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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.

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21 July 2008

Soldier implicated in Naalin shooting incident released
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/22/2008
After single day of custody, soldier who fired at bound Palestinian demonstrator released, returned to brigade. Soldier’s comrade: He feels betrayed; they want to place responsibility on him to cover up mistakes of others - The Military Advocate General’s Office on Monday decided to release from custody the soldier who was documented firing rubber bullets at a bound Palestinian man. Ynet has learned that a confrontation between the soldier, Staff Sgt. L. , and his commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Omri, during questioning by the Investigating Military Police (IMP) revealed no new findings. Two Versions Soldier arrested for Naalin incident says he was ordered to shoot / (Video) - Military Defense Counsel enraged by soldier’s arrest while commanding officer not held accountable. Soldier claims he was not rebuked by his commanders following incident.

Israeli forces abduct Hamas lawmaker, 20 activists in Occupied West Bank
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/22/2008
Israeli forces arrested around 20 Hamas activists, including a female Palestinian MP, in the Occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Monday, a Palestinian security source said. MP Muna Mansur and the others were seized when troopscarried out a dawn raid on the town in the north of the Occupied West Bank. An Israeli military spokeswoman said that 18 Palestinians were detained in Nablus "as part of our routine counter-terrorist operations" but had no further details. The detentions in Nablus looked likely to stoke tensions between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to advance his own law-and-order drive in the city and elsewhere in the Occupied West Bank since breaking with Hamas last year. Separately on Monday, Israeli President Shimon Peres announced that he is to host Abbas on Tuesday to discuss Middle East peace efforts and regional issues.

Diplomatic sources: Israel may be willing to trade Barghouthi for Shalit
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
According to a report leaked by diplomatic sources close to Egyptian mediators, the Israeli government may be willing to release jailed Palestinian resistance leader and former Presidential candidate Marwan Barghouthi in exchange for the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Palestinian resistance groups. The release of the jailed Palestinian leader would herald a dramatic change in Israeli policy. Israeli officials have long stated that the release of the popular legislator, and founder of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fateh party, was off the table for negotiation. The report was leaked to Al-Bayan’, an Arabic-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, and included a statement that the negotiations for the prisoner releases could still be impeded by outside forces, including the US and Britain.

The Israeli army ransacks a medical center in Hebron and attacks doctors and patients.
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Monday midday a medical center in Yatta village in the West Bank city of Hebron. Local sources reported that a number of Israeli troops invaded the medical center and broke some of the medical equipment and furniture, moreover they attacked the medical staff and some patients by beating them and humiliating them. In addition to that eye witnesses reported that the Israeli troops ransacked the nearby houses and kidnapped two civilians whose ID’s are still unknown. [end]

Father of eight children dies due to Israeli siege on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian citizen Kamel Abu Rezeq, 44 and a father of eight children, died on Sunday after the Israeli occupation government denied him permit to leave abroad for proper medical treatment, Palestinian sources announced Sunday. The popular committee against the siege confirmed that Abu Rezeq was suffering from cancer and that he had appealed several times to the IOA to allow him travel abroad for medical treatment but the IOA rejected his appeals. The death of Abu Rezq increases number of sick Palestinian citizens who died due to the unjust Israeli blockade on Gaza Strip to 212, a according to a report issued by the committee and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC. For its part, An Israeli human rights institution accused the Israeli intelligence department (Shabak) of banning 14 Palestinian citizens in "very critical condition", including two blind brothers. . .

Cement shipped to the Gaza Strip not suitable for construction
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Ibrahim Radwan, a deputy in the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in the de facto Gaza government, confirmed on Monday that the cement shipped to the Gaza Strip is not suitable for concrete mixtures used in building. Radwan told Ma’an that the packets of cement were clearly labeled as second class, and that according to Palestinian building standards they can only be used in finishing and rendering work, as the cement is not strong enough for construction. He added that the ministry is contacting specialized companies to ship the correct cement, especially the "Silo" brand that is used in concrete mixtures for construction. He added that this was just another example of the continued Israeli violations of the truce agreement, which requires all border crossings to be opened, an increase in the quantity and quality of goods allowed into Gaza, and an end to the siege on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army demolished 3,100 Palestinian houses in Jerusalem since 1976
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
The Israeli army threatened more than 20 Palestinian civilian of demolishing their houses east of The City of Jerusalem, The Israeli army says that those houses were built without the needed permission. Since Israel occupied Jerusalem in 1967 it has rarely given its Palestinian residents any form of documentation for their land or homes. On Thursday at dawn, Israeli forces backed by a bulldozer stormed and demolished the home of Ahmad Al A’rameen in Al Ezariye neighborhood in Jerusalem City. Witnesses said that Israeli troops attacked Ahmad, and his family injuring three of them then kidnapped two of his sons before demolishing the house. On Tuesday the Israeli Authorities demolished a two-story home in Al Aiswiye neighborhood in Jerusalem city. The demolished building belonged to Aishaq Mustafa which housed 12 family members.

IOF kidnapped hundreds of Palestinians in W. Bank since Gaza truce started
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of prisoners and ex-prisoners’ affairs in the PA caretaker government under premier Ismael Haneyya has confirmed on Sunday that the IOA arrested 395 Palestinian citizens across the West Bank since the calm agreement in Gaza commenced a month ago. "The Israeli occupation government’s policy of arresting more Palestinian citizens was meant to impose more pressure on the Palestinian people, to break their will, and to force them bow to the occupation’s dictates, in addition to emptying the Palestinian street of national and Islamic action leaderships", asserted Riyadh Al-Ashkar of the ministry’s information department in a statement he issued Sunday. He also explained that the city of Nablus was the most affected city in this regard with more that 100 of its inhabitants, including Dr. Abdul Rahim Al-Hanbali, 66, the former head of the city’s Zakat committee, and city councilor Husam Al-Dein Kataloni.

Palestinian MPs denounce kidnapping of MP Mansour, ask PA to stop negotiations
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Palestinian parliament members on Monday reacted angrily to the Israeli occupation authority’s kidnapping of one of their female colleagues in Nablus earlier today and demanded an immediate stop to all negotiations with the IOA. MP Khaleda Jarrar, who is a PFLP politburo member, said that the detention of Mansour and a big number of citizens, businessmen and students in Nablus falls in line with the "rabid" campaign waged by the "fascist" Israeli government against Nablus city. She asked the PA to immediately act to confront the Israeli campaign, and demanded a halt to security coordination and "futile negotiations" that the IOA exploits to continue in its aggression and crimes. For his part, MP Ayman Daraghma told PIC that the kidnapping of Mansour posed as a big "challenge" to the unconstitutional government led by Salam Fayyad.

Bahar: Kidnap of MPs, escalation in WB threaten calm
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting PLC speaker, told a press conference on Monday that the "Zionist serious and qualitative escalation" in the West Bank was threatening the calm agreement in Gaza Strip. He demanded the immediate and unconditional release of MP Mona Mansour, who was abducted before dawn Monday in Nablus from her house and in front of her panicking children. He also denounced the "horrible silence" on the part of Arab and Islamic leaders towards the continued Israeli detention of MPs and ministers atop of whom PLC speaker Dr. Aziz Dwaik, whose health condition gravely worsened due to maltreatment in occupation jails. Bahar called for urgent meetings for the Arab League and the OIC to discuss the issue of those kidnapped MPs and ministers in addition to the escalation in kidnapping female lawmakers.

The Israeli army invades a charitable institution and a kindergarden in Jericho City
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
Local sources reported that the Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Jericho with a number of military vehicles and attacked a charitable institution in addition to a kindergarden. Eye witnesses reported that the Israeli troops invaded al Israa’ charitable institution, the troops ransacked it and confiscated a number of computers; moreover the Israeli troops invaded a children’s kindergarden, broke the main doors and ransacked the place. [end]

21 tons of produce manufactured in settlements seized for lacking correct labeling
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - The consumers’ protection department of the National Economy Ministry in Bethlehem said on Monday that their staff confiscated 17 tons of frozen meats and vegetables lacking Arabic labels and around 4 tons of juices and mineral waters all produced in Israeli settlements. The goods were said to have been smuggled into Bethlehem markets over the last two days. All products sold in Palestine are required to have labeling in Arabic. Head of the consumer protection department, Mohammad Erekat, told Ma’an that “the products were confiscated in accordance with the cabinet’s decision to clamp down on this behavior. " He also called on merchants not to buy products produced in the settlements in order not to undermine the national interest through making them more viable. He reminded people of the decision of the European Union not to buy products produced in the settlements. . .

Hamas and Fatah officials pay visit to fighters’ tombs in show of unity
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Ibrahim Abu An-Naja of Fatah and Ghazi Hamad of Hamas, along with representatives of other Palestinian factions, a Gaza City cemetary on Sunday. The visit to Sheikh Radwan neighborhood was organized by the Popular Struggle Front as a step towards putting aside the infighting that has plagued Palestinian politics in recent years. Flowers were laid on the tomb of Hamas founder, Sheikh Ahmad Yaseen, and others who died in the conflict with Israel. Member of the politburo of the Popular Struggle Front, Mahmoud Az-Ziq asserted that every possible effort must be made in order to end the rivalry between Palestinian factions and restore unity. Fatah leader Ibrahim Abu An-Najasaid, "we wish our unity had not been harmed and we hope we can prove ourselves loyal to our ’martyrs’. They left behind them a will which should have been enough to preserve our unity.

Kurd: IOA, PA pressure Palestinians to surrender rights
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ahmed Al-Kurd, the social affairs minister in the PA caretaker government, has charged that the Israeli occupation authority and the PA leadership in Ramallah were targeting charitable foundations in a bid to pressure the Palestinian people into surrendering constants. Kurd in an interview with the PIC said that the charitable organizations in Palestine were the target of a "ferocious campaign" on the part of the IOA and the PA in Ramallah. He warned that both parties exchange roles in targeting those societies especially in the West Bank. The continued siege on the Palestinian people aims at humiliating the steadfast people, Kurd said, adding that the siege and the campaign both target subjugating the Palestinian people. Kurd, who is also the chairman of Palestinian charitable societies, condemned the Ramallah-based Palestinian monetary authority’s practices. . .

An Israeli jeep runs over a Palestinian and kidnaps him in Qalqilia City
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
Eye witnesses reported that an Israeli jeep intentionally ran over a Palestinian and kidnapped him on Sunday in the West Bank city of Qalqilia. Eye witnesses reported that the 21 year old Khaled Dakhmes was moderately injured after the Israeli troops intentionally ran him over. Eye witnesses also reported that the Israeli troops kidnapped him taking him to an unknown detention camp. [end]

IOF jeep runs over youth, 30 Israelis gang up over Palestinian
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
QALQILIA, (PIC)-- IOF soldiers used their jeep to deliberately run over a Palestinian youth in Qalqilia city called Khaled Dughmesh before arresting him, witnesses reported. They said that the 21-year-old youth, who hails from Jibla village southeast of Qalqilia city, was moderately wounded in the incident. The witnesses pointed out that Dughmesh was driving a cart when the army jeep hit the cartIn another atrocity, around 30 Israelis ganged up on a Palestinian young man in Karmiel city on Saturday and turned his car upside down. Arab press in the 1948 occupied areas said that Hazem Jabran, 22, from the Rame town near Safad city, was waiting in his car for his sister when the group of fanatic Israelis approached him and smashed his car’s window shields wounding him in the left leg before turning it over.

The Israeli army invades several cities in the West Bank
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Monday at dawn Al Thahirye village south of the West Bank city of Hebron, and several areas in the West Bank city of Jenin. Local sources reported that several Israeli military vehicles invaded the city’s neighborhoods. The Israeli troops walked through the streets and ransacked several houses. The Israeli army withdrew and no kidnaps were reported. [end]

Palestinians: West Bank settlers fired makeshift rockets at us
Reuters, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
Two makeshift rockets landed harmlessly outside Palestinian villages in the West Bank on Monday, residents said, accusing neighboring settlers of launching an attack. A source in the security establishment described the Palestinian report as incorrect. Residents of the villages of Odala and Awarta, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, said two rockets were fired from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar. ATelevision cameraman saw a projectile, about 45 centimetres long, burning in a field. A week ago, Israeli police arrested Yitzhar settler Gilad Herman on suspicion of involvement in a failed rocket attack last month on the Palestinian village of Burin in the West Bank. The projectile failed to reach its target and nobody was harmed, although the sound of the blast triggered a sweep of the area by Israeli security forces. . .

Israeli settlers launch homemade projectile at villages south of Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - Israeli settlers launched a homemade projectile towards the Palestinian villages of ’Awarta and Odala, south of Nablus, on Monday. Hani Abdel Latif, a member of the ’Awarta village council, told Ma’an in a phone interview that a projectile landed on Monday afternoon in agricultural land between the villages of ’Awarta and Odala. No injuries were reported. Abdel Latif added that this is the forth time that Israeli settlers have launched such projectiles at Palestinian villages south of Nablus. Palestinian security sources have confirmed finding these homemade rockets after they landed near Palestinian villages. Israeli authorities have acknowledged that a group of settlers belonging to a religious school in the settlement of Yitzhar have been producing homemade rockets to launch at nearby Palestinian villages.

Israeli settlers launch a home made shell at O’rta village in Nablus City
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
Local sources reported that an Israeli home made shell was launched at O’rta village east of the West Bank city of Nablus Eye witnesses reported that the Israeli home made shell was launched from a nearby Israeli settlement and fell at the village entrance causing no injuries among civilians. As it didn’t explode up to this moment Locals are calling the Palestinian Authority to neutralize this home made shell before it explodes and causes damages or injuries among civilians. The home made shell fell only 30 meters away from civilian houses. Local sources reported that this is the first time an Israeli home made shell is launched at the village, adding that the Israeli settlers have launched four home made shells earlier at the nearby village of Burin.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian houses in Hebron City
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
The Israeli settlers attacked several houses in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday at dawn for the second day in a row. Local sources reported that a group of Israeli settlers attacked Al Nasara Neighborhood in the city and tried to invade several Palestinian houses. The Israeli settlers threw stones over a number of Palestinian houses and provoked civilians to get out of their homes. This is not the first time this neighborhood has been attacked by Israeli settlers, noting that Israeli settlers practiced different attacks on civilians and their homes many times earlier. [end]

Hebron Jewish Settlers Turn Back Peace Now’s Busloads
Palestine Media Center, Palestine Monitor 7/20/2008
20 July 2008 Hebron illegal Jewish settlers successfully thwarted Peace Now’s attempt to bring five busloads of visitors to the city on Friday, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday. The tour was meant to highlight the plight of Hebron’s 166,000 Arab Palestinians and illustrate how their lives have become increasingly difficult as a result of the town’s 600 Jewish settlers. Instead of a tour, a confrontation ensued between settlers, police and individuals from the tour outside the city, where police and soldiers of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) were waiting to turn the buses around. Peace Now is now considering its options, one of which is legal action against the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The group is going to send an official complaint to "Defense" Minister Ehud Barak. They also plan on organizing another tour.

MP Abu Halabia: Judaization of Jerusalem gaining unprecedented momentum
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabia, rapporteur of the PLC’s Quds committee, has asked the Palestinian government, Arabs and Muslims worldwide to swiftly act to save the Jerusalemites from the escalating "Zionist ferocious campaign" that targets their very existence, property and shops. Abu Halabia, in a statement, said that extending material, moral and informational support to those Jerusalemites was a must to assist their steadfastness on their land. He elaborated on Israeli escalation in occupied Jerusalem, drawing the attention to the fact that the Israeli occupation authority had demolished more than 3,100 Palestinian homes in the holy city. The MP, who is also the chairman of the Quds institution - Gaza branch, said that the IOA leveled a two-story building recently in Aisawia east of Jerusalem that used to shelter 12 individuals.

The Israeli army invades the old city of Jerusalem and attacks an old woman
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
The Israeli army invaded on Monday midday the old city of Jerusalem and attacked the Palestinian vegetables buyers in the street and confiscated their stuff. Eye witnesses reported that the Israeli army attacked an old saleswoman which led to clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinians. Eye witnesses also reported that the Israeli army kidnapped one of the Palestinian youth taking him to a nearby Israeli police station. [end]

Rail inspector: Arabs attacked me, tried to snatch my weapon
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Family says Arab youths arrived at 22-year old guard’s post Thursday night, demanded his weapon; upon discovering he had none they beat him, causing bone fractures in his face, body. Police have no leads, say motive may be nationalistic - Twenty-year old Ronen, an inspector with the Israel Railways, was attacked on Thursday while manning his post at one of the rail crossings near Atlit. The attackers, a group of young men, beat him and fractured bones in his face and body. Despite the lengthy period of time that has passed, the Tirat HaCarmel police department investigating the case still has no leads on the suspects’ identities. Charged with Terrorism6 Israeli Arabs charged with operating al-Qaeda cell / Efrat Weiss (Video) Hebrew University students indicted of trying to build terror infrastructure in Jerusalem.

IOF troops kidnap 25 Palestinians in Nablus including MP Mansour
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- IOF troops kidnapped 25 Palestinians in Nablus city and Balata refugee camp including MP Mona Mansour and another woman in a pre dawn raid on Monday, local sources reported. They said that the soldiers encircled and stormed the home of the MP, and noted that the soldiers wreaked havoc in the home after detaining Mansour’s children. The lawmaker was then handcuffed and arrested. The soldiers also confiscated all mobile phones and computers in the house, the sources pointed out. Other IOF units broke into a building in downtown Nablus and rounded up nine Najah University students and confiscated six computers. The invading troops also arrested a member of the city’s chamber of commerce, a money exchanger, a woman and a number of citizens including a 67-year-old man and his two sons. The soldiers rounded up two young men in Balata refugee camp east of Nablus city,. . .

Israeli campaign against Nablus continues; more than 20 arrested overnight
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank city of Nablus at 3am on Monday, ransacking several homes including that of female Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Legislative Council member Muna Mansour. Mansour was arrested along with over 20 other Palestinian citizens. Palestinian security sources speaking to Ma’an said that the arrestees included businessmen, workers and students. Among those arrested were 60-year-old Uthman Muslih, a businessman; 55-year-old Imad Kan’an; 40-year-old Awni Kalbouna; ’Allan Judallah; Shadi Judallah, who was arrested together with his father; 22-year-old Tamir ’Ileiwi; Salah Abu Ata; Hassan Hashash; 22-year-old Hamza Abu Zant; 28-year-old Einas Al-Faqih; 57-year-old Hassan Abu Zant,director of the Nablus Mall; 67-year-old Ibrahim As-Sakhil and his sons, 40-year-old Wa’el and 20-year-old Hamza; Yahya Abu Zant; Salah Abu Asab and ’Isam Jarrar.

Daily attacks on Nablus continue: Israeli forces arrest PLC member Muna Mansour
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/21/2008
Nablus -- Israeli forces arrested Palestinian Legislative Council member Muna Mansour and many top businesspeople in Nablus on Monday. According to local eyewitnesses, Israeli forces entered the northern West Bank city, firing guns and explosives, and proceeded to raid several neighborhoods. Daily incursions have occurred in Nablus for the last two weeks. Israeli forces have arrested several Palestinians during that time, including government officials and journalists. "Israeli forces stormed the area behind Rafidiya Hospital in western Nablus at about 2:30 a. m. ," Mansour’s daughter reported. "They wreaked havoc in our home, destroying computers, documents and photos before arresting my mother. "The Center for the Study of Human Rights of Prisoners reported Mansour’s abduction as "heinous and violent.

Fatah-affiliated PLC deputy condemns Israeli detention campaign in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) deputy Najat Abu Bakr on Monday condemned the Israeli detention of Hamas-affiliated PLC deputy Muna Mansour along with a number of civilians in Nablus. Abu Bakr added in a press statement that these Israeli practices aim to destroy joint political structures and inter-factional relations in the Palestinian political system. "This measure comes at a time when the Israeli military is accelerating its operations against each person carrying the Palestinian cause," noted Abu Bakr. She added that these recent Israeli operations in Nablus, together with the closure of the Nablus Mall and raids on charitable societies, prove that Israel’s only program is to destroy Palestinian institutions.

PLC speaker condemns detention of Deputy Muna Mansour
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Gaza - Ma’an - leadership of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Monday condemned the detention of Deputy Muna Mansour and has called for her immediate release, along with all other detained deputies. Mansour was arrested on Monday morning in a raid that was part of a wider campaign by Israeli forces in the Nablus area. Around 20 others were arrested. Speaker of the PLC Ahmad Bahar said, "the Palestinian people will not be to subject to terror and blackmail and will not give up their principles, we will tackle all difficulties. " Bahar criticized the Israeli attack against Islamic institutions there to provide services to the Palestinian people, adding that this policy will not survive.

Palestine Today 072108
Ghassan Bannoura - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
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 21st, 2008. The Israeli army continued targeting the West Bank city of Nablus, kidnapping 30 civilians, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News cast The Israeli army invaded the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday at dawn and kidnapped about 30 civilians, among them a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council Monna Manssour. Local sources reported that the Israeli army invaded the city with over 30 military vehicles. The Israeli troops spread in several neighborhoods and launched a kidnapping campaign against civilians and ransacked several houses. Moreover the troops ransacked one of the students’ dorms in the area and confiscated their computers.

Palestinian farmers have their home destroyed and belongings stolen by settlers
Palestine Monitor 7/20/2008
On the 18th July, in Samoa, near the illegal outpost of Asaeel, approximately 25 settlers attacked a Palestinian farmer. The settlers tore down the tent of a Palestinian farmer and stole every proof of Palestinian residence at the location. At 9. 30pm 25 settlers arrived by car to Palestinian land near the illegal outpost of Asaeel. The settler mob walked up to the home of a farming family and told them to leave, whereupon they started to tear down the tent, stealing everything in the household: from gas ovens to teapots. Asked who they were, they claimed to not being locals but inhabitants of Hebron settlement Kiryat Arba. Trying in vain to stop the stealing of his property, the Palestinian farmer managed to stop an army jeep. The soldiers however told the man to call the police, even though the soldiers witnessed all belongings of the Palestinian family being stolen and stuffed in to cars.

Scottish Medicines for Gaza stopped in El Arish
International Solidarity Movement 7/21/2008
International Actions - Gaza Region - (SUNDAY JULY 20th 4. 45pm) The 1. 5 tons of medicines from Scotland to Gaza are now a few metres outside the gate into Gaza at Rafah on the Egyptian side of the Israeli-built wall that has enclosed the people of this area. The Egyptian authorities in Rafah are refusing entry of the medicines to Gaza and are now demanding that Khalil and Linda drive the van away from their destination towards El Arish. They are threatening to load the van onto a truck and impound van and medicines. Khalil and Linda, who have overcome may obstacles on the road from Scotland to Rafah to deliver these medicines, are refusing to drive the medicines away from the gate through the Wall into Rafah. Please text and call with your support for Linda (00 44 (0)7958673840)and Khlalil 00 44 (0)796 00 87 000 Also write and/or call Egyptian Prime Minister. . .

Fuel shipment to the Gaza Strip increased
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Head of the Palestinian Petroleum Corporation in the Hamas’ de facto government, Ahmad Ali, on Monday confirmed that the fuel shipment to the Gaza Strip has increased by 30%. The fuel into Gaza has been tightly controlled by the Israelis as part of the ongoing seige of the territory. Ali told Ma’an that over one million litres of diesel and 120,000 litres of benzene have been shipped to the area over the past week, yet that quantity is still insufficient to meet the needs of the Gazans. He added that 260 thousand litres of diesel for vehicles, 280 tons of cooking gas, 678 litres of industrial diesel and 43 thousand litres of benzene were shipped on Sunday.

Opt: Israel increases fuels amounts into Gaza
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 7/19/2008
GAZA, Jul 19, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network)-- A Palestinian official said on Saturday that Israel has actually increased the amounts of diesel and gasoline allowed into the Gaza Strip, but kept the same limited amounts of cooking gas. Mahmoud al-Shawa, chief of Gaza Stations Union said in a statement that Israel on Friday added 400 thousand liters of diesel to the previous amount of diesel which is 800 thousand liters. Israel and Gaza militant groups agreed on truce, brokered by Egypt on June 19. According to the unwritten treaty, Israel stops ground and air strikes on militants and ease restrictions on goods movements for stopping homemade rockets attacks were fired from Gaza at Israel. However, Hamas complained that although the Palestinians showed a 100 percent commitment to the truce and refrained from attacking Israel, Israel is not yet committed to ease all its restrictions on Gaza border crossings.

Humanitarian assistance to Gaza since Feb 27 escalation in terror - 18 Jul 2008
Government of Israel, ReliefWeb 7/18/2008
Ministry of Defense Unit of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Total (June 16, 2007 - July 16, 2008): 28,112 trucks; 654,991 tons The Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories reports daily on the general humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The data for the supplies transferred via the Karni and Sufa crossings are based on the reports of Palestinian merchants. Two-way traffic at the Erez Crossing of international organizations’ staff, Gaza residents seeking medical treatment together with the people accompanying them ("medical evacuations"), and Palestinian civilians has been permitted for humanitarian reasons since 18 January 2007 and occurs almost daily. Humanitarian aid includes food, medicines and medical equipment, tools and materials for esssential humanitarian infrastructures, and a certain amount of diesel fuel.

UNICEF Humanitarian Action Update, 18 Jul 2008
United Nations Children''s Fund - UNICEF, ReliefWeb 7/18/2008
UNICEF’S EMERGENCY PROGRAMMES FOCUS ON HEALTH, EDUCATION, PROTECTION AND ADOLESCENTS - At least 68 children killed in conflict with Israel since beginning of year - Despite truce, ongoing fuel and electricity shortages impede basic services in Gaza - Growing food insecurity in households, rising malnutrition among children - Tightening restrictions on humanitarian access across West Bank 1. OVERVIEWMore children have died in the conflict with Israel in the first half of 2008 than during all of 2007. Despite a ceasefire with Israel, Gaza’s borders remain largely closed. Shortages of fuel and electricity translate into electricity cuts of 8 – 10 hours/day, disruptions in water distribution, sewage treatment, and to a lesser extent, health care. Previously self-reliant families are increasingly food insecure, notably in Gaza.

Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) Food Security and Market Monitoring Report No. 19 - Jul 2008
United Nations World Food Programme - WFP, ReliefWeb 7/14/2008
WFP Food Security and Market Monitoring Report provides up-to-date information on access and availability of basic food commodities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). This report examines food security and markets analysis determinants in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), addressing: (i) the market in terms of price fluctuations and differentials (ii) economic access to food by the poorest households and food availability in rural and urban areas; (iii) areas and populations most affected by food insecurity; and, (iv) recent food security studies. This information, coupled with other socio-economic indicators, will enable WFP and other key actors to monitor trends and changes regarding the food security sector, and contribute in strengthening the targeting process of the most food insecure geographical areas and population.

oPt: Protection of civilians weekly report 02 - 08 Jul 2008
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - OCHA, ReliefWeb 7/8/2008
Of note this week Gaza Strip:- The IDF injured one Palestinian civilian when IDF patrol boats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats west of Beach Camp, forcing the fishermen to return to shore. - Israeli authorities renewed entry permits for 197 Gazan businessmen. However, only a small number of these businessmen have successfully obtained coordination to enter Israel. - A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and a 13-year-old Palestinian girl was injured when an unknown object/device exploded in the destroyed Gaza International Airport (Rafah). - Several thousand Palestinians attempted to break through the Rafah terminal to cross into Egypt. The Egyptian Security Forces responded with water canons and tear gas (Rafah). - A total of one rudimentary rocket and five mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel by Palestinian militants.

CARE International delegation meets with Palestinian Minister of Agriculture
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – A delegation from CARE International met with Palestinian Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud Al-Habbash on Monday at the ministry headquarters in Ramallah to discuss coordination and joint work serving Palestinian farmers. The meeting was attended by Dr Muhammad Al-Mubayyed, deputy director of CARE International; Dr Hisham Sawafta, director of the CARE office in Jenin and head of their water and food security projects; and Jaber Qudeih, secretary general of the General Union of Palestinian Farmers and Agricultural Cooperatives. The minister applauded the joint projects and noted the importance of providing assistance according to clear and transparent criteria that will serve small farmers. Hisham Sawafta gave a detailed explanation of CARE’s water and food security projects in the Palestinian territories, and Muhammad Al-Mubayyed described CARE’s other projects. . .

Al-Maliki warns of PA financial crisis if donor countries do not fulfill Paris commitments
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Minister of Information and Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesperson Riyad Al-Maliki warned on Monday that the PA will face a financial crisis if donor countries do not fulfill commitments made at the Paris conference held on 17 December 2007. In a Ramallah press conference held after the weekly cabinet session, Al-Maliki, who also serves as PA Foreign Minister, noted that since its formation in 2007, the Palestinian government has been operating on a month-to-month basis trying to cover employees’ salaries. He added that the government hopes donor countries that pledged assistance at the Paris conference will fulfill their promises quickly, and called on Arab countries to realize their pledges so the PA can avoid another financial crisis. Commenting on other matters, Al-Maliki condemned the aggressive Israeli practices in the West Bank and. . .

Al-Maliki receives new German representative in Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Ramallah- Ma’an- Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, received the new head of Germany representative office to the Palestinian Authority, Klaus Burkhardt, in the ministry headquarters in Ramallah on Monday. Al-Maliki welcomed the new representative pointing to, what he called, the special relationship that exists between Germany and Palestine, both between the governments and the people. He also talked about his hopes for reaching a peace agreement between Palestine and Israel. Al-Maliki commended the efforts made by the German government, pointing to Chancellor Merkel and foreign minister Steinmeyer’s commitment to the peace process. He explained that the Palestinians had a firm belief that Germany has a considerable political and economical role to play in the international arena, which enables it to act in effective role in achieving peace and development in Palestine.

Abbas to meet with Peres on Tuesday in Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israeli sources reported on Monday that Israeli President Shimon Peres will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday at the Israeli presidential headquarters in Jerusalem. A number of prominent Palestinian officials will accompany Abbas, including Sa’eb Erekat, head of the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department. It is expected that both sides will discuss ways of advancing the political process as well as other regional issues. The meeting is also expected to address ways of improving and implementing joint economic projects in order to support the peace process. Israeli radio said that Peres talked with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak in addition to a number of high-ranking Israeli officials to discuss Abbas’ visit to the presidential compound.

Mustafa Barghouthi calls for an International Commission of Inquiry Into the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 7/21/2008
Ramallah, 20-07-08: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the General Secretary of the , calls for an International Commission of inquiry into the Palestinian territories to investigate the Israeli crimes against our people. The videotape shot in Ni’lin by the 14-year old girl Salaam Kanaan, shows the 27-year old Ashraf Abu Rahma from the village of Bi’lin, being shot from a two meter distance by an Israeli soldier. The young villager was blindfolded and controlled by another Israeli soldier. The incident occurred on Monday the 7th of July and lead to an injury in his left foot. Barghouthi stated that this is not the first incident where the Israeli occupation forces attacked in cold blood to isolate citizens. He pointed out that the same day another citizen was injured and had his hand broken by an Israeli bulldozer.

VIDEO / Soldier filmed shooting bound Palestinian: Commander told me ’shoot him’
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
The Israel Defense Forces soldier who was filmed shooting a bound and blindfolded Palestinian with a rubber bullet at point blank range told military investigators on Monday that his regiment commander had ordered him to fire. The incident was caught on camera by a villager and released Sunday by the human rights group B’Tselem. The footage apparently shows a soldier firing his rifle toward a Palestinian detained at the protest in the West Bank village of Na’alin. The rifle appeared to have been modified to fire rubber-coated metal bullets. During his questioning, the soldier said that his commander, lieutenant colonel Omri, had told him "shoot him" three times. He then fired his rifle at the protester’s foot. Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday condemnded the incident.

Israeli soldier fires on detained Palestinian youth
Palestine News Network 7/21/2008
PNN -- Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinian youth in Ramallah after they were arrested, handcuffed, and blindfolded. This is a violation of international law. A tape of the incident shows an Israeli soldier shooting rubber coated metal bullets at one of the detained Palestinians from close range. A high ranking Israeli officer was present at the site, according to Najib Abu Ruqia, director of field research at B’Tselem, an Israeli organization working for Palestinian human rights. B’Tselem is demanding that the Israeli military open an investigation into the shooting. It is further asking whether the high ranking Israeli officer at the scene is conducting his own investigation into the illegal actions of the soldier. The Israeli human rights organization will distribute the tape in an attempt to halt Israeli attacks on Palestinian rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israeli Army detains soldier caught on video shooting rubber bullet at bound Palestinian
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/22/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: An Israeli soldier caught on film shooting a bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainee in the leg with a rubber-coated bullet has been detained, the army said Monday. "The soldier has been detained for questioning. Once the investigation is complete measures will be taken," an army spokesman told AFP. Footage of the incident, released on Sunday by Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem, shows a Palestinian demonstrator handcuffed and blindfolded, with a army officer holding his arm. A soldier next to him appears to take aim at his leg, a shot is fired and the camera darts briefly away before showing the man lying on the ground. The protester, identified as Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, was lightly wounded in the incident which took place on July 7 in Nilin, an Occupied West Bank village where regular protests are staged against Israel’s separation barrier.

Barghouthi: Must establish international fact-finding committee to investigate Israeli crimes
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, on Monday called for the establishing of an international fact-finding committee to investigate Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. The statement comes as a response to the video, filmed by 14-year-old Salam Kan’an, released on Sunday showing an Israeli soldier shooting 27-year-old Ashraf Abu Rahma from Nil’in west of Ramallah at short range with a rubber coated steel bullet while he was hand-cuffed and masked. The video was filmed on Monday 17 July. Barghouthi asserted the incident was only one of the many times that Israeli soldiers assault unarmed Palestinians cold-bloodedly. He highlighted that the same day an Israeli bulldozer broke the hand of Palestinian citizen Ra’d Nidham while it was digging up Palestinian lands in Ni’lin.

Inquiry launched after film shows Israeli soldier firing rubber bullet at Palestinian
The Guardian, Palestine Monitor 7/21/2008
An Israeli human rights group released video footage last night showing an Israeli soldier firing a rubber-coated bullet at close range at a Palestinian man who had already been detained, blindfolded and cuffed. The Palestinian, who had been involved in a demonstration in the occupied West Bank village of Nil’in on July 7, was injured in the toe by the shooting. He was treated by army medics and released, according to the rights group, B’Tselem. An Israeli human rights group released video footage last night showing an Israeli soldier firing a rubber-coated bullet at close range at a Palestinian man who had already been detained, blindfolded and cuffed. The Palestinian, who had been involved in a demonstration in the occupied West Bank village of Nil’in on July 7, was injured in the toe by the shooting.

Soldier arrested for Naalin incident says he was ordered to shoot
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/21/2008
(Video) - Military Defense Counsel enraged by soldier’s arrest while commanding officer not held accountable. Soldier claims he was not rebuked by his commanders following incident. MK Sarsur: Incident proof occupation corrupts. Defense Minister Barak says incident ’not indicative of IDF norms’ - VIDEO "The commanding officer told me "˜shoot him, shoot him," the IDF soldier from armored Battalion 71, who was documented firing a rubber-coated bullet at a bound Palestinian in the Naalin village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, said Monday during his interrogation by the Investigating Military Police (IMP). [end]

Israeli soldier shoots restrained Palestinian at close range
Report, B''Tselem, Electronic Intifada 7/20/2008
Today, B’Tselem is publishing a video clip documenting a soldier firing a rubber coated steel bullet, from extremely close range, at a cuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainee. The shooting took place in the presence of a lieutenant colonel, who was holing the Palestinian’s arm when the shot was fired. The incident took place on 7 July, in Nil’in, a village in the West Bank. A Palestinian demonstrator, Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, was stopped by soldiers, who cuffed and blindfolded him for about thirty minutes, during which time, according to Abu-Rahma, they beat him. Afterwards, a group of soldiers and border policemen led him to an army jeep. The video clip shows a soldier aim his weapon at the demonstrator’s legs, from about 1. 5 meters away, and fire a rubber coated steel bullet at him. Abu-Rahma stated that the bullet hit his left toe, received treatment from an army medic, and released by the soldiers. A Palestinian girl from Nil’in filmed the incident from her house in the village, and B’Tselem received it this morning.

Israeli forces ransack charity in Jericho
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – Israeli forces broke into the offices of the Al-Isra’ charity in Jericho in the eastern West Bank on Monday morning, confiscating the last remaining computer. The Chairman of the charity, Sheikh Zayid Abu Rumi said Israeli soldiers had confiscated the rest of the computers in two previous raids. He also claims that the soldiers inspected copies of the holy Quran in a provocative and disrespectful manner. Along with the computer they confiscated files on orphans and needy families who receive aid from the charity. On leaving Rumi claims they deliberately damaged furniture belonging to a kindergarten affiliated to the charity. Rumi asserted that the Al-Isra’ charity is an independent charity with no political affiliations, and that its mission was to offer aid and services to the needy and marginalized sections ofPalestinian society.

Bringing healthcare to cut off communities
CARE, ReliefWeb 7/18/2008
Once ordinary visits to the doctor were simple but now for people living in the West Bank these visits can be an arduous chore, expensive and time-consuming. Today there are more than 600 obstacles to movement in the West Bank. Obstacles that originally were said to be constructed for Israeli security now massively influence the life of Palestinians. For example, those living in remote villages now have to make detours to find roads they are permitted to drive on – and they have to wait at checkpoints, sometimes for hours at a time, regardless of whether they urgently need medical help. After the second Intifada in 2000 – a spontaneous Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation – Israel started closing its borders and checkpoints were installed throughout the West Bank. Israel argues that these checkpoints together with a permit system, the West Bank barrier. . .

ISRAEL: Language barrier, lack of transport means Bedouin women miss out on health care
Shabtai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 7/22/2008
BEERSHEBA, 21 July 2008 (IRIN) - "I mostly try to talk with my hands," said Mona. "I try to explain where it hurts or what is bothering me. If the doctor understands, then he understands. If not, not. "Her Hebrew is virtually non-existent. Mona (not her real name), like thousands of the other Bedouin-Arab women in southern Israel’s Negev desert, struggles to cope with a language barrier that is a major factor in their inability to receive proper medical treatment. "I am lucky because I can speak the language," said Subha, from a remote village in the desert. "Otherwise it is really hard. "The problem was especially difficult in the "unrecognised villages" - ones that were not officially on Israel’s map, as the state sees their existence as illegal. The Bedouin say their villages either existed before Israel was founded, or during the first years of the nascent state by internally

Canadian Press: Activists say Montreal firms used as fronts for building Israeli settlements
Jonathan Montpetit, International Solidarity Movement 7/21/2008
MONTREAL - Murky ownership of two Montreal companies is feeding allegations by U. S. activists that the firms are being used as fronts for Israeli developers intent on building settlements in Palestinian territory. The companies - Green Mount International Inc. and Green Park International Inc. - are already being sued for war crimes in Quebec Superior Court by the West Bank town of Bilin. They are accused of violating international and Canadian law by acting as "agents of Israel" in building condominiums within Bilin’s town limits and selling them to Israelis A Palestinian-rights group, Adalah-NY, now alleges the companies are controlled by Shaya Boymelgreen, a controversial real-estate developer in New York City. As evidence, they cite Israeli media reports from 2005 and 2006 that identify Boymelgreen as Green Park’s principal stakeholder. 8220;I don’t think people in Canada widely knew that these companies were building settlements in the West Bank,” said David Bloom, a spokesman for the group. -- See also: Source

Ni’lin delays construction of the apartheid wall again
International Solidarity Movement 7/21/2008
Ramallah Region - On Sunday 20th July, around 50 people joined the demonstration in Ni’lin and headed for the construction site of the apartheid wall. On their way they were attacked by a large number of Israeli soldiers shooting teargas missiles directly at the protesters. Later live ammunition was used at the protesters. Later live ammunition was used at the entrance of the town. No injuries were reported this time. Earlier in the morning the bulldozers were delayed for a couple of hours after a successful roadblock action in the evening before. Just before sunset on Saturday 30th,Palestinians and internationals left a large amount of stones on the way leading to the construction site of the apartheid wall. Hundreds of metres of road were covered. At the same time a demonstration was held at the site with chants and messages from a megaphone to the settlement on the other side of the valley.

Wednesday 23rd July - Women’s demonstration in Ni’lin
International Solidarity Movement 7/21/2008
Ramallah Region - This is a call out to all female Palestinian, Israeli and international activists to join the non-violent demonstration against the construction of the apartheid wall this week. We will gather on Wednesday morning at 10 o’clock inside the Municipal building (’Baladia’ in Arabic) of Ni’lin. Once we have gathered, we will march toward the construction site of the wall. This will be the first in a series of demonstrations that is organized and composed solely of women. Transportation can be subsidized if needed and buses arranged for large groups. For the last two months, the villagers of Ni’lin have been protesting the illegal confiscation of their lands by Israel. Up to this point, the participants have largely been men, although this is an issue that affects everybody. However, women have an important role to play in the struggle against the Israeli occupation.

Celebrated Latin diva urged to cancel Tel Aviv concert
Open letter, PACBI, Electronic Intifada 7/21/2008
The following is an open letter to Latin musician Mercedes Sosa sent on 21 July 2008 by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. When Palestinian artists and human rights activists first heard the news of your planned performances in Israel, we felt let down, betrayed, more than angry or apprehensive. We thought to ourselves, how can Mercedes Sosa, the quintessentially progressive diva of freedom songs in Latin America, sing in Israel, a colonial and apartheid state whose war crimes have reached new lows, systematically and deliberately destroying Palestinian society and engendering a process of slow ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine? Your visit to Israel would not only violate the Palestinian civil society’s Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it fulfills its obligations under international law, it would

’Israel to free Barguti for Shalit’
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Diplomatic sources tell UAE daily Egyptian mediators closer than ever to brokering agreement between Israel, Hamas for Gilad Shalit, but Cairo still fears outside sources may attempt to impede progress. Report claims Israel has agreed to free senior Hamas prisoners - Israel has agreed in principle to release Marwan Barguti and a number of prominent Hamas leaders from prison - diplomatic sources were quoted as saying in Monday’s ’Al-Bayan’ newspaper, based in the United Arab Emirates. According to the report, Israel will free Barguti, Fatah’s former secretary-general in the West Bank, and the Hamas officials as part of the burgeoning exchange deal with the Islamist Hamas group in return for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The paper asserts that Egypt has been successful in reconciling the differences between Israel and Hamas over the deal, but now fears other groups in the region may attempt to sabotage the deal.

Haniyeh: Prisoner swap imminent
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Prime Minister of the de facto government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Monday that he believed an agreement would soon be brokered with Israel to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in return for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. In a celebration held in the headquarters of the de facto Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs in Gaza, Haniyeh reiterated that Hamas would insist that all of its demands are met before any exchange with Israel went ahead. "We will not abandon these demands until prisoners are returned to their families as part of a national ceremony," Haniyeh explained. "I tell you that a happy ending is coming, and the chains of the jails will break and Palestine will soon celebrate an honorable prisoner swap," he added. Haniyeh also condemned the Israeli apprehension of Palestinian Legislative Council deputy Muna Mansour. . .

Haneyya: Shalit’s file in the hands of Egypt
Palestinian Information Center 7/21/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the premier of the PA caretaker government, has underlined that the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit hinged on Israel’s acceptance of resistance’s demands, noting that the entire file was in Egyptian hands. Haneyya told Ramattan news agency in a televised interview on Sunday that there was nothing new in Shalit’s issue, adding that Egypt was following up the file and that nothing could be said about it. He said that the Palestinians consider this file a priority, adding, "We are keen on ending it the soonest but it is dependent on the Israeli position". For his part, Israeli war minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday night that freeing Shalit would not be easy. He was quoted by the Hebrew radio as saying that all efforts should be exerted to return Shalit out of "our moral commitment".

Israel accuses Hamas for delaying prisoners swap deal
Ghada Salsaa news, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
Local sources reported that the spokesperson of the Israeli Government Avy Bazner accuses Hamas for delaying prisoners swap deal with Israel confirming that Israel is working hard to release the Israeli soldier Ghilad Shaleet. Bazner added that Israel wants Hamas to release Shaleet and stop launching home-made shells from Gaza. He also stated that Israel doesn’t consider Hamas as the official government of Palestine because it is working against the PA. Bazner assures that the negotiation with Hamas must continue through the Egyptian mediator in order to go forward with the prisoners swap deal and release Shaleet. [end]

Shalit’s comrades being discharged
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/22/2008
Kidnapped soldier’s comrades plan to march to IDF headquarters for meeting with defense minister immediately after returning gear; former squadron commander: Everything should be done to retrieve him, even release of terrorists - Kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit’s comrades are due to be discharged from regular army service on Tuesday, however instead of celebrating their first day as citizens they have planned to march to the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv in order to meet with Defense MinisterEhud Barak. Afterwards they plan to arrive at Rabin Square, where signs displaying their captive friend have been hung, in order to hold a small ceremony. Shocher: Terrorists’ release not concession. (Photo: Eli Elgarat)Shalit’s comrades have been fighting for his release from captivity for two years, while continuing their combative army service in the Gaza Strip and Israel’s other fronts.

Miki Goldwasser: Gilad Shalit my new priority
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Ehud Goldwasser’s mother says she will stand by Gilad Shalit’s family until he comes home. ’I’m at Aviva, Noam’s service,’ she says; ’we have to keep Gilad’s case top public priority’ -Miki Goldwasser’s fight to free her son, Ehud Goldwasser, from Hizbullah captivity may have ended in tragedy, but the fight forGilad Shalit’s release is still being waged, and Goldwasser has announced she intends to be on the front lines, saying she will now devote herself to the campaign to free the kidnapped IDF soldier from Hamas captivity. Hundreds continued to flock to the Goldwasser residence in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya Monday, to offer their condolences for Ehud’s death. Negotiations’Israel to free Barguti for Shalit’ / Roee Nahmias Diplomatic sources tell UAE daily Egyptian mediators closer than ever to brokering agreement between. . .

OPT: Human Rights Watch letter to Senator Obama
Human Rights Watch - HRW, ReliefWeb 7/20/2008
New York, July 10, 2008Sen. Barack Obama P. O. Box 8102 Chicago, IL 60680 Dear Senator Obama, Your upcoming visit to Israel and Jordan is an opportunity to reaffirm America’s commitment to basic principles of human rights and freedom while promoting security and extending a helping hand of friendship to the Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian people. Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan are each responsible for significant human rights abuses. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel and Palestinian armed groups are also responsible for violations of international humanitarian law (the "laws of war"), which undermine the peace process that the United States has invested in so heavily. The US government has failed to deter the Israeli government from continuing and even accelerating construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are widely recognized as illegal under international law.

UAE’s assistance to Palestine in tune of $ 4.2bn since 1994
Government of the United Arab Emirates, ReliefWeb 7/19/2008
Jakarta - The UAE offered US$ 4. 2 billion in support of the Palestinian Cause from 1994 up to mid-2008 including the US$ 300 million pledged through the donor conference in Paris, according to UAE Ambassador to Indonesia. Yusouf Sharhan told the Ministerial Conference on Capacity Building for Palestine in Jakarta that the UAE had recently pledged $ 43 million in annual support for the Palestinian National Authority. ’The UAE stands ready to offer different kinds of assistance to the Palestinian Authority to enable it develop the Palestinian economy and improve living standard of the Palestinian people,’ Al Sharhan said in an address to the conference which was organised by Indonesia and South Africa as co-chairs of the ambitious New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). More than 200 officials from 53 countries and international organizations attended the Jakarta. . .

Brown takes aim at Iran during speech to Israeli Parliament
Robin Millard, Daily Star 7/22/2008
Agence France Presse OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Iran on Monday it must freeze sensitive nuclear work or face more sanctions, in the first address by a British premier to the Israeli Parliament. He also railed against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s "abhorrent" alleged threats against Israel and declared that Britain stands alongside the Jewish state. Brown, who held talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Sunday, said peace was within grasp, but only if Israel withdraws from settlements in the Occupied West Bank and the Palestinians stamp out "terrorists. "His comments on Iran’s nuclear drive echoed a warning by US Secretary of State Con-doleezza Rice that Tehran had two weeks to respond seriously to an international offer or face further "punitive measures. " "Iran now has a clear choice to make: suspend its nuclear program. . .

Brown promotes academic links with Israel
Anthea Lipsett and Jessica Shepherd, The Guardian 7/21/2008
British academics will be encouraged to conduct research with their Israeli peers in an attempt to heal fractured relations between UK and Israeli universities. Gordon Brown has signed up to a £740,000 academic exchange scheme during his trip to Israel today. The government has been keen to promote links between the two countries to play down attempts by British academics to boycott Israeli academics over the treatment of Palestinians. In May, members of the University and College Union voted to consider the moral and political implications of education links with Israeli institutions. But the UK government’s contribution of £20,000 to the scheme which is mainly funded by charities was described as an insult by a leading Anglo-Jewish historian. Geoffrey Alderman, visiting professor of theology and education at York St John University, said: "Compared to the money that

Brown tells Knesset will fight academic boycott of Israel
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/21/2008
First British PM to address Israeli parliament opens address in Hebrew, pledges UK support for Israel in face of regional threats. Speaking after day of high-profile meetings with Israel’s political echelon, Brown slams Ahmadinejad’s calls to annihilate state as ’abhorrent’ - Gordon Brown became the first British prime minister to address the Knesset on Monday morning, and opened his statements in Hebrew to extend his best wishes to the country as it marks its 60th anniversary: "Mazal tov Israel, shalom aliechem," he said. Brown, who is struggling with plummeting approval ratings back home, pledged the UK and its European partners are prepared to tighten the sanctions imposed on Tehran should it choose to ignore calls to suspend its pursuit of nuclear arms. " To those who question Israel’s very right to exist, and threaten the lives of your citizens through. . .

Trapped Gazans students accepted at overseas universities appeal to Gordon Brown for help
Enad Hazeem, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
Palestinian students ask British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Sunday to press Israel to let Gazan students that have been accepted at foreign universities go to school in September. Students trapped in the Gaza Strip together with representatives of the British campaign of "Let Palestinian Students Study" sent a message to Gordon Brown upon his arrival to the Palestinian territories. The message was signed by Rami Abdu representative of the British campaign and Wa’el Ad-Dayeh coordinator of the trapped students committee. The message said: "Dreams of the students in Gaza faded away day after day and hour after hour, despite the guarantee of freedom of movement and transportation in humankind’s human rights. It is time to relieve the students’ pains and it is time for them to be allowed to study, we hope to receive a serious decision to let us leave to rejoin our college.

British PM Brown meets with Palestinian and Israeli leaders
Palestine News Network 7/21/2008
Bethlehem / PNN -- After coming to Bethlehem to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salem Fayyad, British PM Gordon Brown met Sunday evening with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert in West Jerusalem. In addition to meeting with Abbas and Fayyad in the West Bank, Brown met with businesspeople at the Intercontinental Hotel near the northern Bethlehem portion of the Wall to discuss investment in Palestine. He also pledged support to the Palestinian people. British and Palestinian flags lined the streets of Bethlehem during the visit. Few people were seen in the street other than Palestinian police, while many shops were closed. In a press conference with Olmert Sunday evening in Jerusalem, Brown discussed issues of peace in the Middle East, including potential risks arising from the Iranian nuclear project.

UK’s Brown in Israel, will pledge Palestinian aid
Reuters Foundation, ReliefWeb 7/19/2008
By Adrian Croft BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel, July 19- Britain’s Gordon Brown will discuss a way ahead in Middle East peace moves and announce new aid for the Palestinians during his first visit as prime minister to Israel and the Palestinian territories, which began late on Saturday, British officials said. During the two-day visit, Brown will announce $60 million in new budgetary support for the Palestinian Authority and become the first British prime minister to address the Israeli parliament, the officials said. On Sunday, Brown will hold talks on the peace process with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and take part in a British-Israeli business conference. Brown’s spokesman said the prime minister wanted to "discuss the way forward in the peace process" with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and to focus on economic reconstruction and development in the region.

A missed opportunity at the Knesset
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian 7/21/2008
The slip in Gordon Brown’s speech in Israel about Iran’s nuclear ’weapons’ programme was symptomatic of a misjudged message Gordon Brown’s choice of the Knesset today as the place to make a strong statement on Iran was not the only misjudgment on his trip to Israel. It could not help but give the impression that the prime minister supports the belligerent statements from senior Israelis about the need to strike Iran militarily to block its access to nuclear weapons. At a time when talks are underway with the Iranians and with sanctions still in play, the last thing needed from responsible western leaders is any hint that force is permissible. Hopefully, Brown misspoke when he called on Iran to "suspend its nuclear weapons programme", a programme which was halted in 2003, according to the most recent United States national intelligence estimate. . .

Lawmakers pass three no-confidence votes against gov’t
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
MKs on Monday passed three votes of no-confidence in the government, dealing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with apparently the first such parliamentary defeat suffered since he was elected premier in 2006. The votes were only, however, of symbolic significance since their initiators did not achieve the majority of 61 lawmakers needed in order to dissolve the Knesset. An almost complete absence of members of the Shas party, a key coalition member, led to the passage of the votes. This absence appears to have been in protest against the Knesset House Committee’s decision to appoint Labor MK Avishay Braverman chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, in opposition to Shas’ wishes. Yisrael Beiteinu passed a no-confidence vote that deals with the crisis in higher education, by a majority of 47 to 42 MKs.

Government defeated in 3 no confidence votes
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Lack of trust in government proven on Monday when majority of bills receive no confidence votes from participating MKs. Most Shas legislators absent at plenary as a result of MK Avishai Braverman’s appointment to Chairman of Finance Committee -The Knesset passed three votes of no confidence in the government on Monday. The victory attained by the opposition was only symbolic, as a mojority of 61 Knesset members is required in order to dissolve the Knesset. The votes, which marked an unpleasant beginning to the term of new coalition head MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), were passed largely due to the the absence of mostShas party members. Remembering the FallenBarak to bereaved parents: We will learn from failures / Ronen Medzini Defense minister speaks before families of soldiers fallen in Second Lebanon War, mentions ’closure’ brought by kidnapped soldiers’ burial in Israel.

Knesset legal advisor criticizes bills calling to revoke Bishara’s benefits
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Nurit Elstein says bills calling to revoke pension funds of former MK suspected of aiding Hizbullah unconstitutional. ’We must remember that he was a lawmaker for 11 years and was never even indicted,’ she says -Knesset legal advisor Nurit Elstein cast harsh criticism Monday on three bills calling to revoke some of the benefits given to former MK Azmi Bishara. In a letter drafted by Elstein ahead of Tuesday’s House Committee hearing on the matter, the legal counsel said the bill constitutes an infringement of ownership laws. Bishara, the former chairman of the Balad party, fled Israel last year after being accused of treason and aiding and abetting the enemy - Hizbullah - during the Second Lebanon War. He was never indicted. The House Committee is expected to discuss preparing three bills calling to revoke Bishara’s benefits for their first readings.

Prosecution: Decision on whether to indict Olmert ’very soon’
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 7/21/2008
State prosecutor says prime minister’s culpability to be determined soon. After receiving mounds of material, Olmert’s attorneys granted two additional days to cross-examine Talansky - State Prosecutor Moshe Lador said Monday following the cross-examination of Morris Talansky, the key witness in the "cash envelopes" affair involving Ehud Olmert, that a decision on whether to indict the prime minister is expected "very soon". The Jerusalem District Court determined that Talansky’s cross-examination will resume on August 31 and will continue through September 1, this after Olmert’s attorney Eli Zohar asked for two additional days to interrogate the key witness. Zohar explained that "the police investigation was done haphazardly, and afterwards representatives were sent to the United States to gather additional material.

Olmert’s Kadima sets date for party leadership battle
Mazal Mualem and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
After numerous delays, the Kadima council on Monday night approved a change to party legislation that will allow the next leadership primary to be brought forward and held in September. A total of 91 of the 180 council members voted for the proposal, which has spurred a bitter disagreement in the Kadima leadership because it aims to oust the party’s current chairman, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The primary will be held between September 14 and 18. The council said special circumstances justified holding an early vote. The move to unseat Olmert came in the wake of his embroilment in a new corruption probe into suspicions that he illicitly received funds from an American Jewish businessman over 15 years. Over the previous few days, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, who intend to run in the primary,. . .

Police: Olmert used charitable donations to pay for family flights
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is suspected of paying for dozens of family flights with money he received via the Rishon Tours travel agency. Each organization that paid Olmert’s travel bills through Rishon Tours believed its contributions were covering Olmert’s working trips abroad, and was not aware that several different organizations were actually financing the same flights. "We’re talking about many family trips, of at least two family members each time, whose tickets were covered by that account in Rishon Tours," Police sources said Monday. The police have asked Olmert to schedule another interview within two weeks. The next questioning session is expected to be longer than the previous ones. During that period, the prosecution is expected to decide whether it could indict Olmert.

Katzav protests refusal to give him gov’t Audi, office
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 7/21/2008
The accountant general was willing only to provide a used car and a temporary office. Galei Zahal (IDF Army) radio reports that former President Moshe Katzav has lodged a formal complaint with State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss against Ministry of Finance Accountant General Shuki Oren over the latter’s refusal to grant a range of state-financed benefits. A letter forwarded to Lindenstrauss by Katzav’s lawyer alleged that Oren had misled Katzav when he offered to upgrade the luxury car he currently uses and lease an office for him. Katzav asked for an Audi A6 and an office in the Azrieli Tower, but the accountant general was willing to provide him with a used car and a temporary office only. In reply to the request from Katzav, the accountant general wrote, "It is essential that any actions taken with regard to the benefits to Katzav should be interim and short-term in nature, so that they can be terminated at short notice.

Prosecution leans toward charging Katsav with rape
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
State Prosecutor Moshe Lador is leaning toward indicting former president Moshe Katsav on two counts of rape, according to sources in the prosecution. A final decision has not yet been made. But the sources said Lador currently believes that the most likely outcome of the deliberations is a decision to charge Katsav with two counts of rape against A. , who worked under him when he was tourism minister. A. claims that Katsav raped her twice: once in his office in Tel Aviv and once in a hotel in Jerusalem. In both cases, the then-minister used force, she says. Ever since Katsav withdrew from a signed plea bargain in April, the prosecution has been holding feverish discussions on a revised, more serious indictment. The main question has been whether to charge him with forcible indecent assault or rape.

Majority of votes for early Kadima primaries achieved
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Party’s council approves change in statue that allows mid-September premiership race; Likud officials say Mofaz considering asking party to join coalition should he be elected chairman - An alteration of Kadima’s party code enabling it to hold primary elections in mid-September was approved Monday by more than half of the 180 members of the faction’s council. Associates of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s camp of seeking a low voter turnout in order to thwart the initiative. The turnout was in fact low, leading party heads to extend the vote by a few more days in order to gain the necessary majority for the statute change. Eventually 91 council members voted in favor of the change, as opposed to only a few dozen who voted against it. The leading candidates for Kadima’s chairmanship include Livni as well as Ministers Avi Dichter, Meir Sheetrit and Shaul Mofaz.

Israel plans to build new city for Arab citizens
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/22/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel plans to build a new city for Arab citizens in the Galilee region, the first housing project of its kind since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, local media reported on Monday. The proposal for the city, whose location has still to be determined, was made by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and approved by the Cabinet Sunday. "There is a need to broaden the range of opportunities available to the non-Jewish population," he was quoted as saying. "My aspiration is for a new Arab city in the Galilee, where young couples can buy a house, just like in any other city in the world. "Israel’s population of over 7 million includes about 1. 2 million Arabs, most of whom live in the north, in older Arab towns and villages that tend to lack modern infrastructure and adequate building space. While Israel has constructed dozens of Jewish settlements in the West. . . "

Israel to examine proposals for new Arab city in western Galilee
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – In its meeting on Sunday, the Israeli cabinet agreed to form a ministerial committee to examine proposals for establishing a new Arab city in the western Galilee. The idea was presented by Minister of Interior Me’ir Sheetrit, and if the plans go through, it would be the first new Arab city since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. In presenting the idea to the cabinet, Sheetrit argued that "there is a need to expand housing opportunities for non-Jewish citizens by establishing a new Arab city so that new married couples can buy houses there, as happens in any other country in the world. " It is expected that a committee including Arab representatives will propose recommendations for the new city by the end of this year. There are 1. 2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, generally labeled Israeli Arabs in the Israeli media, out of a total Israeli population of 7 million.

Israel to build new Arab city in Galilee
Middle East Online 7/21/2008
JERUSALEM - The Israeli government plans to build a new city for Arabs in the northern region of Galilee to meet the needs of a growing population, the press reported on Monday. The proposal for the city, whose location has still to be determined, was made by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit and approved by the cabinet on Sunday. "There is a need to broaden the range of opportunities available to the non-Jewish population," Sheetrit was quoted as saying. "My aspiration is for a new Arab city in the Galilee, where young couples can buy a house, just like in any other city in the world. " Israel’s population of more than seven million people includes about 1. 2 million Arabs, most of whom live in the north. The press said older Arab cities tend to lack modern infrastructure and adequate building space. The project, which has the backing of the prime minister and the construction. . .

Letters: Security and violence in the Middle East
The Guardian 7/22/2008
There is a sickening irony in the fact that Gordon Brown stayed in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem - blown up by Jewish terrorists exactly 62 years ago (July 22 1946), with the loss of 91 lives - and then proceeded to lecture the Palestinians on the importance of Israel’s security (Brown warns Iran, July 21). Israel was founded on terrorism and continues to use it to this day. Mr Brown should have used the opportunity to advise his friends on the need to end the occupation, stop the IDF’s random acts of violence and remove the illegal settlements. The complete removal of the settlers and their "facts on the ground" will surely be a prerequisite for a lasting peace. Why can’t western leaders stand up to Israel in the same way that they address the likes of Iran? - Ibrahim Hewitt, Leicester

Number of IDF recruits hits 20-year low
Yossi Yehoshua, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Low birth rate, decrease in immigration of youths forces army’s manpower branch to boost monitoring of those seeking exemption for medical, religious reasons while encouraging women to assume more positions -As if draft-dodging wasn’t already taking a considerable bite out of the IDF’s ranks, it now appears that this year’s draft may encounter the smallest age group set for military service in 20 years. This is the peak of the 12% decline in IDF recruits, which began four years ago. The key factor is the relatively low birth rate two decades ago as well as a decrease in the number of immigrants coming to Israel while of a drafting age. Sources in the IDF’s Department of Planning and Manpower Administration estimate that the shortage will be felt primarily in the rear corps and logistic support units. In order to prepare for the possible deficit, the IDF will begin stationing more female soldiers in combat-support positions, freeing more male soldiers for combat units.

Weather update: Slight rise in temperature on Monday
Palestine News Network 7/21/2008
PNN -- The Palestinian Meteorological Service projected high temperatures in Palestine today, Monday. Without exceeding the annual average temperature for this time, the heat is still affecting Palestinian life -- especially when access to water is limited. According to the Israeli Committee against Housing Demolition (ICAHD), international human rights organizations have declared the minimum water needed per person is about 100 liters per day. Whereas Israeli citizens average 360 liters per day, the Palestinian average is only 60 liters each day. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip shopkeepers sit in the shade, while families stay indoors until temperatures drop in the evening. Showers and laundry are kept to a minimum, in order to preserve a household’s weekly water supply. Some areas in the West Bank receive water only two to three times per week.

State of the Economy Index falls
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 7/21/2008
The economy grew in June, but at a slower rate than the first quarter. The Bank of Israel reported that its composite state-of-the-economy index fell by 0. 3% in June. The movement of the index in the last two months indicates a slowdown in the economy’s rate of growth compared with that in the first quarter. In May, there was no change in the index. The decline in the June index was the outcome of falls in the indices of manufacturing production, trade and services revenue, and services exports on the one hand, and rises in the indices of goods imports and exports on the other. Within the overall index, services exports declined in June by 1. 1%, following a 5. 3% drop in May, while goods exports rose by 7. 5% in June, following a 2. 3% decline in May. The imports index went up sharply in June, by 9. 5%, after its steep 7. 3% drop in May.

Hizbullah identifies bodies of 157 gunmen returned by Israel
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Lebanese terror group says DNA tests identified nationalities of retrieved gunmen -Hizbullah has identified 157 gunmen whose bodies Israel returned in a prisoner swap with the Lebanese militant group. Hizbullah says DNA tests identified the nationalities of the gunmen. Among the 157 were Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian and Libyan, a Kuwaiti and a Tunisian. Twenty-one Palestinian gunmen were buried Monday in a cemetery on the edge of a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. Around 95 bodies will be taken to Syria on Tuesday. Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV said DNA tests were still under way to identify the remains of 32 other bodies. Israel released five Lebanese prisoners and the remains of almost 200 gunmen in return for the bodies of IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured by Hizbullah in 2006.

Hizbullah hands over bodies to Palestinian factions; Mughrabi not yet identified
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hizbullah continued their transfer of bodies received from Israel as part of the prisoner swap, to the Palestinian factions the fighters had been affiliated with on Monday. Freed Lebanese prisoner Samir Quntar as well as representatives of several Palestinian factions were present for the transfer. Hizbullah’s TV station Al-Manar stated that 157 corpses were being handed over to Palestinians. They also reported that 28 of the corpses that they received have not yet been unidentified. The report said that Hizbullah was waiting for the results of DNA tests that were being compared to samples taken from family members of the deceased. Amongst the unidentified corpses are those of Dalal Al-Mughrabi and her group. It seems that the bodies were unidentified because they were burried in a mass grave for a number of years.

Moallem presents Sleiman with invitation to Syria
Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star 7/22/2008
BEIRUT: Visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said on Monday that Damascus was keen to open a new chapter in its relations with Lebanon by establishing diplomatic ties between both countries. "Our relations today are on an equal footing," Moallem said after meeting with President Michel Sleiman on the first such visit by a high-ranking Syrian official in more than three years. "There is a new consensus president [in Lebanon] who has trustworthy ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad, and this can help resolve a lot of outstanding issues," he added. Lebanon and Syria said earlier this month that they had agreed to establish diplomatic relations and planned to open embassies in both capitals for the first time since independence from French colonial rule more than 60 years ago. Moallem, during his hours-long visit, handed an invitation to Sleiman from his Syrian counterpart. . .

Fallujah braces for another US-led assault
Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 7/22/2008
FALLUJAH: US and Iraqi forces are preparing another siege of Fallujah under the pretext of combating "terror," residents and officials say. Located 69 kilometers west of Baghdad, the city that suffered two devastating US attacks in 2004 has watched security degrade over recent months. "Ruling powers in the city fighting to gain full control seem willing to use the security collapse to accuse each other of either conspiracy [in lawlessness] or incapability of control," Sufian Ahmad, a lawyer and human rights activist in Fallujah said. "They suddenly changed their tone from saying that the city was the safest in Iraq to claiming that al-Qaeda is a serious threat. Fallujah residents know their so-called leaders are using security threats to terrify them for their own political interests," Ahmad said.

Barak to bereaved parents: We will learn from failures
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Defense minister speaks before families of soldiers fallen in Second Lebanon War, mentions ’closure’ brought by kidnapped soldiers’ burial in Israel. ’We owe you ongoing explanations, painful lessons have been learned,’ he says - "Combat doctrines and the lessons learned by Israel’s leadership are accumulated layer by layer. The significance of collective operational, political, and security experience cannot be underrated when decisions are being made," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday, during his address to the bereaved families at Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, in honor of the two-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. "We owe you ongoing explanations, and on all of Israel’s fronts the last war brought painful lessons with it, of tough battles and operational failures. We must face these failures head-on without fear, acknowledge them and learn from them,". . .

Middle East: Seize chance of peace, Brown urges Israel
Nicholas Watt in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/22/2008
· Knesset must make key compromises, says PM - · Views on West Bank risk creating rift with hosts - Gordon Brown travelled to the heart of Israel’s democracy yesterday to issue a powerful plea for the country’s leaders to seize the opportunity of a lasting peace by making historic compromises. In the first speech by a British prime minister to the Israeli parliament, Brown told the country’s political elite that the "courageous leadership" running the Palestinian Authority offered Israel its best chance for peace in a generation. Brown was given a standing ovation after congratulating Israel on its 60th anniversary in Hebrew - Mazal Tov - and speaking of his lifelong support for the country whose founding in 1948 showed the human spirit is "indomitable". But he risked a rift with some Israeli leaders by calling on them to make three key compromises.

Brown to Knesset: Iran must suspend nuclear bid or face global isolation
Barak Ravid , and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
In the first-ever Knesset address by a British prime minister, Gordon Brown condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for the destruction of Israel as "abhorrent," and vowed that Tehran’s bid to acquire nuclear weapons would not be allowed to pass. It is "totally abhorrent for the president of Iran to call for Israel to be wiped from the map," Brown told lawmakers yesterday. "Iran has a clear choice to make: suspend its nuclear weapons program and accept our offer. . . or face isolation. . . not just of one nation, by all nations around the world. " The British leader condemned recent efforts by British unions to boycott Israel due to its treatment of the Palestinians. "The British government will stand full square against any boycotts of Israel or Israeli academic institutions," he said.

Brown address the Israeli Knesset (Parliament)
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/21/2008
In the first ever Knesset address by a British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown on Monday hailed Israel’s successes in the 60 years since its establishment as the manifestation of "boundless capacity of mind and spirit. " Brown pledged in his speech to stand by Israel and condemn threats against the country by Iran. Prime Minister Brown arrived in the region on Saturday for a three day visit. Brown arrived in West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday morning, where he and Abbas held a press conference at the presidential palace in the city. Gordon then visited the Church of the Nativity before proceeding to the Intercontinental Hotel for the business meeting. In his speech, Brown praised the business meeting and announced the Palestinian-British Business Conference in London. "You are making history. You have agreed to have a Palestinian-British Business Conference in London," Brown said.

Brown warns Iran over nuclear threat
The Independent 7/21/2008
Gordon Brown threatened Iran with tougher sanctions today as he became the first British prime minister to address the Israeli parliament. At the conclusion of his first trip to Jerusalem as Premier, Mr Brown vowed that Britain would stand by Israel’s side as it faced threats to its existence. Condemning as "abhorrent" Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped from the map, he said he would not stand by as Tehran sought to acquire nuclear weapons. The Prime Minister also urged Israel to seize the opportunity of lasting peace with the Palestinians. He was heckled at one point as he raised again the need for Israelis to withdraw from settlements on Palestinian land - an issue over which he clashed with his opposite number, Ehud Olmert, yesterday. Mr Brown, who was greeted at the Knesset with a red carpet and guard of honour,. . .

Reinsurance giants want shekel, not dollar, deals
Ron Stein, Globes Online 7/21/2008
Munich Re client executive Israel Hans Johann Hornisch: Shall we do our reinsurance business in the world’s strongest currency? International reinsurance giant Munich Re AG (DAX: MUV) is intensifying its efforts to change its contracts with Israeli insurance companies to quote in shekels rather than dollars. Munich Re client executive Israel Hans Johann Hornisch sent an e-mail to Israeli companies and the Ministry of Finance Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings Department, asking, "Shall we do our reinsurance business in the world’s strongest currency? "Hornisch wrote, "I would like to reiterate our interest to change the currency for all reinsurance cessions from US dollars to shekels - completely and as soon as possible. Here and there we might need an interim solution but the best for both sides would be a clean cut.

Netanyahu: Fischer’s influence is limited
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 7/21/2008
Netanyahu said, "I have a good opinion of Fischer. I had to persuade him to come. Head of the opposition MK Benjamin Netanyahu said today that Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer has limited influence on the exchange rate. He made the comment at the joint "Globes" and Tapuz TASE and Capital Markets Forum in response to questions from surfers. Netanyahu said, "I have a good opinion of Fischer. I had to persuade him to come. I think that he’s doing the best he can, but his influence is limited. I liken this to waves at sea. You can build a small dam, but the ocean currents are stronger. He made a dramatic move, but it won’t help for long. There was large movement here that reflected the rise of other economies. " Netanyahu also said that Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On’s plan for tax cuts was correct.

Israel to invest NIS 400m in alternative energy
Lior Baron, Globes Online 7/17/2008
The goal is for Israeli companies to achieve NIS 500 million in annual sales in 2012. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that the economic social cabinet is next week expected to approve a strategic plan for encouraging investment in renewable energy. Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On and Minister of National Infrastructures Benjamin Ben-Eliezer head the committee. The government will invest NIS 400 million in the five-year plan for 2008-12. The plan is intended to encourage R&D and production of electricity by renewable energy sources in order to consolidate Israeli industry’s standing as a central player in the global market as the world turns to using renewable energy. The goal is for Israeli renewable energy companies to achieve NIS 500 million in annual sales. Israeli renewable energy companies had NIS 110 million in exports in 2007.

Barak, Vilnai demand NIS 500 million more to fortify Gaza-vicinity communities
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 7/22/2008
Defense minister, his deputy drafting proposal calling for allocation of additional funds to fortify south Israel communities that won’t be protected by ’Iron Dome’ rocket-intercepting system -Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his deputy Matan Vilnai are drafting a bill calling on the government to allocate and additional NIS 500 million ($144 million) for the fortification of Israeli communities located within 4. 5 kilometers (2. 8 miles) of the Gaza security fence. These communities are located in an area considered problematic, as they will not be protected by the ’Iron Dome’ rocket-intercepting system currently under development. The efforts to complete the fortification of the Gaza-vicinity communities come amid fears that the failure to complete the constructionof secure rooms will leave residents of the south exposed in case the Qassam and mortar fire from the Strip is renewed.

Olmert’s attorneys: Talansky issued money transfers in own handwriting
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
If there were doubts as to whether American fund-raiser Morris Talansky was lying or just confused - Monday, on the fourth day of the cross-examination in the cash envelopes affair, the answer was clear. Talansky, who testified so clearly and convincingly in his preliminary testimony that he did not remember a $380,000 transfer from his accounts to those of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s former law partner, attorney Uri Messer, was caught red-handed. In May, after police showed him the money transfer orders from one of his accounts to that of Messer, Talansky told the court: "When I saw them for the first time, I was in shock. I asked the police who the account in Jaffa belonged to and who the trustee was, since I didn’t know anything about it," he said. Talansky hinted that Messer used his accounts without his knowledge, and. . .

What the transcripts teach
Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 7/22/2008
This past week, full transcripts of the two days of questioning of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that were held in May have been published in the mass circulation dailies Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv. Transcripts of the questioning of attorney Uri Messer were published in Haaretz last week and several weeks ago. These reports, which no doubt are of great interest to the public because it is possible to learn a great deal from them about Olmert’s public conduct, are also liable to help coordinate the testimonies and interfere in an investigation that has not yet been completed. So it is very reasonable to assume that it was neither the police nor the State Prosecutor’s Office that leaked the transcripts. The investigation of Olmert is spread like an open book in the newspapers because the person under investigation is a prime minister, and. . .

Braverman appointment finally approved
Lilach Weissman, Globes Online 7/21/2008
His appointment must also be approved by the Knesset Finance Committee, which is expected to vote it down. The Knesset House Committee has approved the nomination of MK Avishai Braverman (Labor) as chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee. After a protracted delay lasting several months, today the coalition finally secured a majority for the appointment, with 16 MKs voting in favor, five opposing it, and two abstentions. The Labor and Kadima MKs on the committee were joined by opposition members from the Arab parties and Meretz who had guaranteed their support. Also voting in favor of Braverman’s nomination were Likud MKs, after parliamentary party chairman Gideon Sa’ar proposed that his party, which previously opposed the appointment, should support it and bring to an end the embarrassing spectacle of the last few months.

Talansky says can’t recall transactions to Olmert’s confidant
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Fourth day of Morris Talansky’s cross examination yields more courtroom drama as PM’s legal team try to chip away at key witness’ testimony -American businessman Morris Talanksy returned to court Monday for a fourth successive day of his grueling cross examination at the hands of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s legal team. Talanksy is the State Prosecutor’s Office’s key witness in the ongoing investigation against Olmert for allegedly receiving illicit funds. His cross examination, as was his testimony, are part of the pre-trail proceedings in the case, intended to determine whether or not the prime minister will face future criminal charges. Olmert’s legal team chose to focus on Talansky’s relationship with attorney Uri Messer, formerly one of Olmert’s closest confidants; who was. . .

Haniyeh: As-Saraya security compound will be replaced with mall
Ma’an News Agency 7/21/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Prime Minister in the de facto government in Gaza, Isma’il Haniyeh, on Sunday promised to remove the "As-Saraya" security compoundin the centre of Gaza City and build in its place a commercial centre. "We will remove the As-Saraya compound completely. We want to erase the compound from our memories and build a great commercial compound instead," Haniyeh said. Ma’an learned that the de facto interior ministry is preparing to build a new prison to house those currently detained in the central prison of Gaza which is inside the As-Saraya compound. Spokesperson of the de facto interior ministry, Eyhab Al-Ghussain, said they had contacted the lands authority in order to sort out an area for the new prison. The locations currently under consideration are what used to be the Israel settlement of Nitsarim or a site near the centre of Khan Younis.

Rice warns Tehran of ’punitive measures’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/22/2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was due to meet Arab allies in the United Arab Emirates on Monday after warning Iran of "punitive measures" if it does not respond seriously in two weeks to an international incentive to freeze sensitive nuclear work. Meanwhile, the White House on Monday signaled that it expected Iran to reject a US-backed incentives package to end sensitive nuclear work and warned Tehran may therefore face additional sanctions. "It is the position of the P5-plus-one that Iran should suspend its uranium enrichment, that we provided a very generous incentives package that they apparently are going to miss an opportunity to accept," said spokeswoman Dana Perino, referring to the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany. Rice "agreed with the other members to allow Iran to have two more weeks but after that I think that Iran could be looking at, is possibly looking at, additional sanctions," she said.

Rice threatens Iran over nuclear drive
Middle East Online 7/21/2008
ABU DHABI - US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Monday after warning Iran of "punitive measures" if it does not respond seriously in two weeks to an international offer to freeze sensitive nuclear work. Rice sought to tighten the screws on Tehran after taking the unprecedented step of sending a top US diplomat to meet Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili at international talks in Geneva. The United States had until Saturday refused to sit with Iran on nuclear talks until it stopped enriching uranium, but changed course to show it was going the extra mile for a diplomatic solution. The meeting sent a "very strong message to the Iranians that they can’t go and stall. . . and that they have to make a decision," Rice told reporters on her way to Abu Dhabi. "It clarifies Iran’s choices and we will see what Iran does in two weeks.

McCain: US will not allow second Holocaust by Iran
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/21/2008
US Republican presidential candidate tells Channel 2 News that ’US could impose stiffer sanctions on Iran,’ but in any event ’cannot allow a second Holocaust’ - American presidential candidate John McCain told Israel’s Channel 2 News station that stiffer sanctions might stop Iran’s threats against Israel. In the interview broadcast Monday, the Republican candidate said that in any event, the US would not allow Iran to try to destroy Israel. McCain’s interview with Channel 2 TV aired just before Democratic candidate Barack Obama is due to arrive in Israel. Asked aboutIsrael feeling the need to attack Iran, McCain replied, "I would hope that would never happen. I would hope that Israel would not feel that threatened. "He added that the US and Europe could impose "significant, very painful sanctions on Iran which I think could modify their behavior.

Obama meets Iraqi PM in Baghdad
Dean Yates and Wisam Mohammed, Reuters, The Independent 7/21/2008
Barack Obama met Iraq’s prime minister today to get a first-hand assessment of security in the country, where violence is at its lowest level since early 2004. But the US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama did not raise his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months in his talks with Iraq’s PM Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi government’s spokesman said. "This issue, we do not discuss. . . ," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters when asked if Obama had brought up the 16-month timeframe. "Obama did not speak about anything which concerns the Iraqi government because he does not have any official (government) capacity. " Obama’s visit thrusts US strategy in Iraq and troop levels to the centre of the November election race between the first-term senator from Illinois and Republican candidate John McCain.

Army breaks up protest against detainees in Syria
Jessica Naimeh, Daily Star 7/22/2008
BEIRUT: Parents of Lebanese held in Syrian prisons went once again to the streets on Monday morning protesting against the detention in Syria of their relatives. The demonstration took an unfortunate turn of events as the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) violently forced the protesters to move away as they were trying to intercept Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem’s convoy to the presidential palace in Baabda. The protest was organized with the help of the civil society representatives, human-rights associations and local and international NGOs. The groups have held similar demonstrations in the past, but this time, the protest was called to coincide with Moallem’s visit to Lebanon. "We, as civil society organizations, want to confirm the existence of Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons," said Ghazi Aad, founder of Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile (SOLIDE), an NGO which. . .

Syrian FM in Beirut, says determined to rebuild ties with Lebanon
Associated Press, YNetNews 7/21/2008
Visiting top diplomat meets with newly-elected Lebanese president, pledges Damascus sincere in its interest to establish diplomatic relations with Beirut - Syria’s foreign minister said Monday his country was determined to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon for the first time since the two neighbors gained independence from France more than 60 years ago. Visiting Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem made the announcement after talks with President Michel Suleiman on relations between the two Arab nations, strained since the 2005 assassination in a car bomb of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri, which many Lebanese blame on Syria. Al-Moallem’s official visit here, the first by a top Syrian official in at least three years, came amid growing calls on Damascus to establish diplomatic relations and demarcate its border with Lebanon, moves that would. . .

LEBANON: Fresh Disputes Shadow New Govt
Mona Alami, Inter Press Service 7/21/2008
BEIRUT, Jul 21(IPS) - The new government’s first official snapshot taken at the presidential palace last week was certainly worth a thousand words. While 28 of the 30 cabinet ministers were dressed in the traditional white suits, two -- Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi and State Minister Wael Abou Faour -- wore dark colours. Between them they emphasised some of Lebanon’s eternal dichotomies. Lebanon’s government was finally formed Jul. 11 some six weeks after the Doha agreement, which allowed for the election of consensus president Michel Suleiman and the implementation of a new electoral law. The agreement put an end to the week-long civil conflict between the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority (including the Sunni Future movement, Druze Progressive Socialist Party and the Christian Lebanese Forces and Kataeb party) and the pro-Syrian Shia-dominated parliamentary minority (comprising. . .

Syria seeks new chapter in ties with Lebanon
Middle East Online 7/21/2008
BEIRUT - Visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Monday that Damascus was keen to open a new chapter in its relations with Lebanon and to delineate the border between both countries. "Our relations today are on an equal footing," Muallem told a press conference after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman on the first such visit by a high-ranking Syrian official in more than three years. "There is a new consensus president (in Lebanon) who has trustworthy ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and this can help resolve a lot of outstanding issues," he added. Lebanon and Syria said earlier this month that they had agreed to establish diplomatic relations and planned to open embassies in both capitals for the first time since independence from French colonial rule more than 60 years ago.


Articles


A Kidnapping in the Valley
Gideon Levy, MIFTAH 7/21/2008
      It was kidnapping, there is no other way to describe it. When you put two young shepherds into a jeep and imprison them for no reason on an IDF base for a night, while their families are out of their minds with fear, that’s kidnapping. When nobody in the IDF knows about the kidnapping, and the army even sends a jeep to help the parents look for their children, it’s also sadly grotesque. When the kidnappers tell the two brothers: "We know that your parents and the IDF are searching for you, but we won’t tell them you’re here," that’s already very serious.
     Each soldier makes the law in the territories. Two Bedouin shepherd children who were grazing their sheep in areas that belong to their parents and their neighbors - but where the IDF does not allow them to graze - were detained and carried off without any justification, without any legal proceeding, apparently without anyone knowing about the brutal deed. The soldiers who carried out the kidnapping saw no need to report the detention and imprisonment to their superiors.
     All night long, shepherd Salah Basharat searched for his children. Not until late morning did Saliman, 15, and Mashhur, 14, arrive home on foot. The family’s miserable encampment is imprisoned between the Jordan Valley settlements of Bekaot and Ro’i. This was not the first time soldiers had detained his sons, but usually they were released after an hour or two of being held at the checkpoint.

Denied Entry: another step in the ethnic cleansing process of Jerusalem

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 7/21/2008
      PNN exclusive - Ziad Sad is one of millions of Palestinians living in the Diaspora now. He is a Jerusalem resident currently being denied entry to his own country and city. He is in the United States, San Francisco, California to be exact. He was separated from his wife and two children. From the occupied West Bank, PNN spoke Sad at 2:00 am, Pacific Standard Time.
     "Thank you very much for this interview. These problems started back in 2005 when I went to the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, California, and there at the Consulate they confiscated my Israeli Travel Document and they asked me to leave the Consulate immediately.
     "I said, ’I am here to renew my set of documents, or get extensions’; but they said, ’No, we have orders from the Israeli Minister of Interior to confiscate this set of documents and not return them to you."
     ldquo;I got upset, and I decided to stay at the Consulate and not leave until they gave it [the official Travel Document] back to me. The people at the consulate said, 'No, we're not going to give it back to you, and if you don't leave right now you will be accused of terrorism. We'll call the FBI and you'll be thrown in jail.' I was scared, and decided to leave, and this [confiscation of my Travel Document] lost me my residency in Jerusalem.

Taking you home: ''Palestinian Walks''

Lora Gordon, Electronic Intifada 7/21/2008
      The travel memoir fills our shelves with vicarious adventure. It leads us down the roads we will never travel and feeds us at tables where we will never sit. Who needs ordinary life? We want our chutes down Niagara; we want our treks up Everest. More than anything we want our journeys into ancient and exotic worlds.
     With such dreams in hand did 19th-century Western travelers visit the Levant (present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine and Jordan) in search of the biblical "Holy Land." Thus they came, saw and recorded their fantasy and their disappointment, and bound them together into a beautiful canon of half-truths and outright lies that first helped shape popular perception and finally were used to help justify the colonization of Palestine.
     Who could imagine "a land without a people" without William Thackeray’s vivid depiction of Palestine as "parched mountains, with a grey bleak olive tree trembling here and there; savage ravines and valleys paved with tombstones -- a landscape unspeakably ghastly and desolate ..."

Welcome Home for One Month Only

Yasmin Abou-Amer, MIFTAH 7/21/2008
      On July 5, 1950, the Israeli Knesset enacted item 5710-1950, otherwise known as the Law of Return. This law was to change the demographics of Palestine forever, beginning with just a few simple words: “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an Oleh [immigrant to Israel]” and “A Jew who has come to Israel and subsequent to his arrival has expressed his desire to settle in Israel may, while still in Israel, receive an Oleh’s certificate”.In essence, any Jew, from any part of the world, was afforded the right to simply show up and declare themselves citizens of Israel.In the eyes of the Jews, 2000 years of wandering were officially over.Unfortunately, for the Palestinians, the real struggle was just beginning.That very law, enacted some 58 years ago, still welcomes those making Aliyah (literally meaning ‘ascent’).The Law of Entry into Israel is the law that governs the entry of those not making Aliyah and it is this very law which is now being called into question, with Israel tightening its grip on issuing visas to tourists and for work purposes.
     Having only a week ago experienced the infamous Passport Control interrogation at Ben Gurion Airport, it intrigued me as to how exactly Israel decides who should and should not be allowed into their country. I arrived at Ben Gurion in the early hours of the morning, to be greeted by not one but two Israeli immigration officials. After welcoming me to Israel, they opened my British passport to discover my Palestinian surname. This immediately appeared to incriminate me in their eyes and I was asked to go into a room with another officer who questioned me for over one hour as to the purpose of my visit in Israel. When I explained that I wanted to stay until late September, he coolly explained to me that it was “illegal” for me to be granted more than a month in the country (although he could offer no sound reasoning) and proceeded to stamp my passport with a three-month stamp, then corrected it by hand to permit me one month only....

The Palestinian Bar Mitzvah

Bassam Aramin writing from occupied Jerusalem, Electronic Intifada 7/21/2008
      My son Arab is 14, just past the age that his Jewish Israeli peers are celebrating their Bar Mitzvahs. This ceremony in Jewish culture is a rite of passage that marks a boy’s entrance into the realities and responsibilities of adulthood. And last week, my son experienced something akin to the Palestinian Bar Mitzvah.
     It was a beautiful day on Friday the 12 July when Arab went with his friends to the beach in Tiberias. He spent all of his time in the days leading up to the trip trying to convince me that I should let him go. At first I refused -- he’s young to be traveling so far in a group without his parents. But then I remembered the regret I still feel about the death of my daughter Abir.
     Abir was ten when she was killed by Israeli occupation forces on 16 January 2007 in front of her school in Anata. That morning, when she asked her mother and me for permission to play with her friends after school, I’d refused. I told her, "Don’t even think of coming home late, come back right away so you can prepare for your next exam." And she answered me with the last words I ever heard from her, petulant and innocent. "Well, I’m going to be late." She was angry with me. She was late that day, but not because she met her friends. A bullet from an Israeli border patrolman found her instead, and she never came back. I regret having refused her request, not knowing that it would be her last -- that she would be late despite me and despite herself.

An open letter to Ehud Barak

Bassam Aramin, Translated by Mimi Asnes, Palestine Think Tank 7/21/2008
      Honorable General Ehud Barak, you don’t know me personally. I am a seeker of peace, and I struggle with all my strength and ability for the realization of a just peace that will bring calm and prosperity to Palestinians and Israelis together. I have suffered personally from your criminal occupation and I have paid a heavy price. Firstly, I was imprisoned when I was 17 years old and wasted seven years of my life in your barbaric prisons. Secondly, have you perhaps read or heard about what happened to the young girl Abir Aramin? She was a ten-year-old that your soldiers killed with a rubber bullet from a distance of 15 feet on January 16th, 2007 in front of her eleven-year-old sister Areen. Despite this I, the father of Abir—may she rest in peace—believe in the right of the Israeli person, as in the right of all people, to exist and to live in peace and security. So why do you not believe in our right to enjoy these same things, sir?
     Where was the democratic nature of your state when your heroic soldiers killed my daughter before the eyes of her friends at the entrance to her school in Anata? Where were your democratic ideals when you closed the investigation file into Abir’s murder for lack of sufficient evidence, this despite the fact that the crime is clear and was committed in front of more than ten witnesses? Was Abir really a threat to your soliders, sir?

Arab Mediation Efforts Undermined by Lack of Accountability

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 7/21/2008
      The unprecedented success of recent Arab mediation vis-a-vis Lebanon raises the question of whether Arab mediation is a viable route to take in other conflicts and matters of Arab concern.
     The escalation in tensions that led to an outbreak of violent confrontations two months ago in Lebanon created widespread fear that another civil war might erupt. This brought Arab countries, first represented by the Arab League and later the leadership of Qatar, to exert pressure on the different Lebanese parties to sit down for reconciliation. This in turn led to agreement resulting in the creation of a new national unity government.
     One of the main lessons from that experience is that since the Lebanese tensions were partly a reflection of the conflicting interests of Arab countries supporting different Lebanese parties, a solution was possible only when these competing governments were willing to reconcile. The fact that Syria and Saudi Arabia were part of the collective Arab effort was a significant and decisive factor in ensuring its success.

While Nablus is raided: Gordon Brown, another false prophet praises Israel

Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/21/2008
      As British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was having an audience with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, the Israeli occupation army was raping anew the Palestinian town of Nablus, rounding up and humiliating innocent people, violating homes and vandalizing businesses.
     On Sunday and early Monday, the so-called Israeli Defense Forces raided the northern city, for the fourth time in less than three weeks, as thousands of CIA-trained Palestinian security personnel were watching from their comfortable headquarters nearby.
     The invading forces arrested dozens of innocent people, including a lawmaker named Muna Mansur, the wife of an Islamic political leader who was murdered by a Jewish death squad while sitting in his office in downtown Nablus several years ago.

American Jews on Jerusalem: We’ll Probably Never Go There, But Palestinians Can’t Share It!

Philip Weiss, Palestine Think Tank 7/20/2008
      The new alternative Jewish lobby is proving its worth. Yesterday J Street released a detailed survey of American Jewish political opinion. J Street interprets this data in a favorable way to its own efforts, saying that overwhelmingly Jews vote Democratic, oppose Bush’s actions in the Middle East, and want a two-state solution– by 3 to 1. But you know me, I’m skeptical about progressive claims about Jewish opinion with respect to the Middle East, and I find support here. What the study shows is that when you get to brass tacks about Israel, American Jews are hawkish.
     Yes, they have an unfavorable view of Joe Lieberman (by 48 to 37 favorable). Yes they will support Obama (but only 60-34 over McCain; bad news for Obama, who wants to get to 70 or 80). Yes they are for talking to Iran, not attacking it (Great!). Yes they are for an aggressive U.S. peacemaking role in the Middle East. Yes they call for sacrifices by Israel to achieve peace. Yes they disavow the neocons! Memo to Doug Feith: 13 percent of American Jews have a favorable view of neocons, 58 percent an unfavorable view, man you are in deep doo-doo. But under that is a hard core of hawkishness.
     Consider these data points. By 60-28 Jews are more-likely-than-less likely to support a candidate who says that Israel is America’s greatest ally and we must let the world know that and we must never publicly disagree with Israel. When you make the statement more hawkish–America must do everything it can to protect Israel’s security, even if that means attacking Iran if it pursues nuclear weapons, and cutting off aid to Palestinians if their text books don’t recognize Israel, there is still a 48 more-likely to 41 less-likely split. Jews are tough when it comes to Israel! If a candidate were to say, Israel has repeatedly extended her hand to her enemies and been rejected year after year, and we must work with Israel to eliminate her enemies, Jews will love you– 65/23.

There are no losers if talks proliferate

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 7/19/2008
      The fact, announced this week, that the third-ranking US State Department official will join the international talks with Iran in Geneva today is a smart move, not a humiliating defeat for the United States. Israel for its part was forced to swallow its pride and its words Wednesday when it exchanged Lebanese prisoners for the bodies of its two soldiers whom Hizbullah had abducted in 2006, sparking that summer’s war.
     Both the US and Israel are doing things they had said they would never do: the US sits and talks with Iran before Tehran has suspended uranium enrichment, and Israel does a diplomatic deal to retrieve its soldiers’ bodies after it had failed to achieve that goal by vicious and prolonged warfare. The fact that the US and Israel were both politically humbled on the same day has been widely interpreted as victories for Iran and Hizbullah. That is too simplistic a reading of the dynamics in the region.
     Hizbullah and Iran generate widespread support among Arab public opinion because they defy and resist the US and its allies. Iran and Hizbullah have emerged as the vanguards and bookends of a broad, loose coalition of forces - parties, militias, governments, grassroots movements and several hundred million ordinary men and women - that have stood up to US-Israeli military might and diplomatic swagger, and in places successfully faced them down. They have fought the US-Israeli-Arab conservative alliance to a draw, but they have not defeated their ideological foes.