison. Anatialso claims that some prisoners have been prevented from taking the university entrance exams, the Tawjihi, while others have been denied the books necessary to study. This has added to the mood of unrest in the jail. Ramon prison is part of the Nafha facility in the Negev desert that has been widely criticized for its human rights abuses.

PLC Deputy Speaker concerned for health of imprisoned PLC speaker
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - Deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Ahmad Bahar, on Friday expressed his deep concern over the health of imprisoned PLC speaker Dr Aziz Dweik. Dr Dweik has been held in Israeli custody since August 6 2006. His family said that Dr Aziz underwent an operation on Friday in the hospital at Ramle prison in Israel to remove gallstones and that his health had deteriorated since his detention. In a statement, Bahar criticised the decision of the Israeli administration of the prisons to transfer Dr Dweik to a prison hospital for treatment instead of allowing him to be treated in a civilian hospital. He called for the urgent intervention of the Secretary General of the Arab LeagueAmr Musa and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to secure Dweik’s release.

Sudanese man dies of dehydration while attempting to infiltrate into Israel
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
Israeli sources reported on Friday that a Sudanese man died of dehydration while attempting to infiltrate into Israel via the Negev desert seeking work. The sources added that three Sudanese men were moved to an Israeli military base suffering from dehydration after managing to infiltrate through the borders. Medics gave them first aid but one of them died later on. The two other Sudanese nationals ate currently in Soroka Israeli hospital in Be’er Sheva. There conditions were described as mild. It is worth mentioning that the Israeli Knesset is currently preparing a draft law which states that infiltrators would be tried and sentenced to a maximum of five years imprisonment. [end]

’Our resistance is education’: Students serve as crucial link between Golan Heights, Syria
Meris Moore Lutz, Daily Star 7/19/2008
DAMASCUS-On a hot afternoon in Damascus in late June, 26-year-old Bashar Fakhradeen ticks of his list of things to do, see, and eat before crossing the border back to his village in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the last time. "I need to get an oil painting of old Damascus, and some mosaic woodwork," he says, sitting in one of the old city’s renovated palaces-turned cafes. Giant plasma screens hang from the ancient stone walls, flashing an endless stream of music videos from the Arab world’s top pop divas, as tittering groups of teenagers flirt over beer and nargileh. "This is my farewell to Damascus, so I’ve just been walking around trying to take it all in," he adds, shrugging helplessly. Until recently, Fakhradeen was one of approximately 300 university students from the Golan Heights given special permission to cross into Syria to pursue their higher education.

Rice to host a round of Israeli- Palestinian talks
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
U. S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is preparing to host a 3-day round of Israeli-Palestinian talks on the thirtieth of this month. Chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, reported that the talks will include the head of the Palestinian negotiation team for the final status talks with Israel, Ahmed Qureia and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, in addition to the US Secretary of State condoleezza, Rice. Erekat also sated that there are international efforts to set up a meeting next week between the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. Spokesman for the U. S. State Department, Sean McCormick refused to confirm this report and added that Rice will continue to work hard to push the idea of seeking to establish a Palestinian state. These endeavors will include meetings with both the Palestinian and Israeli officials.

PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians killed, 13 wounded in Israeli attacks
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of July 09 - 16, 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that 3 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition, 13 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded by the Israeli gunfire in the West Bank. 7 of these civilians were wounded during a peaceful demonstration organized in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall in Ne’lin village west of Ramallah. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank this week. On July 9th, at approximately 06:00, an Israeli forces undercover unit moved into Kufor Dan village, west of Jenin, traveling in a civilian vehicle with a Palestinian registration plate. The vehicle intercepted a Palestinian civilian car that was leaving the village.

Human rights weekly report on situation in West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip
PCHR, Palestine News Network 7/18/2008
Gaza City - The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights issued its report on Israeli violations for the period of 9 through 16 July. Three Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thirteen Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank: seven of these civilians were wounded during a peaceful demonstration organized in protest to the construction of the Wall in Nal’in village west of Ramallah. IOF conducted 40 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. IOF have continued to raid civil society institutions in Nablus for the 2nd consecutive week. IOF raided the Municipality of Nablus, 2 medical centers, a television station, 2 NGOs and 5 mosques. IOF confiscated 7 school buses. IOF arrested 66 Palestinian civilians, including 7 children and 2 women, in the West Bank.

Palestinian arrested on suspicion of threatening to hurt Jews
Avi Cohen, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Known to police for his previous ’threat raids,’ claiming to be security forces’ ex-informer, Nadim Injaz says police promised him Israeli ID card but failed to deliver -Nadim Injaz, a 30-year-old Palestinian, was arrested by the Tel Aviv Police on Thursday evening on suspicion of threatening to hurt Jews. Injaz, who formerly aided the Israeli security forces, was brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Friday for a remand hearing. Injaz is suspected of contacting a few parties and telling them that he was going to hurt Jews if he didn’t receive his State identification card. Injaz first embarked on his threat raid on August 2006, when he entered the premises of the British Embassy in Tel Aviv carrying a gun and threatening to commit suicide if he wasn’t granted political asylum in the United Kingdom.

Israeli intelligence telephones Palestinian activist with death threats
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – The Israeli intelligence are repeatedly telephoning a Palestinian activist from the West Bank city of Jenin, threatening to kill him, his family said on Friday. Faris At-Tayeh, the brother of the ’wanted’ Palestinian, Yousef At-Tayeh, told Ma’an, "an Israeli intelligence officer has called my brother many times and ordered him to give himself up and that the Israeli army will get him and kill him and send his dead body to his family. " "During last week Israeli soldiers invaded the Jenin refugee camp three times, searched our home and arrested my brother Fadi," he said. "The Israeli soldiers are breaking into our house continuously subjecting the members of the family to long interrogations about the whereabouts of Yousef," he added.

One injured, dozens suffer tear gas inhalation at Bil’in weekly non-violent protest
Abdullah Abu Rahmah, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
At the close of Friday prayers, the people of Bil’in village ,near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, marched in their weekly protest against the apartheid wall and settlements, joined by international and Israeli activists. The demonstrators carried banners against the occupation, arrests, killings, closures and incursions against the Palestinians. The protesters headed towards the gate of the wall and soldiers started firing tear gas and rubber bullets, resulting in the injury of Adeeb Abo Rahmah and dozens affected by the tear gas. Today there were two delegations, one of European journalists and members from the left parties of the Greek parliament who visited the village and observed the demonstration and were also affected by the tear gas. On Thursday, the lawyer for the village, Michael Sfard, visited Bil’in and had a meeting with local residents and explained to. . .

This Week In Palestine - Week 29 2008
Ghassan Bannoura- Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 13 m 0s || 11. 9 MB || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for July 12th, through July, 18th, 2008. As political sources announce an upcoming summit between Palestinian and Israeli leadership in the US, five Palestinian patients died because Israel did not allow them to leave the coastal region of Gaza for medical care. These stories and more, coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Rula Shahwan has the details: The nonviolent actions this week were part of an ongoing campaign marking the fourth year of the International Court of Justice ruling against the Israeli wall being built in the West Bank. Close to a hundred Palestinians from the village of Al Khader, located. . .

Tawjihi exam a pillar of Palestinian society; results announced Friday
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The results for the university entrance exam, written by Palestinian students in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, were announced Friday at 10am. The entrance exam, called the Tawjihi, determines not only whether a student will be permitted to enroll in university, but will also limit their selection of majors and classes. On average, about half of the students sitting the exam pass, this year the number was 55. 4%. A passing grade is 51%, and according to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education the median grade for the exam this year was 52%. The tests are written over the period of twenty days in June, by 77,047 students, including 32,800 in the Gaza Strip and 44,247 in the West Bank. The majority of those writing have just finished their last year of high school, though those who do not pass the first time can write up to nine more exams to try and pass.

Results of the final year secondary exams are published Friday
Palestinian Information Center 7/18/2008
RAMALLAH, GAZA, (PIC)-- The results of the final year secondary exams in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were announced Friday. Jihad Zakarna, undersecretary for Education in the northern governorates of the West Bank said that 75,147 students sat the exams of whom 41,651 passed (a success rate of 55. 4%). The success rate in the scientific stream was 79. 8%, in the humanities stream was 51% and in the vocational stream 56. 9%. Despite the rift between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the unified final examinations went ahead successfully and the results for students in both parts of the country were announced together. Students of the final secondary year sat the exams under very difficult circumstances due to the hurdles and atrocities of the Israeli occupation which hamper the education process both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which is under siege for the past two years.

Palestinian youth perform local folktales in Paris theatres
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Paris – Ma’an – Palestinian children perform plays based on folklore in Paris this week with the Al-Rowwad theatre troup. Young Palestinian men and women have presented several performances of the play, which has a two week run in the French capital. The trope has performed at a number of Paris theatres. The Al-Rowwad Center for artistic, cultural, and theatre training based in the Aida refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The theatre program has aims to help the children of the camp communicate with the world; to go beyond the camp and the city and the country. The theatre workshops run by the center are structured in a way so they might contribute to the healthy psychosocial development of the children of the camp.

Poll: Israeli incursions meant to topple PA
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Voters in a Ma’an pole believe that a plan to topple the Palestinian Authority (PA) is the reason for the continued Israeli incursions into the West Bank. Over the past week, 16338 voted in the poll hosted by the Ma’an Arabic site approx. 39% of these believed that the primary reason for the invasions was the bringing down of the PA. 36% of voters believed that they were to undermine the position of Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the caretaker government. 21% of the participants believed that the incursions are a proof of the failings of the PA to enforce security measures. The remaining 3% said that they did not know the reason or that they believed they were for a reason not listed as an option.

Leftist parties call for national unity
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – The three main Palestinian leftist parties held a series of meetings on Friday in Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip, to discuss theparties’ role in any attempt to achieve national unity. The three parties, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestine people’s party, stressed the need for "hard and serious work" in order to end the internal political divisions that have plagued Palestine in recent years. They highlighted the importance of initiating a comprehensive national dialogue between all of the Palestinian factions. The three parties warned against returning to bi-partisan agreements and urged that all factions must be included in any accord, in line with the Cairo agreement of March 2005. Any delay in the achievement of national unity would only be in the interest of ’the occupying forces,’ they said.

Government expected to approve construction of new Arab city
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Interior minister wants new Arab town to be built in Galilee in bid to resolve housing crisis - Arab minority to get new city: The government is expected to approve Sunday the establishment of a new Arab city in the Galilee region, in a bid to resolve the housing crisis faced young Arab couples in northern Israel. The new city’s establishment has been promoted by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit. In a recent visit to Arab-Israeli town Umm al-Fahm, Sheetrit said: "We are aiming for a modern city where every young couple would be able to buy a house and live there just like in any other modern city in the world. " The government is expected to task an inter-ministerial team with formulating a plan for examining the issue. The government intends to accept the team’s recommendations by the end of the year.

Israel heads back to negotiating table with Hamas in Cairo next week
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli official in charge of prisoner negotiations Ofer Dekel is scheduled to go to Cairo to continue negotiations with Palestinian representatives over the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. An official Israeli source said in Jerusalem on Friday that Dekel will head to Cairo next week to meet with Egyptian intelligence director General Omar Suleiman. Dekel’s visit to Cairo, said the official, coincides with the scheduled visit of some Hamas representatives. The source added that Cairo must exert pressure on Hamas if we are to see the implementation of any exchange deal between Israel and Hamas. Many expect that Hamas will have increased their demands after the success of the Israel-Hizbullah exchange deal that took place Wednesday. According to a number of sources, the sticking point on Israel-Hamas negotiations is the identities of the detainees that Hamas would like released.

Hamdan: There are calls for German mediation in negotiations on a prisoner swap
Palestinian Information Center 7/18/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamadan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, said that his movement still wants Egypt to mediate a prisoner exchange deal, despite the fact that there are calls for this file to be withdrawn from Egypt and handed to the German mediator, adding that this option has not been discussed within the institutions of Hamas. Hamdan also said, in an interview with al-Jazeera satellite channel: "We are still committed to Egyptian mediation, but we have suspended negotiations for two reasons; the first is that the enemy has so far failed to implement the conditions of the calm in the Gaza Strip which means that we cannot trust it to implement any conditions with regard to prisoner exchange and the second is that the Rafah crossing is still closed. " Hamdan added that his movement’s priority was for lifting the siege and that they were not in a hurry for reaching any prisoner-exchange. . .

Kontar voices ’envy’ for Israel, maintains innocence
Daily Star 7/19/2008
BEIRUT: Freed fighter Samir Kontar voiced a hint of admiration for Israel during an interview with Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television on Thursday, saying that "we envy" the Jewish state’s "care for their hostages. "To tell you the truth, we envy our enemies, the way they care for a body and will go to the end of the world to recover it, and how they care for their hostages and will go all the way to return them," Kontar said. Kontar was sentenced to five life terms for a deadly raid in northern Israel in Nahariya in 1979. He was released on Wednesday along with four other Lebanese prisoners as part of a prisoner swap with Israel. In return for the five prisoners and 200 bodies of Lebanese and Palestinian fighters, Israel recovered the bodies of the two soldiers who were captured by Hizbullah in July 2006 and whose fate was remained uncertain until the day of the prisoner swap.

Tibi: Israel’s retention of bodies is indefensible
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – In an interview with a Tel Aviv radio station on Friday, Ahmad Tibi, head of the Arabic Movement for Change, a party in the Israeli Knesset, criticised the retention of the bodies of Palestinians by Israel. Israel still holds a number of Palestinian and Lebanese bodies, but has refused to release any information concerning their identity. While expressing his happiness at the release of 199 bodies as part of the prisoner swap between Hizbullah and Israel, he condemned Israel for the retention of the bodies in the first place and attacked them for still holding on to the corpses of an undisclosed number of Palestinians. Tibi said that there was no possible moral defense for holding on to the bodies, presumably to use them as a bargaining tool later on. The comments were made after the host of the radio show, Udi Segal, apparently claimed that Israelis. . .

’I did it for my country’ - an audience with a killer
The Guardian 7/19/2008
’I did it for my country’ - an audience with a killer - Samir Qantar, Israel’s most reviled prisoner who was this week pardoned and released to Lebanon in exchange for the bodies of two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, has never expressed remorse for killing a four-year-old girl by smashing her skull with the butt of his rifle. In a series of interviews over four years with an Israeli journalist, extracts of which are published in today’s Guardian, Qantar said: "I did what I did for my people, for my country. "He describes in chilling detail the events of the night of April 22 1979. As a 16-year-old militant, he led an attack on an apartment block in northern Israel with the aim of killing a police officer and taking hostage Israeli civilians. Danny Haran and his daughter were killed during the kidnap attempt; Haran’s wife hid with the couple’s. . .

Kuntar says envies ’enemy’s treatment of hostages’
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/18/2008
A day after being released from prison and returned to Lebanon, terrorist tells Hizbullah’s al Manar network, ’To tell you the truth, I envy our enemies. The way they care for a body and will go all the way to return it. ’ He once again denies killing Israeli toddler Einat Haran - Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar made a rare statement Thursday, saying that he envies Israel. "To tell you the truth, we envy our enemies. The way they care for a body and will go to the end of the world in order to get it back, and how they care for the hostage and will go all the way to return him," Kuntar said in an interview with Hizbullah’s al-Manar television network, a day after being released from jail and returned to Lebanon as part of aprisoner swap deal with Israel. Kuntar added that he did not murder Israeli toddler Einat Haran in a 1979 terror attack in Nahariya.

One killed in Lebanon clashes
Middle East Online 7/18/2008
TRIPOLI, Lebanon - One person was killed and six were wounded in fresh clashes early Friday in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli, a security official said. He said the person died and two people were wounded when a vehicle refused to stop at an army roadblock in the of Bab al-Tebbaneh. The army had stepped up its security measures and was on alert after a grenade explosion in Bab al-Tebbaneh. Soldiers opened fire after the driver refused to stop. An exchange of fire between fighters from Bab al-Tebbaneh and troops of the internal security forces resulted in four soldiers wounded, one seriously. Fighting and grenade blasts are commonplace between the neighbouring districts of Bab al-Tebbaneh -- where most residents are supporters of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora -- and Jabal Mohsen, a largely pro-opposition area of Alawites who support the Hezbollah movement.

Growing Salafist movement in North poses challenge to the project of state building
Mona Alami, Daily Star 7/19/2008
Inter Press Service - TRIPOLI: In the center of one of Tripoli’s squares in north Lebanon, a large statue has been erected inscribed with the word "Allah" in Arabesque calligraphy. The statue reflects the city’s reality, especially in light of the recent rise in Salafism, a radical form of Islam. In Abi Samra on one of Tripoli’s hills, long-bearded men, dressed in white dishdashas - a style unusual for Lebanon - walk along whitewashed buildings, attesting to the growing grip Islamists have on the city. "Salafism was founded in the 1960s in Lebanon by Sheikh Salem al-Chahal," says Sheikh Bilal Chaaban, head of the Tawhid movement (another radical Islamist faction, separate from Salafism). After the death of its founder, Salafism branched into various factions, one of which is headed by the founder’s son, Dai Islam al-Chahal.

ANALYSIS / What does Nasrallah mean by ’defense strategy’?
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 7/19/2008
In his latest speeches Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has resumed using the term "defense strategy" in reference to future military action by his organization. "We are always ready to discuss the defense strategy. We are not afraid of discussion," Nasrallah said in his speech in Beirut Wednesday, ". . . because Lebanon is not out of danger. "What did he mean? "Defense strategy" is in effect the justification for Hezbollah’s continued military activity within Lebanon and vis-a-vis Israel. In the domestic sphere, Nasrallah was indicating Hezbollah’s response to its political rivals’ demand that it disarm or merge with the Lebanese Army, which the organization is loth to do. The demand to disarm has been increasing since May, when Hezbollah militants attacked rivals from various sects throughout Lebanon.

Army says deadly clashes in Tripoli broke out at checkpoint
Daily Star 7/19/2008
TRIPOLI: Deadly clashes that erupted in Tripoli early Friday were triggered when a vehicle refused to stop at an army checkpoint, the Lebanese Army Command said in a statement. According to the statement,a passenger of a car threw a grenade at a Lebanese Army checkpoint as the vehicle was crossing Syria-Tripoli Avenue. Shortly afterward, a second car crossed the checkpoint without stopping, despite repeated orders from soldiers, who then opened fire in the direction of the car. One passenger was killed, while two others were wounded. All were transported to the Islamic Hospital in Tripoli. Shortly thereafter, a patrol in Bab al-Tebbaneh came under gunfire, and the soldiers returned fire. According to the army statement, security forces followed the perpetrators and took measures to restore order, and an investigation into the incidents has been opened.

Army chief lauds Regev, Goldwasser families
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Relatives of fallen soldiers are ’bearing their pain in an admirable way," Chief of Staff Ashkenazi says after pay respects to families - Admirable families:IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi visited the Regev and Goldwasser families Friday to offer his condolences. Following his visits, the army chief said the IDF is now looking forward to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, Ron Arad, and all other Israeli captives and MIAs. After leaving the Regev home, Ashkenazi said he arrived in order to "comfort a noble family. "He then continued to the home of Karnit Goldwasser’s family in Nahariya, where he embraced family members at length and then spoke to them privately. The families of the fallen soldiers are "bearing their pain in an admirable way," Ashkenazi said after leaving the Goldwasser home.

Livni to Regev family: It was important to close chapter
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Foreign Minister visits bereaved families, saying security establishment was divided on deal but ’price is bearable. ’Regev’s brother claims Nassrallah failed his blackmail attempt -"By doing the right thing, the price we paid for the sons’ return is bearable. As far as Israeliness is concerned, it was important to bring them home and close this chapter," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Friday while visiting the family of fallen IDF soldier. Livni met with the bereaved family members and later on left to console the Goldwasser family in Nahariya. Amir Peretz, who served as defense minister during the Second Lebanon War, also came on a private visit to console the bereaved Regev family. Neighbors, friends and acquaintances also visited the family home, as well as the relatives of fallen IDF soldier Omar Suad, who was kidnapped on Mount Dov in 2000.

Report: Obama’s planned visit to Mideast raises serious security concerns
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/19/2008
U. S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Israel and the West Bank has raised serious security concerns among American officials, the U. S. -based news website Drudge Report reported Friday. Obama was scheduled tovisit Israel and the West Bank in the coming days as part of a swing through the Middle East, Palestinian and Israeli officials said earlier this week. Obama will be in Israel on July 22 and 23 and hold talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, an Israeli official said. Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said Obama would also meet President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah next Wednesday.

America and the world: Barack Obama for beginners
The Independent 7/19/2008
The most lionised US politician since JFK visits Europe next week. Mass outbreaks of Obama-mania are expected. Are you prepared? Read Leonard Doyle’s instant briefing. - "Renegade" (Barack Obama’s Secret Service nickname) is due to arrive in Jordan on Monday -- or he might go first to London. Or will he make a lightning dash from Amman to Baghdad or Kabul? Nobody knows. Such is the hyper-sensitivity about protecting the first black candidate for the world’s top job that only the innermost members of his 300-strong inner circle of foreign policy advisers are privy to his itinerary. Nonetheless, Obama is on his way to Europe, and is expected to stop for a high-profile handshake or two in London. He’s also going to France and Germany, as well as heading for Israel and the West Bank -- where security fears are high. The Irish, too, want O’Bama to drop in on Moneygall (one traffic light, two pubs, pop 298. ) His great-great-great-grandfather, one Fulmuth Kearney, left for America in 1850.

Olmert’s lawyers claim victory after examining Talansky
Albion Land, Daily Star 7/19/2008
Agence France PresseOCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert’s lawyers said on Friday they have discredited claims by a US businessman that he gave Olmert thousands of dollars in cash to finance election campaigns and an expensive lifestyle. The court in Occupied Jerusalem had earlier rejected a request by a visibly tired and seemingly exasperated Morris Talansky, 75, to cut short his five-day cross-examination by Olmert’s legal team. In a case that could bring about Olmert’s downfall, the American testified in May he had given Olmert $150,000 during the 13 years before he became premier in 2006, much of it stuffed into envelopes. Talansky described Olmert as someone with a taste for first-class hotels and luxury items. Olmert acknowledges having received campaign funds from Talansky, but has denied any wrongdoing.

Talansky asks court to let him return to US
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Key witness in prime minister’s alleged bribery affair says he has no energy to continue cross-examination, promises to return to court in a later date. Court rejects request. Earlier, state prosecutor enraged over questions dealing with Talansky’s income tax reports -American businessman Morris Talansky asked the Jerusalem District Court on Friday to allow him to return to the United States, promising to return and continue being questioned byPrime Minister Ehud Olmert’s lawyers on a later date. Talansky, the key witness in a bribery investigation launched against Olmert, told the court, "When I came here I thought the cross-examination would take three days. I don’t have the energy to stay after Sunday. Thursday’s Court SessionKey witnesses in Olmert corruption probe cross-examined/ Reuters PM’s legal team attempts to discredit allegations. . .

Key witness Talansky’s credibility questioned
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Witness under fire: Video of Talansky testimony released by Prime Minister Olmert’s attorneys raises questions regarding key witness’ credibility; however, state prosecutor says brief video only provides partial picture - VIDEO- Witness under fire: A video showing parts of Moshe Talansky’s testimony against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were released for publication Friday, raising question regarding the credibility of the key witness in the corruption probe against the PM. In the video, Talansky appears to be contradicting himself while answering several questions. However, the video, released by Olmert’s attorneys, prompted State Prosecutor Moshe Lador to say that it shows "a partial picture only. "The bigger picture is much more complex, Lador said. Meanwhile, police sources slammed the video, also saying it does not reflect the overall picture.

Taybeh Oktoberfest Boosts Economy
Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D, Palestine News Network 7/18/2008
The only all Christian village left in Palestine continues to seek creative ways to survive. After battling with complete closure since 2000, a collapsed economy and over 50 percent unemployment, the Taybeh Brewing Company suggested a strange celebration never known to Palestine. Taybeh is the only Palestinian beer and shares the name of the town near Ramallah. Leaders in making history since the brewery was founded in 1995 as the only micro brewed beer in the Middle East, Taybeh Beer became the first Palestinian product to be franchised and produced in Germany under the Taybeh license. Nadim Khoury initiated a dream come true by talking all the local civic organizations into having the Taybeh Oktoberfest in 1995 when his brother became the first democratically elected mayor of the town.

Teva negotiating $7.5 billion buyout of U.S. generic firm
Yoram Gabison, TheMarker Correspondent, Ha’aretz 7/18/2008
Teva Pharmaceuticals is negotiating the purchase of U. S. generic drugmaker Barr Pharmaceuticals for $7. 5 billion. If completed it would be the biggest deal ever by an Israeli company. The price is 44% above Barr’s market value. Teva refused to comment on the matter. Teva CEO Shlomo Yannai declared six months ago that Teva would increase its U. S. market share from 20% to 30% by 2012. The greatest advantage for Teva of the deal, which was first revealed on Wednesday on the Web site of TheMarker, would be in increasing its lead over Sandoz. Teva is the world’s largest generic drug manufacturer. Sandoz, the generic subsidiary of Novartis, is number two. Barr’s product line of branded drugs would give Teva a much greater presence in Eastern and Central Europe.

Goodbye, Hello: McCartney to rock Israel 43 years after ban
Mark Hughes, The Independent 7/18/2008
Sir Paul McCartney has been asked to play a concert in Israel, 43 years after the Beatles were banned from performing in the country. The star was approached about staging a Tel Aviv gig this September, a source close to the deal confirmed last night. The revelation was greeted with excitement in the Israeli press. Sir Paul’s spokesman said that "nothing is confirmed", but negotiations were continuing. McCartney, 66, and his fellow Beatles were banned from performing in Israel in 1965 when the country’s then education minister, David Zarzevski, thought that a show by the band would threaten the morals of the nation’s youth. But this year, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, apologised during a trip to the Fab Four’s home city of Liverpool for the "misunderstanding". He sent letters to McCartney, his fellow surviving Beatle Ringo Starr and the families of John Lennon. . .

A reality check on Iran
David Isenberg, Asia Times 7/19/2008
WASHINGTON - The world has over the past months witnessed one of the periodic upsurges of speculation in the ongoing drama over whether the United States will attack Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program. Tehran test-fired some of its long-range ballistic missiles last week to signal that it is taking the threat of an attack by Israel or the US seriously. Subsequently, John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, saying, "We should be intensively considering what cooperation the US will extend to Israel before, during and after a strike on Iran. We will be blamed for the strike anyway, and certainly feel whatever negative consequences result, so there is compelling logic to make it as successful as possible. " Yet, ironically, the George W Bush administration, is, at least for the moment, ignoring the calls of the neo-conservatives,

Flexibility points to Iran breakthrough
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 7/19/2008
"Negotiations can advance as long as the threat environment does not dominate it. " Iran’s Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei The United States’ decision to set aside its previous preconditions for directnegotiation with Iran by taking part in multilateral diplomacy involving Tehranin Geneva at the weekend is a long overdue and welcome step forward. It couldculminate in a significant breakthrough in the stalled relations between thecountries should both sides take advantage of the moment and build on themomentum generated toward civility in their hitherto confrontational approach. The Geneva meeting between Iran’s nuclear negotiator, SaeedJalili, and the "Iran Six" delegation led by the European Union’s foreignpolicy chief, Javier Solana, has now acquired a new level of importance as aresult of Washington’s sudden policy shift, reportedly steered

Saudi inter-faith conference urges global anti-terror pact
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/19/2008
MADRID: Representatives of the world’s great monotheistic religions on Friday called for an international agreement to combat terrorism, at the end of a landmark Saudi-organized conference in Madrid. The Islamic, Christian and Jewish leaders also appealed for a UN special session to promote dialogue and prevent "a clash of civilizations. ""Terrorism is a universal phenomenon that requires unified international efforts to combat it in a serious, responsible and just way," the three-day World Conference on Dialogue said in a final statement. "This demands an international agreement on defining terrorism, addressing its root causes and achieving justice and stability in the world. "The conference also called for more "ways of enhancing understanding and cooperation among people despite differences in their origins, colors and languages," and a "rejection of extremism and terrorism.

Iraqis ’face deteriorating conditions’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/19/2008
GENEVA: Millions of internally displaced Iraqis still lack access to basic needs such as shelter, food, water and healthcare, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday. The world body charged with overseeing migration said the rate of displacement had slowed to a trickle and more and more people were now returning to the war-torn country. At the same time, however, "Iraq’s approximately 2. 8 million internally displaced continue to face deteriorating living conditions with poor access to shelter, food, healthcare, water, and other basic services," it said. In its review on internally displaced Iraqis and returnees during the first half of the year, the IOM found that about half of the population continue to get their water from unsafe sources - 53 percent from nearby rivers and streams and 52 percent from open or broken pipes.

Bush, Maliki agree on ’time horizon’ for troop withdrawals from Iraq
Laurent Lozano, Daily Star 7/19/2008
Agence France Presse TUCSON: US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have agreed to set a "time horizon" for US troop withdrawals as part of a long-term security pact, the White House said Friday. But any reduction in the US force presence "would be based on continued improving conditions on the ground and not an arbitrary date for withdrawal," spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement. The two leaders, speaking by videoconference on Thursday, also settled on a "common way forward" in stumbling talks to craft a long-term pact governing diplomatic ties and the US military presence, said Perino. The US says the agreement is necessary to lay out the ground rules for US forces that will still operate in the war-torn country after the UN mandate for their presence expires at year’s end.

Americans Say No to War with Iran
Sarah van Gelder, Middle East Online 7/18/2008
Will Washington Listen? Two weeks ago, I was alarmed to learn that congressional Democrats were sponsoring Resolution 362, which encourages what amounts to an act of war against Iran. Today, there are more than 230 co-sponsors of the House resolution, but there is also growing mobilization to stop passage of Res. 362. What is especially stirring opposition is the provision that calls for: "Prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program. " Implementing this would require a blockade, according to a letter from three retired Pentagon officials, and, unless sanctioned by a Security Council resolution, would constitute an act of war.

Israeli forces wage arrest campaign in Nablus: take 15
Palestine News Network 7/18/2008
Nablus / PNN -- Israeli forces continue to wage a campaign against the northern West Bank city of Nablus. First they hit the charities, then the people who ran them and public officials, all the while still attacking the refugee camps and surrounding towns, making arrests. On Friday morning Israeli forces arrested 15 Palestinians from several areas of Nablus, but concentrated on the south. Eyewitness reports in Asira indicated that a high number of military vehicles raided the town beginning at 2:00 am and started breaking into houses. Among those arrested are: Sheriff Nassar, Rami and Mohammed Nassar Ali Faraj, Tha’er Samir Nassar and Samir Nassar, Hani Sedki Dib, Hashem Nassar, Mohammad Faraj and Bashir Hamid. Among those specifically taken from Asira are: Emad Aziz, Hamam Hamdan, Walid Hosni, and Ahmed Khalil Makhlouf.

The Israeli army kidnaps 15 civilians in the West Bank city of Nablus
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/18/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Friday at dawn the West Bank city of Nablus in several villages kidnapping 15 Palestinians Local sources reported that a number of Israeli military vehicles invaded the city and centered in Madma and Asira Al Kabaliya village south of the city. Locals reported that the Israeli troops launched a kidnapping campaign and kidnapped 15 civilians [end]

Rice prepares to host Israeli-Palestinian political talks
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
[Ma’anImages]Bethlehem – Ma’an - American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is preparing to host Israeli-Palestinian talks starting 30 July and lasting three days. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed that Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei’ and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will be involved in talks alongside Rice. This meeting would be a follow up to Rice’s 16 June discussion with Erekat, in which American sources say they spoke about "Roadmap obligations. " According to Erekat, efforts are being made to hold a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert next week. Spokesman for the U. S. State Department Sean McCormack, however, refused to confirm this news. What he would say was that Secretary Rice will continue her efforts to have meetings with Israeli and Palestinian sides, and that discussions. . .

Israel’s UN envoy bids farewell to Washington
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Dozens of ambassadors, businesspeople and members of US elite say goodbye to Dan Gillerman, who is ending his term in office after six years. Among guest: Palestinian observer, who receives special thanks from Israeli ambassador - WASHINGTON -Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, who is ending his term in office after six years, held a farewell event at his home in Manhattan on Thursday. The event was attended by ambassadors from dozens of countries, including some who quarrel with Israel on a regular basis at the Security Council, as well as UN General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim. Israel’s RepresentativeGillerman: UN giving Palestinians fictitious sense of reality / Ynet ’Arab refusal to recognize the existence of our Jewish state has been at the core of the Palestinians’ inability to achieve a state of their own,’. . .

Abu Dhabi prince meets with Blair on economic support for Palestine
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Abu Dhabi’s prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed with international quartet committee envoy Tony Blair on Thursday ways to support the Palestinian economy. The Emirates news agency said Thursday that Al Nahyan and Blair discussed the developments in the Middle East and the peace process in the Palestinian territories in light of the difficult economic conditions experienced by the Palestinian people. During the meeting both emphasized the importance of international efforts to support the Palestinian economy and improve local living conditions. Both stressed the need for economic initiatives in order to implement a total peace in the Middle East.

Blair meets Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Middle East Quartet envoy, Tony Blair held a meeting with the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre in preparation for the conference of donor countries who support the Palestinian Authority (PA), scheduled to be held in New York on September 22. After the meeting Støre said that the conference will include the currentcrisis in the Palestinian economy. [end]

Iran hopes for ’constructive’ US presence at nuclear talks
Farhad Pouladi, Daily Star 7/19/2008
Agence France Presse TEHRAN: Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili expressed optimism Friday that weekend talks attended for the first time by the United States over their nuclear standoff would be constructive, provided Washington came with the right approach. "What is important for us is with what approach they come to the talks. If it is with a constructive approach, and they refrain from repeating past mistakes, then for sure we will have constructive talks," he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency before leaving Tehran for Geneva. Jalili on Saturday is to meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss a package of incentives offered by world powers to Tehran. And in a major policy shift by Washington, US Under-secretary of State William Burns will be at the talks. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Washington that "the United. . .

Condi’s coup: how the neo-cons lost the argument over Iran
Leonard Doyle in Washington, The Independent 7/18/2008
Condoleezza Rice was George Bush’s handmaiden for the war in Iraq but she is now emerging as the best hope for avoiding a military conflict between the United States and Iran. The Secretary of State, who is one of the few people with the President’s ear, has shown the door to Vice-President Dick Cheney’s cabal of war-hungry advisers. Ms Rice was able to declare yesterday that the administration’s decision to break with past policy proves that there is international unity in opposing Iran’s nuclear programme. "The point that we’re making is the United States is firmly behind this diplomacy, firmly behind and unified with our allies and hopefully the Iranians will take that message," Ms Rice said. Mr Bush’s decision to send the number three in the State Department, William Burns, to attend talks with Iran in Geneva at the weekend caused howls of outrage that were heard all the way from. . .

Iran: US presence at nuclear talks ’positive’
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/18/2008
Foreign Minister Mottaki says expects progress in forthcoming nuclear talks in Geneva, with participation of American diplomat for first time - Iran’s foreign minister said Friday that forthcoming nuclear talks in Geneva and the participation of a US diplomat for the first time look positive and he expects progress. US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns was expected to attend the talks in Geneva on Saturday "” the first time the US has had such a presence "” and join colleagues from other world powers to meet with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. "The new negotiation process (and) the participation of a US diplomat look positive from the outset, but we hope that is reflected in the talks," Manouchehr Mottaki told a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

Hayya: Hamas wishes Egyptian mediator could pressure occupation on swap deal
Palestinian Information Center 7/18/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The prominent political leader in Hamas Movement Dr. Khalil Al-Hayya expressed hopes on Thursday that the Palestinian resistance could achieve honorable prisoner swap deal with the Israeli occupation government. In an interview with the Palestine now website, Hayya explained, "in swap deals, the mediator plays a significant role in achieving the deal although the deal depends basically on the desire of the concerned parties to achieve it". He also expressed hopes that the Egyptian mediator would form a "pressure force" on the occupation [to achieve the deal], and to be merely a mediator between the Palestinian resistance that hold IOF corporal Gilad Shalit and the Zionist enemy". Deriving a number of lessons from the Hizbullah-Israeli recent swap deal, Hayya confirmed that the Palestinian resistance learnt a number of lessons from the recent swap deal of Hizbullah,. . .

Egyptian army discovers weapons cache in Sinai
Ma’an News Agency 7/18/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egyptian security forces discovered a cache of weapons and ammunition on Friday in the town of Sheikh Zwayid in the north of the Sinai peninsula, near the border with the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian security official said that the cache consisted of large amounts of ammunition and twenty anti-tank mines and automatic rifles. Meanwhile, Egyptian police discovered two tunnels on the Egyptian- Palestinian border on Thursday night and confiscated large amounts of food stuffs and spare car parts. [end]

VIDEO: What Talansky said about Olmert in his testimony
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 7/19/2008
American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky, the prosecution’s key witness in the graft investigation against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, asked the Jerusalem District Court on Friday to shorten his cross-examination by two days, saying he did not have the energy to withstand the questioning. The judges rejected the 77-year-old witness’ request. "To our sorrow and despite our desire to take into consideration the witness’ request, we are unable to agree to it given the circumstances," the court ruled. Olmert’s attorneys, who grilled Talansky on Friday for the second day, were given a total of five days to conclude their questioning of the witness, who said he had transferred envelopes of cash to their client. The cross-examination was scheduled to last through Tuesday.

Could machinations foil Kadima vote on primary?
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 7/18/2008
Members of Kadima’s party council on Thursday accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his associates of trying to sabotage the vote that would lead to a party primary in September and presumably to the ousting of Olmert. Kadima is having difficulty mustering a majority in the council for the primary in September, a step it agreed to with the Labor Party. The vote, which began a week ago, closes Sunday night. But, as of Thursday, only some 70 of the council’s 180 members had cast their ballots at the party’s headquarters in Petah Tikva. A majority of at least 91 votes is required to change the party’s regulations and thus hold the election. Party members said Olmert’s political adviser, Shlomo Yitzhak, is spearheading a move to foil the primary and urging council members to vote against it, or at least to abstain.


Articles


Photostory: A culture of survival amidst a ravaged geography
Umayyah Cable, Electronic Intifada 7/18/2008
      For most Americans, Palestine does not exist. Yet it is present enough to be seen as a faceless enemy. A dangerous and unwelcoming land, a breeding ground for fundamentalist Islam, teeming with angry anti-American Jihadists, Palestine is, in the American imagination, a ravaged landscape devoid of culture and joy. Growing up half-Palestinian in the United States, I have been fighting to disprove these assumptions my entire life. Whether trying to reassure my peers in childhood that my family is not composed of terrorists, or repeatedly having to explain the difference between Palestine and Pakistan, not a week has gone by in my life in which I have not had to clarify misconceptions about my heritage.
     In many ways this project is a labor of love with regards to my personal struggle with my identity, as well as an homage to my family and community. These photographs stray from the traditional tract of imagery produced in present day photojournalism, mainly because they are lacking in overt political expression. I did not photograph the intifada or children throwing stones. On the contrary, I chose a more domestic and intimate approach towards Palestinians living under occupation so that the humanity of this population can be seen without the controversial politics obstructing the viewer’s opinion. I chose people over politics in the hope that the messages of social justice and equality will ring truer than those of ideology or bigotry.

Caught between sobbing and war chants

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 7/18/2008
      Monitoring the current Israeli collective pornographic lament in the Hebrew press, I found, to my amazement, a critical editorial written by Dr Mordechai Keidar, an Israeli rightwing academic.
     "Our enemies," says Keidar, "see in front of them a frenetic, emotional, weeping, corrupted, hedonistic, possessive and liberal nation. People who grab and eat, people who lack historical roots, people who are short of ideology, naked of values, lack a sense of solidarity. People who are only concerned with the "˜here and now’, people who are happy to pay any price without taking into account the grave consequences of their reckless behaviour."
     It is slightly encouraging to find out that someone in Israel may realize how severely the Israeli reality is viewed. Keidar grasps how pitiable the current collective mourning festival appears to outsiders and Israel’s neighbours in particular. As much as one can empathise with the pain of the soldiers’ families, Regev and Goldwasser were IDF soldiers in uniform serving a very hostile army. When abducted they were in a military patrol on the disputed Lebanese border. For those who still didn’t get the picture, they were soldiers rather than merely "˜innocent civilians’. They were theoretically capable of defending themselves. The case of Gilad Shalit is not very different. Shalit, who is presented in the world media as an "˜innocent victim’ was nothing less then a post guard in an Israeli concentration camp, namely Gaza.... -- See also: Dr Mordechai Keidar

Hour: It takes a village

Stefan Christoff, Hour, International Solidarity Movement 7/18/2008
      Palestinians take Israeli settlements to Quebec court
     7/17/2008 - Palestinians in Bil’in hold their ground
     Bil’in, a small Palestinian town in the West Bank, stands to make legal history in Canada. Palestinians from Bil’in have filed a lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court against two sister companies registered in Quebec, Green Park International and Green Mount International, currently constructing in Modi’in Illit, an exclusive Israeli settlement on lands within Bil’in’s municipal jurisdiction.
     "Bil’in village and human rights attorneys both share the same goal in this legal battle - to put pressure on companies or even investors internationally to halt their involvement in illegal Israeli settlement construction," explains Michael Sfard, an Israeli lawyer representing Bil’in. “Israeli settlement construction is the number one obstacle to lasting peace, as settlements are forcing Palestinian people from their lands, from their homes, from their towns.”.

VP European Parliament: Tony Blair is not performing his duty

Luisa Morgantini, Palestine News Network 7/18/2008
      It is a very negative signal that the International Quartet Envoy Tony Blair’s planned trip to the Gaza was cancelled early this week on Tuesday following what was described as "specific security threats that made the visit impossible."
     Last June as a delegation of the European Parliament we visited the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
     Our visit in Gaza was perfectly coordinated by UNRWA, and we did not feel any sort of insecurity, but only despair and responsibility looking at the living conditions of the Palestinian population under an illegal siege (don’t worry we also went to see the danger and the damages of the rockets fired on Sderot).
     I really hope that the Israeli authorities’ pressures or other forces are not behind this decision by Tony Blair not to go to the Gaza Strip; using the threat of security in order to prevent him from witnessing the disaster of the blockade.

Reflections on the Israel-Hezbollah Prisoner Swap Deal

Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/17/2008
      The latest prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hezbollah is a healthy indicator thatat least some Arabs are beginning to understand the depraved Zionist mentality, and act accordingly. Such mentality is based on arrogance, insolence, and religious and ethnic superiority.
     Israel, a country whose collective mindset views non-Jews as virtual animals or at least lesser human beings, had to face a new enemy, an enemy that will not be scared by overwhelming brutality, but one that will meet Israel’s state terror with toughness, resilience,valor and defiance.
     This is a new reality that Israelis, especially Israeli leaders, have yetto come to terms with, especially psychologically.
     This explains the deep frustration that is apparent in the tone of Israeli leaders reacting to the latest swap deal, especially the fact that Israel has been forced to releasethe Lebanese guerilla Samir Kuntar.

Fundamentalism with nuances

Reviewed by Sreeram Chaulia, Asia Times 7/19/2008
      BOOK REVIEW - Hamas in Politics by Joeroen Gunning - Since the 2006 election victory of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the big debate has been whether a hawkish militant movement could evolve into an accommodative political actor. The answer could determine whether Israel and the United States will ever allow a full-fledged Palestinian state to emerge. As long as Tel Aviv and Washington fear Hamas taking over an independent Palestinian state and turning it into a jihadi paradise, a final settlement will be delayed.
     In a new book based on extensive field research, British political scientist Jeroen Gunning argues that although Hamas is self-consciously motivated by Islamism, its practices are "confined by necessity and opportunity" (p 55). His thesis is that Hamas is a changing product of a dynamic environment and should not be judged as an unmoving monolith.
     Hamas was launched in 1987 as the quietist Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood’s paramilitary wing. It was a move by the Brotherhood to remain politically relevant when radicalization was becoming the norm under the first Intifada. Hamas outgrew its creators and soon became the central Islamist player by virtue of sound grassroots organization and deft relationships with donors in the Gulf Arab states. Its heterogeneous and decentralized structure, with an internal leadership separated from an external leadership, helped expand following from wide sections of Palestinian society.

Media manipulations: The child was called a murderer while the soldier was called a ''˜boy’

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 7/16/2008
      One of today’s main articles on the Guardian reads "˜Israel exchanges Lebanese murderer for bodies of two captured soldiers’.
     When anyone in the English reading world sees this title and what follows in the article, he or she would immediately think that one of the persons mentioned is a vicious murderer while the others are innocent persons. This is a good example of media manipulation and steering of the public views, aiming to charge the public to hate one side and to sympathize with the other.
     The story is about the swap of the oldest Lebanese prisoner in Israel, Samir Kuntar, in return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who died inside the Lebanese territories while on a military mission.
     What were the two soldiers doing on another sovereign country’s land, and why did they sneak there? Of course describing them as soldiers, one would think they were working inside the borders of their own country when they died, defending their soil....