InI Logo
InI Needs Your Support!
Subscribe to InI’s Mailing List/Newsletter

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  
12 August 2008

Abbas rejects Israeli ’peace’ proposal that annexes over 7 percent of West Bank
Daily Star 8/13/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected an Israeli peace proposal because it does not provide for a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, Abbas’ office said on Tuesday. Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas’ spokesman, told the official WAFA news agency Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert’s plan showed a "lack of seriousness. "Olmert’s proposal does not offer a solution to competing claims to the holy city of Jerusalem, and would only be implemented once Abbas reined in militants and re-established control of Gaza, which Hamas seized a year ago. Under the proposal, Israel would return to the Palestinians some 92. 7 percent of the Occupied West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip, according to Western and Palestinian officials briefed on the negotiations. In exchange for Occupied West Bank land that Israel would keep, Olmert proposed a 5.

Israelis say settlement building and expansion will not stop in East Jerusalem and West Bank
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/12/2008
Jerusalem - A spokesman for the main body of settlers said yesterday, Monday, that Israel has proposed building a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank near Jerusalem. No comment was given by the Israeli security department which supervises the case on this step, which will see the Palestinians and Israel’s allies in the United States and Europe in violation of its commitments to stop settlement activity on Palestinian land for the independent state. The Palestinians already accused Israel of not implementing its commitments under the "peace process" sponsored by the US in Annapolis because of its approval of the expansion of other settlements, most recently in occupied Jerusalem. The Israelis gave the green light last month to build a completely new settlement in the Jordan Valley. The settlers said that 40 trailers for the colonizers have been placed without official, but implicit, approval.

Israel seals Gaza crossings
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/12/0200
The Israeli defense minister ordered the closure of all Gaza crossings on Tuesday, following a homemade shell landing in the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. The ruling party Hamas in Gaza downplayed the decision, calling it ’meaningless’ on the basis that all the crossings were already effectively closed. Since 19th June, Israel has only allowed limited shipments of goods, commodities and fuel into the coastal region. On June 19th Egyptian officials brokered a ceasfire between Israel and Hamas, stipulating that Israel should gradually life the blockad whilst the Gaza-based resistance factions, involving Hamas, stop firing shells into Israel. Abu Yousef, a local leader of the al Aqsa Martyrs brigade, an offshoot of the Fatah party, called for the ceasfire deal to be reconsidered and for the Palestinians to stay united in the face of ’Israeli aggression’.

Secret Plans Revealed: Train to the Western Wall
Danny Adino Ababa, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Jerusalem Municipality holds secret meeting in which plans are unveiled for extension of city’s light train to Dung Gate, just minute’s walk from holy site; tunnel through Mt. Zion also proposed -Jerusalem’s new light train may reach the Western Wall, according to a meeting held by the capital’s municipality, in the civil engineer’s office. The meeting, which took place on June 25, was kept under wraps for fear that its subject would enrage representatives of the three faiths in the city. Jerusalem’s leaders fear that the close proximity of the train’s path to the Old City and the cemetery nearby may destabilize the delicate balance between the religions, and invoke a protest fueled by local aggravation. The proposal for the train’s new path was offered as a solution to the Old City’s chronic traffic congestion, specifically near the Western Wall.

ISRAEL-OPT: Curbs on fly-tipping in West Bank
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/12/2008
BEIT EL (WEST BANK), 12 August 2008 (IRIN) - The Israeli Civil Administration has said it has managed to cut down significantly on fly-tipping in the West Bank in the last two months, signalling the beginning of the end of the problem. For years rubbish from Israel would get dumped in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) at unofficial sites, damaging the soil and aquifers, as well as being an eye-sore. Even during the intense Israeli-Palestinian conflict, criminals on both sides cooperated to get rubbish from one place to the other. "Garbage is a business and it is good money," Lt-Col Avi Shalev from the Civil Administration said in an interview with IRIN. Realising this, he and his environmental team decided to hit back at the illegal dumpers. The dumping, observers said, became worse when Israel, trying to enact environmental legislation, started charging municipalities for burying their rubbish.

U.S. thwarts Israeli preparations for military strike against Iran
Aluf Benn, Ha’aretz 8/13/2008
The American administration has rejected an Israeli request for military equipment and support that would improve Israel’s ability to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Americans viewed the request, which was transmitted (and rejected) at the highest level, as a sign that Israel is in the advanced stages of preparations to attack Iran. They therefore warned Israel against attacking, saying such a strike would undermine American interests. They also demanded that Israel give them prior notice if it nevertheless decided to strike Iran. As compensation for the requests it rejected, Washington offered to improve Israel’s defenses against surface-to-surface missiles. Israel responded by saying it reserves the right to take whatever action it deems necessary if diplomatic efforts to halt Iran’s nuclearization fail.

Funeral for Mahmoud Darwish expected to be largest since Yasser Arafat
Palestine News Network 8/12/2008
PNN - Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, has used a private plane to transport the body of the great Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish from Houston, Texas to the Jordanian military before being taken by a Jordanian helicopter to Ramallah for tomorrow’s funeral. He will be buried on a hill. This is expected to be the largest funeral since that of the late President Yasser Arafat. Current President and Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad respectively will be in attendance along with thousands of others at the Muqata, the Presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday. Atallah Khairi, the Palestinian Ambassador to Jordan, told Agence France Presse that the body would arrive at ten o’clock tomorrow morning, Wednesday, at the Jordanian military airport aboard a plane from the United Arab Emirates allocated by the King.

Palestinian minister alarmed about settler attacks on holy places
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Palestinian minister of Waqf (Endowment) and Religious Affairs, Jamal Bawatnah on Tuesday condemned the frequent assaults by Israeli settlers which culminated in an attempt to set fire to the Ar-Ras Mosque in eastern Hebron in the southern West Bank. Extremist settlers threw garbage at the entrance to the mosque and they attacked employees and foreign solidarity activists as well as members of Temporary International Presence Hebron (TIPH) and UN employees. Bawatnah called on Palestinian civil society institutions to counter assaults against holy places. He described such attacks "dangerous" and "barbarian. " He added that ’Israeli barbarism’ would not have continued had Arab and other states not remained silent. He appealed to all Arab and international organizations to take immediate steps to stop the attacks on places of worship in Hebron and other Palestinian areas, especially Jerusalem.

Report: Israel to move settlers from outpost to larger, authorized settlement
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel plans to expand one larger settlement to make room for settlers it will evacuate from the West Bank outpost of Migron, near Ramallah, the Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday. An Israeli Defense Ministry official told the agency that Israel plans to dismantle the Migron outpost, which was set up on a hilltop over six years ago. The official did not say specifically where the settlers will be moved, but Ishai Hollander, a spokesperson for the YESHA settler council, said on Monday that the Israeli government had proposed building a new settlement near Migron for those listed for evacuation. A ministry official denied to Reuters that Israel had agreed to build a new settlement for the 40 families living in Migron, but said "an agreement in principle" was reached to expand an existing settlement to absorb them.

Settler attacks in Hebron
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/12/0200
A group of Israeli settlers attacked houses and a mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, and attempted to set the mosque on fire, as reported by local sources. The settlers attacked both local civilians and international peace activists inside the mosque, and showered them with garbage. Eye witnesses reported that the settlers climbed onto the roof of the mosque and attempted to set it on fire. They also harassed civilians and forcibly grabbed video cameras from international photographers present at the attack. Another group of armed Israeli settlers attacked the nearby Wad Al Nasara village, by attempting to break into houses in the village and harrassing local civilians. They are reported to have caused considerable damage to some of the properties attacked.

Israeli settlers attempt to raid Shu’fat refugee camp near Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Dozens of Israeli settlers attempted on Tuesday evening to raid Shu’fat refugee camp in northern Jerusalem, Israeli sources said. Police arrested two settlers. One of the arrestees, Barokh Merzel, is affiliated to a group called the Jewish Front. Merzel was reportedly leading the group. [end]

Israel unveils intentions to build new settlement in W. Bank
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli media outlets revealed Monday that officials in the Israeli war ministry made a proposal calling for building a new settlement outpost in the West Bank near occupied Jerusalem. Spokesman for the Zionist Yesha settlements council Yishai Hollander said that the war ministry officials had proposed moving several families from the Migron settlement to another West Bank site. According to Hebrew media, Yishai asserted that the Yesha council would meet this week to discuss a proposal put forward by Israel’s war ministry to build a permanent settlement of Migron nearby the current site, on a hill near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. This proposal is a new slap in the face of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his negotiators who are wrongheadedly insistent on holding meetings and shaking hands with Israeli officials despite the escalating Israeli settlement expansion.

Israeli army invades West Bank cities kidnapping 18 civilians
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/12/0200
The Israeli army invaded the West Bank cities of Nablus, Ramallah, Jenin, Tubas and Bethlehem on Tuesday morning, as reported by local sources. The Israeli army invaded Balata refugee camp east of Nablus with a large number of military vehicles, spreading throughout the camp, ransacking several houses and seizing thirteen civilians. They are reported to have shot grenades, sound bombs and live rounds. Simultaneously, the Israeli army invaded Petunia village south of Ramallah and kidnapped two civilians after searching houses in the village. In the West Bank city of Jenin Israeli troops raided Kabatia village and took three civilians to unknown detention camps. Eye witnesses reported that troops harassed civilians whilst they ransacked several houses in the village A number of Israeli military vehicles and helicopters entered the city of Tubas, with troops moving through. . .

Israeli troops kidnap young boy
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/12/0200
The Israeli army entered Hebron on Tuesday morning and kidnapped a local fourteen year old boy. According to local reports, Israeli troops surrounded the city, erecting several checkpoints at village entrances close to Hebron, on main roads and near the Israeli settlements. The Israeli army also imposed curfew on the area. Eye witnesses reported that the troops kidnapped fourteen year old Muhammad Ewewi and took him to an unknown destination. [end]

Israeli forces seize four civilians in Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces raided the West Bank town of Qabatiya, near Jenin, detaining four Palestinian civilians. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided Palestinian’s houses, destroying property. The detainees are: Asef Mahmoud Abu Ar-Rab, Mahmoud Hassan Zakarneh, Hassan Khaled Dihmaz and Saleh Amin Saleh Kamil. [end]

Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians in Nablus and Balata refugee camp
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized eleven Palestinians on Tuesday during a dawn raid on the West Bank city of Nablus and neighboring Balata refugee camp. Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces stormed the city and the refugee camp, ransacking houses. The detainees were identified as: Mohammad Ubeid, Ihab Mohammad Ash-Shafi’i, Omar Diab, Mohammad Ash-Shafi’i, 17-year-old Adham Nihad Natsheh, 18-year-old Abdel Mottaleb Khaled Bilal, 17-year-old Mohammad Rajeh Al-Qaissi, 22-year-old Omar Abdel Rahim Abu-Shousheh, 22-year-old Majed Bader Rajeh and 24-year-old Haitham Bukhari and his 22-year-old brother Adham. The Israeli military says that it arrested 16 Palestinians overnight, 13 of them in Nablus.

Israeli forces invade Nablus again and arrest 13 Palestinians
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/12/2008
Nablus -- Israeli forces arrested thirteen citizens in a pre-dawn invasion of Nablus on Tuesday. They hit the city and its refugee camp, Balata. Local security sources and eyewitnesses report that the Israeli forces raided the Balata Refugee Camp and arrested nine citizens, among them being: Qais Mohammed Ihab El Shafei, Majid Omar Rajeh Abu Shusha, Haitham, Adham Njaara, Adham Nihad and Bilal Murad. In Nablus City Israeli forces arrested four citizens including Mohammed Obeid and Omar Dhiab. As the attack waged on throughout the earliest hours of this morning, the 13 Palestinians were bound and blindfolded before being taken to unknown locations. Intensive gunfire was heard throughout the northern West Bank city and its environs, particularly when the Israeli forces penetrated the city center. Throughout the West Bank today, Israeli forces arrested 16 Palestinians,. . .

Israeli forces seize Palestinian butcher from shop in Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli military forces on Tuesday abducted a young Palestinian man, 22-year-old Jalal An-Natshah from his workplace near Hebron University, Palestinian security sources told Ma’an. The sources added that Israeli troops ransacked a butcher’s shop where An-Natshah works and took him to an unknown location. [end]

Israeli forces seize young Palestinian man in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized 20-year-old Abdul-Rahman Hindiyya during an overnight raid on his house in the West Bank city of Nablus, his family said. Hindiyya’s father told Ma’an that Israeli troops stormed the family home on As-Sikka street in Nablus at 3am, locked the family in a single room, and damaged the interior of the house before leaving with his son as a prisoner. At least 11 other Palestinians were rounded up during raids on Monday night and Tuesday morning in Nablus and adjacent Balata refugee camp. [end]

IOF troops kidnap 3 Jihad elements in Jenin, 13 citizens in Nablus
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces at dawn Tuesday kidnapped three Palestinians affiliated with the Islamic Jihad Movement in Qabatia town, south of Jenin city, while other units rounded up 13 citizens in Nablus district. A source in Islamic Jihad said that the soldiers broke into the town at midnight Monday and clashed with a number of fighters of the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, before arresting three of its members after searching their homes and assaulting their relatives. The source pointed out that the soldiers burst into the homes of families of Quds Brigades martyrs in the town. He further noted that the PA intelligence apparatus send notifications to a number of Jihad activists summoning them to the apparatuses’ headquarters in Jenin including Abdul Fattah Khuzaimia who has been released from PA jails only a few months ago after a series of mediations.

Palestine Today 081208
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/12/0200
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 4 m 0s || 3. 66 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre, www. imemc. org, for Tuesday August 12th, 2008. The Israeli army has invaded several West Bank cities and has kidnapped 19 civilians, whilst Israeli settlers continue to attack Hebron city. We will be discussing these stories and more, so stay tuned. On Tuesday, the Israeli army invaded Balata refugee camp east of Nablus with a large number of military vehicles, spreading throughout the camp, ransacking several houses and seizing thirteen civilians. They are reported to have shot grenades, sound bombs and live rounds. Simultaneously, the Israeli army invaded Petunia village south of Ramallah and kidnapped two civilians after searching houses in the village.

Israeli ministerial committee recommends 3-5 long term Palestinian prisoners for release
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
prisonerBethlehem – Ma’an – The new Israeli ministerial committee tasked with choosing which Palestinian prisoners to release decided on Tuesday to release three to five prisoners "with blood on their hands" who have already served 25 years in prison. The Hebrew version of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the decision. The prisoners are slated for release during August as a part of a "goodwill gesture" to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The panel requested a list of 150-220 Palestinian prisoners without "blood on their hands" in addition to a list of ill prisoners. The committee will study the possibility of releasing a portion of those prisoners as part of Olmert’s good will gesture to Abbas. The newly formed panel is scheduled to submit the new criteria for releasing Palestinian prisoners to the Israeli cabinet during its regular meeting on Sunday.

Hamas brands militants who fire rockets ’collaborators’
Compiled by, Daily Star 8/13/2008
The Hamas rulers of Gaza on Tuesday lashed out at militants who fire rockets at Israel from the Palestinian territory in violation of a seven-week-old truce, calling them collaborators. "About the rocket-firing, I think those who are responsible are those who collaborate with Israel, because there is a consensus by all Palestinian groups to respect the truce," said Mahmoud Zahar, the most influential leader of the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza. On Monday, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into an empty field outside the southern Israeli city of Sderot, causing no casualty or damage. No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for firing the rocket. Zahar told a Gaza radio station that the party which fired the rocket was "linked to Israel, as they provide a pretext to exercise pressure on the Palestinian people.

Zahhar: Those who fired projectiles are ''collaborators with Israel''
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Those who launched homemade projectiles at Sderot on Monday are "collaborators with Israel," senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar told Sawt Al-Quds radio station on Tuesday morning. Zahhar was referring to the homemade rocket that struck the Israeli border town on Monday afternoon, triggering Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to lock down the Gaza Strip’s borders. The projectile caused no injuries or physical damage. "With regards to firing projectiles, I think those who were behind it are traitors because all Palestinian factions agreed to the ceasefire, and those who did that have contacts with Israel who wants to use that as a pretext to exert pressure on the Palestinian people," said Zahhar. "The Israelis want to combine this issue with the prisoners swap, and we refused that from the beginning.

Khudari: Gaza crossings are paralyzed despite the calm
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, strongly denounced Tuesday the Israeli decision to close the crossings, highlighting that the Gaza commercial crossings are already paralyzed despite the truce, where Israel allows in only 15 percent of Gaza needs. In a press statement received by the PIC, MP Khudari underlined that the Gaza crossings especially Al-Mintar crossing must remain open around the clock for more than a year in order to end the effects of the Israeli siege imposed on the Strip two years ago. The lawmaker also pointed out that Gaza needs more than 400 trucks laden with raw materials necessary for various industrial sectors. The lawmaker stressed that the Israeli decision to close the crossings comes within the framework of Israel’s policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Hamas: The Israeli decision to close crossings is of no value
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Monday that Israeli war minister Ehud Barak’s orders to his troops to close all commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday is of no value because the crossings are virtually closed, pointing out that the problem is Israel because it breached the truce in the first place. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri said that the quantities of goods which had been transported through the crossings since the beginning of the truce were less than before. Dr. Abu Zuhri underlined that the Palestinian factions in general are committed to the calm, but the Israeli occupation is the party which did not respect it especially regarding its obligations to lift the unjust siege on Gaza. The IOF troops announced the closure of Gaza crossings at the pretext that a Palestinian homemade rocket struck the Israeli Sderot settlement on Monday afternoon.

Radwan: Hamas will not feel sorry for the calm if Israel ends it
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ismail Radwan, a prominent Hamas leader, stated Monday that in case the Israeli occupation decided to terminate the calm, Hamas would never feel sorry for it, stressing the readiness of the Movement to defend the dignity of the Palestinian people. In a popular gathering organized by Hamas, Dr. Radwan said that the truce was a stage used somehow for alleviating some of the Gaza people’s suffering and strengthening the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people’s steadfastness. The Hamas leader underlined that since the truce took effect and until today, Israel has not fulfilled its obligations towards the calm and thus nothing changed except for allowing in small quantities of goods to the Strip. The Hamas leader also pointed to the Rafah border crossing issue, saying that the Movement showed great flexibility regarding this file, but there is always step backwards in opening the crossing.

Despair among Egyptians stranded in Gaza
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/12/0200
Local sources reported that 180 Egyptian citizens, many of them women and children have been stranded in the Gaza Strip since the demolition of the Rafah border wall in January. Most of the Egyptians crossed into Gaza to visit relatives and friends after Palestinians destroyed the border wall with explosives, breaking the blockade and opening the border for the first time in months. Hundreds of thousands of people crossed the border in both directions. Egypt then resealed the border, stranding its own citizens in Gaza. The families initially lived in a snake and insect-infested camp near the Rafah border, waiting for the Egyptian government to allow them to return home. For food and supplies they relied on the kindness of already impoverished Gazans. Later, officials in the de-facto government in Gaza decided to house the Egyptians in the Al-Quds secondary school in Rafah.

Despair among Egyptians stranded in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Gaza - Ma’an – Some 180 Egyptian citizens, many of them women and children, have been stranded in the Gaza Strip since the demolition of the Rafah border wall in January. “Someone tell our President Hosni Mubarak that we want to go home and we won’t come back here again," said one Egyptian man, who couldn’t hold back his tears. He was standing just meters from Egyptian soil. Most of the Egyptians crossed into Gaza to visit relatives and friends after Palestinians undermined the border wall with explosives, breaking the blockade and opening the border for the first time in months. Hundreds of thousands of people crossed the border in both directions. Egypt then resealed the border, stranding its own citizens in Gaza. At first the families lived in a snake and insect-infested camp near the Rafah border, waiting for the Egyptian government to allow them to return home.

Israeli military sales to Georgia draw ire of Moscow
Peter Hirschberg, Inter Press Service, Daily Star 8/13/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: With the eruption of fighting between Russia and Georgia, Israel has found itself in an awkward position as a result of its arms sales to Georgia, caught between its friendly relations with Georgia and its fear that the continued sale of weaponry will spark Russian retribution in the form of increased arms sales to Iran and Syria. After fighting broke out late last week between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Israel’s Foreign Ministry over the weekend recommended suspending the sale of all weapons and defense-related equipment to Georgia, the daily Haaretz newspaper reported. The Israeli paper quoted an unidentified senior official saying that Israel needed "to be very careful and sensitive these days. 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.

Israeli reporter wounded in Georgia
Ynet, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Award-winning Yedioth Aharonoth journalist Tzadok Yehezkeli seriously wounded by gunfire in Georgia as clashes continue to rage - Yedioth Aharonoth reporter Tzadok Yehezkeli was seriously wounded Tuesday morning in Georgia. The 52-year-old had been covering the ongoing fighting in the city of Gori. He was evacuated to a hospital in Tbilisi and emerged from surgery in serious but stable condition. The man who evacuated Yehezkeli and got him to an ambulance was Dutch RTL reporter Jeroen Akkermans, who was also injured in the blast. An RTL cameraman, Stan Storimans, was killed in the blast. Akkermans sustained light shrapnel wounds to his leg. "All the journalists were standing near the town square when the bomb fell," RTL’s reporter in Israel, Conny Mus, told. Receiving the Sokolov Prize for Journalism (Photo: Avigail Uzi) Mus said. . .

Tbilisi: Israelis fight for seat on El Al flight
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Foreign Ministry working to evacuate 230 Israelis from war-battered country; considers evacuation to neighboring countries by land if necessary -El Al Airlines dispatched a special flight to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi Tuesday morning to evacuate Israelis from the war-battered country. The flight was dispatched at the Foreign Ministry’s request and is expected to return to Israel in the evening. Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramowitz convened an emergency meeting overnight during which it was decided to work toward evacuating Israeli citizens from Tbilisi. The Ministry estimates that some 230 Israelis remain in Georgia. The Tbilis airport is still operational, but should efforts to evacuate Israelis by plane fail, the Ministry will consider evacuating them to neighboring countries by land.

Famous rabbi blesses Georgia
Neta Sela, YNetNews 8/12/2008
After meeting delegation of rabbis connected to Lithuanian Rabbi Shteinman last year and even receiving letter from Shteinman blessing his country, Georgian premier asks great rabbi to bless Georgia once again, in light of recent devastating battles -Ynet has learned Georgian Premier Vladimir "Lado" Gurgenidze asked of Lithuanian Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman to bless Georgia, and the rabbi did indeed deliver. On Tuesday he voiced the blessing, intended for the war-stricken country’s Jewish residents "and all who live in that place. " It all started last winter when a delegation of rabbis from the Vaad L’Hatzolas Nidchei Yisroel met with the premier in his office in Tbilisi, where they bestowed upon him a special letter from Rabbi Shteinman, who is considered one of the greatest rabbis currently leading the ultra-Orthodox public.

Hamas denounces PA-occupation security coordination in West Bank
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Tuesday denounced the PA security apparatuses’ "rudeness" in openly declaring its security coordination with the Israeli occupation. The Movement in a statement in the West Bank said that the PA security jeeps accompanied the Israeli occupation forces’ jeeps for 12 kilometers from Salem military barrier west of Jenin to the city of Jenin. It expressed surprise at the degree of coordination between PA chief Mahmoud Abbas’s security and those "occupying our lands and killing the children and the elderly". "We are also surprised at those apparatuses’ disdain of people’s minds when they claim patriotism while those people are seeing them openly walking by those Zionists, protecting and defending them," the statement went on. Hamas demanded an apology from those security apparatuses to the Jenin district and to the minor who was severely beaten. . .

’Israel exploited result of Hamas - Fateh strife in Gaza by marketing itself as being humane’
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/12/2008
Gaza - Head of Fateh bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council, Azzam Al Ahmed said that Israel exploited the latest Hamas arrests on eastern Gaza City’s Al Shajaiyeh neighborhood. "They are trying to market themselves as treating the Palestinians humanely. " Al Ahmed stated that Israel’s old-new scheme provides for the separation of Gaza from the West Bank because they have ambitions in the biblical West Bank while they wish for the disposal of Gaza. Israeli forces allowed the borders to be open to the West Bank from Gaza for members of the Helles family after the Hamas government accused them of being behind the three bombings in the Strip. Rampant arrests followed, as did attacks on media organizations. Meanwhile in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority and the Fateh movement are doing no better in their treatment of Hamas members and their charitable institutions.

Hamas denies receiving Egyptian invitation for national dialog
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has denied receiving any message from the Egyptian general intelligence on Monday calling for dialog or bilateral talks with Egypt on internal Palestinian issues. Ayman Taha, one of the Hamas political leaders in Gaza Strip, told PIC on Monday evening, "We did not receive any invitation for dialog", but explained that his Movement had previously received a number of questions on goals of the dialog and issues to be discussed in it. Taha said that Hamas replied to the questions and its deputy political bureau chairman Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk handed them to the Egyptians during his recent visit to Cairo. Press reports had said that Egypt on Monday delivered messages to Palestinian factions inviting them to start bilateral talks with Egypt on internal Palestinian dialog in addition to asking for their views regarding that dialog.

Legal center asks Abbas’s security to release Khafsh
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Palestinian center for the defense of prisoners on Tuesday asked the PA preventive security apparatus in the West Bank to release human rights activist Fuad Al-Khafsh, the director of Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies. The center in a press release said that the security apparatus last night detained Khafsh and seized his personal computer, which is used in the director’s defense of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails. The center underlined that Khafsh had spent most of his life defending the issue of those prisoners, noting that he was frequently arrested by the Israeli occupation forces. It expressed surprise at the PA security’s detention of Khafsh, and also expressed deep concern towards such a step that does not serve the issue of prisoners and those defending them.

Strawberry and cut flower farmers suffer under siege
Report, PCHR, Electronic Intifada 8/12/2008
Strawberry and cut flower farming are two of the most important productive agricultural sectors in the Gaza Strip. They contribute approximately US $25 million to the gross national product. In addition, both sectors employ thousands of farmers in direct and indirect employment. The export season for strawberries lasts from 20 November until 15 January and the export season for cut flowers is from 15 November until 25 April. Since the outbreak of second Palestinian intifada on 29 September 2000, these two agricultural sectors have been subjected to various impediments caused by the procedures imposed on border crossings, especially al-Mentar (Karni) Crossing that is the only outlet allowing exports. This report aims to shed light on the impact of the ongoing siege and closure of border crossings on the Gaza Strip exports of strawberries and cut flowers.

Families of patients committee: Crossing borders only option left
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- The committee of families of sick Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has said that the continued closure of the Rafah crossing before their relatives would leave no other option before them except crossing it regardless of dangers. The committee in a statement on Tuesday severely criticized the Egyptian authority for continuing to refuse to open the crossing before the seriously sick patients despite the repeated humanitarian appeals. Egypt is thus passing a death penalty against those patients, the committee charged, and asked the Palestinian government to allow their sick relatives to cross the borders anyway because "dying with Egyptian security forces’ bullets "¦ is better than dying on the sick bed". Egyptian promises were not materialized, thus allowing citizens to cross the borders would be the sole option left after all other alternatives to open it failed, the committee explained.

Siege-breaking voyage to Gaza delayed by bad weather
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A planned siege-breaking voyage to Gaza has been delayed by inclement weather at the Island of Crete, an official said on Tuesday. Jamal Al-Khudari, chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council said that he spoke with the coordinator of the Free Gaza Movement, the group that is planning to sail to Gaza’s Mediterranean port in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade. Paul Larudee, a of the cofounders of the Free Gaza Movement, and spokesperson Osama Qashu’ informed Al-Khudari that tremendous winds and bad weather prevented the ship from leaving Cyprus, then to Crete and on to Gaza. Meteorologists expect the weather to lift on Saturday. The boat is expected to arrive in Gaza next Tuesday or Wednesday. A mass welcoming ceremony is planned for the activists in Gaza.

Palestine prepares to bury poet Mahmoud Darwish
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinians will bury a national hero, the poet Mahmoud Darwish, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend Darwish’s funeral, which is predicted to be the largest since Yasser Arafat’s in 2004. The funeral ceremony and procession are expected to be a massive outpouring of affection and grief for a man who gave voice to the triumphs and suffering of his people. Darwish’s body will arrive in Amman, Jordan, at 10am, and his funeral will be held later in the day in Ramallah. Darwish, the Palestinian national poet, died in a Huston, Texas hospital on Saturday following open heart surgery. He was 67. These are the details of the schedule:- Darwish’s body will arrive at Marka airport in Amman at 10am on Wednesday. An official reception and farewell will take place.

Israel stages war games on occupied Golan
Middle East Online 8/12/2008
TEL AVIV - Israel launched large-scale military exercises on Tuesday on the occupied Golan Heights along the Syrian border on Tuesday in the presence of senior political and military officials. "There is a reinforcement on the other side, and it’s not by chance that we are training intensively on the Golan Heights and on a major scale," Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who observed the drills, told army radio. He was referring to the Lebanese resistance Hezbollah, which Israel says has been rearming with help from Syria and Iran since the 2006 Lebanon war, widely regarded in Israel as a failure. Barak said UN resolution which ended the 34-day war "failed to fulfill its goals. " "There has been a very significant reinforcement of Hezbollah in recent years, and we are examining the possibility that the balance of power has shifted with the introduction of sophisticated weapons from Syria," Barak said.

Barak: Hizbullah significantly stronger
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Defense minister, IDF chief, senior officers attend live-fire drill in Golan Heights. Israeli monitoring any possibility of shift in balance of power, Barak says, ’we’re doing what needs to be done’ -Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited an IDF drill in the Golan Heights on Tuesday and said that "it’s not by chance that the army is training in the Golan so extensively. Barak was accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, Head of the GOC Army Headquarters Major-General Avi Mizrahi and other senior IDF officers. "We are seeing a significant strengthening by Hizbullah in the past few years. We’re monitoring any possibility of a shift in balance (of power) due to the Syrians supplying Hizbullah with advances weapons’ systems. "We’re doing what needs to be done, preparation wise.

Hizbullah lauded in Tehran; Kuntar gives speech via satellite
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 8/13/2008
Hundreds of Iranians celebrate two-year anniversary to Second Lebanon War; 33 balloons released to mark 33 days of war - Hundreds of Iranians arrived on Tuesday night at Palestine Square in central Tehran in order to celebrate the two-year anniversary of "Hizbullah’s victory" in the Second Lebanon War, the Iranian Fars news agency reported. Women waved signs with pictures ofHizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and men carried Hizbullah and Palestinian Authority flags at another part of the square. One of Nasrallah’s pictures was attached to balloons and set free. Mohammad Hassan Rahmanian a representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said at the demonstration, "the only way for the nations in Palestine and Lebanon is opposing the arrogance," a nickname for the United States and Israel.

Syria arrests suspects in Suleiman assassination
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Damascus security forces arrest two naval officers, hotel security chief in connection with murder of Syria’s liaison officer to Hizbullah -Syrian security forces arrested several suspects in the assassination of Mohammed Suleiman, a senior aide to Syrian PresidentBashar Assad, earlier this month, the Syrian opposition’s website reported Tuesday. Suleiman was gunned down in the Syrian port city of Tartous some two weeks ago. According to internet reports, Syrian security forces arrested two naval officers, in ranks analogous to colonel and major, and are holding them for questioning in connection with the assassination. Several employees of the hotel Suleiman was staying in at the time of his assassination were also arrested, including the hotel’s chief of security. According to reports, Suleiman was acting as Syria’s liaison officer toHizbullah at the time of his murder.

Divided Parliament approves new unity Cabinet
Daily Star 8/13/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s new national unity government won a vote of confidence in Parliament on Tuesday following stormy debates among rival lawmakers on the thorny issue of Hizbullah’s arms. " One hundred MPs have given their confidence to the cabinet, five voted against and two abstained," Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced to the assembly, which currently has 127 MPs. The vote of confidence was made after 62 lawmakers delivered speeches in seven sessions which extended from Friday to Tuesday. MPs Solange Gemayel, Bahij Tabbara, Atef Majdalani, Mohammad Kabbara, and Ousama Saad voted against, while MPs Ghassan Tueni and Elias Atallah abstained from voting. Meanwhile, MP Hussein Husseini, a former speaker and veteran lawmaker, surprisingly announced his resignation from Parliament at the end of a speech that he made during the seventh and final session to discuss the Cabinet’s policy statement.

Lebanon’s Palestinian Ghetto Redesigned
Don Duncan, MIFTAH 8/12/2008
Lebanon proposes to rebuild Nahr al-Bared, the Palestinian city-camp near Tripoli pulverised in a long siege last year in an attempt to kill Sunni militants holed up there. The new, as yet only imagined, town is intended to preserve the memories of the old, yet return the area to the control of Lebanon. Some time before 2007 Fatah al-Islam, an extremist Sunni group tied to al-Qaida, made up of fighters from all over the Middle East, began to hole itself up in Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp outside the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli. After incidents with security forces in Tripoli, the group attacked an army outpost near the camp, killing 27 men on 20 May 2007. The Lebanese state then shelled the camp for three months, reducing it to rubble, and killed the militants. After the shelling stopped in September, the smoke cleared to reveal a camp and people once relegated to the periphery of the Lebanese political stage, suddenly at the centre of the country’s struggle to regain hold of its national security.

Parents of new IDF recruits rally for Shalit
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 8/12/2008
’We felt it was time to remind the State of its obligation to its soldiers in general and to Gilad in particular,’ mothers say as their sons board buses en route to IDF reception base -Hundreds of new IDF recruits boarded buses in Haifa Tuesday morning en route to the Military Induction Center in Tel Hashomer, while some of the enlistees’ mothers held a rally nearby calling for the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. The parents, all residents of the Western Galilee region, chose their sons’ first day in the armed forces to support their neighbor from Mitzpeh Hila. "Our sons went to the same high school as Gilad," said protestor Shlomit Savir of Moshav Neve Ziv near Ma’alot. "We live near Mitzpeh Hila and some of us are acquaintances of the Shalit family. " We decided that this was the time to remind the State of its obligation to its. . .

Barak: Heavy price for Shalit
Yonat Atlas, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Defense minister unsure of how long Gaza ceasefire will yet last, says what time is left must be used to fortify Israeli communities, push for Shalit’s release - Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday evening that he does not know how long the ceasefire with Gaza’s terror groups will hold. Therefore the period of relative calm, he said, "should be used to strengthen the civilian infrastructure and fortification of Sderot and the Gaza-vicinity communities. " Barak added that the time should also be used to push forward with the negotiations to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Speaking after a party rally in Dimona ahead of the municipal elections, the Labor chairman said: "There are difficult decisions ahead, and we will pay a heavy price. But it is our moral duty as commanders to do everything possible to bring Gilad home safe and sound.

Novelist expresses anger at censorship by national Muslim Writers project
Palestine News Network 8/12/2008
Junaid Bhatti - This story is particularly interesting given the recent censorship of a book about the life of the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] and his bride A’isha -- "The Jewel of Medina" -- by the publisher Random House. Regarding the "Butteryfly Hunter," Dr. Max Malik asserts, "This is not the second coming of the Satanic Verses!"Dr. Malik, a former recipient of the Muslim Writer of the Year Award, has expressed his anger and deep dismay following the censorship of his debut novel "The Butterfly Hunter. "The Muslims Writers Awards, which claims to be a non-religious initiative, chose not to submit the controversial novel to the project’s independent judging panel for this year’s awards. Dr. Malik was winner of the top prize in 2007, and was spurred on by his success to dedicate a year of his life to "The Butterfly Hunter" -- an explosive work of fiction which frankly. . .

Israeli excavation shows Jews, pagans lived in harmony
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Roman temple unearthed in Galilee proves pagans, Jews prayed, lived together, scientist says -An Israeli scientist says a Roman temple unearthed in the center of an ancient Jewish city in northern Israel shows pagans and Jews lived and worshipped together. Hebrew University professor Zeev Weiss said Monday the 2nd century temple was found during excavations at Sepphoris, or Tzippori in Hebrew. The city, the capital of Galilee, was a refuge for Jews who fled Jerusalem after the Romans pillaged the city and destroyed the Jewish temple in A. D. 70. Weiss says the find sheds light on life during those times. "It shows that pagans who were a minority prayed in the center of the city and lived in harmony with the Jewish majority," he says. He says a church was built on top of the temple in the 5th century.

Under fire
Tahel Frosh, Ha’aretz 8/13/2008
Prof. Gannit Ankori wheels along a small black suitcase in the Jerusalem hotel lobby where our meeting takes place. When she talks about "the affair," which she is not at all interested in discussing, tears well up in her eyes and she chokes up. The suitcase holds all the documents and books, which she says vindicate her. In the past four years, Ankori, chair of the Art History Department at Hebrew University, has been involved in a transatlantic battle to clear her name of the allegations by one of the subjects of her study, Kamal Boullata, a leading Palestinian artist and one of the only living Palestinian art historians. Boullata, 66, who resides in the city of Menton in the French Riviera, contends that Ankori expropriated his research, which he conducted over a period of 35 years, for the first three chapters of her English-language historical survey, "Palestinian Art," which was published two years ago by Reaktion Books.

Palestinians Doubt Two-State Deal
BBC News, August 11, 2008, MIFTAH 8/12/2008
Israel’s strategy in negotiations could force the Palestinians to abandon their goal of a two-state solution, a top Palestinian negotiator says. Ahmed Qurei says they may instead seek a binational solution, that is a single state for Israelis and Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Israel fears such a this would spell the end of the Jewish majority state. Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. Its negotiators have always resisted full withdrawal from them. Mr Qurei told a meeting of the ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank that the Palestinian leadership had been working to establish a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. " If Israel continues to reject this and prevent us from achieve our choice, we will call for the alternative solution for the Palestinian people and their leadership - that is a single binationalist state," he said.

Report: Olmert offers Palestinians 93% of West Bank
Middle East Online 8/12/2008
TEL AVIV - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered the Palestinians a plan giving them 93 percent of the occupied West Bank, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday. The proposed border is at the heart of a broader plan that would compensate the Palestinians with the equivalent of 5. 5 percent of the West Bank adjacent to the Gaza Strip and a route connecting Gaza to the West Bank itself. However, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas would only receive the land and the overland connection once his forces retake the Gaza Strip from the democratically elected Hamas movement, which seized power in the coastal territory in June 2007. The proposal has been offered in the context of US-backed peace talks relaunched in November with the goal of resolving the decades-old conflict by the end of the year. The proposed agreement however would be a "shelf agreement" to be implemented. . .

PA rejects Olmert’s proposal that would allow Israel to annex key sections of West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority has publicly rejected a reported offer by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to withdraw from much of the West Bank while annexing swaths of Palestinian land around Jerusalem. "The Israeli offer is unacceptable because it contradicts Palestinian, Arab and international legitimacy," said Palestinian Presidential Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdeinah, commenting on the proposal, which was reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Abu Rdeinah said the Palestinians would accept nothing less than a geographicly contiguous Palestinian state, free of settlements, based on the borders of 4 June 1967. The proposal suggests that Israel annex chunks of the West Bank around Jerusalem, including Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest single settlement in the West Bank, and Gush Etzion, a large bloc of settlements adjacent to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Hamas rejects Olmert’s proposal to Abbas on future Palestinian state
Palestinian Information Center 8/12/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement expressed Tuesday its utter rejection of the proposed shelf agreement on the future Palestinian state which Haaretz newspaper said was handed to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas by Israeli premier Ehud Olmert, saying it refuses any proposals or agreements denying the Palestinian rights and constants. According to the Haaretz newspaper, the shelf agreement plan states that when the PA regains control over the Gaza Strip, which Hamas seized in June 2006, Israel would return to the Palestinians 93 percent of the West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip and would keep the remaining seven percent. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, stated that such Israeli promises are aimed at blackmailing the PA and stimulating it to get involved in confrontations with Hamas and the Palestinian people in Gaza, pointing out that the proposal. . .

Abbas rejects Olmert proposal
Reuters, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Palestinian Authority slams offer that would see Israel hand over 92. 7% of West Bank and all of Gaza as ’not serious’ -Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected anIsraeli peace proposal because it does not provide for a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, Abbas’ office said on Tuesday. Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas’ spokesman, told the official WAFA news agency Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan showed a "lack of seriousness. "Under the proposal, Israel would return to the Palestinians some 92. 7% of the West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip, according to Western and Palestinian officials briefed on the negotiations. Olmert’s proposal does not offer a solution to competing claims to the holy city of Jerusalem, and would only be implemented once Abbas reined in terror groups and re-established control of. . .

Army will defend Naalin officer in civil court
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Judge Advocate General may stand by Naalin regiment commander, soldier if civil suit filed against them - Will Lt. Col. Omri Burberg and Staff Sergeant L. , the soldiers involved in the Naalin case, receive legal assistance from the defense establishment if a civil suit is filed against them? An official from the Judge Advocate General’s office told Ynet on Tuesday that although the issue has not yet been discussed by the parties, the fact that the two were accused of a relatively minor transgression - conduct unbecoming - hints that the defense establishment will stand behind them, defend them and take responsibility for any outcome in a civilian court. Taysir HaybSoldier who killed peace activist denied appeal / Taysir Hayb tells military committee hearing his appeal that he sent taped apology to family of British peace activist Tom Hurndall, whom Hayb. . .

Haifa oil pipeline on verge of bursting
Dalia Tal, Globes Online 8/12/2008
The Haifa municipality wants the pipeline moved so a new Navy base can be built on the site. The Haifa municipality opposes replacing the oil pipeline of Petroleum and Energy Infrastructure Ltd. (PEI), which carries 30% of Israel’s oil imports to Oil Refineries Ltd. (TASE: ORL). The current pipeline is liable to crack at any moment, which would dump thousands of tons of oil into Haifa Bay and its environs. This would be a lethal blow to the area’s environment, and contaminate the beaches and infrastructure installations. The pipeline also serves as a back-up for PEI facilities near the Gaza Strip if they are damaged by a Kassam rocket strike. Haifa municipal officials told "Globes" that the municipality wants to move the Israel Navy base from Bat Galim to Kiryat Haim, where the marine outlet of the pipeline is located.

Tiberias: Sewage plant break-in causes water pollution in Lake Kinneret
Sharon Roffe-Ophir, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Burglars damage machinery, causing polluted water to flow into Sea of Galilee; several beaches closed until water test results arrive -Polluted water were spilled into Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) early Tuesday morning, after burglars broke into the sewage purification plant in Tiberias and damaged machines and other equipment. The Health Ministry has issued an advisory to the area’s residents, asking they refrain from visiting the following Lake Kinneret beaches: Galei Kinneret, Guy, Sironit, the municipal beach, Holiday Inn and Hashikmim. Once details of the contamination become clearer, the Health Ministry is expected to issue an amended advisory. . "This is a serious criminal act," said Shaul David, CEO of the water and sewage concern Mei-Rakat Tiberias, who was the first to arrive at the scene and stop the flow of polluted water following a complaint received by local police.

Leviev bro warned, with antitank rocket
TheMarker Staff, Ha’aretz 8/13/2008
Yisrael Mahlev, a 57-year-old Bat Yam resident, has been accused of threatening Moshe Leviev, the brother of tycoon Lev Leviev, with a pistol, in a business dispute gone criminal, News First Class reported yesterday. The assailant was reportedly disgruntled over compensation he believed Leviev owed him following his evacuation of a property acquired by Memorand Management, a Leviev company. The attacker demanded that an assessor be appointed to assess the value of the property, but his demand was shrugged off. According to the affidavit, the accused threatened to ambush Moshe Leviev with an anti-tank weapon if he dared complain to the police. According to the affidavit filed yesterday at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, upon leaving a ritual mikve bath in Bnei Brak last Sunday, Moshe Leviev was approached by Mahlev who asked to speak with him, claiming he owed him money.

Mekorot workers threaten water sanctions
Shay Niv, Globes Online 8/12/2008
Employees are threatening to disrupt the water supply to the National Water Carrier beginning next Monday. The workers committee of the Jordan River District at Mekorot National Water Companyare threatening to disrupt the water supply to the National Water Carrier beginning next Monday. The workers committee notes that employees of this district are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the National Water Carrier, which means that a strike could disrupt the water supply nationwide. The workers committee claims that Mekorot’s management unilaterally violated several clauses in the collective labor contract. The committee said the issue was not about a pay hike. The Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) declared a labor dispute over the in late July, which means that, by law, the Mekorot employees can launch their sanctions next week.

George Soros builds stake in Israeli technology firm
Dan Shohet and Shiri Habib-Valdhorn, Globes Online 8/12/2008
Soros now owns 5. 6% of Radware, whose share has fallen 45. 4% since the beginning of the year. Network application solutions companyRadware (Nasdaq:RDWR ; TASE:RDWR ) has disclosed a new party at interest, despite the dramatic plunge in its share price in recent months. The company notified the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last night that Soros Fund Management, owned by US financier George Soros, had become a party at interest in the company with a 5. 6% holding. Soros is investing in Radware after its share fell 45. 4% since the beginning of the year, with the company posting steeper than expected losses and revenue way below the analysts’ estimates in both the first and second quarters. The company currently has $148. 6 million in cash, or $7. 50 per share, compared with yesterday’s closing price on Nasdaq of $8.

Jewish-Palestinian gang of car thieves detained
Raanan Ben-Zur, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Police arrest members of ’sophisticated’ gang that stole Israeli vehicles, transferred them to Palestinian Authority -Police have detained Jewish, Arab-Israeli and Palestinian car thieves belonging to a gang that specialized in transferring stolen vehicles to the Palestinian Authority, Ynet reported on Tuesday. Among those arrested was an Israeli high-tech worker who allegedly provided the other gang members with car keys and alarm codes. Thegang stole only from Jews, and a car that was mistakenly stolen from an Arab was returned to its owner. Over the past two months Central District Police conducted a covert investigation against the gang, which operated mainly in the Sharon and central regions. The head of the gang was identified as 31-year-old Anan Masrawa from the Arab-Israeli town of Tayibe.

Dichter joins Kadima race, fires opening salvos at Mofaz, Livni
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 8/13/2008
Formally throwing his hat into the ring for the Kadima party primary, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Tuesday slammed frontrunners Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. "I won’t rain verbal bombs on Iran and cause oil prices to spike, and I won’t ignore the road map for peace, and I won’t search for irresponsible solutions in the form of shelf agreements with the Palestinians," Dichter said, speaking at a campaign rally in Herzliya. A large photo of Kadima founder Ariel Sharon was directly behind the podium. The former Shin Bet head, who was brought into Kadima by Sharon, said he joined the party because he connected with Sharon’s vision of creating a new type of politics. However, since Sharon left the political stage, he has asked himself where that vision went.

Dichter vows to restore Sharon’s vision to Kadima
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 8/12/2008
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter officially declared his candidacy for the Kadima leadership on Tuesday in a speech at Herzliya’s Air Force House, in which he compared himself to Kadima’s founder, former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Slideshow:While Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz decided to use Jerusalem’s Old City walls as the backdrop for unveiling his campaign, Dichter spoke in front of a large picture of Kadima’s founder, former prime minister Ariel Sharon. He spoke about fighting as a soldier under Sharon and recalled the conversation he had with him in New York when the former PM asked Dichter to join Kadima. "I joined Kadima because of Sharon’s vision of a different kind of politics," Dichter said. "I ask where has this vision gone? Was it lost forever the day Sharon had his stroke? We have been left with a party of posters and no content.

Dichter formally announces Kadima run
Amnon Meranda, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Internal security minister tells supporters at Hezliya rally Israel ’deserves more,’ lashes out against rivals Livni and Mofaz. - Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter formally announced his candidacy in the Kadima primary elections at a supporter’s rally in Herzliya on Tuesday evening, joining Ministers Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz and Meir Sheetrit in the race to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "We are all here to get across this message - Israel deserves more," Dichter told his supporters. Dichter touted his service to the country and berated his rivals for veering off the route laid out by Kadima founder Ariel Sharon. "Everything that I have given the State of Israel in my 37 years of service - does not hold a candle to what the country has given me. I connected with Sharon’s vision of a different kind of politics.

Sderot residents to receive welfare based on security situation
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 8/12/2008
After enduring almost a decade of nonstop rockets, explosions, alarms; Sderot, Gaza vicinity communities’ residents to receive monetary assistance in light of security-related difficulties - Inhabitants of Sderot and Gaza vicinity communities have endured eight years of Qassam rocket showers, explosions and alarms. A decision was finally made to recognize that people there are receiving welfare as a result of, "difficulties due to a temporary security situation," and not in light of, "failure to function" or because they "suffer from domestic difficulties," as was the case until now. A person recognized as eligible for social services, can in accordance with the assessment, also receive psychological services, economic assistance and additional help. The Ministry of Social Affairs noted that those being treated see this change in terminology as an important step and not just an official issue.

IDF tracker charged with aiding smugglers
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Military Police arrest tracker known for his illustrious military career, for aiding smugglers on Egyptian border. Evidence against him includes recorded phone conversations in which he is heard allegedly coordinating activity in code -A senior tracker serving in the IDF’s Gaza Division was detained recently by the Investigating Military Police, who suspect he has been assisting smugglers on the Israel-Egypt border. Police tapped the suspect’s cellular phone and listened in on his conversations for six months in order to gather evidence to build a case, and several months after they had finished, the suspect was arrested. The tracker’s attorney denied all accusations against his client. "If indeed these were serious acts, why did the IDF allow him to continue to serve for seven additional months after the wire-tapping was terminated? " The suspect,. . .

’We’ve reached a safe haven,’ say Israelis returning from Georgia
Tomer Zarchin and Zohar Blumenkratz, Ha’aretz 8/13/2008
Two hundred people fleeing Georgia following the outbreak of hostilities arrived at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday evening, having deplaned from one of two specially arranged El Al flights. Among the passengers were 30 newly arrived immigrants. Henrietta Damari, a resident of the town of Yehud, who departed for Georgia last Friday as part of a group sightseeing tour, said upon her return to Israel: "We’ve reached a place of shelter, a safe haven. "Most of the passengers were families with children returning from a shortened vacation. Damari said she and her family were forced to remain in their hotel rooms since Friday. Georgian refugees stormed the hotel where she was staying and banged on the door of her room, pleading to enter so as to take cover from the fighting.

Airlifted from Georgia, Israelis glad to be home
Yael Branovsky, YNetNews 8/12/2008
Hundreds of Israelis, some new immigrants land in Israel after fleeing clashes in Georgia; Meanwhile, Israel sends medical aid to war-torn region - After several terrifying days of hourly bombardments in Georgia, 210 Israelis and 30 new immigrants arrived on Tuesday night at the Ben Gurion International Airport from Tbilisi. Approximately 400 additional Israelis are expected to land in Israel later on Tuesday. Shlomit Dahan, who was on an organized tourism trip to Georgia when the clashes broke out, told Ynet: "We feel as though we’ve arrived in a safe haven. We went through a difficult experience. I feel that I was reborn. I can’t explain what we went through. We were in a foreign country, in a foreign war. "  Yardena Milo, who returned from Georgia described her unpleasant experience in Tbilisi.

215 Israelis and Jewish immigrants airlifted from Georgia
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – 215 Israelis and new Jewish immigrants from Georgia will land in Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport at 7pm on Tuesday. A flight on Israel’s national airline, El Al, is bound for Israel carrying the evacuees from the war torn country. Thirty new Jewish immigrants are among them. The Director General of the Jewish Agency’s Immigration and Absorption Department Eli Cohen will be on hand to welcome the new immigrants at 7pm, the Jewish Agency said. Eight other new immigrants will arrive on another flight at 9:30. [end]

Palestinian passports to be valid for 5 years, up from 3
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian ministry of interior will issue a new type of passport valid for five years instead of three, director of the Central Passport Department Yousif Harb said on Tuesday. Harb affirmed that the cost of a new passport, 35 Jordanian dinars (49. 50 US dollars) will not change, nor will the issuance procedures. The new passport will be in black instead of green. Speaking to Ma’an and the Al-Hayat Al-Jadida daily newspaper, Harb said passports will be issued locally in Hebron for the southern West Bank districts and in Nablus for the northern districts. Harb said the decision to make passports valid for five years came after the Palestinian government approved a request from the Interior Ministry to make travel easier for Palestinians. He said Hebron office would be open within one week, and residents of Bethlehem, Dura and Halhul can get their passports there.

Kuwait contributes 80 million USD to World Bank trust fund in support of PA
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Kuwait donated 80 million US dollars to the a special World Bank trust fund set up to support the Palestinian Reform and Development Program of Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Bank announced on Tuesday. The Bank says the funds will "help support the urgent budget needs of the Palestinian Authority (PA). "The PA struggled to meet payroll this month, in part because donor states balked on delivering funds pledged at an international conference in Paris last December. "This generous contribution is timely to maintain the momentum of reforms that are being introduced by the PA which will also allow the continuation of vital social services," said World Bank manager Juan Jose Daboub. Daboub signed the agreement with the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington, Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber Al-Sabah.

High-level Palestinian-Israeli security meeting in Jenin addresses obstacles
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Jenin - Ma’an – Israeli army commanders in charge of forces in the West Bank met with senior leaders of the Palestinian security forces at the Palestinian security headquarters in the city of Jenin on Monday. A high-ranking Palestinian security source confirmed that the rare two-hour meeting was organized to address the issues facing the Palestinian security forces and the Palestinian population. These issues include the so-called “wanted” Palestinian fighters who are pursued by the Israeli army, detainees, moving Israeli military checkpoints and facilitating Palestinian civilian life. The officials discussed extending full Palestinian control over the whole Jenin governorate after the perceived success of Operation Smile and Hope, the new US-backed deployment of Palestinian security forces in the city of Jenin.

Bar-On hopes to separate economics from politics
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 8/12/2008
"If the government doesn’t want the budget, there won’t be one, but, by law, I must present a budget. " "The Israeli economy is going through a difficult period. We’re facing a problematic combination of a global crisis and political instability. We have indicators that show that the situation in the West will cause slower growth in Israel," said Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On told the cabinet during the budget discussion. Bar-On continued, "This slowdown is already seen in unemployment figures and tax receipts. This political instability must be addressed. For several months, we stuck to the target of keeping at all costs economic policy away from the political game. "If the government doesn’t want the budget, there won’t be one, but, by law, I must present a budget. I don’t have the privilege of dealing in mathematics and calculating whether the budget will pass or not.

IEC workers end sanctions
Lior Baron, Globes Online 8/12/2008
Israel Electricity Corp. froze recent unilateral actions. The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC. B22 ) national workers committee today called off its labor sanctions after chairman David Zarfati reached a deal with IEC CEO Amos Lasker to resume talks on implementation of the company’s restructuring plan. IEC’s management announced that it has suspended all unilateral measures undertaken to implement the plan. IEC management and workers committee’s negotiating teams are due to hold their first meeting today. IEC’s management told the workers committee that, as a goodwill measure, it would not take action against the strikers or dock their salaries. IEC’s restructuring plan includes the retirement of 2,500 employees over the next three years, which will save the company NIS 500-700 million a year.

Palestine weather forecast: Tuesday
Ma’an News Agency 8/12/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian meteorological center expects Tuesday’s weather to be mostly clear. Temperatures will remain slightly above the annual average. Winds will be westerly to northwesterly and slight. The sea will be calm. Wednesday’s weather is expected to be clear to partly cloudy with a slight drop in temperatures. Expected temperatures are as follows (°C):Jerusalem: 20 to 31 / Ramallah: 19 to 30 / Qalqilia: 20 to 31 / Salfit: 20 to 31 / Nablus: 20 to 32 / Jenin: 24 to 34 / Tubas: 23 to 33 / Hebron: 19 to 30 / Jericho: 25 to 40 / Gaza City: 25 to 32 / Khan Younis: 25 to 32 / Rafah: 24 to 33

Sleiman embarks on historic visit to Damascus
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/13/2008
Roueida MabardiAgence France Presse DAMASCUS: Lebanese President Michel Sleiman heads on Wednesday for a groundbreaking visit to Damascus carrying an agenda loaded with thorny issues, including the establishment of diplomatic ties. The two-day visit is the first by a Lebanese head of state since a 2005 Syrian troop pullout from Lebanon in the aftermath of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The summit between Sleiman and Syrian President Bashar Assad aims to redefine ties between Beirut and Damascus, which dominated Lebanon for three decades until it withdrew its forces. The agenda features prickly issues such as a border demarcation, a review of longstanding accords, Lebanese detainees in Syria and the presence of radical pro-Syrian Palestinian groups in Lebanon, diplomatic sources said.

Lebanon cabinet wins parliament confidence vote
Middle East Online 8/12/2008
BEIRUT - The Lebanese parliament has overwhelmingly approved the country’s national unity Cabinet after a five-day debate on a controversial policy that upholds Hezbollah’s right to keep its weapons. The vote was part of a deal reached in May by rival Lebanese factions that ended an 18-month political stalemate — Lebanon’s worst crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war. Under the deal, the Hezbollah-led opposition got 11 members in the 30-member Cabinet, and the parliamentary majority got 16. Lebanon’s president named three ministers. Tuesday’s vote in the 128-member assembly passed 100-5 in favor of the Cabinet. Hezbollah and its allies have veto power on major decisions in the unity government. "One hundred MPs have given their confidence to the cabinet, five voted against and two abstained," parliament speaker Nabih Berri announced to the assembly.

Nuclear dispute on agenda for Ahmadinejad’s Turkey visit
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/13/2008
ANKARA: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will pay a two-day visit to Turkey this week for talks expected to focus on bilateral ties and Tehran’s nuclear program, a government official said on Tuesday. The trip was planned well in advance of the conflict in Georgia, which - bordering as it does on Turkey and separated from Iran only by small landlocked Armenia - is a geopolitical concern for both nations. Ahmadinejad, who arrives on Thursday in Istanbul, will meet in the city with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the official, who requested anonymity and gave no details. Israel last week voiced misgivings over Ahmadinejad’s visit, saying it was "not the appropriate time" for Turkey, its main regional ally, to host the Iranian president. "It is not a good idea to give legitimacy" to Ahmadinejad, moreover at a time when Western powers are. . .

US veterans of Iraq war on mission to aid refugees
Karin Zeitvogel, Daily Star 8/13/2008
Agence France Presse - AMMAN: Iraqi refugee Ahmad welcomed former US marine Captain Tyler Boudreau into his cramped apartment in Amman, stretched out a hand, and said: "We forgive you for invading our country. "Boudreau had served in Iraq’s Babel and Anbar provinces in 2004 - months after Ahmad along with his wife and two young children had fled the violence unleashed by the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. The ex-marine had now traveled to Jordan, which has become a safe haven to between 500,000 and 750,000 Iraqi refugees, with another former officer who fought in Iraq, army Captain Luis Montalvan. They had come, they said, to repay a debt they and many other veterans feel the United States owes to the Iraqi people. Bothered by the effect on the Iraqi population of the US invasion - as well as the impact on those doing the invading - the two former captains founded. . .

Jordan’s king in Iraq on landmark visit
Middle East Online 8/12/2008
BAGHDAD - Jordan’s King Abdullah II held talks with Iraqi leaders on Monday on the first visit to Iraq by an Arab head of state since the 2003 US-led invasion. The monarch went immediately on arrival in the Iraqi capital into talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki before meeting Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi, officials said. Discussions focused on means "to improve bilateral relations in all fields" and were "frank and positive," a foreign ministry statement said. Maliki’s hailed the ties between the neighbours. "This visit will open a new page in relations between the two countries which will help to maintain the stability and security in Iraq and all the region," Maliki said. Highlighting his government’s progress with eradicating "terrorists and outlaws," Maliki vowed to press ahead with the necessary reconstruction of his war-ravaged country.

IRAQ: Group of NGOs warn against ''premature'' refugee return
R. Al Hassan/UNHCR, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/12/2008
BAGHDAD, 12 August 2008 (IRIN) - The Iraqi government is encouraging the return of refugees from Middle Eastern countries by laying on free flights, but a group of over 100 Iraqi and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has issued a statement warning of the dangers. "A rushed and premature return process would have disastrous consequences both for the displaced and for the stability of Iraq," said the 8 August statement"Violence is still widespread, and basic services such as access to healthcare, clean water or adequate shelter are unavailable in many parts of the country," it said, adding that the situation in Iraq was still not conducive to the return of refugees and internally displaced families. Dozens of Iraqi refugees in Egypt recently returned to Iraq, with their travel expenses paid by the Iraqi government.

Like a Mirage in the Desert
Charles Knight, Middle East Online 8/12/2008
US Exit from Iraq May Recede Into the Time Horizon - Key advisors to Barack Obama have put forward an Iraq withdrawal policy which they have labeled “conditional engagement. ” In their words: “Under this strategy, the … time hori¬zon for redeployment would be negotiated with the Iraqi government and nested within a more assertive approach to regional diplomacy. The United States would make clear that Iraq and America share a common interest in achieving sustainable stability in Iraq, and that the United States is willing to help support the Iraqi gov¬ernment and build its security and governance capacity over the long-term, but only so long as Iraqis continue to make meaningful political progress. ” [from Colin Kahl, Michele A. Flournoy and Shawn Brimley, “Shaping the Iraq Inheritance,” Center for a New American Security, June 2008.

Beijing Olympics / Tennis hopes dashed as Israeli swimmers break records
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/12/2008
The Israeli Olympic tennis team saw its chances of winning a medal dwindle on Tuesday, as women’s singles players Shahar Peer and Tzipi Obziler and the men’s doubles team of Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich all lost their matches. Peer was defeated by her Russian opponent in the second round of competition on Tuesday, losing the first set 6-3 and the second set in a tiebreak 7-6. Obziler lost to her Ukranian opponent who took the first set 7-5 and the second set 6-4. Ram and Erlich’s match against their French opponents was stopped Monday due to heavy rain, but the pair ultimately lost 6-4, 6-4. Two Israeli swimmers broke Israeli records on Tuesday. Tom Beeri came in second in 200 meters breaststroke heat, and Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or also came in second in 100 meters freestyle heat.


Mahmoud Darwish: Palestine’s prophet of humanism
Saifedean Ammous, Electronic Intifada 8/12/2008
      It is impossible for me to express what I feel about the passing of Mahmoud Darwish. Like many Palestinians, I had grown up reading his poetry in order to express how I feel about whatever significant events happen to Palestinians. I turned to his writings to understand the periods of Palestine’s history that happened before I was born. If ever anyone in history deserved the title of a Poet Laureate, it was indeed Darwish, who spoke the mind of his people in a way I doubt anyone has ever been able to do for any other people. Today, I wake up missing my voice. The real travesty of Darwish’s death is that it revealed to me that he is no longer there to eloquently express to me how I feel about such travesties.
     An often underemphasized aspect of Darwish’s life is how he truly lived every single episode of modern Palestinian history, and lived in all the significant locations and periods of Palestinian life. He was born in 1942 in al-Birweh, Galilee, before the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine that made him a refugee in Lebanon in 1948. His father decided to return his family to Palestine in 1949, risking death by Zionist militias that had murdered countless Palestinians who attempted to "escape home." Somehow, Darwish succeeded in returning, and thus lived the years of his youth as a second-class Israeli citizen. He would then leave to study in the Soviet Union in the early 1970s, joining the growing Palestinian Diaspora in Europe. His political activism lead to Israel stripping him of his second-class citizenship, and thus returned him to the ranks of Palestinian refugees and the Diaspora. He would then live in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, getting to savor the experience of the homeless Palestinians wandering across the Arab World.

Shame On Us

Joharah Baker - Palestine, Palestine Chronicle 8/12/2008
      ’Yes, we are in trouble.’
     An uneasy calm has taken over the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City after a weekend of bloodletting that has, frankly, put us all to shame. Eleven people in all were killed and over 100 injured in one of the bloodiest inter-factional episodes between the two rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fateh since the former’s takeover of the Strip over a year ago.
     The fighting was ostensibly triggered by a ’security campaign’ carried out by the de facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip against those they claim were involved in the seaside bombing two weeks ago that left five Hamas military operatives and a six-year old girl dead.
     Since the bombing, Hamas has swept through the Strip, arresting scores of Fateh loyalists and closing down Fateh-affiliated institutions and offices. The mainstream Palestinian movement, which is also at the helm of the Palestinian Authority, squarely denies Fateh’s involvement in the killings, claiming Hamas is using the unrest to deflect efforts towards national conciliation.

Double Standards Guide Western Diplomacy

Stuart Littlewood – London, UK, Palestine Chronicle 8/12/2008
      ’Georgia’s military is modelled on the IDF/IOF, so heaven help its neighbours.’
     While the fragile ’freedom’ boats and their courageous volunteer crews steer a course for Palestinian territorial waters in an effort to break Israel’s illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, our western leaders are once again tripping over their double standards.
     "X has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people," lectures Bush. "Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century. X’s government must respect Y’s territorial integrity and sovereignty."
     On cue, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown chips in. X’s military action in Y "threatens the stability of the entire region and risks a humanitarian catastrophe," he chirps. "We are committed to working’ to ensure a peaceful and speedy resolution’ which maintains Y’s territorial and political integrity."

Tel Aviv to Tbilisi: Israel’s role in the Russia-Georgia war

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada 8/12/2008
      From the moment Georgia launched a surprise attack on the tiny breakaway region of South Ossetia last week, prompting a fierce Russian counterattack, Israel has been trying to distance itself from the conflict. This is understandable: with Georgian forces on the retreat, large numbers of civilians killed and injured, and Russia’s fury unabated, Israel’s deep involvement is severely embarrassing.
     The collapse of the Georgian offensive represents not only a disaster for that country and its US-backed leaders, but another blow to the myth of Israel’s military prestige and prowess. Worse, Israel fears that Russia could retaliate by stepping up its military assistance to Israel’s adversaries including Iran.
     "Israel is following with great concern the developments in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and hopes the violence will end," its foreign ministry said, adding with uncharacteristic doveishness, "Israel recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia and calls for a peaceful solution."

Painful historic miss

Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 8/13/2008
      At the dusk of his term, Prime Minister Ehud Barak is offering Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a "shelf agreement" on borders, refugees and security arrangements. In keeping with the principles of the Annapolis summit, the proposal will serve as the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian state, when conditions permit. Olmert believes the agreement is within reach and that it would improve Israel’s international standing. It would also allow him to leave behind a foreign affairs legacy, rather than be remembered as the prime minister who had to step down as a criminal suspect.
     Olmert’s offer - Israel’s annexation of West Bank settlement blocs in exchange for land in the Negev; a passageway between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; the demilitarization of the Palestinian state and the settlement of a majority of the refugees within its borders - is almost an exact replica of the ideas discussed eight years ago, at the end of the Barak and Clinton administrations. This similarity can be seen as an expression of a painful, historic missed opportunity. After all the deaths and bloodshed, the parties are returning to the exact same place and facing the same difficulties in coming to a decision.

Ministry refusing to cooperate with new Arab education body

Or Kashti, Ha’aretz 8/13/2008
      The founding conference for an Arab pedagogical council is to be held this fall, several weeks after the scheduled September 1 start of the school year. The purpose of the new, independent body is to formulate a comprehensive educational policy for the country’s Arab community. Among the issues on the council’s agenda are the history and civics curriculum taught in the schools, the textbooks translated from Hebrew and the high drop-out rate and low matriculation rate among Arab students.
     For 60 years now, the Education Ministry has conducted a policy of ’gap management’ - rather than gap solutions," said Dr. Ayman Agbaria of the University of Haifa and Beit Berl College, who heads the council. The ministry is currently refusing to cooperate with the new initiative.
     In a statement, the ministry said a decision was made recently to integrate Arab academics into the subject committees of its Pedagogical Secretariat as well as to appoint a committee to examine the educational achievements of Arab students in the core subjects. The ministry said some of the committee’s recommendations will be implemented in the coming school year, including changes in teacher training and emphasizing language acquisition skills starting in the first grade.

Unity has ensured low HIV and AIDS infection rates

Mel Frykberg, Electronic Intifada 8/12/2008
      EAST JERUSALEM, West Bank (IPS) - Palestinians from all ranks of society have pulled together to tackle the issue of AIDS, despite the increasing factional violence and chaos in the Palestinian territories.
     Hamas, which has authority in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in charge of the West Bank, and Christian and Muslim leaders, in conjunction with various UN organizations and non-governmental organizations, have worked together to ensure that the Palestinian territories retain a very low rate of HIV and AIDS infection.
     Simultaneously, further awareness and prevention are being proactively tackled.
     "We have implemented an ABC strategy [’A’ stands for abstention, ’B’ for beware and ’C’ for condoms]," Ziad Yaish from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) based in Jerusalem and active in AIDS prevention told IPS.
     Dr. Saad Ramlawi, chairman of the Palestine National AIDS Committee (NAC) and director-general of Palestinian healthcare and public health, told IPS that the Palestinian territories had recorded just about 80 cases of HIV since 1987, mostly men. Gaza accounted for 24 cases.

Did we learn nothing from loss and hardship?

Seth Freedman, The Guardian 8/12/2008
      "We will never share our homeland and Jerusalem with anyone else." So said Nadia Matar, de facto shepherd of her flock of acolytes as they marched around the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday night to commemorate Tisha Ba’av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar.
     Orthodox Jews traditionally mark the occasion by adopting an air of mourning, reading the Book of Lamentations, fasting and quietly remembering all of the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. However, in the twisted world of Matar and her supporters, the best way to deal with the pain of our historical suffering is to take out our anger on others, namely the Palestinians, in an annual show of force infused with hardline nationalism.
     Several hundred marchers gathered in the courtyard of the Jerusalem Municipality headquarters on the edge of the Old City, eagerly awaiting Nadia’s orders to begin their parade. Despite the unabashedly sectarian nature of the march – "The land of Israel for the people of Israel" was emblazoned across dozens of flags and banners – the authorities seemingly had no issue with the event taking place. Neither, apparently, did any opposition group – as I reported last year, the demonstration goes unchallenged by counter-protest.