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

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29 July 2008

10-Year old shot dead at Nil’in
International Solidarity Movement 7/29/2008
Ramallah Region - A 10 year old boy called Ahmed Ussam Yusef Mousawas shot dead at approximately 6pm near the Palestinian village of Nil’in. He was shot once in the head at close range with live ammunition. According to eye witnesses a group of youths attempted to remove coils of razor wire from land belonging to the village. Without warning, they were fired upon and Ahmed was killed. Israeli newspaper Maariv reported in March that the Israeli authorities have given a new order to border police operating along the apartheid wall surrounding Jerusalem. They can now open fire directly on Palestinians who try to demonstrate near the barrier. But sniping is forbidden if there are Israeli or foreign citizens amongst demonstrators. According to ISM volunteers inside Nil’in, confrontations are now taking place between villagers and the Israeli forces; shots have been heard and five people are said to have been wounded.

Israeli army set fire to Nablus furniture store; losses estimated at $3 million
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Nablus - Ma’an - The Israeli army set fire to a furniture store early on Tuesday morning on Al-Quds Street in Nablus, and the losses were estimated at $3 million. Sabri Hindiyyeh, a partner of Qaser Hindiyyeh furniture, told Ma’an, "the Israeli army fired light and smoke bombs into the store at 2am on Tuesday, turning everything in the shop to ashes. " Sabri says that he has no idea why the army attacked the four-storey establishment, and appealed to PA officers to intervene and help them deal with disaster. For the last few weeks Israeli forces have stepped up their operations in Nablus, with raids resulting in mass arrests and the closing of major commercial centers. Also on Tuesday morning Palestinian security sources said that Israeli forces detained 28-year-old Ma’moun As-Safadi after storming his house in the old city of Nablus.

Settlers throw stones at Palestinians and set fires to olive and almond trees surrounding Burin village
International Womens’ Peace Service 7/29/2008
Date of incident: July 27th, 2008 - Time of incident: Approximately 6:30pm - Place: Burin, Nablus district - Witness/es: Villagers, IWPS volunteers - Description of Incident - At approximately 6:30pm on July 27th, settlers from the illegal outpost Bracha A attacked two Palestinian shepherds from the village of Burin in the Nablus district. Two Palestinians who were grazing their goats reported that fifteen settlers tried to take some of the goats away. One settler was armed. They threw stones at the Palestinians who managed to run with the goats from the grazing slopes back to the road leading into the village. The shepherds proceeded to alert other villagers and were soon joined by approximately fifteen other boys and men some of whom began throwing stones back at the settlers.

International Federation of Journalists slams Hamas for arresting Palestinian reporters
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called on Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip to release all reporters who were arrested by security forces loyal to the movement, and demanded Hamas to issue an official apology to all media outlets and affected reporters. Last week a group of Hamas masked gunmen, who identified themselves as “internal security forces” in Gaza arrested Sawwah Abu Saif, a Palestinian cameraman working with the ARD German agency. The gunmen also abducted Fuad Abu Jarad, a local Palestinian reporter. Also, Hamas security forces broke into the headquarters of the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, and confiscated some of its equipment before shutting it down. The Hamas-controlled forces also broke into a center which includes several media agencies such as an office for Abu Dhabi TV, Fox News, and Sky News. IFJ secretary-general, Aidan White, demanded Hamas officials to ensure the release of all detained reporters and to apologize to all agencies that its gunmen broke into.

Fatah, Hamas in war of words as officials head to Egypt for factional talks
Agence France Presse, Daily Star 7/30/2008
Tit-for-tat arrests continued on Tuesday between rival Palestinian factions with the Fatah Movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raiding a pro-Hamas village in the Occupied West Bank as delegations from both sides headed to Egypt for talks aimed at ending the recent internal flare-up. Witnesses said at least one person was shot and wounded and another arrested when forces loyal to Abbas stormed the village of Silwad, the family home of exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, at dawn. The local mayor is a member of Hamas and the village is considered a stronghold of the Islamist movement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. A Palestinian security official said forces targeted a band of car thieves and arrested an individual "wanted by the law" but denied there was any political motivation behind the operation.

Arab MK demands Israel lift restrictions on West Bank university students
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – In a speech delivered to the Israeli Knesset (parliament) on Tuesday, deputy Muhammad Baraka said that the arbitrary actions taken by Israeli authorities against West Bank Palestinians studying at Israeli universities are unreasonable and unacceptable in a democratic state. Baraka is Knesset member (MK) representing the Democratic Front. This came after the discovery of a letter sent by the heads of Israeli universities to Defense Minister Ehud Barak demanding that the Israeli security authorities stop intervening in the affairs of Israeli academic institutions, specifically in relation to admission decisions for students from the West Bank. Israeli authorities impose significant restrictions on Palestinian students from the West Bank wishing to study at Israeli universities. Only 70 students from the West Bank are permitted to study at Israeli universities. . .

Naalin commander ordered to go on 10-day leave
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/29/2008
Northern command chief suspends senior officer following shooting of bound Palestinian in during anti-fence rally, citing ’moral and authoritative failure’ -Northern Command Chief Major-General Gadi Eisenkot ordered Battalion 71 Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Omri to go on a 10-day leave of absence Tuesday following the incident in the West Bank Palestinian village of Naalin, in which a soldier under his command fired a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian detainee during an anti-fence rally. Major-General Eisenkot noted that the incident indicated a severe lapse in judgment and a "moral and authoritative failure" on the commander’s part. The Lt. Col. continues to maintain that the soldier acted independently, however Ynet has learned that he recently failed the polygraph test he was subjected to.

More abuse charges for Naalin officer
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/29/2008
Palestinian paramedic accuses Lt. -Col. Omri of arresting, debasing him without cause. ’He put his shoes on me, spit on me, beat me,’ paramedic says. IDF: Man is known felon with prior record - Another resident of Naalin has filed a complaint against Lt. -Col. Omri, who is already under investigation for the shooting incident that occurred during an anti-fence protest at the West Bank village, in which one of his soldiers was documented firing rubber bullets at a bound demonstrator. Salah Khawaja, a Palestinian paramedic, filed a complaint against the officer whom he claims beat him at the IDF’s Maccabim base. The Investigating Military Police (IMP) has been ordered to launch an investigation into the matter. During an interview with Ynet the paramedic said that on July 13 he was arrested by IDF soldiers during an anti-fence rally in Naalin.

Israeli forces detain member of village council and extend detention of deputy Mansour
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Ahrar center for prisoner research and human rights claimed on Tuesday that Israeli forces detained a member of the village council of Shuqba village to the west of Ramallah, 40-year-old Suhaila Shalash, while she was returning home from Al-Omra on Monday. Suhaila Shalash is a mother of six, headmistress of the school of Riyad Al-Atfal and was elected as a member of the council in the last elections. Head of the Ahrar center, Fouad Al-Khafash, said in a statement that such detentions of village and municipal council members have been increasing recently along with the detention of women. Al-Khafash also confirmed that the period of detention for Palestinian Legislative Council member, Muna Mansour, would be extended for another eight days. Mansour has been detained for over a week now and has beentransferred to HaSharon women’s prison.

Israeli arrests of women on the rise
Amin Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 7/29/2008
Nablus -- Last night Israeli forces arrested 40 year old mother Suhaila Shellesh in Shuqba Village near Ramallah. The Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights reported on Tuesday that Shellesh is the mother of six children and the director of an elementary school. She was also elected to serve on the Shuqba Village council. Director of the Ahrar Center, Fuad Al Khafash, said the abduction of municipal and village council members, especially women, has increased recently. Israeli forces arrested Nablus municipal council member Mrs. Khulud Masri earlier this month and stormed the house of Dr. Magda Fidah. The Israeli military court also extended Palestinian Legislative Council deputy Muna Mansour’s sentence by eight days. She was arrested as a member of the Change and Reform bloc, affiliated with the Hamas party, in the PLC.

Soldiers kidnap village council member
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped on Monday evening, Soheila Shallash, 40, member of Shaqba village council, west of Ramallah, as she was heading back home after conducting the pilgrimage in Mecca. The Center slammed the abduction and stated that the Israeli army recently kidnapped several Palestinian women in the occupied West Bank. Fuad Al Khuffash, head of the center, stated that Soheila is a mother of six children and was elected by the residents of her village in democratic elections. He stated that Israel continues its violations against the elected Palestinian officials, especially legislators, mayors, members of city councils and continues to detain the head of the legislative council, Dr. Aziz Dweik. Al Khuffash also said that Israel recently kidnapped several Palestinian women who are members of councils

Hamas PLC member calls on de facto government to stop ''illegal'' practices
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Yahya Al-Abadsah, on Monday called on the de facto government in the Gaza Strip to immediately stop all "illegal procedures against charities and civil society associations" and the arbitrary arrest of political opponents. Al-Abadsah said that it is illegal to close institutions arbitrarily and without proper regard to legal procedures. He went on to call on the de facto government to prevent the involvement of all armed groups, not part of official security services, in the lives of Palestinian citizens. Al-Abadsah also raised concerns that there was not a commitment to the human rights of individuals arrested or detained in the Gaza Strip. He said that human rights and public freedoms should always be taken into account because they are guaranteed by Palestinian basic law.

Death toll reaches 221 as two more patients die in The Gaza Strip
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
Two more patients died this morning bringing the number of deaths in the Gaza strip due to the year long Israeli siege to 221, medical sources reported. Nabeel Buheri, an 11 year-old child, died of a heart failure this morning after being banned from getting out of the Gaza strip to seek life-saving medical treatment. Also 55 year old Hidaya Issa died of cancer after many failed attempts to get out of the strip for treatment. Hundreds of patient's lives are threatened by the lack of medical supplies in the strip because of the imposed siege. Most of them are women and children. Last month both Israeli and Palestinian Resistance factions in Gaza agreed to a truce, as a result of Egyptian mediation efforts. The deal stipulates that Hamas will stop the firing of homemade shells into Israeli territory in exchange for Israel lifting the 12 month-blockade and ceasing all military attacks against the Coastal Region.

Gaza students still waiting and losing hope
Rami Almeghari - Rami Almeghari & IMEMC, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
These days Rami Abdo’s duties include gardening, teaching and caring for his 10-year-old nephew. Abdo, a 30-year-old student from Gaza City, is still waiting along with hundreds of others to attend universities abroad. Yet, their waiting has lasted for more than a year now as Israel has closed all of Gaza’s border crossings. "I wake up every morning with [the] hope that I will be able to travel to Britain, where I am supposed to pursue my Ph. D in finance. But hope is fading away everyday as Israel continues to delay and delay. " Abdo, who is a representative of the stranded students and spokesman of the popular committee for breaking the Israeli siege, explained that most of the students have exhausted all efforts and coordination procedures through the Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and all other concerned parties.

Khudari: The anti-siege ship will sail to Gaza regardless of Israel’s fears
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, stated Tuesday that the ship which is scheduled to leave Cyprus for Gaza to break the Israeli siege will sail despite the fears voiced by Israel towards this anti-siege voyage. The Israeli Ha’aretz newspaper revealed that Israel has worries of peace activists’ determination to go on a voyage to Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli siege, adding that the IOA is not certain about the seriousness of the organizers. In a press release received by the PIC, MP Khudari noted that the personalities who will take part in this voyage are insistent on arriving at Gaza, stressing that this voyage is considered a peaceful civil resistance against the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza. The lawmaker also pointed out that the participants started to arrive in Cyrus in preparation for the sailing venture towards the besieged Strip.

Israel agrees to dismantle sections of the Wall near Qalqilia
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
Israel finally agreed o dismantle a 2. 4 Kilometer section of the Annexation Wall north of Qalqilia in the northern part of the West Bank. The decision came after five years of deliberations in Israeli courts. The decision will enable the Palestinians regain 2. 600 Dunams of agricultural lands that are isolated behind the Wall. The lands belong to residents of Jayyous and Falamia villages. Israel already bulldozed 100 hothouses that belong to the villagers and constructed the section of the Wall in a way that kept the orchards isolated behind it, near Tzofim settlement. The court decided that after this section of the Wall is removed and that a fence will be placed closer to the Green Line which separates Israel and the West Bank. The cost is estimated at NIS 50 million. This new route was proposed several years ago by the Council for Peace and Security but the Israeli government ignored it.

A change in the route of the Apartheid Wall near Jayyus sanctions the land confiscation
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/28/2008
After a five-year battle against the Apartheid Wall, the Occupation courts presented the villagers in Jayyous with a decision that de facto sanctions both the Wall and the settlement expansion that it secures. The Israeli Occupation Authorities agreed to change the route of the Apartheid Wall near Jayyus village to the north of Qalqiliya, by replacing a 2. 4-kilometer stretch with 4. 9 kilometers of Wall closer to the Green Line (approximately 4 kilometers inside the West Bank). The change in the route of the Apartheid Wall will return 2,609 dunums (out of almost 9,000 dunums) of agricultural land to its Palestinian owners, while 5,585 dunums will be confiscated once and for all and will be used for settlement expansion plans. A further 277 dunums of land will be razed for the new path of the Wall. Farmers will be completely cut off from their lands that are on the other side of the. . .

PA officials tell ’Post’: PA on brink of bankruptcy
Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
The Palestinian Authority is facing a severe financial crisis due to the failure of donor countries to fulfill their pledges to fund the Palestinians, PA officials in Ramallah said Monday. The officials told The Jerusalem Post that the PA wouldn’t be able to pay July salaries to more than 150,000 public servants and may be forced to close down several government institutions as a result of the deepening crisis. The officials disclosed that the deficit in the PA budget has risen in the past six months from $1. 6 billion to $2b. "We are facing a real crisis," a top PA official told the Post, adding "we are on the brink of bankruptcy. " Another PA official warned that the financial crisis would undermine the PA and limit its ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel. "We will lose the support of the Palestinian public if we stop paying salaries to our civil servants and policemen," he said.

Cash-strapped Palestinian government seeks World Bank’s help
Reuters, YNetNews 7/29/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad short on funds, unable to pay public workers; appeals to World Bank for emergency funds - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has appealed to the World Bank to help him secure emergency financing to bridge a shortfall in donor funds and pay public workers, Palestinian and European sources said Tuesday. Fayyad is seeking a so-called comfort letter from the international lending agency to obtain short-term private bank funding, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. His unusual appeal underscores the extent of the Palestinian Authority’s budget crisis despite billions of dollars in aid pledged last year as part of a US-backed peace drive.

Fayyad seeks emergency funds from World Bank
Middle East Online 7/29/2008
RAMALLAH - Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday requested emergency funding from the World Bank to pay Palestinian Authority staff, one of his aides said. "Prime Minister Fayyad requested emergency funding from the World Bank’s trust fund," the aide said on condition of anonymity, adding that the amount requested was 120 million dollars. Since president Mahmud Abbas appointed the former World Bank economist as premier following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, Fayyad has struggled to resurrect the economy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The international community has pledged over 7. 4 billion dollars in reconstruction aid to underpin US-backed peace talks but economic development has been stymied by Israeli restrictions on movement and access. The Palestinian Authority has struggled to bridge massive budget shortfalls and pay its 160,000 civil servants in the West Bank and Gaza.

U.S. to explore upgrades for Israel’s defense capabilities
Shlomo Shamir, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
U. S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday that the Bush administration was prepared to consider upgrading Israel’s missile defense capabilities. Gates told Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is visiting Washington, that the U. S. would explore a number of options includin ballistic missile early warning launch data, a forward based X-Band radar system, other missile defense assets, and counter measures to short-range rocket and mortar attacks. Barak is considering purchasing or borrowing several Phalanx automated cannons from the United States. The cannons intercept incoming mortar shells and short-range rockets, and would be used to defend Sderot and other Negev towns from rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The defense minister was expected to ask Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to appraise the Phalanx’s performance.

Left parties organise Gaza sit-in to protest explosions and aftermath
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinine’s three main leftist parties organized a sit-in protest on Tuesday in Unknown Soldier square in Gaza City to condemn Friday’s explosions in Gaza City and to call for the halting of politically-motivated arrests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Senior leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Rabah Mhanna said the sit-in was held to condemn the explosions and also to call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, to this end he demanded the formation of an impartial investigation committee into the incident. Salih Zaydan, senior leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) added that Hamas’ reaction was unjustified and the Palestinian people are united in condemning it because "nobody has the right to destroy civil society institutions or assault them. "

DFLP leader: no concrete evidence of Fatah involvement in Gaza beach explosion
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Salih Zeidan, a Gazan member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) political bureau, on Tuesday cautioned that there was no concrete evidence linking Fatah to the explosion on the Gaza beach which killed five Hamas members and a young girl on Friday evening. In a press statement, Zeidan noted, "I cannot say that any concrete evidence has been presented up to this moment concerning the alleged Fatah involvement in the attack, and no scientific evidence has been shown to us or the general public. "He stressed that the DFLP condemns the attacks and the actions of the de facto government, including the mass arrests, closure of PLO or Fatah-affiliated organisations, and confiscation of computers and other equipment. Zeidan added that because of the scale of Friday’s explosion, the number of people killed. . .

DFLP leftist Zeidan to PNN: Major demonstration in Gaza against bombings
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/29/2008
Gaza -- There is no concrete evidence that Fateh had anything to do with the three bombings that took place within 24 hours in Gaza, leftist Saleh Zeidan told PNN yesterday, Monday. Today the leftists have called for a major demonstration and rally in Gaza to protest the bombings, the response, and the state of division. Although there has not been evidence provided that Fateh had anything to do with last week’s bombings, but many blame them just as most disagree with Hamas’ response against Fateh. There is also talk that the entire situation was orchestrated by outside forces, mainly the Israelis. The initial Gaza bombing took place outside a beach cafe frequented by Hamas members, killing one person and injuring three others. An additional explosion occurred near the house of Hamas member Marwan Abu Ras without causing injury, and an unknown assailant bombed a car resulting in the death of five Hamas members and a young girl.

Blast rockets Hamas training camp in Gaza, 5 hurt
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
A huge blast late Tuesday rocked a training base run by the Islamist group Hamas in southern Gaza, and at least five people were hurt, witnesses and a health official said. Ambulances raced to the scene of the blast late Tuesday, on the site of an evacuated Jewish settlement next to the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. The explosion could be heard all over the city. It was not immediately known what caused the blast. Neither Hamas nor the Israeli military had an immediate comment. Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian Health Ministry said two of the five wounded were in critical condition. He said all five were Hamas members. Israel and Hamas have been observing a truce that stopped Gaza rocket fire and Israeli reprisal raids. But in recent days there has been tension between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and their rivals from Fatah, which is led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Explosion rocks Hamas training camp, 6 wounded
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Medics, witnesses say several wounded after explosion in encampment operated by Islamist group in southern Gaza. Fearing people may be trapped under debris at scene, Hamas military wing sends earthmovers to aid rescue efforts -A massive explosion rocked a training camp belonging to Hamas in southern Gaza late Tuesday night. Medical officials and witnesses reported at least six operatives belonging to the Islamist group were wounded in the incident. Fearing there may be others still trapped under heavy debris, Hamas’ military wing said it dispatched earthmovers to the site, which was built on the ruins of anIsraeli settlement near the town of Khan Younis. Emergency response teams swarmed the scene of the disaster, the explosion having echoed loudly throughout the neighboring town.

Israeli forces storm Ash-Shuhada village
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - Israeli forces stormed the village of Ash-Shuhada south of Jenin early on Tuesday raiding a house there. Eyewitnesses said that the house of 60-year-old Yossor Wishahi was stormed and searched at 1. 30am by Israeli forces after five military vehicles entered the town from the Jenin-Nablus road and asked people through loudspeakers to evacuate the houses and lift their clothes up so that they could be searched. They stayed in the village until 4am and gave the owner of the house and his son an order to go to Salem military post in the west of Jenin city. This house has been attacked several times within the last few months and it is the same house in which Ghassan Wishahi was arrested ten days ago. The village has also been stormed several times in the last week. In one raid Israeli forces surrounded the main café in the village and detained 23-year-old Yousef Asa’sa.

Israeli army invades West Bank cities kidnapping five civilians
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
The Israeli army invaded the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus on Tuesday morning, kidnapping five civilians. Local sources reported that Israeli army invaded Hebron city at dawn, as Israeli troops searched and ransacked several houses in different villages kidnapping four civilians. Meanwhile, a number of Israeli vehicles invaded Nablus city, Israeli troops searched several houses kidnapping Ma’moon Al Safadi, 28, taking him to unknown destination. In addition to that Israeli army continued targeting businesses on Nablus as it set a four floor furniture store on fire; the losses are estimated at 3 million dollars. [end]

Israeli forces arrest 9 Palestinians in West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Tuesday evening arrested 9 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank. Israeli sources said the army arrested 9 "wanted" Palestinians in Bethlehem, Hebron and Al-Arrub camp in the southern West Bank as well as Nablus in the north. Arrestees have been taken to detention centers for interrogation. [end]

Army court sentence a Palestinian farmer to 100 days in detention
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
The Israeli army court of Ofer sentence on Tuesday Jamal Canaan, 50 from the village of N’ilin, located near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, to 100 days in distractive detention. Canaan was detained by the Israeli army a week ago while he was working in his land near the construction site of the illegal wall Israel is building on the villagers lands. He has been accused of assulating an Israeli soldier, however, local activists in Bili’n believe that he was kidnapped by the army because his 14 year-old daughter, Salam, managed to document with her cell-phone camera Israeli soldiers shooting Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, while handcuffed and blindfolded in the village of Ni’lin near Ramallah. Salam’s tape, which was released on Sunday July, 20 by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, forced the Israeli army to launch an investigation into the shooting which was carried out by a Staff Sergeant and a Lieutenant Colonel.

Palestine Today 072908
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
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 Tuesday July 29th, 2008. In Gaza, the death toll reaches 221, while the Israeli army kidnaps 5 civilians from the West Bank, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News cast In the Gaza Strip the death toll reached 221 as two more patients were announced dead on Tuesday morning. Nabeel Buheri, an 11 year-old child, died of a heart failure after being banned from getting out of the Gaza strip to seek life-saving medical treatment. Also 55 year old Hidaya Issa died of cancer after many failed attempts to get out of the strip for treatment. Last month both Israeli and Palestinian Resistance factions in Gaza agreed to a truce, as a result of Egyptian mediation efforts.

Ten-year-old boy killed by Israeli forces during clashes in Ni’lin
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Ten-year-old Ahmad Husam Yousef Musa was killed by Israeli forces on Tuesday evening during clashes in the village of Ni’lin, west of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses reported that the child was shot in the head and died immediately. His body was transferred to Ramallah hospital. The former mayor of Ni’lin, Muhammad Srour, told Ma’an that while the Israeli bulldozers were finishing their daily work on the separation wall in the village, Israeli troops fired live ammunition directly at demonstrators who had gathered at the wall construction site. Ni’lin residents have staged daily protests and marches against the separation wall, which is being built on the village’s land. Some 77 demonstrations, sit-ins, and protests against the wall have been held in the village so far. The Israeli military frequently responds by shooting tear gas, sound bombs, rubber-coated metal. . .

Ten protestors and two Israeli soldiers injured in Ni’lin
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Ramallah - Ma’an - Ten Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were injured in clashes that took place on Tuesday afternoon near the construction site of the separation wall in Ni’lin to the west of RamallahThe protestors were injured after the soldiers fired tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets at the crowd of locals and international solidarity activists. Member of the Ni’lin committee against the wall, Mohammad Srour, described three of the injuries as moderate including: Hassoun Issam Nafe’, Mo’tassem Ahmad Srour and Wa’el Taysir Nafe. Meanwhile, Hebrew sources revealed that phonographic analysis has shown that the Israeli army captain, seen in the video of a handcuffed Palestinian being shot at close range with a rubber coated steel bullet after being detained in Ni’lin, gave the order to shoot despite his earlier claims that he had not.

Police, IDF to probe Ni’ilin boy’s death
Yaakov Lappin, Tovah Lazaroff And Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
An investigation has been ordered into claims that a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by officers in Ni’ilin in the aftermath of a violent demonstration against the West Bank security barrier, a Border Police spokesman said on Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, Ahmed Ussam Yusef Mousa was among several boys who went to the site where the barrier was being built outside Ni’ilin, east of Modi’in Illit. There were no security personnel there, and the mostly teenage boys began removing razor wire, said Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak, a member of Anarchists Against the Wall. As they worked, a Border Police jeep drove up. Officers shot rubber bullets and one shot of live ammunition from a distance of about 10 meters, Pollak said. It was this shot that killed Mousa, he claimed. Pollak was in the area at the time but did not see the incident.

Mustafa Barghouthi: ''Child killed in cold blood by the Israeli army''
Palestinian National Initiative, Palestine Monitor 7/29/2008
Ramallah, 29-07-08: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, the General Secretary of the , said "Ahmed Hassan Yousef Musa, the 10-year old boy from Ni’lin, was shot in the head at close range by the Israeli army while he was protesting in Ni’lin against the construction of the Apartheid wall. Peaceful protests by villagers and internationals in the town of Ni’lin have been ongoing since May. Said Dr Barghouthi "The occupation is a form of punishment practised by Israel against the peaceful non-violent struggle of the people in the face of settlement expansion and construction of the Apartheid wall. " [end]

Violent clash erupts between rightists and Bedouin near Jerusalem
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
A violent clash erupted Tuesday afternoon between right-wing activists and a group of Bedouin near the outpost of the Jerusalem-area outpost of Maoz Esther. Stones were thrown and blows exchanged in the clash, which left several people wounded. The activists, who were there as part of the Journey to the Land of the Hilltops tour, also fired shots in the air. The Judea and Samaria District Police arrested five activists and two Bedouin suspected of involvement in the violence. Last week, dozens of settlers participated in a rampage at several junctions in the northern West Bank, close to the settlement of Yitzhar. The disruptions began after a group of settlers were evacuated from a bus they had parked as an illegal residence at the Adei Ad outpost. During that incident, a settler stole the weapon of an Israel Defense Forces soldier and fired five bullets in the air.

British group aims to end Israeli settlement policy through boycott campaign
Palestine News Network 7/29/2008
This week the building of a new West Bank settlement was announced by the Israeli Military Civil Administration. In response Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is launching a new campaign calling on the British government to ban the import and export of settlement products from the UK. Settlement products have been highlighted in the media throughout the last year after boxes bound for Tesco were photographed inside an illegal West Bank settlement, illustrating that UK supermarkets were routinely stocking settlement goods labelled 'Made in Israel'. This practice flew in the face of regulations imposed by the EU intended to prevent products from illegal settlements benefiting from tax breaks under the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Settlement goods caused controversy again in July 2008 as reports by 'More 4'and 'The Observer' found that supermarkets had altered their policies to label goods as produce of 'West Bank'.

Hamas officials in Egypt for talks on Fatah, Schalit
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
Hamas officials arrived in Cairo Tuesday for talks with Egyptian officials on a prisoner exchange with Israel and ways of ending a yearlong rift with Fatah. Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk and Mohammed Nasr, a member of the group’s political bureau, flew from Damascus to join several delegates from Gaza who traveled over land earlier in the day, Egypt’s Middle East News Agency reported. MENA said the Hamas leaders would meet with Egyptian officials, but gave no further details. Before leaving Damascus, Nasr said the Hamas leaders would discuss the group’s fragile truce with Israel and its requests for Egypt to reopen the Rafah border crossing. Egypt is reportedly working to bring Israel and Hamas into proximity to bolster the Gaza truce and negotiate the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

Source: Olmert ready to relax criteria for prisoners in Shalit swap
Barak Ravid Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is willing to further relax the criteria for the release of Palestinian prisoners in efforts to include more names in the list Israel plans to free in a swap deal for captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, a senior source in Jerusalem said Monday. The source said that Israel has some room for flexibility on the list of hundreds of prisoners Hamas is demanding in exchange for Shalit, but that any compromise by Israel must be met with a compromise by Hamas. Shalit was captured by Gaza militants in a cross border raid in June 2006. Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a prisoner exchange deal were suspended three weeks ago, but were expected to resume on Tuesday. Last week, the prime minister met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on the issue of securing Shalit’s freedom.

A delegation from Hamas heads to Cairo for talks
Ghassan Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
Mahmoud Al Zahar, a leader in the Hamas movement, stated on Tuesday that a Hamas delegation will head to the Egyptian capital Cairo today for talks with Egyptian officials. In his televised interview, Al Zahar said that the delegation will discuss a number of issues among them the Israeli-Palestinian truce in Gaza. The official denied that delegation was sent based on the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas request for internal Palestinian talks. Meanwhile the Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, Fouzi Barhum, stated on Tuesday that the delegation will discuss the living conditions in the Gaza Strip and the lack of Israeli commitment to the truce deal with Israel. Egypt has mediated a truce deal between Hamas and Israel a month ago, the truce states that Israeli hold attacks in Gaza and lift its year long siege, in return Hamas and other resistance groups will stop firing homemade shells at Israeli areas located near the coastal region.

Israel considers compromise in prisoners swap deal
William Bascom, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced that he is willing to form a comittee to re-examine the criteria that have hamstrung prisoner swap negotiations with Hamas. Israeli Daily Ha’aretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ready to add more names of a list of Palestinian prisoners who would be included in a potential prisoner swap deal in an attempt to jumpstart negotiations for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The soldier was captured by Hamas fighters in Gaza after a raid in 2006. Indirect negotiations for his release have been ongoing ever since, most recently suspended 3 weeks ago amidst the failure to successfully implement the Egypt-brokered ceasefire that came into effect in June. Israel has thus far approved the release of 70 of the 450 prisoners demanded by Hamas in a potential deal.

Hamas delegation heads for Cairo
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- A Hamas delegation left for the Egyptian capital on Tuesday to discuss a number of issues of concern to both parties including calm agreement and Rafah border crossing, according to reliable sources. The sources told PIC that the discussions would tackle the calm agreement between Palestinian resistance factions, spearheaded by Hamas, and Israel, which was reached under Egyptian patronage, in addition to the Israeli commitment to that agreement’s conditions. The Rafah border terminal between Egypt and the Gaza Strip would be also discussed along with steps taken in this regard, the sources underlined. The Hamas delegation includes political bureau member Mohammed Nasr and member of the political leadership Jamal Abu Hashem. The sources said that the visit was scheduled before PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Cairo and was considered more than a week ago and would also discuss inter-Palestinian national dialog.

Hizbullah calls on UN to halt Israel’s violations of airspace
Daily Star 7/30/2008
BEIRUT: Hizbullah on Tuesday called on the international community to take steps to halt Israel’s recurring violations of Lebanese skies, calling the incursions "provocative, unacceptable and condemned. " "Lebanese authorities and relevant United Nations bodies are urged to take necessary measures to put an end to those daily violations," a statement by Hizbullah’s media office said. The statement added that Israeli overflights "happen hundreds of times in the same day which is a blatant violation of Lebanese sovereignty. " "Overflights are an insult and need to be dealt with by concerned parties with utmost urgency," the statement added. In separate developments, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday accused Syria of arming Hizbullah and expressed his concern over the party’s increased military capacity.

Fatah commander critically wounded in Lebanon bomb
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
A military commander of the Fatah movement was critically wounded Tuesday in a bomb explosion in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, Lebanese and Palestinian security officials said. Talal Sleim was heading to his office in the Ein el-Hilweh camp, on the outskirts of the southern city of Sidon, when a roadside bomb exploded nearby, the officials said. Sleim, a 43-year-old Palestinian, was seriously wounded and was rushed to a Sidon hospital outside the teeming camp, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. A bodyguard was also lightly wounded, they said. After news of the explosion spread, Fatah guerrillas exchanged machine gun fire with Palestinian gunmen of the Jund al-Sham group, which follows the extremist ideology of al-Qaida.

Peres calls for building fence, bridge in occupied Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli president Shimon Peres on Tuesday called for building a fence and a bridge inside occupied Jerusalem in a bid to ward off Palestinian resistance attacks. Peres, who was speaking during a visit to the family of an Israeli policeman who was killed in a shooting incident in occupied Jerusalem two weeks ago, said that the security situation in occupied Jerusalem was worsening. He said that disengagement should be made and Palestinians should be allowed to live in the city in a bid to avoid exploding conditions. The president stressed that relations between Arabs and Israelis should be improved through spreading awareness and confidence building measures. Israeli officials have expressed concern after three attacks were made against Israelis in occupied Jerusalem in July, and called for "deterrent" penal measures against families of the attackers.

Awkaf denounces IOA plans to confiscate vast areas of O. Jerusalem lands
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Quds committee in the ministry of Awkaf and religious affairs in the PA caretaker government in Gaza has denounced the new Israeli occupation authority’s colonialist plan to confiscate 11,000 dunums of occupied Jerusalem lands. The committee in a press release on Tuesday said that the scheme aimed at linking between the two settlements of Kidar and Ma’aleh Adumim, the biggest in occupied Jerusalem. The committee also condemned the IOA demolition of the six-story building in Beit Hanina owned by Majed Abu Aisha at the pretext of lack of construction permit. It noted that an advisor to Israeli premier Ehud Olmert had recently quoted him as telling PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would continue to build settlement blocs in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. The committee appealed to the Arab and Islamic masses to immediately act to confront the Zionist. . .

Chabad Temple seminar rankles Islamists
Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
A brief course offered by the Chabad Hassidim about the Temple endangers the Aksa Mosque, Islamic Movement spokesman Zahi Nujidat said Tuesday. The three-part seminar, which is being held this week and next week at some 200 Chabad Houses throughout the country, comes less than two weeks before Tisha Be’av, which marks the destruction of the Temple. "We view this as a serious and drastic move toward the fruition of extremist organizations to establish a temple in place of al-Aksa Mosque," Zahi Nujidat said. "This represents a real danger to al-Aksa. " A similar condemnation was issued in Arabic this week by the Aksa Foundation. The Aksa Foundation was cynically pointing to the courses, which are held in three sessions, as proof that the Israeli establishment wants to damage the mosque, Chabad spokesman Rabbi Menachem Brod said.

Mastermind behind Ze’evi assassination convicted of murder
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 7/29/2008
Jerusalem District Court finds Majdi Rehima guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory to murder for his part in plot to assassinate former tourism minister -The Jerusalem District Court convicted 43-year-old Majdi Rehima on murder and conspiracy charges Tuesday for his part of in planning the 2001 assassination of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi. Ze’evi was gunned down at Jerusalem’s Hyatt hotel on October 17, 2001. Rehima, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the third man convicted for involvement in the assassination, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, accessory to murder and membership in a terror organization. The State asked the court to order Rehima serve consecutive sentences for each offence, as is did when convicting Basel al-Asmar and Hamdi Quran for their part in the murder plot.

Rehavam Ze’evi murder mastermind convicted
Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
Majdi Rahima Rimawi, the man who planned, ordered and organized the assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001, was convicted Tuesday on five separate charges for his part in the assassination and four other terrorist attacks in the months leading up to it. The decision was handed down in Jerusalem District Court by a panel of three judges, Ya’acov Tsaban, Gila Canfi-Steinitz and Rafi Carmel. The court unanimously convicted the 43-year-old Rimawi of training with weapons, attempted murder (several counts) and murder. He will be sentenced at a later date. Two of the other defendants in Ze’evi’s murder at the Hyatt Hotel near Mount Scopus in Jerusalem on October 17, 2001, have already been convicted and given life sentences. "There were five charges in which Rimawi played a similar role according to the description of events [in the indictment]," Tsaban wrote.

Knesset approves amnesty bill for nonviolent Gaza pullout protesters
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
The Knesset approved a piece of legislation in the first reading on Tuesday granting amnesty to protesters of the Gaza disengagement. The law applies to 400 of the 482 criminal cases that were opened in the period before and during the evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in 2005. The parliament passed two bills which in effect halt all legal proceedings against disengagement offenders and expunge the criminal records of those arrested. The legislation was submitted by Likud MK Reuven Rivlin and National Union MK Eli Gabbay along with a third of all MKs. The house approved the bill in a preliminary reading in July 2007. The law stipulates that any sentences handed down in court against anyone convicted of a crime whose motive was to thwart the disengagement plan be promptly suspended.

Knesset approves expanding powers of national security chief
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 7/29/2008
The Knesset plenum unanimously approved Tuesday in a second and third reading a bill to dramatically expand the powers of the National Security Council chief, which henceforeth will be called the National Security Staff. According to the bill, initiated by Kadima MKs Tzachi Hanegbi and Amira Dotan, the staff chief will be able to summon for deliberations any employee of the security services, or security organization heads. The staff chief will also handle all matters of foreign affairs and defense seen by the prime minister and will receive information updates from every state body. The staff chief will be invited to every cabinet meeting dealing with matters of foreign affairs and defense, and will be invited to every committee meeting involving the heads of the secret services.

Israel-Syria peace talks to resume under Turkish mediation
Roee Nahmias and AFP, YNetNews 7/29/2008
Olmert aides to travel to Turkey for fourth round of negotiations with Syrian representatives. ’Our desire for peace is very serious,’ Israeli official says. Syrian sources: No direct talks in near future -Israel andSyria will begin on Tuesday a fourth round of indirect peace talks under Turkish mediation, an Israeli official said. Two advisers to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz - will travel to Turkey during the day to resume the talks, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Israel’s desire for peace is very serious," the official said. "That is why we expect that the process that has been begun will soon evolve into direct bilateral negotiations with a view to achieving significant results. " However, official Syrian sources denied any possibility of Syria and Israel holding direct peace talks in the near future.

Syrian ambassador reaches out to Israel
Ynet, YNetNews 7/29/2008
In interview with ‘American Friends for Peace Now,’ Imad Moustapha sounds optimistic on peace talks with Israel, saying Syria has been consistent in pursuit of agreement for 15 years while Israel waiversYnetPublished: 07. 29. 08, 01:55 / Israel NewsAmidst indirect negotiations between Israeli and Syrian representatives in Turkey, Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, issued a strong message of peace this week. In his interview with ’American Friends for Peace Now,’ Moustapha said, “This is a historic opportunity of making peace not only with Syria and Lebanon because we believe whenever Syria plays the role of gatekeeper between Israel and the rest of the Arab world, if Israel really wants to make peace with the Arab world they need to understand this Syrian demand based on the premise of land for peace.

’Choose between peace and isolation’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
As a fourth round of indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel began in Turkey on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the time had come for Damascus to make a choice between Iran and isolation, or peace and cooperation. The negotiations we are carrying out today with Turkish mediation are serious and to the point," he said at the National Security College graduation ceremony on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. "They are meant to bring, at the end of the day, peace between the countries, and welfare for the people. "But, he said, the peace depended "first and foremost" on strategic choices that the Syrian leadership needed to make. "At a certain point signals will not be enough, as positive as they may be," Olmert said. "At that stage, Syria will have to decide between the Iranian grip, being a partner in the axis of evil and international isolation, and between peace, economic development and joining the family of nations. "

Barak: In two months we’ll be much safer
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/30/2008
After securing assurance from US it would link Israel to missile alert system capable of identifying attack before rocket leaves ground, Defense Minister Barak says new system will substantially improve Israeli preparedness in face of Iranian threat - WASHINGTON- After a series of meetings with top US officials in Washington, Defense Minister Ehud Barak appeared optimistic as to the improvement of Israel’s anti-missile defense systems. After some lobbying on Barak’s part, the American officials pledged Israel would be connected to the global US system, capable of detecting an impending attack while the missile’s engine is just heating up. Israel is primarily intent on obtaining logistical support from the US, which would allow the IDF to launch a solo operation if need be.

Israeli Leaders Find Generous Donors in U.S.
Griff Witte, MIFTAH 7/29/2008
American businessman Morris Talansky has riveted Israel with tales of bankrolling the plush lifestyle of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: the expensive cigars and five-star suites, a fine watch and an Italian vacation. While most Israelis have been galled at the extent of the alleged corruption, no one has been surprised by the source of the funds. Politicians in Israel have long known that if they want to raise large amounts of money, for whatever reason, they’ll find it in the United States. Foreign donations are banned for general elections, but Israeli leaders routinely get half or more of their campaign contributions for party primaries from overseas, and mostly from American donors. The fundraising trend is especially pronounced on Israel’s political right; politicians who advocate aggressive military action against Iran and Hamas and who maintain an uncompromising stance against ceding land to the Palestinians have typically found generous support for their views in the States.

Israeli FM admits she was Mossad agent
Middle East Online 7/29/2008
JERUSALEM - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a contender to replace Ehud Olmert as prime minister, publicly acknowledged on Tuesday she had been an agent for the Mossad spy agency. "I served for four years within Mossad," she told army radio. "I also followed training courses and worked overseas. " Livni decline to discuss any missions she may have conducted for the agency. "I quit Mossad when I married because I could not continue to lead this kind of life," she said. Israeli and foreign media had previously said Livni worked for Mossad between 1980 and 1984 but she had not publicly confirmed the reports. Livni, 49, is a candidate in a leadership election that Olmert’s centrist Kadima party is scheduled to hold by September 23. Olmert, who is dogged by a series of graft scandals, is yet to announce whether he will compete. Print

Palestinians ’use torture regularly’
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/29/2008
Torture is used regularly on Palestinians detained by the Fatah-dominated security forces in the West Bank and by their Hamas counterparts in Gaza, two human rights reports say. Between 20 and 30 per cent of the people arbitrarily detained in Gaza and the West Bank have suffered severe beatings, whippings, been made to stand or sit in painful positions for hours, and other degrading punishments, according to the Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq. It says that three people have died in Gaza and one in the West Bank during the detentions since the split that followed Hamas’s enforced takeover of the Gaza Strip 13 months ago. Each group has arbitarily detained about 1,000 people. Fatah security forces rounded up dozens of Hamas supporters in the West Bank yesterday in response to similar detentions of up to 200 Fatah adherents by Hamas in Gaza.

Abuse reported in Palestinian jails
Middle East Online 7/29/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - One detainee told of being beaten with pipes and having a screwdriver rammed into his back. Another said interrogators tied his hands behind his back then lifted him into the air by his bound wrists. Two human rights groups on Monday decried abuse of political opponents by Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah. The findings emerged as the two sides carried out fresh arrest sweeps in the West Bank and Gaza — highlighting deep tensions in the Palestinian territories after a flare-up in violence over the weekend. In the West Bank on Monday, the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rounded up more than 50 suspected Hamas supporters, including mosque preachers and intellectuals, in retaliation for a similar sweep of Fatah loyalists in Gaza, set off by a bombing that killed five Hamas members Friday.

PA security arrests former presidential nominee
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The PA security in the West Bank on Monday detained Dr. Abdul Sattar Kassem, the well known Palestinian academic and former PA presidential nominee, from his home in Nablus. Family of professor Kassem expressed surprise at his arrest especially when he is an independent figure. His wife said in a press statement that her husband was arrested before dawn Monday at the hands of PA intelligence elements. Dr. Kassem, a professor of political science at the Najah University, was detained by the PA security apparatuses twice before; the first in 1995 for criticizing the PA and in 2002 for six months for signing a statement signed by other Palestinian figures that spoke about corruption in the PA. The professor’s wife said that she could not find out his whereabouts or the charge leveled against him.

University heads: IDF interfering in enrollment process
Moran Zelikovitch, YNetNews 7/29/2008
In letter to Barak, Council of University Presidents say Israeli institutions ’open to all those who meet academic demands, irrespective of race, sex, religion or nationality’; professors join petition against restrictions imposed on Palestinian students -In a harsh letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Council of University Presidents (CUP) demanded Tuesday that the security establishment stop intervening in the enrollment process at Israel’s higher education institutions. "This constitutes blatant and harmful intervention on the part of military elements in considerations that are strictly academic," the university heads said in the letter, which was drafted in protest of the disqualification of students, particularity Palestinian, from taking certain courses or from enrolling in Israeli academic institutions altogether.

British artist sheds light on life in southern West Bank
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/29/2008
Hebron -- British artist Casper Hall has created 70 black and white oil paintings featuring Palestinian traders from the Old City of Hebron to help highlight the difficulties these people face. The artist spent two months in the central area of the southern West Bank city becoming acquainted with the residents and their lives. "Efforts are being made to revive the Old City of Hebron, and I hope to contribute," Hall said. "By painting the faces of the shopkeepers in the Old City, I’m attempting to shed light on a group of Palestinian merchants who are still defending their livelihoods despite the actions of the Israeli occupation. "Commenting on the difficulties experienced by the residents of Hebron, Hall said, "Most of the Palestinian traders inside the Old City were forced to close their shops after an Israeli judge closed off the roads that lead to the area.

Mahmoud Darwish postal stamp released
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian ministry of telecommunications and information technology announced on Tueday the issuing of a new postal stamp bearing the image of the renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. The stamp is being produced to honor the work of Darwish and in appreciation for the major role he has played in keeping the Palestinian question alive all over the world through his poetry. Undersecretary of the ministry, Sulaiman Az-Zuhairi, said in a press conference in Ramallah in the central West Bank, that the name of Darwish has always been connected to revolutionary poetry and "poems of the stolen homeland. " Darwish’s poetry has received international acclaim and won numerous literary prizes. His work has been translated into at least twenty-two different languages. He is also well-known for his political activism and was involved in the drafting of the. . .

Wataniya Palestine Granted Operating Radio Spectrum
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
Wataniya Palestine has been granted its operational radio spectrum which will allow it to launch the second GSM network in Palestine, specialized sources reported on Tuesday. Cellular News, a website that provides news about the telecommunications world, said that spectrum agreement reached with the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MTIT) will be for a staged release of radio frequencies over the next several months. In May though, Mohammad Mustafa, head of the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) which holds 43 percent of the shares of the company, said that the firm had already been granted some radio spectrum - although this may have been just for network testing. The rest of the shares are owned Wataniya Telecom, a Kuwaiti based operator majority owned by the Qatari Telecommunication Company, (Qtel).

Second Palestinian cell phone company to be operating by end of year
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Civil Affairs Director, Hussein Ash-Sheikh, said on Monday that an agreement has been signed with the Israelis about the logistics of a new Palestinian cell phone corporation, ’National Cell Phones Company’. Ash-Sheikh told Ma’an that the new company, which will be the second operating in Palestine in competition with Jawwal, will start operating by the end of this year. The license for the company was signed on 14 March 2007 by President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad as well as Isma’il Haniyeh, who was then the Palestinian Prime Minister. Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications, Jamal Al-Khudari described the day as a historic one for telecommunications and information technology in Palestine.

Bank of Palestine signs partnership agreement with IFC worth $15million
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Bank of Palestine on Monday signed a partnership agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank, securing $15million of investment. The IFC said it would support the Palestinian bank’s operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in order to enhance the local finance sector and to support efforts to develop private sector institutions in light of the challenges facing the Palestinian economy. In return the IMF will recieve 5% of the company’s capital. During the signing ceremony, general manager of Bank of Palestine Hashim Ash-Shawwa said, "we look forward to having a long-term partnership with the IFC and we believe its strategic support will enhance our status in the market. It will enable us to continue granting loans to students and to finance commercial projects as well as other small and medium businesses.

MIDEAST: Israeli Transcends Borders With a Virtual Bridge
Peter Hirschberg, Inter Press Service 7/29/2008
Zvi SchreiberJERUSALEM, Jul 29(IPS) - Israelis are barred from travelling to the West Bank and Palestinians from entering Israel without a permit, but that has not deterred Zvi Schreiber, an Israeli living in Jerusalem, from creating a high-tech start-up company that does all its programming in the West Bank town Ramallah and its business development and marketing in the Israeli town Modi’in. "It has always been an ambition of mine to contribute something to job opportunities and economic growth in a place like Ramallah," says the 39-year-old UK-born Schreiber, who moved to Israel 12 years ago. Schreiber’s venture is called G. ho. st -- an acronym for Global Hosted Operating System -- and it provides users with a virtual, web-based operating system that allows them to store files, save documents and includes a uniform desktop.

Top Iranian official: Israel politically dead
Dudi Cohen and Reuters, YNetNews 7/29/2008
Parliament speaker Larijani tells visiting Lebanese FM recent prisoner exchange ’historic defeat for Israel, great victory for Lebanon and world of Islam. Ahmadinejad: Major powers on descending course, approaching end of their era -"Israel has become politically dead after its humiliating defeat" in the Second Lebanon War, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Tuesday. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, Larijani said the release of a group of Lebanese terrorists in the framework of the recent prisoner swap between Israel andHizbullah "was a historic defeat for Israel and a great victory for Lebanon and for the world of Islam. Larijani made the remarks in a meeting with the visiting Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, who is currently in Tehran to attend the 15th meeting of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) foreign ministers.

Barak: No option off the table on Iran
Hilary Leila Krieger, Washington, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
Israel has reached agreements with the US for two advanced anti-missile warning systems, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced following meetings with top US officials Tuesday. The agreement on the radar and satellite systems, Barak said, meant that "within just a few months Israel will be stronger and more ready in the area of defense against long-distance threats. " On the topic of Iran, Barak spoke of a "shared outlook" that emphasizes diplomacy and seeks stronger sanctions to prevent Teheran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He gave few specifics of conversations he had on this subject. However, he acknowledged a difference of opinion between the two countries, despite this common perspective. RELATEDBarak in US: Iran putting entire world at risk"It doesn’t mean we agree on everything," he said.

US soldiers cleared after killing Iraqi civilians
Middle East Online 7/29/2008
BAGHDAD - The US-led multinational force in Iraq has cleared American soldiers of any wrongdoing after they shot dead three civilians in June, a statement by the military said on Monday. A probe by the multinational coalition said that "neither the soldiers nor (the) civilians involved in the incident were at fault," the statement added. On June 25, US soldiers near Baghdad airport opened fire on a vehicle that approached them at high speed, the statement said, adding that the soldiers were among a group checking a military vehicle that had broken down. "While working on the vehicle, a civilian vehicle approached the rear of the convoy, at what appeared to the soldiers to be a high rate of speed despite several obstructions in the road," the statement said. "The soldiers felt there was a threat," it said, and they opened fire at the vehicle after first firing warning shots.

Bolani: US, Iraq on track for military pact
Middle East Online 7/29/2008
WASHINGTON - The United States and Iraq are on track to achieve an agreement governing US troop levels in the nation beyond 2008, Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said here Monday. "In general, I feel that we are moving in the right direction towards concluding an agreement," the visiting minister told reporters when asked about negotiations between the two countries to conclude a long-term strategic agreement. Asked specifically whether the pact could be approved before December, Bolani said, "the negotiations are ongoing and I think that we are on the right track to where we can come out with something. " US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed in principle last November to sign a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Iraq by the end of July. The White House said last week that the planned pact may lay out a series of target dates. . .

Iraqi forces launch massive operation against insurgents in Diyala Province
Agence France Presse, Daily Star 7/30/2008
Iraqi forces backed by US troops launched a major assault Tuesday against rebels in the Al-Qaeda stronghold of Diyala while thousands of Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad continued to flock to the holy shrine in Kadhimiyya under the cloud of Monday’s deadly suicide attacks. "The operation began in Diyala early this morning and we have begun raids in some neighborhoods of the city of Baqouba," said Ragib al-Omeiri, chief of the operations bureau in Baqouba. "Iraqi police and the Iraqi Army are working together with the US Army. " In sweeps that aim to clear out the Sunni Al-Qaeda bastion in the northeast of the country, Iraqi troops netted 20 suspected insurgents, said Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad al-Asskri. The offensive follows similar Iraqi military operations in the southern provinces of Basra and Maysan, and the northern province of Nineveh, as Iraq forces try to consolidate recent security gains in the war-torn country.

Ahmadinejad vows allegiance to Syria
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Iranian president plays host to Syrian FM, pledges no changes in bilateral relations with Damascus despite its recent renewal of peace negotiations with IsraelIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met on Tuesday evening with visiting Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister, Walid al-Muallem, and pledged he would work to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, to the discontentment of Israel and the United States. Hosting his guest in Tehran, Ahmadinejad emphasized that he had no intention of letting any outside factor impact the strategic alliance between Iran and Syria. "The deeper our regional cooperation is, the more beneficial this will be to the nations in the area and the more this will impair our enemies," he said. Ahmadinejad’s statements come as Jerusalem and Damascus prepare to launch a fourth round of indirect talks through Turkish mediation.

Video nation
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
B’Tselem, a Jerusalem-based NGO, released video footage this week of a handcuffed Palestinian detainee being shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier. The footage is part of a new trend to use video footage to document abuses against Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and settlers. On July 20, Jerusalem-based human rights group B’Tselem released video footage showing an Israeli soldier shooting a handcuffed Palestinian detainee in the knee with a rubber-coated steel bullet. A 14-year-old Palestinian girl, Salaam Kanan, shot the footage two weeks earlier in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, using nothing but her own cellphone camera. B’Tselem, also known as the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, decided to go public with the information after it had sent the footage to the Israeli army in early July to no effect.

IDF probes Palestinian boy’s death
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Initial Palestinian reports of 11-year old allegedly shot by soldiers during anti-fence rally in Naalin currently under investigation by IDF, Police Internal Affairs. Army confirms forces fired towards rioting protestors - A preliminary IDF investigation into the matter of the 11-year old boy who was shot by a soldier in Naalin on Tuesday confirmed that troops operating at the scene fired towards a group of rioting protestors. Due to the involvement of Border Guard officers, who were operating under the command of the IDF, the details of the incident were transferred to the Police Internal Affairs Bureau as well as the IDF for investigation. DeportationReport: Canadian student faces deportation from Israel following protest / Ynet Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says volunteer detained while taking photos of IDF soldiers during rally against. . .

Child killed by Israeli military fire in Ni’lin
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
Eyewitnesses reported that Ahmad Mousa, 11, was shot in his head and died at the Ramallah governmental hospital. He was shot during evening hours. Mohammad Al Khawaja, one of the residents of the village, stated that hundreds of residents conducted peaceful protests against the Wall and were surrounded by the soldiers who fired rounds of live ammunition and gas bombs. Several residents were wounded, some moderately, medical sources reported. Israeli sources said that two soldiers were mildly wounded. Local sources reported that 10 non violent protesters against the illegal wall were injured during clashes with the Israeli army at Ni’llin village south of the west bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday midday. Local sources also added that the Israeli army attacked the protesters in order to stop the protest which took place near the illegal wall on the village lands.

Ahmad Mousa, 12 year old boy, murdered in Ni’lin by the Occupation
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 7/29/2008
At 5 pm today, the Occupation forces in Ni’lin shot Ahmad Husam Yousef Mousa, a 12-year-old boy from the village. After the demonstration had finished, Ahmad was sitting under a tree when a live bullet pierced his head. The boy died immediately. His funeral will be held tomorrow morning. The village of Ni’lin has been holding continuous protests against the Wall for over 80 days with the support of national and international activists. The murder of Ahmad Mousa today comes after a series of other oppressive tactics by the Occupation forces, including an imposed 5 day complete siege and curfew on the village from July 4 to July 9 2008. These are seen as attempts to repress the mobilization of the people fighting against the construction of the Wall; the Wall that, upon completion, will isolate the village of Ni’lin from their lands and livelihoods.

Mourners to protest murder of 10 year old boy
International Solidarity Movement 7/29/2008
Ramallah Region - A mass demonstration is planned on Wednesday for the funeral of Ahmed Husan Yousef Mousa, who was shot dead by Israeli forces at approximately 6:00pm today. The funeral procession and protest will start at Ramallah Hospital at 10am and make it’s way to Ni’lin, the village where Ahmed lived. People will meet at the hospital at 9:30am Ni’lin is currently under siege with the main entrance to the village sealed off by the Israeli military. The mourners intend to defy the military blockade and bring Ahmed home. [end]

Jewish Internet Defense Force ’seizes control’ of anti-Israel Facebook group
Stephanie Rubenstein, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
The Jewish Internet Defense Force, a group that claims to have 5,000 members worldwide, says it is steadily removing members from a viciously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic group on Facebook, having taken control of the group on Sunday. Facebook wouldn’t do anything about [the group], so we did what had to be done," the group posted on its Web site. "We’re not sure how long this can or will last, so we’re moving fast to do what needs to be done. " The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) describes itself as a group of Jewish activists who fight anti-Semitism and terrorism trends throughout the Internet. It says it formed as a grassroots effort in 2000, mainly to mount mass e-mail campaigns, in response to the second intifada. It then began operating on various Web sites, including Facebook, to spread news about Israel and Jewish issues.

Olmert says Syria must choose peace or isolation as indirect talks set to resume
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 7/30/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Isreali Premier Ehud Olmert issued Syria an ultimatum Tuesday, saying Damascus must choose between peace or international isolation as the two countries still technically at war are set to begin another round of indirect Turkish-mediated talks. In an address to students at Hebrew University in Occupied Jerusalem, the Israeli prime minister said Syria must opt "between the Iranian grip, partnership in the axis of evil and international isolation, or peace, economic prosperity and a place among the family of nations. " "The time will come when signals, as positive as they may be, are not enough," he added, addressing Damascus. Two advisers to Olmert - Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz - will travel to Turkey for what will be the fourth round of talks, an Israeli official toldAFP on condition of anonymity.

Jerusalem officials: Syria taking talks with Israel seriously
Shahar Ilan Barak Ravid and, Ha’aretz 7/29/2008
Yoav Stern Tags:syria golan heightsisrael Senior officials in Jerusalem confirmed Monday that Syria has carried out a number of measures in recent weeks that reflect that it is taking talks with Israel seriously. The sources refused to say whether they were referring to such measures as lowering the alert levels of the Syrian army or stemming the flow of arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon through its territory, but they did say that the effects of the measures were "tangible. "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was pleased with the measures and with the negotiations with Syria. He predicted that Israel’s talks with Damascus will soon cause Syria to come into conflict with Hezbollah and Iran. Olmert said that when Syria reaches that crossroad it will have to decide which direction to pursue. "The Syrians will soon discover that you can fool some of the people. . .

Olmert: Syria must decide between axis of evil, peace and prosperity
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 7/29/2008
PM vows to continue negotiations with Damascus ’so long as I am in office,’ says Israel intent on providing genuine alternative to Syria. Speaking at National Security College graduation, Olmert’s rhetoric was aimed primarily at domestic Kadima rival Tzipi Livni - In a speech covertly directed at his chief political rival, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged he would press on with the recently renewed negotiations with Syria so long as he remained in office - a surreptitious dig at Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and her criticism of the talks. Speaking at the National Defense College graduation ceremony in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, Olmert said Israel "is continuing with the negotiations in good faith, with the intent of giving Syria a genuine alternative, so that it may make the right decision.

Red-Dead Canal Just One Option to Save Endangered Dead Sea - WB
Mohammad Ghazal, MIFTAH 7/29/2008
A study looking into alternatives to save the shrinking Dead Sea will kick off later this year, according to the World Bank (WB). Experts warn the water body is dropping by one metre every year, calling for a plan to save this "world heritage" attraction and make available much needed water in the area. Meanwhile, three parties concerned with the problem - Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel - have reiterated their full commitment and support for the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Programme, under which feasibility and environmental and social assessment studies are under way. Alternatives to be studied no later than October include the current Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Programme, which was proposed in 2005. But it has never been the sole option, World Bank’s Alexander McPhail told The Jordan Times recently in an exclusive videoconference.

Leviev mulls further asset sales
Irit Avissar, Lior Baron, and Ilanit Hayut, Globes Online 7/29/2008
After selling stakes in malls to Azrieli, Africa-Israel may sell its stake in Road 6’s franchisee. Sources inform ’’Globes’’ that Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE: AFIL; Pink Sheets: AFIVY), controlled by chairman Lev Leviev, is in preliminary talks with financial institutions for sell of a number of assets. The first item up for sale is the company’s 37. 5% stake in Derekh Eretz Highways Ltd. , the franchisee of Road 6 (the Yitzhak Rabin Highway, also known as the Cross Israel Highway), at a company value of $400 million. Africa-Israel subsidiaryAfrica-Israel Properties Ltd. (TASE:AFPR ) sold its stake in five malls toAzrieli Group earlier this month for NIS 1. 8 billion. Derekh Eretz’s other owners are Shari Arison’s Housing and Construction Holding Co.

Bank of Israel raises interest rate 1/4 of a point
Bloomberg, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
The Bank of Israel on Monday raised its benchmark lending rate for the third time since May after inflation exceeded the government’s target range for a seventh consecutive month. Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer raised the rate charged to commercial lenders by a quarter of a percentage point to 4 percent, a spokeswoman for the bank said in Jerusalem. Eleven out of 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had forecast the increase, while the rest expected no change. "He needs to restore confidence in the bank at a time when inflationary expectations are relatively high, not just for the next 12 months, but for the long term," said Eyal Klein, chief strategist at Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd. in Tel Aviv.

Hamas: We will not stay for long monitoring the PA violations in W. Bank
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that the violations committed blatantly in the West Bank by the security apparatuses under the command of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas are contrary to law and morality and must not go without retribution, warning that it will not stay for long monitoring these infringements. "Now you are seeking protection from the Zionists, and you know well if the Zionists stopped lending you a hand, the people would storm and expel you from your headquarters," Hamas underlined in a statement addressing the Ramallah authority and leaders and cadres of security apparatuses. The statement pointed out that the elements of the PA security apparatuses also has to know that they commit a big mistake by obeying the orders of their chiefs for the sake of salaries, saying that using the salary as a justification will never diminish the seriousness of what they do or exonerate them from their mistakes.

Barhoum: Abbas implementing Zio-American scheme to eradicate Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Tuesday that there are Zio-American schemes to liquidate the Movement from the Palestinian arena carried out by gangs affiliated with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, highlighting that the falsehood of Abbas’s statements about dialog is quite clear in light of the fierce attacks against the Movement’s cadres and institutions in the West Bank. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, underlined that PA security apparatuses are working on protecting the security of the Israeli occupation at the expense of the safety and security of the Palestinian citizens, and carrying out a factional cleansing campaign. Barhoum also underscored that all these campaigns against Hamas are aimed at allowing the PA chief to establish the project of the Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinian rights and constants in order to appease the. . .

Hamas warns of new intifada if PA campaigns against it continue
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement warned Tuesday against the serious repercussions of the ongoing political arrests in occupied West Bank, highlighting that this would lead to a new intifada against the Israeli occupation and its security agents. In a press conference, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, called on the Palestinian people in the West Bank to confront the PA security apparatuses and their operations carried out in coordination with the Israeli occupation against Palestinian resistance fighters. Dr. Abu Zuhri underlined that the ongoing and escalating campaign of arrests and raids in the West Bank which are carried out simultaneously with other Israeli arrests in the same areas reflects the PA security apparatuses’ role in serving the Israeli occupation and eliminating all forms of resistance at the expense of the Palestinian interests and security.

EU training of Palestinian police in final stage
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
The 11th Public Order training course supervised by the European Union police mission to Palestine (EUPOL) began on Tuesday at the Jericho Training Centre. This is the final part of the course which has seen the 53 officers in charge of public order units across the West Bank trained by the EU delegation. This training is the initial step in developing public order and other capabilities of the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP). From now on EUPOL will work directly with the Public Order units in their districts to enhance their operational capability on the ground. The head of EUPOL, Deputy Chief Constable Colin Smith said, "This represents a clear commitment by the EU to long term enhancement of the entire Palestinian Criminal Justice System (police, courts and prisons), key to establishing law and order for Palestinians. "

PA security rounds up 32 Hamas supporters
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The PA security apparatuses under the command of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas launched a new wave of arrests in lines of Hamas supporters in the West Bank over the past 24 hours that included 32 persons. The arrest campaign, which is launched in retaliation to the Hamas-led government in Gaza’s detention of suspects in the Gaza beach bombing, is the biggest for a long period of time. Among the detainees are the municipal council chairman of Til village, Nablus district, Omar Eshtiye, along with former prisoners in Israeli occupation jails and PA prisons, imams of mosques and the director of the PLO office in Salfit, Sheikh Majed Al-Qadi, in addition to municipal council member Dr. Zuhair Sawalha in Kufr Ra’ee village. The arrests were made in the districts of Nablus, Qalqilia, Salfit, Ramallah, Jenin and Tobas.

PA security forces fired at in Silwad
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Sources told Ma’an that Palestinian security forces were fired at on Tuesday as they entered Silwad village to the east of Ramallah to impose a campaign of law and order in the area. The sources added that no injuries were reported amongst the security personnel, adding that armored forces arrived to the village to take control of the area and detain the shooters. Security sources denied that the actions came as retaliation after the detention of Hamas members and stated that the campaign is targeting criminals, not political activists and is aimed at confiscating illegal cars. Security sources added that the campaign is part of the security plan for the West Bank that is in its third stage at the moment.

Palestinian health minister hosts Korean delegation
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian minister of health, Fathi Abu Mughli, on Tuesday met with a high-ranking Korean delegation headed by deputy chairperson of The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The minister of health welcomed the guests thanking the Korean government, on behalf of the Palestinian people, for the support they have offered in the provision of health care. Mughli apparently discussed the ministry’s plans for development and submitted a number of projects to the delegation with a view to them providing funding for their implementation. The head of the Korean delegation said that his government would continue to support the Palestinian people in all areas, especially concerning health care.

Olmert to decide on his future ’soon’
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has less than a month to decide whether to join the Kadima leadership race or become "a lame duck," after the party’s election committee decided on Tuesday to set an August 24 deadline to join the race, which it scheduled for September 17. ’I’ll beat him too,’ says Livni about OlmertSources close to Olmert said he would announce his decision very soon and well ahead of the deadline, because it would be clear he was not running if he did not announce his intentions in the near future. A source close to Olmert denied a report that he would make a decision over the weekend and announce it next week. But another Olmert associate said the prime minister’s attacks against the state prosecution last weekend and Labor chairman Ehud Barak on Monday were part of a last-ditch effort to revitalize himself politically, and if they did not work, he was ready to throw in the towel.

Olmert: I’ll dissolve coalition before replacing Justice Min. Friedmann
Shahar Ilan and Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 7/29/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lashed out Monday against his Labor coalition partners, after party leaders called for sacking Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. Olmert told reporters that he would rather break up the coalition than give in to Labor’s demand to replace Friedmann, whose proposed judicial reforms have often sparked controversy. "I am the head of the [Kadima] party and if someone thinks they can force us to sack someone as part of a coalition agreement, they are wrong," Olmert said. "If I have to pick between Professor Daniel Friedmann and Ehud Barak, then I pick Professor Friedmann. I suggest nobody try to intimidate Kadima. We are the largest party. If someone tries to dictate from the bottom of the pile, we’ll tell him we are not afraid. " Olmert made the remarks during a Kadima party meeting on a bill proposed by Friedmann,. . .

Tzipi Livni: New Israeli government this autumn
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni said on Tuesday that a new Israeli government would be formed this autumn. She said in an interview with Radio Israel that if she becomes Prime Minister, she will endeavor to dramatically change the practices of the government and will ensure that there is a return to the direct election of the Prime Minister. Livni added that the current instability stemmed from the current ruling policies which impede the execution of the different reform programs. Answering a question about the heated debate between her and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during the last cabinet’s session, Livni said it was over a political, rather than personal, issue and would not be drawn further on the issue.

Scottish couple barred from delivering medical supplies to Gaza
Eva Bartlett writing from Cairo, Egypt, Electronic Intifada 7/29/2008
Ten days after setting out from Edinburgh, and five days past their projected 15 July arrival, Scottish humanitarian Khalil al-Niss and his wife Linda Willis finally arrived in the afternoon of 20 July to the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border only to be denied entry to Gaza. The Gazan side, just over 100 meters from the Egyptian gate and Israeli-built wall, is visible from where the couple’s van sits idle; doctors inside Gaza wait for the expected delivery of essential medical aid. Having arrived by ferry from Jordan after 11pm, al-Niss and Willis were made to wait over 24 hours at the border town of Nuweiba, where Egyptian authorities repeatedly sent them to six different departments to fill out form after form. Once again, the van was unloaded as Egyptian officials inspected its contents to only reload them seemingly satisfied the couple really was bringing in vital medicines and equipment.

86 truckloads of goods enter the Gaza Strip Monday
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli sources on Monday quoted the management of the three Gaza crossing points saying that there was no obstruction to the movement of goods shipped into the Gaza Strip on that day. The sources were quoted by Radio Israel saying that 86 truckloads of fruit and vegetables as well as shoes and clothes entered the Gaza Strip through Sufa crossing. [end]

Al-Zahar of Hamas defends his ruling partys actions in Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
Senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, stated on Tuesday that the latest Hamas governments actions across the Gaza Strip have been a response to a national and civil necessity. "Hamas should administer all civil and military institutions in Gaza, given the fact Hamas is a democratically-elected government. Those who have claimed that Hamas carried out a coup against legitimacy are merely liars", Zahar was quoted as saying en-route to Cairo. A Hamas delegation, made up of Alzahar, Jamal Abu Hashem and exiled Hamas' political bureau deputy-chief, Mousa Abu Marzouq, headed for Cairo on Tuesday morning, in route to talks about the status of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal with Israel. Al-Zahar confirmed that the delegation will not be meeting with any Fatah officials, saying that the visit to Cairo is intended at tackling implementation of the ceasefire deal.

International Federation of Journalists condemns Hamas for attacks on Palestinian journalists
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/29/2008
Gaza -- The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned Hamas leadership on Monday for "the arrest of Palestinian journalists working for local and foreign media establishments, and the confiscation of media equipment. "In the wake of Friday’s Gaza bombings a group of masked persons claiming to be the "Hamas internal security force" arrested Sawwah Abu Saif, a Gaza Strip cameraman working for the German media agency ARD. The Palestinian journalist Fuad Abu Jarad was also arrested. Hamas armed forces broke into the Palestinian news agency Wafa, confiscating fixtures and equipment before forcing it to close. They also stormed the Gaza Media Center, which contains several offices including those of Abu Dhabi Television, Fox News and Sky News. Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ said, "We demand Hamas officials to release the journalists immediately and apologize to all media organizations affected by these acts. "

PA security release Nablus deputy mayor and three municipal council members
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The deputy mayor of Nablus, Hafidh Shaheen, and three members of the city’s municipal council were released by the Palestinian Authority (PA) security services on Tuesday evening after two days in PA custody. The council members released were Fayyad Al-Aghbar, Ghassan Al-Jawhar and Mazin Ash-Sharif. The four were detained at dawn on Monday, when the PA security services launched the widest arrest campaign in Nablus since Hamas took control over the Gaza Strip in June 2007, detaining more then 54 people in the city, including many affiliated to the Hamas movement. During the arrest campaign, Dr Hafidh Shaheen was detained along with his son Qadri Shaheen. Others arrested included Dr Abdul Sattar Qassim, a lecturer at An-Najah National University in Nablus, Dr Hussam Kharim, and Dr Muhammad As-Suleibi together with his son Asid.

Zahhar: Qassam Brigades will continue fighting until the liberation of Palestine
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a lawmaker and a prominent Hamas leader, highlighted Monday that the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, will be carrying its weapons against the Israeli occupation and its collaborators until the liberation of Palestine, adding that those who carry out acts against the Palestinian people will be punished. In a festival honoring the Palestinian prisoners and their families held by the Qassam Brigades’ information office, Dr. Zahhar stated that the security campaign being carried out by the Palestinian police in Gaza will not be confined to the investigations into the Gaza beach massacre, but will continue to ensure the continuity of security and stability in the Strip. He pledged that all institutions, whose security and legal records are investigated by the interior ministry, will return to their administrators.

Palestinian security services prevent Hizb At-Tahrir event in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Hebron – Ma’an– The Palestinian security services prevented an event organized by the Hizb At-Tahrir movement in Hebron on Tuesday to commemorate the destruction of the Islamic caliphate, and arrested about twenty demonstrators. A spokesperson for the Hizb At-Tahrir movement told Ma’an that the security services had prevented them from holding a women’s festival to commemorate the destruction of the caliphate. After the women were prevented from entering the hall where the festival was supposed to take place, they marched down As-Salaam Street in Hebron in protest, where they were joined by male members of Hizb At-Tahrir. Eyewitnesses reported that Palestinian security forces dispersed the demonstrators who took to the street, and that clashes broke out between the security forces and some of the demonstrators.

PA Preventive Security Police arrests Hebron Journalist
Nour Amir in Jerusalem, posted by Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Think Tank 7/29/2008
Hebron: Occupied Palestinian Territories - The Palestinian Authority (PA) Preventive Security Force (PSF) on Tuesday arrested Awadh Rajoub, a Hebron-area journalist, apparently as part of a general crackdown on non-conformist journalists and intellectuals. Eyewitnesses said a dozen PSF officers raided and searched Rajoub’s press office in the small town of Dura, 12 miles south west of Hebron shortly before sunset Tuesday. His family said it had no idea why Rajoub, an independent journalist with no political affiliation, was arrested. Rajoub, 29, works for the Arabic service of al-Jazeera. net and a number of other media outlets. In 2006, Rajoub was arrested for six months by the Israeli authorities for conducting press interviews with "hostile elements," a reference to some Hamas officials.

IOA extends detention of MP Mansour, kidnaps another female
Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority has extended the detention of MP Mona Mansour for eight more days while its troops abducted municipal council member Suhaila Shalash on Monday evening. Fuad Al-Khafsh, the director of the Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies, denounced the recently growing detention of Palestinian women, describing it as a rising phenomenon. He said that in July the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped Khulud Al-Masri, Nablus municipality member, stormed the home of Dr. Majeda Fidda, another Nablus municipal member, in a bid to kidnap her, and now Suhaila Shalash, 40, of the Shakaba village municipal council on returning from Saudi Arabia where she performed Omra (minor pilgrimage). The same month also witnessed the detention of Mona Mansour, a Nablus MP for the Hamas Movement. He said that Mansour was moved to the Hasharon prison for women and was. . .

Solidarity visit to family of prisoner entering 32nd year of incarceration
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The governor of Nablus, Jamal Muhaisin, headed a solidarity delegation visiting the family of Palestinian prisoner Sa’id Al-’Atabah on Tuesday. Al-’Atabah is believed to have spent the longest time in prison in recent history as he enters his 32nd year of incarceration. The governor delivered a short speech in which he confirmed that Al-’Atabah had entered the Guinness Book of Records for the longest period spent in detention and applauded his steadfastness in the face of such hardship, adding that it would not be an exaggeration to say that he had triumphed, simply by existing, over his prison guards. During the meeting Sa’id’s sister thanked the governor and all of the institutions that expressed their solidarity with her brother. She said it meant particularly much to her mother who is still hoping to see her son at his home with the family.

Israel to Move Small Part of West Bank Barrier - Report
Reuters, MIFTAH 7/29/2008
Israel plans to tear down a small portion of an internationally condemned barrier and move it closer to its border with the occupied West Bank, an Israeli newspaper reported on Monday. The Haaretz daily said a 2. 4 km stretch of fencing would be moved in response to a petition filed with Israel’s high court by Palestinians from two villages. Palestinians would recover most of some 700 acres Israel had confiscated for the barrier near the West Bank town of Qalqilya, the report said. The change would affect just a tiny portion of a network of fencing and cement walls that extends for a total of 405 km, much of it snaking through the West Bank. Shlomo Dror, an Israeli government spokesman, would not comment specifically on the report, but said the barrier "was always subject to changes" in deference to court rulings. The newspaper said the Israeli Defence Ministry had told the court it would loop the barrier further from two villages near Qalqilya, restoring most of the land they had lost.

Israel to move part of separation fence
Ma’an News Agency 7/29/2008
Bethlehem - The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz said on Tuesday that the Israeli government has agreed to move a 2. 4km section of the separation wall just north of Qalqilia. The move will return 2,600 Dunums (2. 6 million sq meters) of land to its Palestinian owners. The demolished stretch will apparently be replaced by a fence closer to the ’Green Line’, the 1967 borders of Palestine. The fence was constructed in 2003 and since then locals have filed several cases in the High Court in an attempt to have it removed. The Palestinians won various legal victories over the ensuing years in which the court ruled that the fence must be moved closer to the ’Green Line’. The rulings of the court were not put into action straight away however, with the Israeli military establishment refusing to implement the courts decision, arguing that such a move would endanger the security of Israelis in the settlements of Kochav Yair and Tzur Yigal.

IDF commander suspended after failing polygraph test
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
A battalion commander who allegedly ordered a soldier to fire a rubber bullet at point-blank range at a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian was temporarily suspended from active duty on Tuesday after a polygraph test cast doubt on his version of events. Polygraph casts doubt on officer’s storyLt. -Col. Omri Burbag, commander of Armored Battalion 71, appeared before OC Northern Command Maj. -Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Tuesday for a hearing, after which he was ordered to take a 10-day leave of absence from his position. Eizenkot told Burbag the shooting of the Palestinian was against IDF values and demonstrated a breakdown in Burbag’s command. The suspension came a day after Burbag failed a polygraph test given by the Military Police. Last week, he took a private polygraph test and was found to be responding truthfully to questions of whether he had ordered the soldier to shoot the detainee.

Ynet: Naalin commander ordered to go on 10-day leave
Hanan Greenberg, International Solidarity Movement 7/29/2008
Ramallah Region - Northern command chief suspends senior officer following shooting of bound Palestinian in during anti-fence rally, citing ‘moral and authoritative failure’ - Northern Command Chief Major-General Gadi Eisenkot ordered Battalion 71 Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Omri to go on a 10-day leave of absence Tuesday following the incident in the West Bank Palestinian village of Naalin, in which a soldier under his command fired a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian detainee during an anti-fence rally. Staff Sgt. filmed shooting rubber bullet towards bound Palestinian detainee found to have testified truthfully about in second lie detector test. But his commander, whom he accuses of ordering him to shoot, found to have lied Major-General Eisenkot noted that the incident indicated a severe lapse in judgment and a "moral and authoritative failure" on the commander’s part.

Na’alin officer fails polygraph test
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 7/29/2008
Staff Sgt. filmed shooting rubber bullet towards bound Palestinian detainee found to have testified truthfully about in second lie detector test. But his commander, whom he accuses of ordering him to shoot, found to have lied - Staff Sgt. L, the soldier filmed firing a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian detainee in Naalin, was found to have testified truthfully in his second lie-detector test. The Staff Sgt asserts that his regiment commander, identified as Lieutenant-Colonel Omri, ordered him to shoot towards Ashraf Abu Rahema. The Lt. Col. continues to maintain that the soldier acted independently, however Ynet has learned that he recently failed the polygraph test he was subjected to. The army may already choose to take measures against the Lt. Col. in the coming days. He is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Northern Command chief, Maj.

Ahmadinejad says world powers on decline
Daily Star 7/30/2008
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a verbal double-whammy against world powers on Tuesday, saying that global powerbrokers were in decline - making way for a larger role for developing nations to play in the international arena - and hitting out against what he labeled bias by the UN Security Council. "The great powers are in the process of decline. Their influence is waning. They have reached the end of their era, we are at the threshold of a new era," he told a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran. "The major powers are on a descending course. The extent of their influence drops day by day. They are approaching the end of their era," Ahmadinejad told the gathering. "Pious and chaste powers should take the lead in the world," he added in a speech to foreign ministers at the meeting of the 118-member movement.


Reflection on the Role of the Israeli Peace Camp
Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Palestine Chronicle 7/29/2008
      ’Only the Jewish Israeli members of the peace camp can drive this message home to the Israeli people.’
     I do not know how far the Israeli peace movement is ready to go in support of the Palestinians cause. But the movement is based on the assumption that a just peace with the Palestinians serves the interests of Israel. The exiled Israeli-Arab intellectual Azmi Bishara writes that Israeli liberals believe that by "withdrawing from Arab territory occupied in 1967...Israel returns to its original nature’and by opposing the occupation they [the liberals] are affirming an earlier, better citizenship".
     Many peace activists join daily demonstrations protesting against the apartheid wall, and others monitor the hundreds of military checkpoints in the West Bank for human rights violations. And some Israeli peace advocates criticize their government’s illegal actions against the Palestinians in the occupied lands. Jeff Halper, the coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition has written articles detesting the deliberate and systematic Israeli actions to separate the Palestinian population, "then dominating them permanently and institutionally through a political regime’locking them into dependent and impoverished cantons".

VIDEO - Palestine: the facts on the ground

IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 7/29/2008
      Deal or no deal by end of 2008
     A number of Israeli, Palestinian and foreign officials stated many times during the year 2008, that a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis is so close and might be by the end of 2008.
     Realities on the ground are very much different from the way things are expressed. Given the ongoing colonizing of the West Bank, and the construction of the Wall to consolidate the new and expanded colonies, and to tighten the Israeli control over water resources, there will not be a peace treaty by the end of 2008, not even 2020.
     The attached video is an Interview with Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, member of the Palestinian Parliament. The viewo is produced by the "Real News Network", it sheds some light on this issue.

Breaking the Gaza siege, by boat

Dr. Bill Dienst, Electronic Intifada 7/29/2008
      I’ve visited the Gaza Strip multiple times since 1985, partnering with local health care organizations.I have professional colleagues in Gaza who are also personal friends.They suffer under a catastrophic and brutal siege.My friends live in a surreal world where Israel, the powerful bully, is as violent as it wants to be without consequences from its financiers in the US or Europe.
     Even though a truce between Israel and armed groups in the Gaza Strip has held for about a month, only minimal needs are being met and the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens by the day.
     I witnessed one of many examples of the siege on Gaza when I visited in November 2006.In the town of Beit Hanoun, an incursion by Israeli occupation forces resulted in the deaths of over 85 people with more than 300 seriously wounded.Israeli authorities justified this carnage as "retaliation" after one Israeli woman in the bordering town of Sderot was killed by a homemade Qassam rocket fired from Gaza.

Is Gaza under occupation or not? Free Gaza boats about to find out more

Anis Hamadeh, Palestine Think Tank 7/29/2008
      For more than two years, all border crossings to the Gaza Strip have been closed by the Israeli army. Since then, the 1.5 million inhabitants live in a state of siege, even more so since June, when the siege was tightened. As reasons for the siege Israel refers to Qassam rocket fire from the area and the alleged intention of the Hamas government to destroy Israel. At the same time, Israeli government officials emphasize that the occupation of the Gaza Strip has ended with the withdrawal of the Israeli settlements and army in September 2005 and that the Gaza Strip would now be considered foreign territory. But facts on the ground speak a different language.
     The siege has a disastrous effect on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as it violates the human, economic and social rights of the population. More than 200 civilians have died because of the restrictions. In addition, the siege has severely impacted the flow of food, medical supplies and other necessities such as fuel, construction materials and raw materials for various economic sectors. Factories have been forced to close. The unemployment rate is the highest in the world, according to a recent UN report. About 60% of the Gazan households rely on donations, says UNWRA, and urges Israel to reopen the borders. The current bloody rivalries between Hamas and Fatah add to the overall problem.

Middle East: ’Almost every prisoner is told to get money or weapons’

Jonathan Steele in Nablus, The Guardian 7/29/2008
      Mahdi Khanfar, a 35-year-old graduate in urban development, still trembles at the memory of his arrest by the Palestinian Authority’s mukhabarat (intelligence service) in May. "The mukhabarat asked me about Hamas and weapons. They put me in a zinzana [a small windowless cell] at mukhabarat headquarters in Jenin and started hanging me with my hands tied behind my back.
     My toes were only just touching the floor. Sometimes they also tied one leg so I had only one foot on the ground. It lasted for five days. I’ve lost all feeling in my left hand," he told the Guardian last week.
     One of several former detainees interviewed in Nablus and Jenin, he described what appeared to be a pattern in which Hamas sympathisers are often only released on production by their families of money or guns. The alleged abuse by PA forces appears to be aimed at convincing western donor governments, as well as Israel, that the authority is "clamping down on terror".

Report: Torture rampant in Palestinian prisons

Report, Al-Haq, Electronic Intifada 7/28/2008
      Today Al-Haq, as a Palestinian human rights organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), is releasing its report, "Torturing Each Other: The Widespread Practices of Arbitrary Detention and Torture in the Palestinian Territory." This report documents and analyzes arbitrary arrests, acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against individuals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by various Palestinian security or military agencies and personnel. These illegal practices have had a horrific physical and psychological effect on hundreds of Palestinian citizens and the society at large.
     In the wake of Friday’s explosion in Gaza that killed six people and injured tens more, Al-Haq is again reminded of the importance and timing of this report. The ensuing arrests of Fatah-affiliated individuals and attacks on Fatah buildings and offices in Gaza over the weekend, which were then followed by widespread arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank, are evidence that the political infighting that has sparked the growing use of torture and ill-treatment of detainees has not waned. In this moment, Al-Haq therefore calls upon the authorities and security forces in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to refrain from exacting revenge on these detained individuals, to release those who have been arrested arbitrarily and to properly monitor the treatment of all detainees under their control. The alternative would be to further deepen the pain and instability within Palestinian society that has resulted partly from the growing use of torture and ill-treatment by these groups over the past year.

In Washington: When ’pro-Israel’ means not giving a damn about Israel

Mj Rosenberg, Jerusalem Post 7/29/2008
      There is no political downside to simply going with the lobby on the Middle East.
     I had a conversation the other day with a friend who asked me if I was really sure Barack Obama is pro-Israel. "I mean, we know John McCain is."
     We do? How do we know that? Besides what does it even mean to be pro-Israel? There is a real irony here, one which most of us who deal with this issue in Washington confront daily. It is that the politicians who are most deft at spouting memorized "pro-Israel" talking points tend to care about Israel the least. The ones who speak from the heart and the head, who study the issue and try to come up with ways to break out of the deadly status quo are the ones who care the most.
     This includes Jewish politicians, many of whom pretend that they care deeply but only discovered Israel when they decided that playing the Jewish card would help them politically. One Jewish senator I know is well-known for being a fiery uber-hawk on Israel. In fact, he has no interest in Israel at all and never has. He cares deeply about America’s domestic problems, on which he’s a leader, but is indifferent to Israel, Palestinians and Middle East issues in general. It is precisely because he doesn’t give a damn that he can mouth the Marty Peretz/Alan Dershowitz line with such enthusiasm. It matters to him not at all, but it keeps the campaign money rolling in (allowing him to keep doing the things he does care about).

The Military-Industrial Complex

Chalmers Johnson, Middle East Online 7/29/2008
      It’s Much Later Than You Think
     Most Americans have a rough idea what the term "military-industrial complex" means when they come across it in a newspaper or hear a politician mention it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced the idea to the public in his farewell address of January 17, 1961. "Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime," he said, "or indeed by the fighting men of World War II and Korea… We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions… We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications… We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
     Although Eisenhower’s reference to the military-industrial complex is, by now, well-known, his warning against its "unwarranted influence" has, I believe, largely been ignored. Since 1961, there has been too little serious study of, or discussion of, the origins of the military-industrial complex, how it has changed over time, how governmental secrecy has hidden it from oversight by members of Congress or attentive citizens, and how it degrades our Constitutional structure of checks and balances.

Maskiot settlement: when actions speak louder than words

Palestine Monitor 7/29/2008
      The Israeli government gave last week a preliminary green light for the construction of a new illegal Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley, in the North of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. "˜Maskiot’- the name of the new settlement, will initially consist of 20 homes, and is likely to receive Ehud Barak’s final approval in the coming days.
     If the plan goes as proposed, the Maskiot settlement will be located in the Jordan Valley, near the Palestinian city of Nablus. This will be the first new settlement to be built in the occupied West Bank in almost a decade, despite the calls made by the International Community to freeze the construction of settlements, which is illegal under international law. The decision comes in the same week that both Gordon Brown and Barack Obama visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories, stressing the importance of reaching a two-state solution to end the conflict, and despite Olmert’s promise not to build any new settlements. Both the U.S and France -who currently holds the Presidency of the European Union- expressed their regrets and unhappiness about the expansion of the Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley.