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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.

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
10 August 2008

Palestinian negotiator considers binational state
Reuters, YNetNews 8/11/2008
Ahmed Qurei tells Fatah loyalists if Jerusalem ’continues to oppose making Palestinian state a reality, we’ll demand to become part of a binational state with Israel’ - A top negotiator said on Sunday Palestinians may demand to become part of a binational state with Israel, if the Jewish state continued to reject the borders they propose for a separate country. Ahmed Qurei, who heads Palestinian negotiators in US-brokered talks with Israel, told Fatah party loyalists behind closed doors that a two-state solution could be achieved only if Israel met their demands to withdraw from all occupied land. "The Palestinian leadership has been working on establishing a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders," Qurei said, referring to land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that Israel captured in a 1967 war, which Palestinians seek for a state.

PA orders 4 Hamas-linked charities closed
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/11/2008
Two schools for needy children and two other West Bank charities have been ordered closed by Palestinian intelligence agents because of suspected ties to Hamas, school staff and human rights activists said yesterday. A Palestinian Interior Ministry official said she was not aware of a formal closure order. School staff said intelligence agents delivered written notices on Thursday, but the situation remained unclear. Both Hamas in Gaza and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank have been widening a crackdown on political rivals in recent weeks, rounding up dozens of activists. Hamas wrested control of Gaza from Abbas in June 2007. Since then, the Abbas government has shut down scores of charities with suspected Hamas links, as part of a campaign to prevent a Hamas takeover in the West Bank. Two Palestinian human rights groups said that Palestinian security. . .

PCHR welcomes Spanish High Court ruling to apprehend six Israeli officials
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/10/2008
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, PCHR, welcomed on Sunday the decision of the Spanish High Court to issue arrest warrants against six current and former Israeli poetical and military leaders for their roles in committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip. The six officials are Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Doron Almong, Moshe Ya’alon, Dan Halutz, Giora Eiland and Mike Hertzog. The petition was filed to the High Court by the PCHR. It states that those officials are responsible for war crimes against humanity in Gaza and participated in dropping a one-ton bomb on a civilian neighborhood in Gaza city in 2002. Fifteen residents were killed and dozens were wounded. Ben-Eliezerwas serving as the Defense Minister, Ya’alon was the Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Eiland was the head of the national Security Council, Halutz was the commander of the Israeli Air Froce, Almog was military head of. . .

War in Georgia: The Israeli connection
Arie Egozi, YNetNews 8/10/2008
For past seven years, Israeli companies have been helping Gerogian army to prepare for war against Russia through arms deals, training of infantry units and security advice - The fighting which broke out over the weekend between Russia and Georgia has brought Israel’s intensive involvement in the region into the limelight. This involvement includes the sale of advanced weapons to Georgia and the training of the Georgian army’s infantry forces. The Defense Ministry held a special meeting Sunday to discuss the various arms deals held by Israelis in Georgia, but no change in policy has been announced as of yet. "The subject is closely monitored," said sources in the Defense Ministry. "We are not operating in any way which may counter Israeli interests. We have turned down many requests involving arms sales to Georgia; and the ones which have been approves have been duly scrutinized. . . " -- See also: Israeli Military Advisers Aid Georgia

2 killed in Gaza smuggling tunnel
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Men die during attempt to smuggle fuel from Egypt into Strip; some fuel apparently spills, releasing fumes -A Palestinian medical official says two people have died in a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border and five are missing. Area residents said Sunday that the men were trying to smuggle fuel into Gaza and that some of it apparently spilled, releasing fumes. Palestinian Health Ministry official Dr. Moawiya Hassanain says the bodies have not yet been retrieved and that he has no word on the cause of death. Dozens of tunnels run under the Gaza-Egypt border. The smugglers have become increasingly daring since Israel and Egypt closed their borders with Gaza last year, following the violent Hamas takeover of the territory. Israel began scaling fuel supplies in January to pressure militant groups to halt attacks.

Israeli settlers renew their attacks on citizens in occupied Hebron
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/10/2008
Hebron -- Israeli settlers from the colony of Kiryat Arba in the southern West Bank’s Hebron once again have attacked the native residents. Settlers tore through homes in two villages while also placing tents on land own by Mahmoud Abu Jaber. They are attempting to overtake his land and make it a part of their settlement. Concerning international law, all Israeli settlers and settlements are in direct contravention. Bassam Jabari is a homeowner in the region. He said that the settlers renewed their attacks in the region on Saturday night and Sunday and carried out "violent, arrogant and widespread assaults. "A number of Palestinians were attacked. Twenty-five year old Nahidah Jabari was hit last night during the attacks, as were two members of an international relief agency.

Taysir As-Satri released after 15 years in Israeli prison
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel released 35-year-old Taysir Ibrahim As-Satri on Sunday after fifteen years in prison. Arriving at his home in Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, As-Satri said that ordeal in prison had been"difficult and exhausting, but defending the homeland requires sacrifice. " A crowd of Palestinians gathered to welcome As-Satri home, including Fatah officials who organized the celebration. As-Satri called on Palestinian Authority to exert all efforts in order to secure the release of all Palestinian prisoners and detainees. He added that Israeli prison guards abuse and insult prisoners daily. As-Satri was detained in January 1994 after stabbing an Israeli soldier in an Israeli settlement in the Gaza. According to As-Satri, the attack was in retaliation for the assassination of Ahmad Abu Ar-Rish, a leader of Suqour Fatah Brigades, a military wing of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds rally in Gaza to urge Egypt to open border crossing
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/11/2008
RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Hundreds of pro-Hamas demonstrators gathered on Sunday at the Rafah crossing in the Gaza Strip to demand that Egypt open its border to relieve a months-old Israeli siege. About 600 demonstrators waving green flags deployed in front of the crossing under the watchful eyes of Egyptian security forces on the other side, an AFPphotographer said. Hamas-run security forces prevented anyone from approaching the crossing itself - which is the only Gaza frontier post that bypasses Israel. "People of Palestine, the Arab world and the Islamic world, do not leave Gaza to die!" Ahmad Baher, a senior Hamas leader and the acting head of the Palestinian Parliament, said in a speech at the crossing. About 700 policemen, including anti-riot forces, were mobilized on the Egyptian side of the border "to prevent any violation after Hamas asked its supporters to protest at the terminal," an Egyptian security official said.

Egypt sends 500 policemen to Gaza border
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Hundreds of Palestinians protest in Rafah area, calling on Cairo to open Egypt-Gaza crossing - Hundreds of Palestinians and Hamas supporters demonstrated Sunday near the Rafah border crossing, between the Gaza Strip andEgypt. The protestors, including Acting Palestinian Parliament Chairman Ahmad Bahar, called on Cairo to open the terminal. Some 500 Egyptian policemen were sent to the border for fear that it would be breached. According to the demonstrators, a number of Palestinians have died in recent days after being unable to cross into Egypt to receive medical treatment. Egyptian sources said that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, organized the rally. They added that additional security forces were nearby and would be dispatched to the area if needed. Last month, hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Egyptian troops while attempting to storm the fence and cross into Sinai.

Mahmoud Darwish to be buried in Ramallah
Sharon Roffe-Ofir, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Palestinian Authority to hold state service for Palestinian poet in West Bank city. Official: Gravesite will be moved to Jerusalem after Palestinian state established - A delegation representing the Palestinian Authority visited on Sunday the family home of Mahmoud Darwish, who passed away Saturday evening at age 67 after undergoing open-heart surgery in Houston, Texas. The officials convinced the family to bury the renowned Palestinian poet in the West Bank city of Ramallah instead of in his home village of al-Jadida in the western Galilee. Delegation head Ahmed Abd El-Rahman said following the meeting, "An impressive funeral will be held at Ramallah’s cultural center, and Darwish’s burial plot will be located on a hill overlooking the city. " In due time, after a Palestinian state is established, Darwish’s gravesite, like Yasser Arafat’s, will be. . .

Darwish, poet of the Palestinian cause, dies after surgery
Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah, The Independent 8/11/2008
Mahmoud Darwish, whose poetry encapsulated the Palestinian cause, is to get the equivalent of a state funeral in the West Bank following his death this weekend -- an honour only previously accorded to the PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Tributes for Darwish poured in yesterday, a day after he died, at the age of 67, from complications following heart surgery in a hospital in Houston, Texas. "He translated the pain of the Palestinians in a magical way," said Egypt’s vernacular poet Ahmed Fouad Negm. "He made us cry and made us happy and shook our emotions. Apart from being the poet of the Palestinian wound, which is hurting all Arabs and all honest people in the world, he is a master poet. " Darwish’s funeral in Ramallah tomorrow will be the first sponsored by the Palestinian Authority since Arafat died in 2004. The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning.

Mahmoud Darwish: Palestinian ’poet of the resistance’
The Independent 8/11/2008
The poet Mahmoud Darwish was the voice of the Palestinian odyssey, whose stark writing reflected the desperation and alienation of the Palestinian people. He published more than 20 collections of poetry, which have been translated into many languages (although few of them into English), and was the Arab world’s best-selling poet. His poems are engraved in the hearts of millions of Palestinians and his words have been shouted by anti-occupation demonstrators in the streets of Ramallah, Damascus and Cairo. Many have been set to music, including "I yearn for my mother’s bread. " Mahmoud Darwish was born in 1941 in al Birweh, an Arab village in the Acre region which became part of the new state of Israel in 1948. His family fled to Lebanon, although they returned the following year. Darwish published his first poetry collection, Asafir bila ajniha ("Wingless Birds", 1960) while still a teenager and soon made a reputation as a "poet of the resistance".

We are the guests of eternity; in memory of Mahmoud Darwish
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – When somebody dies, it is a tradition in the Arab world to remember his good traits and keep mentioning them. One Arab poet once described death as, "like a critic with jewels in his hands; from which one only selects the best. " As Palestinians around the world begin to digest the death of our National Poet, we will remember how special he was. We will remember how he was able to put voice to the triumphs and the sufferings of his people. One of Darwish’s early colleagues wrote about the already great poet in 1974. In his novel Emil Habiby described the child Darwish, with his mother the day they were forced to leave the village of Birwah, now in Israel. In a military jeep, the novel’s protagonist watches as the Israeli official orders the child Darwish and his mother out of Israel.

Palestinians mourn national poet
Middle East Online 8/10/2008
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinians on Sunday mourned the passing of Mahmud Darwish, who gave voice to their decades-old struggle and is widely considered one of the Arab world’s greatest modern poets. Darwish, a Palestinian cultural icon whose poetry eloquently told of his people’s experiences of exile, occupation and infighting, died Saturday in Houston. He was 67. In a televised address, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared three days of official mourning. "Darwish is the essential breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging," the poet Naomi Shihab Nye once said of him. Darwish was born in 1941 in the Palestinian village of Birweh near Haifa, which was destroyed in the 1948 war that followed the creation Israel, when he and his family were forced to flee their home.

Mishaal mourns late Palestinian poet Darwish
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the political bureau chairman of the Hamas Movement, has mourned the death of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish who passed away in an American hospital following open heart surgery on Saturday evening. Mishaal, in a statement by the Hamas information office, said that the Palestinian literature had lost one of its basic pillars, pointing to the role played by late Darwish in spreading awareness on Palestinian struggle during his contemporary march. The Hamas leader extended condolences to the family of Darwish, his relatives and the Palestinian people in general. Darwish, 67, had undergone open heart surgery in an American hospital in Texas last Wednesday but died three days later. He underwent two similar surgeries in 1984 and 1998. Darwish was one of the most prominent Palestinian contemporary poets and his works were translated to 22 languages and had won numerous international awards.

US Consul General expresses condolences over loss of Darwish
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – US Consul General Jacob Walles sent his condolences to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the death of Mahmoud Darwish, who passed away on Saturday in the United States following open heart surgery. Ma’an received a copy of the letter in Arabic. The letter reads: “I console you for the loss of the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish whose death affected every Palestinian. He was always respected for his eloquence, and his poems communicated Palestinians’ grief and hopes to whole world. He dedicated his life to the Palestinian people and to the establishment of Palestinian state along with bringing peace to the region. I do realize that Palestinians lost a significant ’leader’ with this death. " He added: “Darwish’s words will accompany us through our journey to remind us of our future hopes.

’Israeli intelligence’ calling for release of Palestinians
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/10/2008
Gaza -- Three former heads of the Israeli domestic intelligence service "Shin Bet" are calling for the release of Palestinian political prisoners who were not allowed to be released due to "blood on their hands," as the Israelis call it. The Palestinians, among the nearly 11,000 in Israeli prisons, are accused of killing Israelis. The three members of the Shin Bet say that the life of the Israeli solider captured while invading the southern Gaza Strip in June 2006 is worth more than the release. Gilad Shalit, that Israeli soldier, is certainly still alive, as stated by the Shin Bet agents. The Israeli press published statements from three former Shin Bet agents saying that to free Shalit is more important that denying the list of Palestinians to be released. As it stands, the Israeli government has only approved 70 names from the list presented by the Hamas government to be released.

IOA deprives Hamas leader from visitation for six years spent in isolation
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli prisons authority has refused to allow visitors to call on Sheikh Jamal Abul Haija, one of the Hamas West Bank leaders, who is serving nine life sentences in addition to 80 years. Buthaina Dakmak, lawyer of the Mandela institution catering for Palestinian captives, said that even Abul Haija’s children are not allowed to visit him. The IPA is not content with isolating the detained Sheikh for the sixth consecutive year but has also deprived his three children and his wife and daughter from seeing him, she said. The lawyer noted that the Israeli military court recently allowed his children to visit him but after reaching jail following a tiresome trip and humiliating searches the visit was called and they were not allowed to see their father who has been held under inhuman incarceration conditions since June 2002.

Prisoners’ ministry: IOA bears no goodwill toward prisoners
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The ministry of prisoners’ affairs in the Gaza Strip on Sunday said that the Israeli occupation authority did not bear any goodwill toward the Palestinian prisoners. Riyadh Al-Ashqar, the ministry’s spokesman, said in a press release that the reports about releasing 150 Palestinian prisoners were only meant to spread the illusion that the "useless" negotiations with the IOA did bear fruit. He said that the Israeli occupation forces kidnap 10 to 15 Palestinians on daily basis from various occupied West Bank and Jerusalem areas and the number of captives is on the rise. Hence, the reports about releasing 150 prisoners, all to be chosen according to IOA standards, out of 11,700 were a mere "deception" and an attempt to "market unsuccessful projects" that only entailed disastrous consequences on the Palestinian people, he elaborated.

Haneyya: No backtracking on factions’ demands for release of Shalit
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Ismail Haneyya, the PA premier, on Sunday asserted that the Palestinian factions holding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would never backtrack on their demands for his release under any circumstances. Haneyya, during a visit to liberated prisoner Hisham Shaath in his home, said that he would not speak about the Shalit issue but would like to assert that there would be no retreat on demands for his release. He reiterated the Hamas Movement’s insistence on embarking on whatever effort needed to ensure the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli occupation jails. Shaath, 46, was freed from Israeli prisons four days ago after completing his 20 years sentence. [end]

Palestinian Prime Minister of Hamas says no concession regarding Shalit case
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/10/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, stated on Sunday that his ruling party won’t give any concessions regarding a potential prisoner swap deal with Israel, in which captured Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit be exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. In a televised interview with Ramattan News Agency in Gaza, Haniya was quoted as saying " we don’t want to talk much for media, but I can assert to you that we won’t concede regarding our demands for a swap deal". The prime minister reiterated his government’s determination to work on having all Palestinian prisoners released " we won’t yield any effort to break the cuffs of our prisoners". In June19, Cairo brokered a ceasefire deal between Hamas in Gaza and Israel. The deal stipulates maintaining progress on the Shalit case, concurrently with lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza and stopping homemade shells fire onto Israel.

Haniyeh vows not to back down on demands for prisoner deal
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – De facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh vowed on Sunday not to back down from the conditions set by Hamas and other factions in negotiating the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a prisoner exchange. “Israel has to submit to the conditions of the resistance factions. There is no giving up or reteating over the demands of the resistance factions and the Palestinian people on the Shalit issue under any circumstances. Haniyeh made the remark during a visit to the home of Hisham Shaath, a 46-year-old Palestinian man who was released from prison four days ago after serving 20 years in jail. Haniyeh was joined by the de facto minister of prisoners affairs, Ahmad Shweideh. The visit was geared to highlight the Hamas-led government’s emphasis on the prisoner issue. Hamas and a coalition of Palestinian factions have held Shalit since 2006.

Bahar: Egypt has no excuse for continuing to close Rafah crossing
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting PLC speaker, has appealed to Egypt to open the Rafah border terminal between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in a bid to save dozens of Palestinian patients who are facing slow death. Bahar told a rally organized by Hamas at the terminal on Sunday that Egypt had no pretext left for retaining the terminal closed at a time patients are falling victims on daily basis. He questioned the Arab and Islamic resolutions that called for breaking the siege on Gaza and described it as a "disaster area", regretting the passive stands of the Arab rulers and religious leaders of Al-Azhar in Cairo toward the suffering of the Gaza patients, six of whom died in a single day only recently. The continued siege on Gaza is due to its insistence on national rights and constants and its rejection of the international quartet committee’s conditions, Bahar said, stressing. . .

Hundreds rally at Rafah, urging Egypt to open border with Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in front of the Rafah terminal on Sunday urging Egypt to open its border with the Gaza Strip. Speaking to the Hamas-organized rally, Ahmad Bahar, the acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) appealed to Egyptian President Hussni Mubarak to open the crossing and end the blockade of Gaza immediately. Bahar recalled of a previous remark by Mubarak in which he said, “we won’t let Palestinians starve. ”Ahead of the protest, Egypt sent 500 riot police to its side of the border fearing that Palestinians might storm the crossing. Bahar also criticized Egypt for refusing to allow a delegation of PLC deputies through the crossing. “We received an invitation a few days ago from Arab parliaments to carry out a tour in order to clarify the point of view and to defend Palestinians’ rights, but we were. . .

Egypt sends 500 riot police to border with Gaza Strip
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/10/2008
Egypt sent around 500 riot police to its border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, fearing that supporters of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas will try to storm the frontier, security officials said. The officials said Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, called for a rally on the Palestinian side of the border town of Rafah. "Early this morning 500 policemen were sent to the area around Rafah crossing and along the border between Egypt and Gaza," one official. He said more security forces were stationed in the area and would be called upon if necessary. Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Egyptian forces in July when they tried to force their way into Sinai. In January, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt after Hamas militants breached the border wall in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas holds a rally, demanding reopening of Rafah crossing terminal
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 8/10/2008
The ruling Hamas party in Gaza organized on Sunday morning a rally in claim of reopening the Rafah crossing terminal in southern Gaza, closed since June2007, when Hamas-led forces took over the coastal region. The rally, led by a number of Hamas lawmakers, was held at the Egyptian gate of the terminal , where Ahmad Bahar, deputy-speaker of parliament spoke to media outlets. " I call upon president Mubarak of Egypt, Aarab lawmakers, Organization of the Islamic conference and Mr. Ban Ki-Moon to relieve the people of Gaza of such a crippling blockade". Bahar appealed. The Palestinian lawmaker also pointed out the devastating impact of the Israeli blockade, saying that more than 3000 Gaza patients are awaiting referral to hospitals outside of Gaza and that Israel has not committed to lifting the blockade by allowing only 60 shipments of commodities out of 450 on daily basis, since a ceafire has been concluded in June19, 2008.

Hamas strongly rejects idea of deploying Arab troops in Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Sunday reiterated its refusal for the deployment of Arab or foreign troops in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank under any pretext. The Movement in a press release said that it followed up the repeated statements by the Ramallah authority’s officials over the past few days demanding the entry of Arab forces into Gaza and the West Bank the latest was voiced by the "Dayton government’s premier Salam Fayyad". Hamas explained that there should be calls for the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces, and added that the only way to end the political division in the Palestinian arena is serious and direct talks with Hamas.

Three wounded, seven missing, in a tunnel collapse on Gaza-Egypt borders
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/10/2008
The Palestinian Information Center, run by Hamas, reported on Sunday that three residents were hospitalized after suffocating under the rubble of a collapsed tunnel in Rafah, on the borders between Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and Egypt. Seven residents are still missing. The three wounded residents are currently in stable conditions after receiving the needed medical attention. They were located on Saturday at night; the tunnel collapsed on Saturday evening. On August 1, four Palestinians were killed and fourteen others were wounded in a similar incident that took place Al Barazil neighborhood, east of Rafah. [end]

7 missing after tunnel collapse in Rafah
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Seven people went missing and three were rescued on Sunday after a tunnel collapsed under the Egypt- Gaza border near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Efforts to rescue those trapped are ongoing, said Director of ambulance and emergency service in the Palestinian health ministry Mu’awiya Hassanain. Hassanain denied reports that rescue leaders had been killed during their efforts. Five have died already this week after a similar incident. [end]

Member of pro-Fatah Hillis family dies in Israeli hospital, bringing Gaza toll to 13
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A member of the Fatah-aligned Hillis family died in an Israeli hospital on Sunday from wounds he sustained during fighting with Hamas-allied security forces in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza Ctiy last week. Palestinian medical sources confirmed the death of 36-year-old Mohammad Faraj Hillis, bringing the death toll to 13 in the battle. Eleven members of the Hillis clan and two policemen affiliated to the Hamas-run de facto government were killed in the day-long battle, which was the worst flare-up of Hamas-Fatah infighting since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007. [end]

Three wounded, seven missing in tunnel collapse
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Three Palestinian citizens were barely rescued from a tunnel collapse on the Egyptian-Palestinian borders in Rafah south of the Gaza Strip, medical sources said on Sunday. They explained that the three, who were retrieved from the tunnel last night, were in a very bad condition and had almost suffocated. However, they were carried to hospital and their condition was now stable, the sources elaborated. The sources noted that seven other citizens were missing inside the collapsed tunnel and attempts were made to recover them. Four citizens were killed and 14 others were wounded when a tunnel collapsed while they were trying to cross into Gaza early August east of Rafah city. Palestinians resort to digging tunnels to secure their needs from Egypt after the tight Israeli siege and Egypt’s refusal to open the Rafah border terminal led to acute shortage in many basic materials in the Strip.

Hamas rejects Fayyad’s call for deploying Arab or International forces in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/10/2008
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, stated on Sunday afternoon that it rejects the statements of Dr. Salaam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister of the Fateh led government in the West Bank, who called for the deployment of Arab or International forces in the Gaza Strip. The official statement of the movement came in a press release issued by its Media Office. Hamas said that what is needed is a full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories without any preconditions. The movement added that "what is needed now, is direct talks with Hamas, and not calling for the deployment of Arab or international forces". [end]

Georgian official: This is our Tisha B’Av
Dana Zimmerman, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Head of Georgian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee tells Ynet of massive Russian military presence in South Ossetia, blames Moscow for arming separatists. We will not let Russian take Georgia again, he vows -"This isn’t some local fight between the separatist of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, this is a war between Russia and Georgia," head of the Georgian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Lasha Zhvania, said Sunday. In a telephone interview with Ynet, Zhvania, whose tenure as the Georgian ambassador to Israel ended a mere month ago, said that the Russian military presence in South Ossetia was massive: "(Russia) sent 3,000 tanks and an infantry force of 10,000 men into South Ossetia. Today isn’t just the Jews’Tisha B’Av, it’s a Tisha B’av for Georgia as well. " StrifeWar in Georgia: The Israeli connection / Arie Egozi For. . . -- See also: Georgia prez: help me help you

Ex-envoy: Georgia modeled its army after IDF
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Former Israeli ambassador to Georgia says ’it’s a shame war broke out during one of country’s most prosperous periods’. Adds: When I was growing up we always considered South Ossetia, Abkhazia to be part of Georgia - "Georgian government officials used to tell me that they wanted to model their army after the IDF," former Israeli ambassador to Georgia Shabtai Zur told Ynet Sunday evening amid the country’s bloody feud with Russia over the separatist region of South Ossetia. The fighting which broke out over the weekend between Russia and Georgia has brought Israel’s intensive involvement in the region into the limelight. This involvement includes the sale of advanced weapons to Georgia and the training of the Georgian army’s infantry forces. The Israeli Defense Ministry held a special meeting Sunday to discuss the various arms deals held by Israelis in Georgia, but no change in policy has been announced as of yet. -- See also: Russia Bombs Israeli-Run Plant in Georgia

$1b of Israeli investment at risk in Georgia
Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 8/10/2008
There is concern that Israeli arms sales to Georgia may upset the Russians. The war between Russia and Georgia that erupted over the weekend when Georgian forces launched an offensive to retake the breakaway South Ossetia region, is leaving its mark on the economies of the countries involved. Thousands of people are reported killed in the fighting. The Russian Stock Exchange (RTS) fell 6. 5% on Friday to a low point last seen on May 30, 2007. Trading on the RTS was suspended an hour before the regular closing, because of the plunge. The ruble fell over 1% to 24. 203/$. After the Georgian Army occupied parts of South Ossetia, moving towards the capital, Tskhinvali, and bombing targets in the area, Russia launched an air and ground counter-offensive, sending troops and armor into the region and bombing targets within Georgia. -- See also: 2 Israeli firms say they left Georgia before fighting and Georgian fighting drives out Israeli security consultants

Israel mulls halting arms shipments to Georgia
Middle East Online 8/10/2008
TEL AVIV - The Israeli foreign ministry has recommended a complete halt to the sale of arms to Georgia for fear of spurring Russia to increase its support of Syria and Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported Sunday. The Haaretz newspaper quoted an unnamed senior official as saying that Israel would try to remain neutral as Russia and Georgia drift towards all-out war over the fate of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "Israel needs to be very careful and sensitive these days," the official said. "The Russians are selling many arms to Iran and Syria and there is no need to offer them an excuse to sell even more advanced weapons. " Israel, the region’s sole power with nuclear weapons, is concerned about the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, which could be used to protect Tehran’s nuclear installations. -- See also: Will Georgia copy Israel or Hezbollah?

Israeli military experts aiding Georgia in war with Russia
Palestinian Information Center 8/10/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)--  Israeli military experts are actively aiding Georgian forces battling Russian-backed rebels in the Caucasus. Israeli sources said former "IDF" officers were giving "military advice" to Georgian troops seeking to seize the southern breakaway autonomous  of South Ossetia. The sources added that "Georgia’s Israeli connections" was apparent in the "successes of the Georgian army" in repulsing Russian forces. Georgia said its forces downed 10 Russian combat warplanes and destroyed more than 40 Russian tanks. Many of the weapon systems  used  by the Georgian army against the Russians are Israeli-made and Israeli technicians were reportedly deployed to Tiblisi to train Georgians. On Saturday, Russian diplomats in Israel formally protested Israeli military support to Georgia.

Georgian minister: We won’t cede to Russians
Dana Zimmerman, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Reintegration Minister Yakobashvili says Georgian troops ’merely regrouping’, not pulling out of South Ossetia. ’Russians didn’t expect us to fight with such determination and force,’ he adds -"We’re changing strategies and tactics, but we will not give up," Georgian Reintegration Minister Temur Yakobashvili told Ynet Sunday following reports that Russia expanded its bombing blitz against neighboring Georgia while Georgian troops pulled out of the capital of the contested province of South Ossetia under heavy Russian shelling. Yakobashvili refuted the reports of a Georgian pullout, saying the troops were merely "regrouping" and "improving their positions". Head of Georgian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee tells Ynet of massive Russian military presence in South Ossetia, blames Moscow for arming separatists. -- See also: Israel fears Russia would retaliate against Jerusalem

ISRAEL-OPT: Honey makes Hebron life a bit sweeter
Shabtai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/10/2008
HEBRON, 10 August 2008 (IRIN) - The toughest part of the West Bank just got a bit sweeter, with an influx of beehives, helping farmers cope with the decline in their economic situation. Stuck between two Israeli settlements, the Palestinian residents of Wadi al-Ghrous in Hebron are surrounded by military bases and fences, their movements are restricted, and over the past 25 years they have been affected by Israeli land expropriations. Sami Gheit, a 62-year-old farmer, said he lost 50 dunams (five hectares) of his land to a "buffer zone" created by the Israeli military between his home and the nearby settlement of Qiryat Arba. However, the fence surrounds the Palestinians and not the settlements, thereby annexing, de-facto, Gheit’s land, the farmer said. "I had grapes, plums, apricots, almonds on the other side of the fence," he told IRIN.

Palestinian police to open two new stations in area ''B''
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Two new police stations will open in "area B," near Hebron, marking the 13th and 14th such stations run by Palestinians in areas of partial Israeli control. The stations will be opened by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Sunday in the towns of Palestinian Authority police will open on Sunday two stations in the town of Idhna and Taffuh in Hebron district. The information office for the police department released a statement saying that the police stations will offer services for 15 neighboring villages with more than 60,000 people. About fifty police officers will work in the new stations. The West Bank was carved up into Areas A, B and C in 1993 after the Oslo Accords. Area A is that which is under full Palestinian control, B has Palestinian civil control but Israeli security control, and C is full Israeli control except over Palestinian civilians.

Break the Siege on Gaza boats arrive in Crete
Palestine News Network 8/10/2008
Nicosia/Lefkosia, Cyprus - The Free Gaza Movement announced on Friday that their boats, the SS FREE GAZA and the SS LIBERTY, destined to break the Israeli siege of Gaza, arrived in Chania, Crete on Saturday at 9 p. m. where a press conference will be held to welcome them, near Crete’s Souda Bay US Sixth Fleet and NATO base. Human rights activists Lauren Booth (sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair), Huwaida Arraf (a Palestinian-American residing in Ramallah, Palestine), and Jeff Halper (an Israeli Jew nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for opposing demolitions of Palestinian homes) will be available at the press conference for interviews. "This will be the first time that our two boats will be publicly displayed and photographers are welcome to come, take photos and post their images," said Paul Larudee, on board the boats sailing toward Chania.

Yousef Amira (17), second youth from Ni’lin martyred by Occupation forces
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 8/5/2008
On Monday August 4, 17-year-old Ni’lin resident Yousef Amira died from previous injuries received on July 30, when he was shot twice in the head with rubber bullets during a popular demonstration in Ni’lin. Soldiers shot Yousef just hours after the village held the funeral of 12-year-old Ahmad Mousa, who had been murdered the day before by the Occupation forces. Villagers were continuing their daily protests against the Wall and settlement construction. In the late afternoon, they succeeded in blockading the main road to the village, which will be transformed into a settler-only road. Yousef Amira was among the protestors participating in the action. At around 8 pm, on Occupation soldier stationed only a few meters away from Amira shot him twice in the head with rubber coated steel bullets. In the afternoon, Yousef’s family was joined by the residents of Ni’lin in a funeral march moving from Ramallah hospital through the streets of city.

41 days after permature labour at Erez crossing, Palestinian gives birth to quadruplets in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Khawla Jamal Hamdan, a Palestinian police captain, gave birth to quadruplets - two boys and two girls, on Friday in Barzilai hospital in the southern Israel city of Ashkelon. Khawla phoned the police department to inform them that she was fine, after having gone into early labout at Erez crossing over a month ago. Thirty-one-year-old Hamdan is originally a resident of the West Bank who moved to the Gaza Strip five years ago to be with her husband. The new mother has been in the Barzilai hospital for more than forty one days. She went into premature labour at the Erez crossing as she set out for a medical appointment in her home town of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Since admitted to the Israeli hospital only her mother was permitted a short one day visit. On Friday the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported that Hamdan was forced to sign. . .

Border Guard uses ''˜Skunk’ as new crowd-dispersal means
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Out with rubber bullets, tear gas, shock grenades; in with new, stinky means to scatter violent rioters. After using new tool during Naalin riot, officers report Palestinians ran to shower, changed clothes - The Border Guard has begun using a new means of contending with riots coined "Skunk". The police developed this new method for scattering violent demonstrations and tested its effectivity in the last demonstration which took place in the West Bank village of Naalin. Use of the "Skunk" is by means of an especially foul-smelling liquid spraying machine. Over the past few years, security forces have been compelled to deal with a large number of demonstrations against construction of the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bilin and lately, in Naalin. Until now, forces used rubber bullets, tear gas and shock grenades in order to disperse crowds who burned tires and threw stones at soldiers.

Israeli forces spray protesters in Ni’lin with unknown substance
International Solidarity Movement 8/10/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - At 1pm on Friday the 8th August the citizens of Ni’lin gathered as usual to pray on their land. They were prevented from reaching the usual site of their Friday prayer by around twenty Israeli soldiers with dogs, and so had to pray in a field very close to the village while being watched by the army. A foul-smelling unknown substance was sprayed at protesters by Israeli soldiers, suspected to be animal waste. After the prayer they gathered with Israelis and internationals in an attempt to march to the part of their land where the annexation wall is about to be constructed. The wall steals more than 50% of the current farming land of the village and more than 80% of the land that belonged to the villagers before 1948. The Israeli army dispersed the protesters by shooting stinky wastewater and teargas at them, while they where still in the village approximately 3 kilometers from the construction site.

Israel battles Spanish arrest warrants
Ksenia Svetlova, Jerusalem Post 8/8/2008
Israel is battling hard to overturn a Spanish court’s decision to issue arrest warrants against six current and former politicians and senior military officials, a source in the Attorney-General’s Office told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. Slideshow:Late last month, Audiencia Nacional, the National Court of Spain (the highest Spanish judicial council), issued arrest warrants against the six - Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Doron Almog, Moshe Ya’alon, Dan Halutz, Giora Eiland and Mike Herzog - accepting a petition from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that suggested they were guilty of war crimes in the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2002. At that time, Ben-Eliezer was serving as defense minister; Ya’alon was IDF chief of General Staff; Eiland headed the National Security Council; Halutz was commander of the IAF, Almog was OC Southern Command and Herzog was a senior Defense Ministry official.

Jewish militia’s 1946 written threat to British sold in London
Ofri Ilani, Ha’aretz 8/11/2008
A threatening pamphlet addressed to British troops written by the Irgun, a pre-state Jewish militia led by former prime minister Menachem Begin, fetched 1,600 pounds at an auction held in London last week. The English document written by the militia was sent "from the soldiers of the underground to the soldiers of the occupation army", referring to the United Kingdom forces who were deployed in the British Mandate of Palestine, before Israel’s establishment. The pamphlet was printed a few months after the Irgun (also known as the ’Etzel’, an acronym for "Irgun Tzvai Leumi" meaning "national military organization") carried out a deadly bombing in 1946 of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters of the mandate authorities in Palestine at the time. The pamphlet was apparently meant to serve as a warning to British soldiers serving in Palestine to leave the Middle East.

On Tisha B’Av, rightists see Gush Katif as symbol of loss
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 8/11/2008
Over the last three years, since Israel evacuated the settlements of the Gaza Strip, those who left their homes have felt a sense of loss. For these Israelis, and the religious Zionist community as a whole, this sense of loss has often manifested itself in comparisons between the loss of the Gaza settlement bloc on Tisha B’Av three years ago, to the fall of the second temple thousands of years ago, also on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. To many followers of religious Zionism, and those on the right wing of Israeli politics, the loss of those very settlements has become another storied tragedy to befall the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av. Dozens of pamphlets and prayers of lamentation have been compiled dealing with the loss of the Gaza settlement bloc, including one in which each of its 15 chapters starts with the words "How. . .

IEC workers apply sanctions
Lior Baron, Globes Online 8/10/2008
The workers committee is protesting against the start of implementation of Israel Electric Corporation’s restructuring plan. The Israel Electric Corporation(IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22) workers committee has decided in principle to launch wide-scale labor sanctions to protest the start of implementation of the restructuring plan at the company. The measures include suspending all work on the IEC’s emergency plan, stopping the licensing of natural gas facilities, and halting the purchase of fuel, including natural gas, and the unloading of coal ships. The IEC workers committee will also stop repairs, except in emergencies. A number of regional centers have been shut down to protest plans to consolidate some regions under the restructuring plan. The Krayot, Afula, and Ra’anana regional centers have been closed at this stage.

Jerusalem merchants to protest Monday over light rail construction
Jerusalem Post 8/10/2008
Hundreds of Jerusalem merchants are planning to hold a protest Monday at city hall against the light rail infrastructure work on the city’s central Jaffa Road which has adversely affected their businesses. "This work is a disaster not only for city merchants but for city residents and tourists as one," said Shimon Darwish, a member of the city center merchants’ committee. Anguished merchants are demanding that the municipality immediately stop the construction work, which has made sections of the central Jerusalem artery nearly impassable, and are also planning to ask a Jerusalem court to issue a stop-work order, he said. The city has said that the long-term benefits the repeatedly-delayed light rail system will afford the public when it is completed in two years outweigh the short-term inconveniences.

Gaza militants fire Qassam rocket into western Negev
Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 8/10/2008
Gaza militants on Saturday fired a rocket into Israel in new violation of a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the coastal Strip. The rocket struck an open area in the western Negev. No injuries or damage were reported. Last Wednesday, while settlers who were evacuated from the Gaza Strip in 2005 staged a rallymarking three years since the disengagement, a Qassam rocket hit an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council, also causing no injuries or damage. There have been several rocket launches from the coastal territory since an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas went into effect on June 19, though such attacks tapered off in recent weeks. The truce calls on Gaza militants to halt rocket attacks in return for Israel gradually easing an embargo on the territory.

Barak: Gaza invasion won’t stop Qassams
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 8/11/2008
Defense Minister Ehud Barak admitted yesterday that even a large-scale Israel Defense Forces invasion of Gaza would not stop militant attacks on Israel, saying he would prefer to see the current truce remain in place. Barak has often said that an Israeli invasion is nearing, but in an interview with Channel 10 TV, he indicated even a large-scale invasion would not stop Hamas rocket attacks. Instead, he said, a seven-week-old Egyptian-mediated truce is effectively halting the barrages. Barak also hinted at Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s being premier material in the television interview last evening, saying: "It is possible to have a prime minister without a security background. The question is what would be wise to do. "The atmosphere of Kadima’s approaching September primary has led even Barak, who is also the Labor Party’s chairman, to break his media silence.

Defense Ministry: 500 protective structures in south by year’s end
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Placing of structures for protection against Gaza rocket fire to be expedited despite ceasefire -The Defense Ministry is expected to complete the project of dispersing 500 hollow concrete structures for protection against rocket fire in Sderot and other Gaza-vicinity towns by the end of 2008. The project is expected to be implemented at an accelerated pace despite the ongoing ceasefire between Israel and the armed Palestiniangroups in the Strip and the relative calm in the region. The first phase of the project was completed this week with the distribution of 200 hollow concrete structures in the south. The State has recently approved the allocation of NIS 15 million ($4. 2 million) toward the project, and the Defense Ministry will select three companies to manufacture the structures simultaneously.

Slain Syrian general sold arms to Hizbullah - report
Daily Star 8/11/2008
A key aide to the Syrian president who was assassinated last weekend in mysterious circumstances had been supplying the Lebanese resistance group Hizbullah with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, London-based the Sunday Times quoted Middle Eastern sources as saying. "Once operative, the mobile missiles will threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon," sources said. The assassinated aide, Brigadier General Mohammad Suleiman, 49, was "more important than anyone else," wrote the London-based Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat last week. "He was senior even to the defense minister. He knew everything. "He was killed by a single shot to the head as he sat in the garden of his summer house near the northern port city of Tartus. Nobody heard the shot, which appears to have been fired from a speedboat by a sniper, possibly equipped with a silencer.

Syria rules out new IAEA visit to site bombed by Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/11/2008
DAMASCUS: Syria on Sunday ruled out the UN atomic watchdog making a second inspection of a contested site bombed by Israel last year and alleged by the United States to be the location of a nuclear facility. The official news agency SANA quoted a Foreign Ministry source as saying Syria had agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the site should be visited "just one time. "A senior IAEA delegation in late June visited the Al-Kibar site in a remote desert area of northeastern Syria that was attacked by Israel in September. "Syria has carried out what it promised in this regard," SANA quoted the source as saying. "If, after visiting the site, the IAEA wants any clarifications, then Syria can give answers to them. "The US says Al-Kibar was a nuclear facility built with North Korean help and close to becoming operational.

Syria bars repeat visit by UN nuclear experts
Middle East Online 8/10/2008
DAMASCUS - Syria said Saturday it would bar UN nuclear investigators from revisiting a site bombed by Israeli jets on suspicion it was a secretly built atomic reactor. The move dealt a blow to International Atomic Energy Agency efforts to follow up on intelligence indicating Syria was hiding a nuclear program. Syria denies it has hidden nuclear facilities. Justifying its decision, a Foreign Ministry official told reporters Syria’s agreement with the UN nuclear watchdog — which already inspected the site in June — allowed only one visit. The Syrian statement appeared to be prompted by comments made by diplomats accredited to the Vienna, Austria-based IAEA, who said that Syria late last month turned down a request from the agency for a follow-up trip. A return to the bombed facility would have been on the IAEA agenda.

Details of Syrian assassination slowly emerging
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Rumours continue to circulate about the mysterious assassination of Syrian Brigadier-General Muhammad Sulaiman, 49-years-old. The latest information on the incident came Sunday, when several papers reported that Suleiman had been supplying the Lebanese Hizbullah with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles. When operated properly the mobile missiles can down aircraft. Practical implications of Hizbullah - which came close to defeating Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war - having what amounts to anti-aircraft missiles, is that the until now powerful force of Israeli air power could be rendered impotent. Fingers have thus been pointed, for several reasons, at Israel for the assassination of Sulaiman. The Brigadier-General was killed on a beach with a single shot to the head.

Report: Israel, Iran fighting over Syria
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/10/2008
London-based al-Hayat reports Iranians have demanded to receive information on Damascus’ talks with Jerusalem. Lebanese sources say Jewish state’s recent threats against Hizbullah and Syria aimed at creating counter-pressure - Lebanese sources say Syrian President Bashar Assad’s visit to Tehran last week was a failure due to disagreements withIran on the indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat. The sources, who were updated on the talks in Tehran, said that Israel’s recent threats againstHizbullah and Syria were aimed at creating counter-pressure to that exerted by Iran in regards to its talks with the Jewish state. According to the report, the Iranians demanded to receive information on the details of the talks so as to know the exact issues being discussed.

MPs hold fiery debate on Cabinet policy statement
Daily Star 8/11/2008
BEIRUT: The Parliament debate over the new government’s policy statement continued in Lebanon on Sunday after two days of heated debates and discussions between March 14 and March 8 lawmakers. Parliament is expected to give the government a vote of confidence on Tuesday, but news reports on Sunday said that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was looking forward finishing the debates and holding the vote by Monday. Almost 40 lawmakers had already delivered their speeches as The Daily Star went to press. Up to 65 MPs have asked to speak in Parliament. After Friday’s opening session, Saturday’s session witnessed tense debates between March 14 and March 8 lawmakers, forcing Berri to intervene on more than one occasion to restore order. Berri himself later exchanged sharp words with MP Nayla Mouawad. The most heated debate took place between March 14 MP Elias Atallah and Hizbullah lawmaker Ali Ammar.

Washington must be ’very clear’ on timeline for withdrawal - Iraqi minister
Daily Star 8/11/2008
The United States must provide a "very clear timeline" to withdraw its troops from Iraq as part of an agreement allowing them to stay beyond this year, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Sunday. It was the strongest public assertion yet that Iraq is demanding a timeline. US President George W. Bush has long resisted setting a firm schedule for pulling troops out of Iraq, although last month the White House began speaking of a general "time horizon" and "aspirational goals" to withdraw. Iraq’s leaders have become more confident of their ability to provide security as the country has become safer. But attacks which killed at least 15 people on Sunday, including a US soldier, were a reminder it is still a violent place. In an interview with Reuters, Zebari said the agreement, including the timeline, was "very close" and would probably be presented to the Iraqi Parliament in early September.

Iran unmoved on nuclear stance in face of sanctions
Reuters, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Iranian media quotes Tehran officials as saying new sanctions imposed by UN will not affect nuclear program. Our stance would not change, says government spokesman -Iran will not back down on its nuclear stance despite the threat of tighter sanctions; Iranian media quoted a government spokesman as saying on Sunday. Britain, France, Germany and the United States are considering imposing sanctions that go beyond existing UN measures against Tehran over its nuclear program, a British diplomat said on Friday. Western powers fear Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb, while Tehran says it seeks to master nuclear technology for electricity. "Our stance would not change with sanctions or the threat of sanctions," the ISNA News Agency reported spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as saying. "It is important that our country is ready to insist on its rights under any conditions.

Iran ready to ’confront’ new sanctions
Middle East Online 8/10/2008
TEHRAN- Iran’s official news agency is quoting a government spokesman as saying the country is "ready to confront sanctions" over its disputed nuclear program. The European Union on Friday tightened trade restrictions on Iran, and Tehran is threatened with a fourth round of sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. That’s a process that can either produce fuel for a civilian nuclear reactor, or a weapon. Sunday’s report quotes government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham as saying Iran’s nuclear policies will not change, and that the country will manage "under any circumstances. " Some claim Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists its nuclear program aims to generate electricity only. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that actually has nuclear weapons. Print

Iran in hot water after swimmer pulls out of race with Israeli
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/11/2008
BEIJING: Iran could face action from the IOC if it deliberately pulled out of the Olympic men’s 100-meter breaststroke heats because an Israeli was also racing, Olympic officials said on Sunday. Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei’s lane one was empty when the field left the starting blocks on Saturday as Israel’s Tom Beeri, starting in lane seven, finished fourth. International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies said she was unaware of the facts, but reiterated IOC policy. "I wouldn’t specifically comment on this incident," she said. "Under the spirit of respect and fair play, if it is confirmed that he deliberately pulled out, then the IOC would take it seriously. "During the 2004 Athens Olympics, Iran’s judo world champion Arash Miresmaeili, a prominent gold-medal hope, refused to compete against Ehud Vaks of Israel in the first round out of solidarity for the Palestinian cause.

Israir to end New York flights
Dalia Tal, Globes Online 8/10/2008
This is the second time that the airline has suspended flights on the route. Israir Airlines and Tourism Ltd. today announced that it will suspend flights to New York on September 13 because they are not economical. The airline promised to find alternatives for all passengers who booked flights after this date. This is the second time that Israir has suspended the route. A few months ago, it transferred the route to another airline, claiming that it was waiting to receive its new Airbus. Three months, the airline resumed the route with the Airbus, but is again suspending operations on it. Israir obtained designated carrier status on the Tel Aviv-New York route after a long struggle against the Ministry of Transport andEl Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE:ELAL ). At the height of the struggle, El Al petitioned the High Court of Justice, claiming that the state had violated its promise of exclusivity on the route.

10 new hotels planned for Haifa
Michal Margalit, Globes Online 8/10/2008
Three hotels will be built in the city’s historic German Colony. The Haifa municipality is formulating an Urban Building Plan (UBP) for the construction of ten new hotels, with 1,500 rooms altogether, in the city. Three of the hotels will be built in the city’s historic German Colony: one each by Nitsba Holdings Ltd. (TASE: NTBA), Morovati Properties Ltd. , while the Israel Land Administration (ILA) will hold a tender to pick the developer for the third in a few days. The Ministry of Tourism declared Haifa a tourist development area ’A’ 18 months ago, and it will remain so until 2011. Central Bureau of Statistics data show an increase in tourism in the city during 200, with the number of tourist and Israeli overnights rising from 140,000 in 2006 to 160,000 in 2007. Nitsba plans to build a 200-room luxury hotel at an investment of $45-60 million on the site of the city’s old central bus station.

Bank of Israel source: We’re not cutting currency purchases
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 8/10/2008
This was in response to reports that daily dollar purchases will be cut to $25 million. The Bank of Israelwas quick to deny reports in the press this morning comments by Deputy Governor Zvi Eckstein that the central bank would end its dollar purchasing program in two months. The reports said that the program would shortly be scaled back to $25 million a day from $100 million a day. The Bank of Israel expanded the program to $100 million a day on July 10. A senior Bank of Israel official told "Globes" this morning, "There has been no decision regarding the dollar purchasing program. Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer has given no new instructions on this matter, except to continue closely monitoring developments in the foreign currency market. " The source added, "The Governor intends to complete the purchasing program, which is designed to boost Israel’s. . .

Medical workers strike averted
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – A medical workers strike, planned for Sunday, was averted late Saturday night after an emergency meeting was called in Ramallah. Palestinian health minister Dr Fathi Abu Mughli and representatives of the different unions of medical professions met with General Director of hospitals Dr Na’im Sabrah, General Director of primary care Dr As’ad Ramlawi,and several others met to address the issue of the strike, as well as the general working conditions of medical professionals in Palestine. Dr Abu Mughli affirmed that his ministry’s main concern is to improve the quality of health services offered to Palestinians, by developing regulations and standards to ensure proper care. He added that he recognized that rules would have to be supplemented with better working conditions and making sure that the rights of Palestinian medical workers are guaranteed.

Sunday forecast
Ma’an News Agency 8/10/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian meteorological department expects Sunday’s weather to remain generally clear with scattered clouds. Temperatures will be slightly higher than seasonal. Winds will be westerly to southwesterly and moderate. The sea will be tranquil. Temperatures on Monday are not expected to change noticeably. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 19 to 29 / Ramallah: 18 to 28 / Qalqilia: 20 to 30 / Salfit: 19 to 29 / Nablus: 19 to 31 / Jenin: 24 to 33 / Tubas: 23 to 32 / Hebron: 18 to 28 / Jericho: 25 to 39 / Gaza City: 25 to 32 / Khan Younis: 25 to 32 / Rafah: 24 to 31[end]

Poll: What will cause Jerusalem’s 3rd destruction?
Ynet, YNetNews 8/10/2008
Tisha B’Av survey reveals biggest fear amongst members of all Jewish denominations is division of city into capital of two nations - Jews in Israel on Sunday lamented the destruction of the First and Second Temples at the Western Wall plaza and synagogues across the country. The Third Temple has not been built yet and there are people who are already concerned with the next destruction. A survey conducted for ’s Jewish section and the Gesher Organization for Tisha B’Av listed a wide-range of the most dangerous potential situations in which an additional destruction can occur in Jerusalem. In the first place: Dividing the city and turning it into a joint capital for the Israeli and Palestinian nations. Twenty percent of the participants said that nothing will endanger the strong and flourishing city of Jerusalem. This conjoined Ynet-Gesher survey conducted by the Mutagim Institute included 500 interviewees representing all parts of the Jewish, adult, Hebrew-speaking population in Israel.


Mahmoud Darwish, the greatest poet of our time, dies at 67
Kristen Ess, Palestine News Network 8/10/2008
      There is no news today of more importance: There is only sorrow as we mourn the loss of Mahmoud Darwish.
     The greatest Palestinian poet, his works translated more often than any other Arab writer, died from complications due to his third open heart surgery.
     The announcement came from the 67 year old’s doctors in the United States where he underwent his final surgery. The Palestinian Presidential Spokesperson had announced earlier that Darwish was still alive, but in critical condition.
     Wednesday’s surgery was declared a success at first. The Palestinian Minister of Culture also announced earlier that Darwish was still in critical condition, but his situation had ceased to deteriorate. An advisor to the President issued the statement: "The health status of the great poet is very critical."
     And then on Saturday night he died.

Al Aqaba: The war of nerves

Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 8/10/2008
      In Pictures
     For more than 40 years the people of Al Aqaba have been struggling for the right to exist on their land. Surrounded by three military training camps, they are facing continuous house and public infrastructure demolitions. Located in the Jordan Valley, on the border with the area "˜C’, the villagers are now threatened by the new Israeli route for the apartheid Wall. A War of nerves that began 40 years ago, with Haj Sami Sadiq, a charismatic character from the town, leading the Aqaban peaceful resistance.
     Al Aqaba is a small village of 300 inhabitants located in one of the most fertile areas of the West Bank, between Jenin and the Jordan Valley. The green valley would be a paradise, if the village hadn’t been the target of Israeli aggressions since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, when Aqaba was declared a closed military zone. Since then, the Israeli government has been literally trying to get rid of the town and its Palestinian residents, using many ways to achieve their plan.
     Two Israeli military bases are stationed near Al-Aqaba, and until June 2003, when the town won a groundbreaking victory in Israel’s Supreme Court, a third was located directly next to the village. For the last 40 years, the villagers have been surrounded by military training fields, where the officers train with live ammunitions, injuring tens of the residents.

Gulf News: Law of Return and the dilemma

Abbas Al Lawati, Gulf News, International Solidarity Movement 8/10/2008
      Dubai: Adam Shapiro, 36, and the International Solidarity Movement have in many ways been the face of the foreign activism that complemented the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against the Israeli occupation.
     Founded by Shapiro and his former colleague, Palestinian-American Huwaida Arraf [now his wife], the ISM was established as a non-violent resistance organisation against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
     Shapiro has been vilified in the United States and Israel for his work with the ISM. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post once called him the "Jewish Taliban", in reference to John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban".
     He received much media attention in the United States after he gained access to late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah during the 2002 Israeli siege, where he had breakfast with him.
     The ISM’s activities have proved to be a nuisance for Israel, particularly with the bad press it received after a bulldozer operated by the Israeli Defence Forces crushed and killed American activist Rachel Corrie, who was acting as a human shield to prevent the demolishing of a Palestinian home in Gaza. The driver is said to have crushed her, reversed the bulldozer then run over her again. Israel said it was an accident. -- See also: Gulf News: Law of Return and the dilemma

Obama: the Israelis would be crazy to reject this offer

Daoud Kuttab, Amman / Jerusalem, Palestine News Network 8/10/2008
      Election related news continue to be made in the Middle East weeks after the Barack Obama visited the region. The office of the Palestinian president released, Wednesday, a copy of the peace poster that Abbas presented to Obama. The peace poster based on the Arab peace initiative states that 57 Arab and Muslim countries will establish "full diplomatic and normal relations with Israel in return for comprehensive peace agreement and end of occupation." The text of the peace plan quotes the full resolution of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic states.
     In an interview with the London based independent Arabic daily Al Hayat, Abbas said that when he showed the poster to Obama, the presidential nominee reacted by saying that the Israelis "would be crazy to reject this offer." After the one hour meeting with the Palestinian president Obama went on to spend a total of 36 hours with Israeli officials and visiting locations of their choosing. The presumptive Democratic nominee didn't repeat what he had said to Abbas to his Israeli hosts.
     In a related event, a leader of the tiny Christian Palestinian community in Jerusalem sent an angry complaint to Barak Obama for his failure to visit Christian holy sites during his most recent visit. Naim Tarazi, an Arab Orthodox community leader complained to Jim Zogby president of the Arab American Institute and one of Obama's Arab American advisors. In the complaint Tarazi reportedly asked Zogby to pass the following message to Obama. "People say your father was Muslim, and you insist you are Christian but why is it that when you visited the Holy city of Jerusalem you only stopped by the Western Wall and the Holocust memorial?&quot.

Obituary: Mahmoud Darwish

Peter Clark, The Guardian 8/11/2008
      Poet, author and politician who helped to forge a Palestinian consciousness after the six-day war in 1967.
     They fettered his mouth with chains,
     And tied his hands to the rock of the dead.
     They said: You’re a murderer.
     They took his food, his clothes and his banners,
     And threw him into the well of the dead.
     They said: You’re a thief.
     They threw him out of every port,
     And took away his young beloved.
     And then they said: You’re a refugee.
     With poems from the 1960s such as this, Mahmoud Darwish, who has died in a Texas hospital aged 67 of complications following open-heart surgery, did as much as anyone to forge a Palestinian national consciousness, and especially after the six-day war of June 1967. His poems have been taught in schools throughout the Arab world and set to music; some of his lines have become part of the fabric of modern Arabic culture.

A war for war’s sake

Mahmoud Darwish, Al-Ahram Weekly 4/11/2002
      April 11, 2002 - What we are now seeing is the expression of the will of a people that has no choice but to resist.
     This is a war for war’s sake, since it has no other aim than its self-perpetuation. Everyone knows this; and, once again, the sword will prove incapable of crushing the spirit. The Arabs have offered Israel a collective peace in return for Israeli withdrawal from a fifth of our historical homeland. Israel’s answer to this generous offer was to declare all-out war against the Palestinian people, and against the Arabs’ very imagination.
     Once again, we will prove that we occupy the moral high ground -- nothing remaining to us now but this proof. Those who control the international balance of power will continue to shape events without respect for intellectual or legal argument until we awake to the realisation that, just as they have proved themselves incapable of ensuring deterrence -- though there is no option other than peace -- they have also shown themselves incapable of ensuring peace.
     In every corner crimes are being committed. On every street lie the bodies of the murdered. On every wall is blood. The living are deprived of the basic right to life, and the martyrs are denied graves in which to rest in peace. Above all, however, what we are now seeing is the expression of the will of a people that has no choice but to resist. Between one beat of a wounded heart and the next we ask: how long will we carry on cheering as Christ ascends to Golgotha.