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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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30 July 2008

Palestinians: IDF troops wound 9 at boy’s funeral in West Bank
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 7/31/2008
Israel Defense Forces troops wounded nine Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday in a clash with protesters at the funeral of a 11-year-old boy killed a day earlier, Palestinian medics said. They said the troops had shot the casualties with rubber bullets while fighting stone-throwing protesters. A 18-year-old Palestinian was hit in the head by a rubber bullet and doctors described him as brain dead. An initial Border Police investigation has found thatAhmed Moussa , 11, who was killed at a West Bank protest on Tuesday, died from a live round fired by one of the security force’s troops. Ahmed Moussa died during a confrontation with Israeli security forces on Tuesday in the West Bank village of Na’alin. Villagers have been protesting for months against Israel’s separation fence.

70 more Palestinians displaced in Jerusalem: condemnations from Knesset to PA
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Palestine News Network 7/30/2008
Jerusalem -- Dr. Moustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian Legislative Council member and Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, said on Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s statements on his refusal to discuss the status of Jerusalem proves the futility of negotiations. Israeli settlers also overtook parts of East Jerusalem’s Shu’afat Refugee Camp today, claiming it as their own. After the demolition of an apartment building in East Jerusalem major condemnations are coming down. Israeli forces destroyed the building belonging to Majed Abu Eisha in Beit Hanina, displacing 70 Palestinians. Despite major protests on Monday, the demolition went on conducted by the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality and soldiers. Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset were involved in the demonstrations to stop the destruction, as were members of Palestinian government and citizens, but to no avail.

Abbas vows to dismantle PA if Israel frees Hamas prisoners for Shalit
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 7/31/2008
If Israel releases Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament as part of a deal for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, PA President Mahmoud Abbas will dismantle the Palestinian Authority, Abbas warned Israel last week. Abbas sent the warning to GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni via Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA’s civil affairs department, who is responsible for coordinating with Israel on anything involving the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Al-Sheikh, who told Shamni that this was a "personal message" from Abbas, stressed that the Palestinian leader did not speak merely of "resigning," but of "dismantling the PA. "Israel arrested dozens of Hamas politicians, including ministers and parliament members, shortly after Hamas kidnapped Shalit on June 25, 2006.

Olmert: I’ll quit as PM when Kadima picks new leader
Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/31/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday that he has decided not to contend in the Kadima primary election and would resign as soon as the new party leader was chosen, due to the criminal investigations in which he has been embroiled in recent months. "I have decided I won’t run in the Kadima movement primaries, nor do I intend to intervene in the elections," Olmert said in an official statement to the public from his official residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening. "When a new [Kadima party] chairman is chosen, I will resign as prime minister to permit them to put together a new government swiftly and effectively," he added. The prime minister has been under official investigation in recent months over allegations of corruption in his former capacities as Jerusalem mayor and trade minister.

Israeli soldiers get away with abusing Palestinians
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
JERUSALEM - Only six percent of probes into offences allegedly committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank yield indictments, an Israeli rights group said on Wednesday. Of a total of 1,246 investigations by the military police into suspected offences against Palestinians or Palestinian property between 2000 and 2007, only 76 ended in indictments, the Yesh Din human rights group said. A total of 132 people were charged, of whom 110 were found guilty of various offences, four were acquitted, eight indictments were annulled and the trials of 10 others are still under way, the report said. "The figures on the low number of investigations and the minute number of indictments filed reveal that the army is shirking its duty to protect the civilian Palestinian population from offences committed by its soldiers," Yesh Din legal advisor Michael Sfadi said in a statement.

Hamas-Fatah tensions bring increased rights violations
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 7/30/2008
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over the continuous deterioration in the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory caused by Palestinian security services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including attacks against civil society organizations, political arrests campaigns and attacks against journalists. PCHR calls upon the two Palestinian governments in Gaza and Ramallah to stop such human rights violations and to ensure respect for the Basic Law and international human rights standards. Security services of the government in Gaza have continued their attacks against civil institutions belonging to Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip. The latest of such attacks was on Tuesday 29 July 2008, as security services ordered the closure of Rafah Service Club in Rafah for the second time in two days, and Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza City.

Naalin photographer’s father kept in custody
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Father of girl who filmed IDF soldier shooting handcuffed Palestinian to remain in jail for now - The father of the girl who filmed an IDF soldier firing a rubber bullet at a bound Palestinian in Naalin will remain in custody until legal proceedings again him are completed, judges decided Tuesday. Jamal Amira’s detention was extended by the Military Court at the Ofer Prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Fifty-three-year-old Amira is accused of undermining security in the area, participating in an unauthorized demonstration, violating a restricted military zone order, and assaulting a soldier with a stick. Amira vehemently denies the last charge. Amira’s attorney, Gabi Lasky, told Ynet that she plans to appeal the decision, which she characterized as a "sad joke. " "I don’t understand why a person who lost 35 acres of land can’t demonstrate against the fence," she said.

Soldiers arrest father of child who filmed soldiers shooting bound Palestinian youth
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Last week, soldiers kidnapped resident Jamal Hussein Ameera, 50, after his daughter managed to capture on film an Israeli soldiers shooting a Palestinian youth after they arrested and handcuffed him. The father was sentenced on Tuesday to one hundred days imprisonment. The father was kidnapped by the soldiers less than a week after the story was exposed as the footage showed one of the soldiers aiming at the leg of the bound Palestinian youth and shooting him. Ameera was kidnapped while working in his olive orchard close to an area where the Annexation Wall is being constructed. The youth who was shot by the soldier was kidnapped by the army during a peaceful process against the Wall. The incident took place on July 7, and the youth was identified as Ashraf Abu Rahma. Abu Rahma was cuffed by the soldier and was beaten before one of the soldiers shot him in the leg.

VIDEO - Shooting Back: Israeli occupation filmed by 100 Palestinian cameras
Peter Beaumont, The Guardian 7/30/2008
In a graphic and hard-hitting film, Peter Beaumont speaks to Palestinians filming abuse from settlers and Israeli armed forces as part of a remarkable project called Shooting Back. [end]

More injured in Naalin riots
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Palestinian youth shot in head when riots erupt after funeral of boy killed in anti-fence protest; youth declared brain-dead by Ramallah doctors. IDF investigating - Barely a day after 11-year old Ahmed Moussa was killed in Naalin, Palestinian sources reported an 18-year old Palestinian youth was seriously injured by IDF fire in the West Bank village, during a confrontation between residents of the area and Israeli security forces. The IDF said it was investigating the report. Directly following Moussa’s funeral, who was reportedly killed by a Border Guard officer on Tuesday, violent riots began to break out in the village, on territory intended for the construction of the separation fence. A number of Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets. One of them was shot in the head and evacuated to a Ramallah hospital, where doctors declared him brain dead.

Ramallah autopsy finds Naalin boy shot by live fire
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Palestinians refuse Israel’s appeal for joint autopsy, announce forensic medical evidence reveals Ahmed Moussa shot through head by M-16 bullet while present at anti-fence rally. Mourners at funeral vow to continue battle against separation fence - An autopsy by Palestinian forensic doctors indicates that 11-year old Ahmed Moussa, a Palestinian boy killed during an anti-fence protest in Naalin, was shot by live fire, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday. Ramallah Governor Said Abu Ali said the autopsy indicated that Ahmed was struck by a single bullet from an M16 assault rifle that entered his forehead and exited the back of his head. Israel sought to do a joint autopsy with the Palestinians either in Israel or in the West Bank, but Palestinian officials refused, Ali said. Residents of Naalin protest almost daily against Israel’s separation barrier,. . .

Palestinian boy, 10, killed by Israelis at separation wall
Ian Johnston, The Independent 7/30/2008
A 10-year-old Palestinian boy has been killed by Israeli gunfire during a confrontation between troops and stone-throwing youths in a West Bank village, according to medics and witnesses. The boy, Ahmed Moussa, was killed in Naalin, the site of frequent demonstrations against Israel’s separation barrier, which threatens to swallow up hundreds of acres of Naalin’s olive groves. The boy was killed by a shot to the forehead, according to witnesses. The Israeli military said it would conduct an investigation. Yesterday, Israeli forces erected a makeshift fence to prevent protesters from reaching bulldozers clearing land for the barrier and young men and boys gathered nearby, said Farah Khawaja, a protest organiser. Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators trying to scale the fence.

Court orders squatters to quit East Jerusalem property at once
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 7/31/2008
The Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday rejected a petition submitted by rightists squatting in an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem and ordered them to evacuate the premises immediately. The rightists have been squatting for some time in a seven-story building they call "Beit Yehonatan," in the heart of the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The structure was built illegally by the Ateret Cohanim organization, and has been housing seven Jewish families. It is one of the larger buildings constructed by Jews in East Jerusalem, and the city has been under pressure of late to prevent its evacuation and authorize its continued inhabitance. But the court has ordered the building evacuated after the Jerusalem municipality submitted an indictment against the squatters.

Right-wing activists lay claim to land near Shuafat camp
Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post 7/30/2008
Over 100 right-wing activists attempted to enter a home on the outskirts of the Shuafat refugee camp Wednesday morning, saying the home and the area around it was Jewish property. The activists made two attempts to enter the home, one early in the morning and another a few hours later, but were turned away both times by border police. "The police are keeping us out of our land and letting Arabs build there," said Aryeh King, the leader of the group. "It’s absurd, but that’s the State of Israel. " King explained that after Arabs began building on the disputed territory - which connects Area E1 with Jerusalem and is also called "Sha’ar Hamizrah," or the Eastern Gateway - his group had decided to take a stand. "We want the illegal Arab buildings demolished, and we want the rightful owner of the property to have access to his land," King said.

The Israeli army and settlers attack a house in Jerusalem
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Local sources reported that a group of Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli troops tried to seize a Palestinian land in Silwan village at the north east of Jerusalem city. Locals reported that Israeli settlers attacked the land and houses and brought mobile homes with them in order to settle there. Clashes followed between locals and Israeli settlers but no injuries were reported. The head of the Jerusalem Unit at the Palestinian Presidency Office, Ahmed Rweidi, spoke at a press conference held by residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in support of the Umm Al-Kurd family which faces home demolition as well. "We are faced with a new policy in Jerusalem, which necessitates support on a national and international level. "This policy, which has been described by some as "Judaization," involves the demolition of Palestinian homes to make room for Jewish settlers.

Israeli settlers invade Osh Ghrab Public Park in Beit Sahour
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Around 70 Israeli settlers invaded Osh Ghrab park in Beit Sahour Wednesday evening and forced international and local volunteers to stop the painting work that they were doing in the site. Around 20 Palestinian and International volunteers were painting the place, which is an abandoned military base, when the settlers car came with four people in. As soon as they saw the painting work, they left. One hour later, the group of settlers came with their backbags, and said that this is an Israeli area that Palestinians are not allowed to be in. They warned that everybody should leave in one minute. The paintings the volunteers made included peace signs, love signs and a sign for a mock Falafel Kiosk, mock bookstore and a mock burger restaurant. The volunteers who almost finished their work for the day decided to leave in order not to escalate the situation who were provocative, said Rianna, one of the organizers of the activity.

Israeli forces arrest Palestinian policeman and brother
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – An undercover Israeli force on Wednesday morning arrested a Palestinian policeman and his brother from their home in the northern West Bank village of Zawata, west of Nablus. According to Khalid Al-Khandaqji, the uncle of the arrested men, the undercover forces, arriving in a white minibus, besieging the house at 6 in the morning before a back up of 15 military vehicles arrived and soldiers raided the two-storey house. They arrested 23-year-old Abdul-Majid Al-Khandaqji, a Palestinian police man, and his brother Taymour, aged 19 after searching their home and damaging parts of the interior. The uncle asserted that the soldiers confiscated Al-Khadaqji’s policeman’s pistol and ammunition.

Israeli forces invade and detain family in Al-Khadr home
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Israeli forces stormed a three-storey house in the old village of Al-Khadr south of Bethlehem on Wednesday morning. Soldiers destroyed the front door of the house before searching itEyewitnesses told Ma’an that the three families living in this house, owned by sons of Mohammad Sa’deh Al-Mahsiri, were detained together in one room, and beaten by Israeli soldiers. Israeli forces were still in the home at the time of writing. Eyewitnesses said that a Palestinian ambulance car arrived there and transferred someone from the home. It is believed to have been one of the workers who arrived with a truckload of furniture from Jenin for the family while they were detained in the house. Sources say that the worker, who was transferring furniture into the home fainted after being attacked by soldiers.

Israeli forces arrest two in Qabatia raid
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Jenin - Ma’an - Israeli forces arrested two people in Qabatia in the south of Jenin city early on Wednesday morning as part of a wider operation in the western districts of Jenin apparently to search for resistance figters. Security sources said that Israeli forces stormed the town after midnight and searched several houses before detaining Nasser Zakarneh andMohhamed Abu-Zeid, transferring them to an interrogation unit. Zakarneh was released a few hours later, at the time of writing Abu-Zeid remains in custody. Local sources said that Israeli soldiers damaged property in the houses they raided. One of those houses was owned by Abdel Fattah Khzeimiyyeh an fighter with Islamic Jihad movement who has been wanted by the Israeli forces for about two years. Abdel Fattah’s brother, Yousef, told Ma’an’s correspondent, that, "at 3am Israeli soldiers surrounded the two-storey house. . .

The Israeli army invades West Bank cities kidnapping 4 civilians
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
The Israeli army invaded several West Bank cities including Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem kidnapping four civilians on Wednesday. Local sources reported that the Israeli army invaded Nablus city with a number of military vehicles. Moreover Israeli troops invaded the nearby Zwata village kidnapping two brothers. In the city of Jenin, Israeli troops invaded the Kabatia and Alyamun villages at dawn with a number of military vehicles. Israeli troops spread out in several neighborhoods searching and ransacking houses of civilians. In addition Israeli troops forced civilians out of their houses and shot gunfire. Locals reported that the troops kidnapped Khaled Abu Zaid, 25, and Muhammad Shaban, 20, taking them to unknown destinations. Moreover, Israeli troops invaded Al Khader village south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Israeli troops searched and ransacked the residence of Al-Muheseri.

Palestine Today 073008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 3 m 0s || 2. 75 MBWelcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Wednesday July 28th, 2008. The Israeli army invades west bank cities and kidnaps 4 civilians, while Israeli settlers attack lands in Jerusalem. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News cast The Israeli army invaded several West Bank cities including Nablus, Jenin and Bethlehem kidnapping four civilians on Wednesday morning. Local sources reported that the Israeli army invaded Nablus city with a number of military vehicles. Moreover Israeli troops invaded the nearby Zwata village kidnapping two brothers. In the city of Jenin, Israeli troops invaded the Kabatia and Alyamun villages at dawn with a number of military vehicles.

UAE charity work office in Gaza organizes relief campaign for Rafah stranded
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The UAE-operated office of charity work in Gaza organized Tuesday a relief campaign to alleviate the suffering of non-Palestinian nationals from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Jordan stranded at the Rafah border crossing. The campaign provided food, medical care, medicines, baby milk and financial aid to the stranded whose number amounted to about 200 people. In a speech before the stranded, Emad Al-Haddad, the director of the charity work office, stated that the office, in light of the distress appeals made by many humanitarian institutions working in Rafah for providing urgent support for the stranded people there, decided immediately to prepare for a comprehensive relief campaign to support the stranded people especially the families and their children. Haddad underlined that the campaign also provided, in addition to the medical and food aid, some cash for the. . .

Arab committee formed to open Rafah crossing and lift blockade
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- The Arab national conference, the Islamic national conference and the general conference of Arab parties announced Tuesday the formation of the Arab committee for opening the Rafah border crossing and lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In a press conference held in Beirut, Dr. Salim Al-Hoss, who was assigned the presidency of the Arab committee, condemned the Israeli siege on Palestine especially Gaza and the West Bank as "evil", highlighting that the "Zionist entity", during 60 years of its establishment, has been unable to eliminate the Palestinian resistance which gets stronger everyday. Dr. Hoss called on the Palestinians to be fully aware of what is being plotted against them in order to face the dangers which are threatening them and to reach a radical solution to the inter-Palestinian crisis which made Palestine two parts.

Interior ministry announces arrest of suspects in Gaza beach bombing
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian interior ministry in Gaza announced that it arrested last Friday a number of prime suspects in the Gaza beach massacre who confessed to important relevant information, adding that the suspects will be brought to justice soon. Ihab Al-Ghussein, the spokesman for the ministry, told reporters that the Palestinian security apparatuses in Gaza are continuing to take security procedures and precautions to hunt down the perpetrators and prevent the recurrence of such crimes in the future. Ghussein pointed out that interior minister Sa’eed Siyam will hold, during the coming days, a press conference to brief reporters on the investigation results and the findings reached by the security apparatuses about the Gaza beach bombing. The spokesman denied that the interior ministry received information by Egypt about the escape of three men thought to be the perpetrators of the Gaza beach massacre to its territories.

Palestinian security source: Hizb Ut Tahrir spokesman not ''wanted''
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that the Hebron spokesperson of Hizb Ut Tahrir, Dr Mahir Al-Ja’bari was not "wanted by Palestinian Authority security" as previously thought. Two members of the group were arrested on Tuesday during a series of arrests, mostly of Hamas activists. On Monday PA security dispersed an event organized by Hizb Ut Tahrir and arrested about twenty of the participants. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied claims that Al-Ja’bari is being pursued by PA security services. The source also refuted the claims that members of Al-Ja’bari family attacked Al-Haras police station in Hebron last night. Dr Al-Ja’bari called on PA security to release all members of Hizb Ut tahrir who were detained following the fight which erupted between them and security services in Hebron on Tuesday.

Ar-Rish Brigades: Hamas arrest dozens of fighters and confiscate weapons
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas’ armed wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, arrested dozens of fighters affiliated to the Ahmad Abu Ar-Rish Brigades, one of Fatah’s military wings, on Wednesday, sources within Abu-Ar-Rish Brigades said. The brigades also confiscated a large number of weapons including included rifles, ammunitions and rocket launchers as well as a workshop for manufacturing homemade projectiles. The move comes on the fourth anniversary of the death of the founder of the Ar-Rish Brigades, Umar Abu Sittah. The source said, "we call on all Palestinian factions to tell let their opinions be kown on this strange behavior and to defend the possession of weapons of resistance. " These actions come after a week of arrests in the Gaza Strip of activists affiliated to Fatah, in a response to the explosions in Gaza on 25 July.

Hamas: PA arrest 11 Hamas members
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Hamas claimed on Wednesday that Palestinian Authority (PA) security services arrested 11 Hamas’ loyalists and 2 members of Hizb Ut Tahrir (Party of Liberation) in the West Bank on Tuesday. Hamas said, in a statement released to the press, that amongst those arrested were Ahmad Zeitawi, mayor of Jama’in in the Salfit region, Sheikh Muayyad Isleih, deputy mayor of Attil near Tulkarem, Asira Ash-Shamaliyya, member of the Nablus municipal council and Farid Hammad, a Ramallah based journalist with Al-Ayyam newspaper. These arrests come as a part of a spate of arrests of Hamas activists in the West Bank in retaliation for a similar campaign targeting Fatah members in the Gaza Strip following the explosion that killed six in Gaza City last Friday.

PA Preventive Security Police arrests Hebron Journalist
Nour Amir in Jerusalem, Palestinian Information Center 7/29/2008
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. The American-backed Palestinian security agencies have been arresting  hundreds of activists,. . .

Abbas’s security kidnaps 11 Hamas supporters, 2 Hizbu Tahrir cadres
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- PA security apparatuses in the West Bank have kidnapped 13 Palestinians over the past 24 hours in various West Bank areas including 11 Hamas supporters. Local sources in Nablus said that the PA security elements detained Dr. Jabir Khudair, a Najah University lecturer, at a roadblock for those apparatuses. They noted that Khudair is the brother of MP Hamed Al-Beitawi, whose house was stormed and ransacked at the hands of those elements who also confiscated all property in the house. Those security apparatuses also kidnapped Assaira Shamalia municipal council member Louay Hamadne. In Tulkarem district, the security elements rounded up an employee in the chamber of commerce, the deputy mayor of Attil village and a Hizbultahrir supporter in the city. In Salfit, the security elements kidnapped the mayor of Jamai’in village and two citizens from Qarawat Bani Hassan village.

Hamas: The PA security apparatuses will reap the thorns they sowed soon
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated that the Israeli-backed PA security apparatuses and the mutiny trend within Fatah will reap the thorns they have sowed soon despite it always wished matters had not reached this level. In a press release received by the PIC, Hamas underlined that the situation in occupied West Bank is very similar to that which prevailed before Hamas carried out its armed takeover to restore things in Gaza back to normal Hamas explained that the American-financed PA security apparatuses are committing crimes in its cellars against Hamas cadres and sympathizers whose number has reached more than 200 Palestinians, adding that they also collaborated lately with the IOF troops in assassinating Palestinian resistance fighters. Hams-affiliated MP Imad Nofal, who is imprisoned in Israeli jails, said that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has to turn his words calling for. . .

Palestinians share stories about life in Israeli prisons
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/30/2008
Ramallah -- The Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies held a symposium Tuesday evening to hear the stories of 12 Palestinians who have been released from Israeli prisons. Dr. Hassan Abdullah, a writer and scientist, directed the discussion and personal testimonies. Director of the Centre Dr. Iyad Barghouti stressed that the recent prisoner exchange gave special importance to the symposium. The Centre’s goal was to create an environment of tolerance, equality and recognition of others. Those who gave personal testimonies painted a picture of imprisonment since the late 60s. They unanimously agreed that their experience in Israeli prisons passed several stages. They all suffered from problems in the beginning, but their experience evolved and crystallized especially in the early 70s. They explained that the relative level of democracy differed from one stage to another and from one prison to another.

Family under Attack supports Nonviolent resistance
Kendra Puryear, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Every Friday there is a protest against the Wall, led by local Palestinians and joined by a number of International students and organizations. This non-violent resistance movement began two years ago in response to the confiscation of land by Israelis for the building of the Illegal Wall and expansion of settlements. The protest takes place in Joret Al Shama, a village south of Bethlehem near the Israeli Efrat Settlement which lies on the Palestinian side of the Green Line drawn in 1967. Approximately 35 Palestinians and Internationals gathered on Friday at 10am to show their support for the resistance to the expansion of the wall and the nearby settlement. The crowd, made up of half Palestinian children accompanied by adults from the area along with several Internationals from various organizations and journalists covering the demonstration, remained orderly and peaceful.

ISRAEL: Arab women increasingly report assault, harassment
Women Against Violence, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 7/30/2008
NAZARETH, 30 July 2008 (IRIN) - Israel’s Arab women face high levels of harassment at home and in the workplace, but - thanks partly to some very public scandals - the number of women reporting crimes against them is on the rise. The scandals have "encouraged many women to reveal abuse and [they] know that it can be stopped," the(WAV) organisation, an Arab non-governmental organisation (NGO) in northern Israel, said. Israel was rocked in the past two years when the former president, Moshe Katsav, and former Minister of Justice Haim Ramon, were accused of sexually harassing young women who worked in their offices. Katsav has since been forced to resign and may yet face rape charges. Israeli Arabs, who constitute about 20 percent of Israel’s population, were also scandalised when a government official at an unemployment centre in Kfar Kana, an Arab village near Nazareth, was charged. . .

Academics protest at army bar on Palestinians
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 7/30/2008
Israeli universities are heading for a serious confrontation with the country’s military after protesting that severely restrictive criteria for the admission of Palestinian students undermines their academic freedom. The heads of six of the country’s most prestigious universities have written to the Defence minister Ehud Barak, taking issue with a limit on Palestinian students to 70 a year in Israel and requiring them to justify to the military the exceptional academic grounds for admission. One prominent Hebrew University professor has warned that the regulations -- which include barring Palestinian students from courses "that could be used against the State of Israel" -- will help campaigners in Britain and elsewhere seeking to impose a boycott of Israeli academia. "Since its establishment, the State of Israel has carefully maintained a tradition of academic freedom. "

Lebanon ministers meet on manifesto
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
BEIRUT - Lebanese cabinet ministers were meeting on Wednesday to resolve the obstacle of Hezbollah’s arms in drafting a policy statement that will allow the government to formally take office. A new national unity cabinet was formed two weeks ago but negotiations on a manifesto have been hampered by disputes on the issue of weapons held by Hezbollah, the powerful political movement and militia. "The statement could be drafted today or tomorrow with a framework that pleases Hezbollah and meets the needs of the Lebanese state if discussions continue as they have in recent days," an MP with the ruling majority said on condition of anonymity. The government will take office only after a parliamentary vote of confidence on the policy statement. The cabinet, in which the Hezbollah-led opposition has the right of veto, was formed on July 11 after weeks of bickering despite a May. . .

Palestinians stranded on border offered protection by Iraq authorities
Report, Electronic Intifada 7/30/2008
BAGHDAD (IRIN) - Palestinian refugees stranded in two makeshift camps on the Syrian-Iraqi border may be able to go back to their homes in Iraq and offered protection by the Iraqi authorities, a senior Palestinian diplomat said on 28 July. "There are contacts between the Iraqi government and Palestinian authorities to secure the return of these refugees either to their homes or other places inside Iraq and offer [them] protection and humanitarian aid," Dalil al-Qasous, the Palestinian charge d’affaires in Baghdad, told IRIN. According to al-Qasous, there are about 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the two camps: about 1,800 in al-Walid camp on the Iraqi side of the border, and about 1,000 in al-Tanf in no man’s land between Iraq and Syria. "They are still experiencing an acute humanitarian situation and daily suffering compounded by high summer temperatures, sandstorms and lack of medical care," he said.

The Acting President of the Palestinian Legislative Council calls for lifting the siege on the Gaza
Ghada Salsaa, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
The Acting President of the Legislative Council Dr. Ahmad Bahar called for international societies to support Palestinians and lift the ongoing two-year siege on the Gaza Strip. Bahar at his meeting with members of the British parliament held Britain responsible for the 60 year suffering of Palestinians because of the British occupation and the establishment of the Israeli state which followed. Bahar stated that Palestinians want peace but according to Bahar real peace will not be achieved until Palestinians are given all of their rights back including the return of refugees to their lands, and establishing their own independent state with its capital in Jerusalem. Bahar stated that Israel is continuously attacking Palestinians, committing massacres, stealing lands and besieging Palestinians. The British parliament members assured their support to Palestinians and criticized the ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip.

Report: Obama ’gets the feeling’ Israel to strike Iran if sanctions fail
Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury , and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/31/2008
U. S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama confided to fellow Democrats in Congress that he "gets the feeling from [his talks]" during his trip abroad that Israel would strike Iran if the sanctions fail to halt Tehran’s nuclear program, ABC News reported Wednesday. "Nobody said this to me directly but I get the feeling from my talks that if the sanctions don’t work Israel is going to strike Iran," Obama was quoted as telling Democratic congressmen Tuesday, according to ABC News. Near the close of his visit to Israel last week, Obama met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. A major topic of their long conversation was Obama’s declared willingness to engage in direct dialogue with Tehran. Obama reportedly told Olmert that he is interested in meeting the Iranians in order to issue clear ultimatums.

US tells Israel military option still on table with Iran
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Following defense minister’s visit to US, Los Angeles Times reports Washington has made clear to Israel it still considers military action viable last-resort option against Iran; Obama tells Democratic Party that if sanctions don’t work, Israel may strike - WASHINGTON -The United States has told Israel a military strike on Iran was still on the table, the Lost Angeles Times quoted Pentagon sources as saying on Wednesday following Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to the capital. The paper asserts that officials within the Bush administration reassured Barak that the US would not rule out the possibility of military action as a last-resort option. In Jerusalem many are concerned Washington has taken a more lenient approach in its stance against Tehran. In Barak’s meetings with Washington’s top brass these past two days, administration officials. . .

Amnesty for pullout objectors?
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Bill that would grant pardon to disengagement protestors passes first reading at Knesset; tempers flare as Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On compares Right’s conduct to Nazis who exploited German democracy’s weakness - A bill that seeks to grant amnesty to disengagement protestors who committed offences as part of the demonstrations against the pullout passed the first reading at the Knesset Tuesday night. Following the vote, one of the Knesset Members behind the bill, Reuven Rivlin (Likud,) said that "there are days when democracy needs to forgive and leave the past behind. The disengagement was a national trauma and it cannot be compared to any other social crisis. " "The clemency law will assist in mending the rift within Israeli society and correcting the injustice done to families of the evacuees, those who paid the price of democracy in the harshest manner," he said.

US still seeking Mideast peace deal by 2009
News agencies, YNetNews 7/30/2008
White House plays down effect Olmert’s departure will have on peace talks with Palestinian Authority. President Bush calls Israeli PM shortly before latter’s public address to ’wish him well’ - President George W. Bush’s goal of securing a Middle East peace deal before he leaves office remains unchanged, the White House said on Wednesday, despite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan to step down. " We will continue to work on a deal before the end of the year," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said when asked how Olmert’s departure would affect the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace process. US officials had played down the potential fallout from Olmert’s departure, saying he is not the only Israeli leader committed to peacemaking. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched a round of talks in Washington on Wednesday with former Palestinian Prime. . .

US mull deploying missile defense radar to Israel
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to explore deploying a powerful missile defense targeting radar in Israel, a senior US defense official said Tuesday. "The idea here is to help Israel create a layered missile defense capability to protect it from all sorts of threats in the region, near and far," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Gates discussed the Israeli request Monday in a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the official said. Besides the radar, Gates also agreed to explore sharing of missile early warning launch data, as well as US funding for two costly Israeli projects designed to counter short-range rockets and mortars, he said. The official said deploying the X-band radar was a near-term proposition, adding "all this is moving pretty quickly.

PLC members meet with British MPs
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council PLC, Dr. Ahmad Bahar, on Tuesday called on Europe to support the Palestinian people and endeavor to end the ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip in a meeting with British members of parliament. He said, "Britain bears moral and historic responsibility for the Palestinian people’s suffering over the last 60 years. They are responsible for the tyranny against the Palestinians during the British occupation and the creation of Israel and all the catastrophes that followed. " Bahar also explained that the Palestinian people have always wanted peace and worked towards achieving it. "Real peace means the Palestinian people restore their rights and establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital in addition to the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands.

PLC presidency meets with European multinational delegation on visit to Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PLC presidency along with the foreign relations committee of the Hamas parliamentary bloc received a European multinational delegation during its visit to the parliament headquarters in the Gaza city, where the delegates were provided with detailed information about some important issues in the Palestinian arena. During a meeting held in the PLC headquarters, the visiting European delegates expressed their solidarity with the Gaza people who are suffering from harsh living conditions as a result of the unjust Israeli siege and received detailed answers to their inquiries about the files of truce and dialog. Dr. Ahmed Bahr, the acting speaker of the PLC and other MPs briefed the delegation about the vision of the Hamas-affiliated change and reform parliamentary bloc towards these files and explained to them the reasons which hinder the inter-Palestinian dialog.

US sees Israeli settlement building as roadblock to reaching peace agreement
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/30/2008
Washington - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the building of Israeli settlements as a "problem" on Tuesday in her talk about efforts to reach a Palestinian-Israeli ’peace agreement’ this year. Rice expressed her dismay at the latest plans for Israel to build new settlements following a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Rice met later with former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who is heading the delegation for the Palestinian Final Status negotiations. The Israeli negotiating team is hosting a trilateral talk with Rice, Qureia and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni Wednesday afternoon. No tangible progress has yet been made on the peace negotiations. A great deal of suspicion has been raised between Israelis and Palestinians at the possibility of US President George W.

DFLP delegation head to Cairo to discuss internal crisis
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - DFLP central committee member, Talal Abu Tharifa, said in a statement on Wednesday that a delegation from the party has headed to Cairo to discuss the internal Palestinian crisis and the opportunities for starting of a comprehensive national dialogue. The delegation that includes Saleh Zeidan, Ramzi Rabah, Abdel Hamid and Abu Jyab, all members of DFLP political office, will meet with Egyptian leaders in an effort to lay the groundwork to overcome the split between Hamas and Gaza and its devastating consequences for the Palestinian people. In a statement to the press, Abu Tharifa called for the end to arbitrary political detentions and the closing of civil society institutions in both the West Bank and Gaza. He said that the release of prisoners, the returning of property and the establishment of a full independent inquiry into Friday’s bombing in Gaza should be the first steps towards reconciliation.

Gulf states tell Abbas ''put your house in order, then ask for money''
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
From Khalid Amayreh in the West BankOil-rich Arab states reportedly have warned Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas that they won’t be able to continue giving financial aid to the American-backed  Ramallah-based  regime as long as "the Palestinian house remains divided against itself. "  According to Arab diplomatic sources as well as Palestinian officials in Ramallah, Saudi Arabia, the main Arab financier of the PA, Kuwait and Qatar informed the PA leadership that "from now-on, our financial contributions will be linked to efforts to restore Palestinian national unity. " It is uncertain if the latest call by Abbas for expediting "national dialogue" with Hamas, which he made in Cairo earlier this week, had been prompted by the  reported warning from the Gulf states. Abbas said Fatah was willing to resume Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks with Hamas without preconditions.

Abbas: If Israel frees Hamas prisoners, I will dismantle PA
Uri Blau, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
If Israel releases Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament as part of a deal for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, PA President Mahmoud Abbas will dismantle the Palestinian Authority, Abbas warned Israel last week. Abbas sent the warning to GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni via Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA’s civil affairs department, who is responsible for coordinating with Israel on anything involving the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Al-Sheikh, who told Shamni that this was a "personal message" from Abbas, stressed that the Palestinian leader did not speak merely of "resigning," but of "dismantling the PA. "Israel arrested dozens of Hamas politicians, including ministers and parliament members, shortly after Hamas kidnapped Shalit on June 25, 2006. Many have since been released by order of a military court, but about 40 remain in Israeli jails.

Tunis: Abbas announces preparations for national dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Tunis – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced in his speech to Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali on Wednesday that he had agreed with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak that it was time to start a national dialogue. Abbas assured that talks would maintain Palestinian principles and that all would have access to their national rights without criticism. He affirmed his commitment to dialogue to Egypt, who is sponsoring the talks. In his speech, Abbas expressed also expressed gratitude to the presidency of Tunisia, the first state to house the members of the Palestinian revolution after they left Beirut. He also promised to keep the Tunisian president informed of developments during the talks. Abbas expressed his hope that all Palestinians will someday live as one peaceful unit, and expressed his deep regret with regards to the recent events in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas threatens to dismantle PA in West Bank
William Bascom, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority today in the wake of new developments in the negotiations for the release of the captured Israeli soldier in Gaza. Israeli Daily Ha’aretz reported today that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority for the second time this week. This comes in response to fears that a successful prisoners swap deal with Hamas would result in an influx of Hamas leadership into the West Bank. This follows reports yesterday that Olmert is pushing to form a committee to re-examine the criterions that are obstructing a large number of Palestinians from being included on a list of potential prisoners to be swapped for the release of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captured in a raid in 2006. He is being held in Gaza pending negotiations.

Interview with leftists PPP secretary-general Bassam Salhi
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
This is a translation of an interview conducted by the Palestine News Network (PNN) with Bassam Salhi, secretary-general of the leftist Palestinian People Party (PPP) in Palestine, and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). In the interview, Mr. Salhi, stated that what is happening in the Palestinian territories is tragic and unacceptable, he also demanded immediate national talks and called for a transitional government headed by a public figure that all parties approve. The Interview:PNN: How do you observe what is going on in the Palestinian territories in general, especially in Gaza? What is happening is no doubt a tragedy, it brings back to mind the divisions, and the illegal incidents we witnesses last year. We condemn the explosion which took place in Gaza and demand the officials to investigate it and prosecute the attacker.

Hamas delegation in Cairo receives invitation for national dialogue
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - A Hamas delegation currently in Cairo has received an Egyptian invitation to join Fatah members in a national dialogue. The delegation is in Cairo holding talks on the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, among other issues. The delegation is scheduled to finish their talks and return to the Gaza Strip on Thursday. It is still unclear whether the delegation has accepted the invitation, and if they have, when they will return to Cairo. Mahmoud Zahhar a prominent leader of Hamas confirmed that the talks of the delegation that arrived in Cairo on Tuesday, have nothing to do with internal Palestinian dialogue. While there had been rumours that the delegation would meet wtihPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Zahhar denied the suggestion. Zahhar told Ma’an in an exclusive on Tuesday that, "the meeting is related to old issues including the. . .

New round of Syria-Israel talks concludes in Turkey
Reuters, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Official familiar with Istanbul negotiations confirms fifth round expected to take place in August, another any follow in September. ’When the process moves to direct talks it means we are very close to a solution,’ source says - A fresh round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria, mediated by Turkey, ended on Wednesday and a fifth round is due next month, a senior source close to the talks told the news agency. Israel and Syria launched the talks in May but have not yet agreed to hold face-to-face negotiations. " The fourth round has ended. It was positive. The fifth round will be in mid-August, and again indirect," the senior source close to the talks told. The talks took place at an undisclosed location in Istanbul. The source said he expected a sixth round in September, but did not specify whether that round would be face-to-face.

A fourth round of indirect Israeli-Syrian talks ends
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday that a fourth round of indirect Israeli-Syrian talks ended in Istanbul after two days of deliberations. The talks were held under Turkish medication, and were described by a Turkish source as positive. The source added that the fifth round of talks will be held by mid August and will also be indirect. The indirect talks between Israel and Syria stated in May under Turkish mediation. On Monday, Israeli news paper Haaretz, said that the main subject of talks will be moving towards direct talks. Haaretz added that members of the Syrian negotiations team stated that Damascus is interested in intensifying the talks before the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, leaves office. Israeli sources reported that Syria could agree to hold direct talks with Israel if a European representative joins the talks.

Olmert announces will step down after Kadima primaries
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 7/31/2008
In dramatic public address, Olmert announces Wednesday evening he will not seek reelection in upcoming Kadima primaries. Confirming he will step down once new chairman is elected, Olmert pledges fight to clear his name -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Wednesday evening he would not seek reelection in the upcomingKadima primaries. Olmert said he would step down after a new chairman is elected within his party on September 17th. "I have decided I won’t run in the Kadima movement primaries, nor do I intend to intervene in the elections," Olmert said in a surprise announcement from his official residence in Jerusalem. " When a new (Kadima party) chairman is chosen, I will resign as prime minister to permit them to put together a new government swiftly and effectively. " "I want to make it clear - I am proud to be a citizen of a country. . .

Opposition lawmaker: Kadima has reached the end of its road
Mazal Mualem and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/31/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement Wednesday evening that he has decided not to contend in the upcoming Kadima primary elections stirred reactions across the political spectrum. When asked about Olmert’s decision on Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, "I think it is a proper and responsible decision made at the right time. "Barak, who was speaking after a visit with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York, chairs the Labor Party, Olmert’s senior coalition partner. MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that the declaration marked an end to the young Kadima party. "The only solution to the situation now created is immediate elections. Waiting any longer for Kadima primaries will cause Israel more damage," he said. MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said Olmert should have made this decision months ago.

Mofaz: If elected Kadima chair, I will handle peace talks
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
With Ehud Olmert’s government on the verge of being replaced, it would be wrong to reach agreements with the Palestinians on the core issues of the conflict, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday. Mofaz, one of four candidates running in Kadima’s upcoming primary to replace Olmert as party head, made the comment shortly before departing on a working visit to the United States - where Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are currently also on working visits. "At this time of change in the government, we must not reach agreements on the core issues in negotiations with the Palestinians," Mofaz said. "Anything that is decided now is very problematic, because it is happening before the change in the government and against the background of instability on the Palestinian side.

Police destroy 25 illegal vehicles, arrest 18 in Silwad
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an - Palestinian security forces destroyed 25 vehicles and arrested 18 locals as part of a campaign to enforce law and order in the town of Silwad in the Ramallah district on Tuesday. The Police information department said in a statement that the security forces were met with showers of stones when they entered the village. Police responded by firing into the air to disperse the crowds gathered to oppose the operation. The action was carried out by Palestinian Authority police, national security forces and military intelligence as part of the current West Bank security plan, which has seen raids happen all over the area in recent months. [end]

Portraits of a divided neighbourhood
Edward Platt, The Guardian 7/30/2008
Hebron is the only place in the West Bank where Jewish settlers and Palestinians live and work side by side. Edward Platt reports on an art project aiming to document the city’s stallholders - Nawal Slelmiah - the only female stallholder in the market in the Old City of Hebron, or El Khalil, as it’s called in Arabic - attaches great significance to the black and white portrait on display among the hand-woven clothes and fabrics in her shop. Before the British artist, Caspar Hall, arrived in Hebron for a three-month residency sponsored by Art School Palestine, no one had ever painted her portrait before. More importantly, she believes the portrait sends an important signal to the Israeli settlers and soldiers who often pass her shop near the entrance to the souk. "They often stop and look at it, and it tells them that it’s my shop - I’m the owner, and I’m not leaving," she says.

Birzeit University science conference brings scholars from around the world
PNN, Palestine News Network 7/30/2008
Birzeit -- Wednesday marks the end of a successful conference at Birzeit University to discuss modern research in mathematics and physics. The three-day conference began Monday, 28 July, with several foreign and Palestinian scholars in attendance. A group of scientists introduced their latest achievements in scientific research. Twenty graduate students also presented the results of their research from Palestinian universities with academics from around the world. The conference is being sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Education. It is being financed by Birzeit University, UNESCO, the European Physical Society, GTZ and the German Academy of Science and Technology. Visiting scholars had the opportunity to discuss the possibility of establishing a Centre of Excellence in Mathematics and Physics at Birzeit University.

Municipalities seek delay in water privatization
Dalia Tal, Globes Online 7/30/2008
Union of Local Authorities chairman Adi Eldar: Privatization will result in consumers paying 70% more for their water. The Union of Local Authorities in Israel has asked the government to delay implementation of the water privatization law by two years. Union of Local Authorities chairman Adi Eldar said that privatization would result in consumers paying 70% more for their water. He added that private companies would not only avoid taking water saving measures, but would encourage waste, which would boost their profits. Ramat Gan Mayor Avi Bar also opposes privatizing the municipal water companies. He claimed that the government was pushing a program that had already been shown to be a dismal failure in Europe. He added that, a few weeks ago, 40 French local authorities, including the Paris municipality, said that the privatizing of the water companies was a failure and that the. . .

Palestinian illegal aliens nabbed after work accident
Avi Cohen, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Four laborers wounded, 13 detained after scaffold collapses in Tel Aviv - A Palestinian illegal alien suffered moderate to serious wounds and three others were lightly injured Wednesday morning when a scaffold collapsed at a construction site on Bnei Efraim Street in Tel Aviv. Around 9:30 am police and Magen David Adom received a report regarding a scaffold that collapsed in a five-story building at the corner of Leah and Bnei Efraim streets in Tel Aviv’s Neot Afeka neighborhood. Magen David Adom teams treated the three injured workers while firefighters rescued a laborer trapped between the scaffolds. The four were transferred to the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Yarkon district police are investigating whether the incident occurred as a result of negligence.

Israeli financial sector split on money laundering battle
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 7/30/2008
Banks are in line with international standards - others are not. There is a lack of uniformity and wide differences among Israeli financial institutions with regard to fighting money laundering. Banks comply with international anti-money laundering standards, but other financial institutions are not in compliance, states a report by Moneyval, the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, a unit of the Council of Europe. This is due in part to the different regulators overseeing different parts of the financial sector the -Bank of Israel , Ministry of Finance,Israel Securities Authority , and the Ministry of Communications (which overseasIsrael Postal Company Ltd. and the Postal Bank). The Moneyval report is based on a visit by five money laundering experts to Israel in November 2007.

World Bank study program turns to public for comment on Red-Dead canal plan
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 7/30/2008
A meeting in Herzliya on Wednesday meant to let the public express its opinion on the Red-Dead canal to save the Dead Sea was taken over by environmental groups that all espoused practically the same mantra: Check alternative options. Expert after expert acknowledged the need to save the Dead Sea, but suggested other well-known alternatives such as letting the Jordan River run freely again or building a Med-Dead canal instead. The World Bank team managing the feasibility studies of the Red-Dead canal organized the public stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday to hear the Israeli public’s views on the controversial project. Similar meetings were held this week in Ramallah and Amman. "There was great interest expressed at each of the three meetings," Stephen Lintner, the World Bank’s top environmental adviser worldwide, told The Jerusalem Post in a sit-down interview after the meeting.

Factory owner introduces ’Jewish incentive program’
Nissan Shtrauchler, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Owner of Sderot factory offers employees who agree to observe mitzvahs pay raise, in effort to bring them closer to religion - Is it moral to offer payment for observing mitzvahs? Felix Bilik, who owns Bilik Felix Metal Industries in Sderot sees nothing wrong with the practice. Over the past two years, Bilik has offered to add NIS 400 to the wages of any employee who starts observing religious ordinances. The act, he said, is not a missionary, but rather a legitimate way for his employees to make some extra cash. "Felix had made the offer available for all of his employees, so nobody tries to cheat him," Igor Nisanoff, one of the factory’s employees, told Yedioth Ahronoth. Since the offer was made, many of the factory’s employees have indeed become more religious, organizing groups who break for morning and noon prayers and Torah studies.

Ynet: ‘How can a boy threaten soldiers?’
Ali Waked, YNet News, International Solidarity Movement 7/30/2008
Ramallah Region - Uncle of 11-year-old Palestinian said to be killed by Border Guard police officer slams security forces; posters of Ahmed Musa posted across Palestinian village; dead child turns into symbol of resistance to West Bank fence - A general strike has been called at the Palestinian village of Naalin Wednesday to protest the killing of 11-year-old boy Ahmed Mussa. IDF troops blocked the main entrance to the village, while businesses in Naalin closed their doors ahead of the funeral, scheduled for Wednesday. Meanwhile, weeping local residents gathered around the Mussa home and slammed the IDF and Israel’s security forces. The women standing near the home kept repeating "they have no God," while wiping away their tears. Mussa’s uncle, Hosni Yusuf Mussa, told Ynet that he fails to understand why a Border Guard police officer would shoot at a child. "He was a young boy playing with his friends. How could he threaten the soldiers? "he said.

Israeli troops kill 12-year-old Palestinian boy
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Israeli troops on Tuesday shot dead a 12-year-old Palestinian boy during a protest against Israel’s separation barrier in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian medical sources said. Ahmed Hussam Mussa was hit in the head by a live bullet fired by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the village of Nilin, said Salah Al Khawaja, a member of Nilin’s Committee Against the Wall. Mussa died of his wounds while being transported to hospital in an ambulance shortly afterwards, the medical sources said. According to Khawaja, soldiers fired live rounds towards a group of protestors who had ran into Nilin after the army dispersed demonstrators outside the flashpoint village using rubber-coated bullets. "Protestors arrived at the wall’s construction site outside the village and the soldiers started to open fire with rubber bullets and tear gas.

IOF troops kill Palestinian child participating in peaceful rally in W. Bank
Palestinian Information Center 7/30/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation soldiers killed Tuesday a Palestinian child participating in a peaceful rally in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, near Ramallah city, after they shot him in the head, Palestinian local and medical sources confirmed. The child was identified as Mohammed Husam Zanoun, 8, who attended the demonstration held by his village inhabitants to protest the Israeli seizure of their farms in favor of the apartheid, separation wall which the Israeli occupation government is building in the West Bank with the aim to transform it into geographically divided cantons. The Hebrew radio alleged that two Israeli occupation soldiers were wounded when the demonstrators hurled stones at them; yet, local observes asserted that the mere shooting of the child in the head by the IOF troops was a clear sign that they intended to kill him.

’How can a boy threaten soldiers?’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Uncle of 11-year-old Palestinian said to be killed by Border Guard police officer slams security forces; posters of Ahmed Musa posted across Palestinian village; dead child turns into symbol of resistance to West Bank fence - A general strike has been called at the Palestinian village of Naalin Wednesday to protest the killing of 11-year-old boy Ahmed Mussa. IDF troops blocked the main entrance to the village, while businesses in Naalin closed their doors ahead of the funeral, scheduled for Wednesday. Meanwhile, weeping local residents gathered around the Mussa home and slammed the IDF and Israel’s security forces. The women standing near the home kept repeating "they have no God," while wiping away their tears. Mussa’s uncle, Hosni Yusuf Mussa, told Ynet that he fails to understand why a Border Guard police officer would shoot at a child.

Gov’t may foot bill for Diaspora schoolteachers’ Israel trips
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 7/30/2008
The government may soon help fund trips to Israel for Diaspora educators, under a proposal being examined in the Prime Minister’s Office. On Monday, an internal advisory meeting chaired by cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel discussed a new track for Masa, a government agency that brings Diaspora youth to Israel for five- and 10-month programs. "The plan is to create a new path" for teachers in Jewish schools in the Diaspora to come on two-week trips, Yehezkel told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. Though still in the planning stages, the project could be underway by 2009, since "the money is there" in unused funds slated for Masa participants, he said. The Masa framework brings some 8,000 youths to Israel each year, up from about 4,000 four years ago, according to the organization’s figures. But the government had offered to pay its share for up to 20,000 annually.

Iraqi parliament to meet on election law
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi parliament will meet on Sunday to debate a disputed provincial election bill that was rejected by the Presidency Council last week, casting doubt over polls originally set for October. Parliament speaker Mahmud al-Mashadani said on Wednesday that Hashim al-Tahi, who heads a group charged with resolving the issue, is expected to call for extra time for rival factions to find a compromise. Iraq’s 275-member parliament on July 22 adopted the bill which would have allowed provincial polls - keenly awaited by the United States - to go ahead as scheduled on October 1. But the three-member council, headed by President Jalal Talabani, sent the legislation back to MPs for reworking after charging that the parliamentary vote violated the constitution because it was held in secret. The United States is keen for the election to take place, as it believes it will. . .

Weather forecast: Wednesday
Ma’an News Agency 7/30/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Meteorological Department expects Wednesday’s weather to be partially cloudy. Temperatures are expected to rise to around the average for this time of year. Winds will be northwesterly and moderate. The sea will be tranquil. On Thursday, the weather will stay partially cloudy with temperatures rising slightly again to become a little above the seasonal average. Winds will remain northwesterly and moderate, and the sea will be calm. Expected temperatures:Jerusalem: 19 to 29 / Ramallah: 18 to 28 / Nablus: 21 to 31 / Qalqilia: 19 to 29 / Jenin: 24 to 32 / Salfit: 19 to 29 / Tubas: 23 to 31 / Gaza: 26 to 32 / Hebron: 17 to 28 / Khan Younis: 26 to 32 / Jericho: 25 to 40 / Rafah: 25 to 33

Olmert: I won’t run in Kadima primaries
Globes correspondent, Globes Online 7/30/2008
The prime minister said he would resign as soon as a new Kadima party leader was elected. At a press conference at his official residence in Jerusalem this evening, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he would not be a candidate in the Kadima party’s primary elections for party leader. The prime minister said he would resign as soon as a new party leader was elected. The leadership elections are scheduled for September. "I have no intention of interfering in the internal elections and I will give my blessing to the result. My decision has not been made out of bitterness," Olmert said. Referring to the investigations being conducted into money he allegedly received from US businessman Morris Talansky and into other affairs, Olmert said that personal justice was important to him, but that the good of the country was more important, and that he was therefore announcing that he would not stand for party leader.

Police to probe Gaydamak election gifts
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 7/30/2008
The investigation was anounced the same day that Arcadi Gaydamak launched his bid for Jerusalem mayor. Now there is the Arcadi Gaydmak version of the money-filled envelopes. The day that the billionaire dispersed the fog surrounding his bid for Jerusalem mayor and appointed Arie Shomer has his campaign chief, the Israel Police announced that it would open another investigation against him. The police suspect Gaydamak of election bribery after he distributed money-filled envelopes to potential voters. In March, Gaydamak hosted an event at his home, where he distributed money to participants and other individuals. Amounts ranged from NIS 1,000 to NIS 2,000 to the participants, and from NIS 200 to NIS 600 to other persons. He also distributes T-shirts bearing his image. After Channel 2 News reported the event, the Movement for Quality Government in Israelpetitioned the police to open an investigation.

What happens now?
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Olmert pledged seamless transition of power to hands of Kadima successor, but road ahead may be bumpier than promised. Once Olmert resigns - it will be up to President Peres to determine which MK can put together a new government - When Prime Minister Ehud Olmert realizes the pledge he made Wednesday evening to step down from office once a successor is elected from within his Kadima party - a political-legislative snowball will begin to form, but where it will lead is hard to foresee - can someone from Kadima form a new government or is Israel headed for general elections? Olmert’s resignation will entail the resignation of the government in its entirety. The responsibility for the next move will be on President Shimon Peres. After holding consultations with representatives from the various political factions in the Knesset, Peres will be required to task one of the MKs with establishing a new government.

Background / Scandals linked to Olmert
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement on Wednesday that he would not submit his candidacy for the Kadima party leadership, effectively resigning his post in two months time, was made against the backdrop of a number of scandals with which he has been linked in recent years. Allegations of improprieties linked to the purchase of his home on Cremieux Street in Jerusalem, the Talansky affair, and "Rishon Tours" have dogged the premier of late. Rishon ToursPolice investigators suspect that the Olmert family took dozens of trips abroad which were paid for with funds from an account Olmert kept with the Rishon Tours travel agency in Rishon Letzion. "We are talking about many family trips of at least two family members at a time, for example mother and daughter, or two of the children, whose travel expenses were covered by the account in Rishon Tours," law enforcement sources said.

Rabbi Metzger: Married women should give up maiden name
Neta Sela, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Chief Ashkenazi rabbi tells women they should reconsider tendency to keep maiden name - Advice to women from the chief rabbi: Married women should give up their maiden name, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger told hundreds of women at a convention Monday dedicated to Jewish family values and religiosity. "We are currently in an era of permissiveness and there are many messages that create cracks in the Jewish home’s whole structure," the rabbi told the women in attendenceTurning his attention to the question of last names, Rabbi Metzger said that even though this was not a Jewish law issue, but rather, a move that took root in the past 200 years, a woman should stick to the husband’s last name and renounce her maiden name. " The agenda whereby a woman wants to bring the independent entity of her last name to the home should be reconsidered," the rabbi said.

Olmert to resign once a new Kadima leader is chosen
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 7/30/2008
Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who is under criminal investigation by the Israeli police, stated on Wednesday that we will not run in the Kadima party primaries and will resign as soon as a new leader is elected. In a press conference from his residency in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, Olmert said that he does not intend to intervene in the elections. He stated that he will resign as soon as the Kadima party elects a chairman, and that he would resign from his post as a Prime Minister in order to enable the party to form a new governmentally quickly and effectively. Olmert is under police investigation over charges of corruption when he served as the Mayor of Jerusalem and the Trade Minister. The Kadima Party elections are scheduled for September 17. His decision was considered by several Israeli officials as the end of his political career.

Olmert’s opponents react, most commend his decision
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Prime minister’s political rivals offer rare praise after Wednesday’s announcement. Defense Minister Barak commends Olmert’s decision as ’appropriate’ - For perhaps the first time since being elected to office, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert commanded wall-to-wall support in the Knesset’s halls on Wednesday evening. MKs from both ends of the political spectrum lauded his decision not to run in the upcoming Kadima primary elections and pledge he would step down as prime minister once a successor was elected. His chief political rivals - Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz - are all currently in Washington. Livni received a message about Olmert’s address during her meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia.

Israel Prime Minister to step down
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
TEL AVIV - Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday he would step down after a September party leadership vote but insisted he was innocent of graft allegations that have dogged his premiership. "After the election of my successor I will step down to allow a government to be formed rapidly," Olmert said after declaring he would not run in the election for leadership of his centrist Kadima party due in mid-September. His announcement marks the apex of a political storm unleashed when police launched a probe in May over suspicions he had accepted vast sums of money from a US financier to fund elections campaigns and a lavish lifestyle in the 13 years before he became premier in 2006. "I have made mistakes and I regret it," said the 62-year-old Olmert, who has faced a chorus of calls for his resignation over the corruption allegations.

Terror attack victims required to pay for towing
Yaron Doron, YNetNews 7/30/2008
Government discovers new income source, charges bulldozer attack victims for towing their cars - The State of Israel has discovered a new income source: Charging people whose vehicles were damaged in terror attacks for towing services. A family of new immigrants from the United States was startled to discover the new policy while trying to overcome the trauma of the first Jerusalem bulldozer attack. The family was ordered to pay for the towing of its damaged car from the attack scene; other residents faced similar demands. The Aizenshtats moved to Israel from the US four years ago. On the day of the bulldozer attack they were driving in their car with their three children near the construction site where the terrorist came from. "We were driving and suddenly saw the bulldozer charging at us," Rochelle Aizenshtat recounted.

Olmert announces decision to step down
AP, The Independent 7/30/2008
The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today said he will not run in his party’s primary election in September. His announcement signals the end of his term in office and could stall US-backed Middle East peace efforts. Mr Olmert said he would vacate his position to allow his successor to form a government. He is facing several corruption investigations. He has denied wrongdoing but pledged to resign if indicted. If Mr Olmert’s successor as party leader can form a coalition, Israel could have a new government in October. If not, an election campaign could take several months.

Gibran anniversary marked in London
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
By Mamoon Alabbasi – LONDON A lecture dedicated to the life and works of the famous Lebanese poet Gibran Khalil Gibran was held Thursday at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) in London. The lecture, which marks the 125th anniversary of the poet’s birth, was given by Professor Suheil Bushrui (University of Maryland, US), Director of the Kahlil Gibran Research and Studies Project. Gibran, born in 1883 in Lebanon, was best known for his book The Prophet, which sold millions of copies worldwide. His poetry has been translated into more than twenty languages, while his paintings have been exhibited in many capitals of the world. The event commenced with an introductory note by Mrs. Ibtisam Auchi, head of the Union of Arab Schools in the UK, which helped organise the lecture. She noted that the Lebanese artist was an acknowledged figure internationally before becoming known in the Arab Word.

Not Just Another Interfaith Parley
David Rosen, Middle East Online 7/30/2008
Jerusalem - Last week, an amazingly colourful array of Arab princes and Muslim clerics came together with representatives of the world’s major faiths in the Spanish Royal El Prado Palace in Madrid. While the Western media generally failed to appreciate the magnitude of the event, the Arab media understood how important it really was. Not only was this the first international multi-faith conference ever initiated by an Arab Muslim leader, it was inaugurated by the king of the Muslim world’s heartland, Saudi Arabia, where the most conservative Muslim outlook prevails. At the opening event, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud emphasised his conviction that authentic religion is expressed in a spirit of moderation and tolerance, that concord must be elevated above conflict. In order to address the global challenges of our time, he called for cooperation and collaboration between the different religions.

Religious coexistence promoted in children’s book
Middle East Online 7/30/2008
Was there ever a "once upon a time" when we were more tolerant and open towards those we perceive as different? There was a golden age in Spain 1,000 years ago when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived in mutual harmony. Now, however, there are indications of an increasing global intolerance within and between nations. We are stumbling into a 21st century wilderness of both secular and religious fundamentalism born of fear. Where do we find the strength we need, after the 6 o’clock news, to stave off fear, to keep dreaming, to ask questions? What is the point of religion? Is it really loving acceptance or is it dogma? Historically, people have interpreted religion as suggesting that "we" have the answers and "they" must come over to our side, or else. The underlying implication is that we have the inside scoop on who God is and what God wants.


Boy shot by Israelis becomes martyred hero for Palestinians
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 7/30/2008
      Ahmed Moussa planted bright new Palestinian flags around his village of Naalin earlier this week in a show of national pride - but he may as well have been preparing for his own funeral.
     Today his small body, hoisted on to the shoulders of the young men in his village as they marched to his parents’ house before the burial, was wrapped in the red, white, green and black flag. At the age of 10, Moussa had become a national martyr.
     The road outside his house was renamed The Hero Martyr and the walls of the town were sprayed with slogans and posters lionising his death.
     But apart from his enthusiastic support for Naalin’s protest against the West Bank barrier, Moussa’s interests were typical of most children his age.
     He loved playing football, watching cartoons and making slings to hurl stones. The morning before he was shot by an Israeli soldier, he was playing marbles in the street.

VIDEO - Palestinians capture violence of Israeli occupation on video

Peter Beaumont, The Guardian 7/30/2008
      In a graphic and hard-hitting filmspeaks to Palestinians filming abuse from settlers and Israeli armed forces.
     An Israeli child from a far-right settler group in the West Bank city of Hebron hurls a stone up the stairs of a Palestinian family close to their settlement and shouts: "I will exterminate you." Another spits towards the same family.
     Another settler woman pushes her face up to a window and snarls: "Whore."
     They are shocking images. There is footage of beatings, their aftermath, and the indifference of Israel’s security forces to serious human rights abuses. There is footage too of those same security forces humiliating Palestinians - and most seriously - committing abuses themselves.
     They are contained in a growing archive of material assembled by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem in a remarkable project called Shooting Back. -- See also: Video

A prison is not a penal colony

Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 7/30/2008
      The Public Defender’s report on the situation of prisoners in 2007 reveals serious failures in Israel’s prisons. The editors of the report do note that the Israel Prison Service opened its doors without reservations to the inspector, related seriously to findings and criticism, and that at the time of the editing of the report, some of the distortions had been corrected. Nevertheless, the findings are cause for concern. Most disturbing of all is the violence by prison guards and their commanders toward prisoners and detainees, especially when it comes to minors.
     The report, which examined 11 prisons and jails, reveals inter alia that at the Ofek Prison, where all of the prisoners are minors, there are disproportionate and collective punishments including, for example, shackling all four limbs to a bed. Considered a means of restraining suicidal minors that requires a doctor’s authorization, this is used at Ofek as a means of punishment. This is an outrageous, inhumane method that exacerbates despair and suicidal tendencies among the prisoners. The Prison Service claims that the problems at Ofek, considered one of the most advanced facilities (the writers of the report confirm the classrooms, leisure time activities and physical facilities have improved), stem from poor management, and in a discussion in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee they promised that the management would be replaced in the near future. If this is the case, there is no reason to wait, and it must be ensured that the new management changes the approach.

The Palestinian torturers

Ben White, The Guardian 7/30/2008
      Human rights abuses by Palestinian security forces should be exposed, even if they provide Israel with a public relations coup.
     Two reports released this week are throwing the spotlight on Palestinians who are detained without charge and tortured by the Hamas and Fatah forces. Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, has detailed how more than 1,000 have been arrested in the last year, with "an estimated 20%-30% of the detainees" having suffered torture "including severe beatings and being tied up in painful positions".
     Human Rights Watch is today releasing a similarly-focused report which concludes that "the use of torture is dramatically up". Al-Haq accuses both Hamas’s Executive Force, and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)’s Preventive Security Force of widespread maltreatment of detainees.
     A report like al-Haq’s must be welcomed for its attention to detail and courage in documenting unjustifiable abuses of power - all the more so since these kinds of findings can easily be manipulated or ignored for political reasons.

Months after Qatar talks, fighting continues in northern Lebanon

Report, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 7/30/2008
      TRIPOLI, LEBANON (IRIN) - A few hours after evacuating their bullet-riddled three bedroom flat on the street which divides Sunnis from Shia Allawis in Tripoli’s poorest neighborhood, Khaled Mansour and his new wife were woken by the sound of their front room exploding.
     "The rocket came through the window at dawn," said the 23-year-old accountant with scraggly black beard and traditional white tunic, who had moved his veiled wife and mother into his uncle’s flat next door.
     "Last time it was bullets. This time it was an RPG [rocket propelled grenade]," said Mansour, a Sunni Muslim from Tripoli’s Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, looking through broken glass at the adjacent Allawite-majority area of Jebel Mohsen.
     "I am trying not to carry a gun and go to the front line but we are being dragged into the fight. It’s as if someone is saying ’If you do not join the battle we will destroy your house.’ But I will not fight but ask God to take his revenge."

Right to Enter: denied

Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 7/30/2008
      Family Reunification is a problem facing thousands of Palestinians and their foreign spouses. It has an eerie relationship to United Nations Resolution 194, the Right of Return. Hundreds of names were released by the Israelis to allow Family Reunification this week, but nothing has changed as of yet. The Israeli policy of denying entry affects Palestinians and foreigners from all walks of life alike.
     Rasha Mukbil is the Campaign Coordinator of the Right to Enter Campaign.
     "The campaign of the Right to Enter the occupied Palestinian Territory is a grassroots campaign that is comprised of families and individuals affected by the Israeli policies that deny entry to foreign passport holders to the occupied Palestinian territory.
     "In the campaign we talk about three main issues or policies that effect foreign passport holders: those of Palestinian descent or those who have no Arab descent at all."