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

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15 August 2008

Jordan restores relations with Hamas
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Newspapers in kingdom report of ’positive meetings’ between Amman officials, Hamas delegation, say Jordanian intelligence chief demanded Palestinian movement refrain from taking sides in Jordan’s political issues - The Hamas movement on Friday released a statement welcoming the restoration of its ties with Jordan, following a series of meetings held over the past weeks between a Hamas delegation and representatives of the Jordanian government. The Hamas delegation, headed by member of the group’s political bureau Mohammed Nazzal, met Thursday with Jordanian Intelligence Director Mohammed Zahabi in order to discuss the relations between the parties and the restrictions on the movement’s activity in Jordan. Jordanian newspapers reported that the meeting was positive and that the two sides managed to resolve many of the disagreements between them.

Five injured in non-violent protest in Bi’lin
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Four internationals and a Palestinian child were among those injured in the Bi’lin protest on Friday afternoon. This week’s protest was staged as a sports day that included dozens of children’s soccer teams, which came to play on the Bi’lin village field. The day was organized by the Popular Campaign Against the Wall, and the village sports clubs under the slogan of "no for the wall, no for the construction of the settlement. " A delegation of supporters from the group "the generations of Palestine" visited the village for the sports day, and watched a movie on the village’s experiment with popular struggle. Members of the Popular Committee presented a full explanation of the project of the village, then took the visitors to the site of the wall, which prevents local farmers from reaching their land.

News in Brief - PM: I never agreed to Palestinian refugees
Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
PM: I never agreed to Palestinian refugees - Israel will not allow the return of any Palestinian refugees under a proposed peace deal, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office announced yesterday. The rare official denial was issued in response to a Haaretz report that Olmert had proposed having Israel absorb 2,000 refugees a year for 10 years as part of an agreement to establish a Palestinian state. "The prime minister never offered to absorb 20,000 refugees in Israel," Olmert’s office said. "The prime minister again reiterates that under any future agreement, there will not be any return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, in any number. "There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials. (Barak Ravid) - Hezbollah TV broadcasts in Asia, Australia - Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station is broadcasting to China, Southeast Asia and Australia via an Indonesian satellite, an American Embassy spokesman said yesterday.

Abu Halabeyya: Israeli excavations reach foundations of the Aqsa Mosque
Palestinian Information Center 8/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian legislator Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabeyya has disclosed on Friday that the Israeli excavation works under the Aqsa Mosque started to threaten its foundations, which will jeopardize the existence of the holiest Muslim shrine in Palestine. According to Abu Halabeyya who also chairs the Quds committee in the PA legislature, an 800 meter-long tunnel was discovered under the Marwani mosque, which caused many cracks in the Mosque’s walls. In an interview with the Palestine newspaper published Friday, the Palestinian legislator also confirmed that the frequent Israeli settlers’ assaults on the Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the IOF troops pose direct threats to it, accusing the Israeli occupation authorities of denying Muslims in Palestine their right to pray in the holy shrine, and charging it of limiting the age category for those wishing to pray in it.

Israeli army invades West Bank cities and kidnaps 16 civilians
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
The Israeli military invaded the West Bank cities of Hebron, Tulkarem and Ramallah on Friday at dawn, as reported by local sources. The Israeli army invaded Hebron at dawn, driving miltiary vehicles through the streets and kidnapping a total of nine Palestinian civilians. In Tulkarem Israeli troops invaded nearby villages kidnapping four civilians and taking them to unknown destination. [end]

Haniyeh demands Egypt, Saudi Arabia lift Gaza Siege
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Prime Minister of the de facto government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh called on Egypt and Saudi Arabia to move swiftly and open the Rafah crossing that links Gaza to Egypt. The crossing must be opened, Haniyeh said, so the siege on Gazans can stop, and necessary supplies can be brought in to the area. The comment came during Haniyeh’s weekly Friday speech delivered from the Western mosque (Al-Masjed Al-Gharbi) at the Ash-Shati refugee camp near the beach in Gaza City. During his speech Haniyeh said that he would reject any intervention by Arab or other armies into Gaza. The suggestion has come from several fronts in reaction to the situation in the Gaza Strip following the 25 July car bombing and 9 August street battle that followed as de facto government police cracked down on Fatah supporters who they believed to be responsible for the blast.

Challenging the siege from Rafah to Cyprus
Rami Almeghari, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
On Sunday, hundreds of Hamas supporters, many stranded Gaza patients, students and travelers, took part in a rally at the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing terminal in southern Gaza, against the continued closure of the terminal for the past 14 months and calling on Egypt to reopen it. Organized by the ruling Hamas party, the attendees blamed the Egyptian leadership for the terminal closure, saying that this crossing, Gaza’s sole outlet to the outside world, should be opened under joint Palestinian-Egyptian control. Among the participants were two Palestinian mothers, Seham Mesleh and Um Hassan, who were stranded on the Egyptian side of the border before the Rafah border wall was downed in January 2008. "I have been taking my children amidst the dust and heat of the sun near the border with Egypt for the past seven months, hoping I could make my way back to Egypt.

Anti-wall rally in Al-Ma’sara prevented from reaching protest site
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Dozens of residents of the village of Al-Ma’sara south of Bethlehem were attacked with Israeli sound bombs, clubs and rifle butts as they tried to reach their protest site outside of Bethlehem. The group of Palestinians, Israelis and international activists were surprised to find the route to the construction site of the separation wall, where they hold regular non-violent protests, blocked with barbed wire and dozens of Israeli soldiers. After trying to continue towards the wall several protesters were lightly injured as Israeli troops stopped them from moving forward. The protest was held where the road was blocked, and three different speeches were given. A second speech was delivered in English by local leader Mahmoud Zawahra, who urged foreign solidarity activists to continue partaking in popular activities in Palestine, saying that he believed. . .

Weekly non-violent protest at Bil’in
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
The Israeli army dispersed the weekly non-violent protest in Bil’in village north of Ramallah on Friday midday with gas, guns and grenades. After the weekly Friday prayer, a group 300 internationals and peace activists marched ain solidarity with the people of Bil’in village. The protest was against the illegal wall being built on the local village lands. The protestors were also demonstrating against the Israeli killings of local civilians and the illegal closures and confiscation of lands and property. The protestors walked towards the wall with the intention of reaching the villagers lands behind it. Israeli troops attacked the protest by shooting CS gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and concussion grenades at the protesters. Dozens civilians were reported as suffering from gas inhalation.

Nonviolent Palestinian resistance undeterred by Israeli violence
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/15/2008
Ramallah - During a nonviolent Palestinian demonstration in western Ramallah, Israeli forces injured 15 people. Three foreign supporters were also arrested at the central West Bank protest against the Wall. The march began yesterday, Thursday, with dozens in a group of foreigners from Sweden, Spain and Italy, to denounce Israel’s construction of Wall and its settlement expansion. Residents walked the streets together during a three-hour commercial strike in protest of Israeli violence and land confiscation on the southern side of town. The Israeli military fired gas, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. Three of the 15 injured demonstrators have bullet wounds. Five in total are hospitalized. Even an ambulance driver is among the list of injured after succumbing to gas inhalation. Regardless of the violent Israeli response, the Palestinian nonviolent resistance remains undeterred.

7 injured in weekly non-violent protest in Nil’in
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
IMEMC’s correspondents reported on Friday that a group of peace activists including internationals and local villagers marched in a non-violent protest against the wall at Nil’in village. After the Friday prayer was over the protestors marched in a non-violent protest against the illegal wall being built on the village lands, and against the illegal closures and killing of Palestinians. A large number of Israeli troops halted the protest and banned the protestors from heading towards the wall. Eye witnesses reported that the Israeli army soldiers surrounded the protestors and attacked them, injuring seven. Two suffered severe head injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets fired by soldiers, and dozens suffered from CS-gas inhalation. All wounded protestors were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

Weekly peaceful protest at Al Khader village
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
A group of fifty internationals, peace activists and non-violent protesters marched in protest against the illegal wall on Friday midday at al Khader village located near Bethlehem. IMEMC’s correspondents reported that the protest took place after the Friday prayer at the village. A group of fifty non-violent demonstrators marched in protest against the apartheid wall being built on the village lands. Israeli troops stopped the protest. No injuries were reported. [end]

After Israeli assassination threats two young men submit themselves to Israeli custody
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Two young Palestinian men turned themselves in to Israeli soldiers on Thursday evening after their families received assassination threats from the Israeli intelligence. The two men from Nablus went to the Huwwara checkpoint, about five kilometers outside of the city. The checkpoint one of the most notorious in the West Bank and effectively cuts off Nablus from the cities to the south; men often stand in line for hours waiting to pass through, and cars without an Israeli license plate are not allowed to pass. Wijdan Sarawi, a former Palestinian woman prisoner told Ma’an’s reporter that her son 18-year-old Hamzah Sarawi and his friend 18-year-old Imad Darwish turned themselves over to Israeli forces. She explained that Israeli troops stormed her family house in Nablus on Wednesday morning, inspected the house and damaging parts of its interior under the pretext of looking for her son Hamzah, who was not at home.

Israeli assassination threats force two young men to turn selves in
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
Local sources reported that two young Palestinian men turned themselves in to Israeli soldiers on Thursday evening after their families received assassination threats from the Israeli intelligence services. The two men from Nablus went to the Huwwara checkpoint, approximately five kilometers outside the city. The checkpoint one of the most notorious in the West Bank and effectively cuts off Nablus from the cities to the south; civilians will often stand in line for hours waiting to pass through and cars without an Israeli license plate are not allowed to pass. Wijdan Sarawi, a former Palestinian woman prisoner told Ma’an’s news agency that her eighteen year old son Hamzah Sarawi and his friend Imad Darwish, also eighteen, had turned themselves over to Israeli forces. She explained that Israeli troops stormed her family house in Nablus on Wednesday morning, inspected the house. . .

PA security detain ten Hamas affiliates in the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas announces that Palestinian security services detained ten of their affiliates in the West Bank on Thursday. Hamas released a statement on Friday saying that Palestinian security in Nablus seized member of the municipal council from the town of Asira Ash-Shamaliyya, Misbah Al-Aghbar, as well as Nizar Antar. In Jenin district, said the report, security services detained Hijazi Abu Da’if, Humam Awad, Hussein Mahamid, Muhammad Dahbour and Yasin Radwan. From Tulkarem, the statement continued, those detained were Nidal Abu Dharifa, and Ahmad As’as, both from Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem. [end]

Hamas fights gas shortage by robbing cab drivers
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Hamas finds creative solution for gas shortage in Gaza: confiscating taxis’ gas tanks -With Ramadan just around the corner, the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip came up with a creative solution to counter the gas shortage in the Strip, expected to grow worse during the holy Muslim month. In recent days, Hamas police have been targeting gas-powered vehicles, and particularly taxis, in order to address the shortage. "Hamas police stopped me and confiscated my gas tank," one Gaza cab driver told Ynet. "They told me the gas is required for Ramadan now. " The driver said his colleagues also complained that their gas tanks have been confiscated on the same grounds. "If I’m a cab driver, and they take away my gas tank so that there’s enough gas for cooking during Ramadan, how will I be able to make a living and buy food this month? " the driver said.

Abbas’s henchmen torture old man from Nablus; now fighting for his life
Palestinian Information Center 8/15/2008
marks of torture on the body of Sheikh Majd al-Barghouthi who died as a result of severe torture From Anas al-Masri, NablusAn elderly man from Nablus is fighting for his life in a local hospital after undergoing severe physical and psychological torture at the hands of CIA-trained Palestinian security (PA)  interrogators The man, identified as Hajji Marwan K. Al-Khalili,  had a massive stroke Thursday during a "torture session" at the Preventive Security headquarters in Nablus. According to his family, the torture included severe beating, using plastic hoses, electric shocks, hooding, shaking, and sleep deprivation. Al-Khalili, 67, was abducted by PA security personnel at the Allenby border crossing on 5 August as he was returning home from Saudi Arabia where he performed Umra, or Minor Pilgrimage to Islam’s holy sites in Mecca and Madina.

Gaza multi-faction crisis unit agrees to continue with truce
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Cairo – Ma’an – The crisis unit created to respond to Israeli truce violations in Gaza announced that it will continue to abide by the terms of the truce, but requests that Egypt pressure Israel to do the same so the siege on Gaza can finally end. Daoud Shihab, the spokesperson of Islamic Jihad said on Friday that Palestinian factions met as the crisis unit to assess the two month long truce agreement between Hamas and Israel on Thursday. He added in statements to the Egyptian News Agency Al- Sharq Al- Awsat in Gaza that the discussions of the crisis unit are unified and all factions hope "Israel will fulfill its commitments towards the truce. " Leaders of the crisis unit will head to Egypt this week to address the issue with leaders involved in brokering the original deal. " We have a great hope," said Shihab, "that since Egypt has a great role in the region and in the World. . .

Fatah slams Haniyeh’s statements damning external intervention in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The idea of sending Arab armies into Gaza to end the shameful, situation there is a "possible and doable" course of action said Fatah spokesperson Fahmi Az-Za’areer on Friday. Fatah is open to the idea of requesting armies from other Arab states to enter Gaza and end the "coup" of the Hamas run de facto government, As-Za’areer wrote in a statement received by Ma’an. We are open to any suggestion, the statement added, that will "restore Palestinian blood," the statement continued, adding that "the Fatah movement should eliminate the gangs from the Gaza Strip. " The statement came in response to remarks offered by de facto Palestinian Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh after he spoke during the Friday prayer at a refugee camp in Gaza City. The statement expressed surprise at Haniyeh’s public appearance after almost a month’s silence (it is his custom to make public addresses every Friday).

Israel puts off evacuating illegal settlement
Middle East Online 8/15/2008
TEL AVIV - The Israeli government has decided to put off for the time being its promised evacuation of the largest Jewish wildcat settlement in the occupied West Bank, the defence ministry said on Friday. The ministry told the Israeli High Court the Migron settlers -- about 200 people living on private Palestinian land -- can remain until new homes are built for them on public land. "We have told the court we will announce within 45 days the new location of Migron," a ministry spokeswoman said. The ministry did not say when the settlers would be moved. In January the government told the court it would evacuate Migron by August. The government’s new plan to move the settlers later has the backing of the main West Bank settlers’ organisation, but the Migron residents, some right-wingers and anti-settler activists (for different reasons) reject it.

Settlers come and settlers go as reported by the Israeli Bureau of Statistics
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/15/2008
Jerusalem -- The Israeli government continues to give incentives to settlers willing to come from throughout the world and colonize the West Bank and East Jerusalem. An entire settlement in southern Bethlehem is comprised of former residents of Brooklyn, NY, reports the Freedom Tent campaign whose owner is trying to keep hold on his family land. However, there are many who have left in recent years. The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the number of people with Israeli citizenship living abroad registered in 2006 rose from the previous year. The office said in a report published that the number of Israelis who left the country in 2006 rose to 22,400 people versus 21,500 in 2005. On the other hand, the number Israelis who are returning to the country rose to 9,600 people, with an estimate of 12,800 shortly following.

Three years on, Anglos still in mourning for Gaza pullout
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
English speaking Israelis gathered last week to commemorate the 2005 disengagement from Gaza’s Gush Katif, calling the move anti-democratic. Some of the 250 Anglos who attended last week’s event at the Great Jerusalem Synagogue came to remember their homes in the Gaza Strip, which they were ordered to leave three years ago this month. Others came to consolidate a lobby of Israeli-Americans to prevent another pullout. The event was organized by the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel, and featured speakers who recalled their lives in Gush Katif during its heyday, the disengagement itself, and an update on the status of the evicted. Organizers announced two specific projects during the event: a fund raiser to buy school materials for 3,000 children of Gush Katif evacuees, and another to help approximately 200 former residents who cannot afford urgent dental care.

22,400 residents leave Israel in 2006
Gad Lior, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Figure higher than number of new immigrants who made aliyah in same year - Some 22,400 residents left Israel in 2006, according to new data released Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). This figure is higher than the number of new immigrants who made aiyah that year. Last summer, Yedioth Ahronoth revealed that for the first time in history, Israel saw a trend of negative immigration in 2005 and 2006, with the number of emigrants from Israel exceeding the number of new immigrants to the Jewish state. The official CBS figures now confirm the estimates and point to an ongoing trend that continued in 2007, when the number of new immigrants was reduced even more. According to the data, 2. 3 Israeli citizens out of every 1,000 are considered emigrants from Israel - people who have left the country and have been living abroad for more than a year consecutively.

Projectile hits Ashdod beach, CNN reports PRC has long range projectile, PRC denies CNN report
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli sources said that a Palestinian home made projectile was fired onto the beach of Ashkelon in the south of Israel Friday afternoon. No injuries or damages were reported, and no Palestinian factions have claimed responsibility for the attack. The Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC), however, revealed a new projectile that doubled the range of earlier weapons fired by other Palestinian factions. The projectile, also home made, was unveiled during a Friday field meeting held by officials of the Committees. CNN News Network said that its crew was allowed to take pictures of the PRC military training site as well as the site where the new Naser 4 with a range of 25 kilometers is said to be manufactured. PRC reportedly told journalists that the new projectile can reach cities like Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Barak to meet Fayyad in Tel Aviv to discus prisoner release
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an – A meeting on Palestinian negotiations and prisoners is scheduled between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister of the care taker government Salam Fayyad on Saturday. The meeting comes a day before an Israeli cabinet meeting that will see ministers vote on new criteria for the selection of names to be included in any prisoner release agreement. Israeli radio reported that the criteria are expected to be approved. In a July meeting between Fayyad and Barak in the king David hotel in Jerusalem Barak pledged to Fayyad that"besides our efforts to push the political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority we see the utmost importance in supporting the flourishing of the Palestinian economy with the guarantee of the security for the Israelis. " The last meeting between the two was on 8 August in Jerusalem.

Jordan to release four prisoner who were detained by Israel
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
An senior Jordanian official stated on Friday that the Jordanian government decided to release four prisoners who were transferred from Israel to Jordan more than a year ago during talks between Israel and Jordan. The four detainees, Sultan Al Ajlony, Amin Al Sane’, Salem Abu Ghalyoun, and Khaled Abu Ghalyoun, will finish their terms on August 20 and will be immediately released. The Jordanian Ministry of Justice officially informed the Israeli government with its decision. The four detainees were arrested by Israel in 1990 and were each sentenced to one life-termafter being accused of killing two Israeli soldiers. Last year, Jordan managed to achieve a deal with Israel to transfer the four detainees to its territories to continue their imprisonment there, but part of the deal states that Jordan can release them if Israel conducts any prisoner swap deal with any group.

New Israeli standard for prisoner release expected to pass cabinet meeting
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem –Ma’an – Israeli sources said that the Sunday vote on prisoner release standards should be approved. The new standards were set by a committee headed by Minister Haim Ramon, in accordance with the pledges Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during their latest meeting on the issue on 6 August. According to radio Israel at least 150-220 Palestinian prisoners will be released. Those selected are said not to "have blood on their hands;" A categorization that was the initial sticking point in negotiations. In addition to the 150-220 prisoners for release, it is expected that a number of long term prisoners, as well as those who are sick or old, or arrested before the Oslo accords in 1994 will also be freed.

De facto ministry of prisoners in Gaza organizes picnic for prisoners’ families
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto Hamas ministry of prisoners and freed prisoners in the Gaza strip will host a picnic on Saturday for the families of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. The trip will be at the seaside recreation house Al-Hurriya on the Gaza beach. De facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will visit the picnickers and deliver a speech in order to show solidarity with them. The de facto government ministry of prisoners and freed prisoners called on media outlets on Friday to spread the word of the Saturday event. According to the ministry, "the day’s activities will begin at 9am with a speech by de facto minister of prisoners Dr Ahmad Shweidih. There will be some amusement and competitions for children as well as breakfast and lunch for all picnickers. "A thousand prisoners’ relatives are expected to participate.

2 police officers hurt in Naalin riots
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Palestinians, leftists clash with security forces during anti-fence rally; Israeli photographer hurt - More violence in Naalin:Two Border Guard police officers and an Israeli photographer were hurt Friday during riots at the West Bank village of Naalin, near Ramallah. Officials said the policemen were hurt after being stoned by demonstrators protesting the construction of the West Bank security fence. Meanwhile, the protestors said seven of them sustained light injuries in clashes with forces at the site. The photographer hurt at the rally was said to suffer light to moderate wounds. He was treated at the scene before being taken to a Jerusalem hospital. Officials said they were looking into the circumstances of the incident. The latest violent protest at Naalin saw about 150 Palestinians and leftist activists violating a closed military zone order and stoning forces.

PCHR Weekly Report: 18 injured in Israeli attacks, including 3 children
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
In its weekly summary of Israeli attacks for the week of 07 - 13 August 2008, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that 18 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were injured by Israeli forces gunfire in the West Bank. 17 of these civilians were injured when Israeli forces used force against 3 peaceful demonstrations organized in protest at the construction of the Annexation Wall in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah. Israeli attacks in the West Bank:Israeli forces conducted 26 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, Israeli forces abducted 33 Palestinian civilians, including 10 children. In addition, Israeli troops positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank abducted at least three Palestinian civilians. In one example, on Thursday, 7 August, at approximately 00:00, an Israeli undercover unit moved into the center of Ramallah.

Khudari welcomes AI stand on Gaza siege, urges for more brave positions
Palestinian Information Center 8/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian lawmaker MP Jamal Al-Khudari who heads the popular committee against the siege has welcomed on Thursday the call of Amnesty International for the immediate lifting of the Israeli economic siege on Gaza Strip. In press statement he issued and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC, Kudari called on international and Arab human rights and legal institutions to intensify their efforts, and to take a more noble stands as that of the AI in order to rescind the repressive Israeli blockade on the 1. 5 million Palestinian individuals living in the tiny Strip. According to Khudari, the Israeli economic embargo on the Gaza Strip had paralyzed all aspects of life in the Strip, and led to the death of more than 230 sick Palestinian citizens, mostly children, women, and elderly people. He also pointed out that the oppressive Israeli blockade left tens of thousands. . .

Hamas urges Saudi-Egyptian summit to end Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 8/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has urged, on Thursday, the Egyptian and Saudi leaders to work for the immediate end of the unjust Israeli economic siege on Gaza Strip, and to swiftly start an inter-Palestinian national dialogue. The Saudi monarch, king Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, is scheduled to visit the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria on Friday to meet Egyptian president Husni Mubarak over a number of issues, particularly the Palestinian issue and efforts to end the inter-Palestinian division, Egyptian sources in Cairo confirmed. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesperson of Hamas in the Gaza Strip urged the two Arab leaders to pressure PA chief Mahmoud Abbas into accepting Hamas’s call for national dialogue, and to form a joint Arab umbrella to sponsor that dialogue, and to set a specific date for the start of the talks.

This Week in Palestine week 33 2008
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file || 12 m 0s || 10. 9MB || This Week In Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www. IMEMC. org, for August 9th, through August, 15th, 2008. Lead: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered new ideas for a solution between Palestinian and Israelis. moreover as the Palestinian ceasefire with Israel enters its eighth week, the Israeli army has cleared the soldiers who killed Reuter’s cameraman. These stories and more coming up, stay tuned. Nonviolent Resistance We begin our weekly report with recent nonviolent actions in the West Bank. IMEMC’s Rula Shahwan has the details: Nil’in On Friday IMEMC’s correspondents reported that a group of peace activists including internationals and local villagers marched in a non-violent protest against the wall at Nil’in village.

Nasrallah: Israel planning to kill Hezbollah leaders
Middle East Online 8/15/2008
BEIRUT - Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday accused Israel of seeking to eliminite the Lebanese Shiite movement’s leaders, in a televised speech on the second anniversary of the summer war with Israel. "We know you are planning to assassinate leaders of the resistance. . . but you do not frighten us," he said in the broadcast on the group’s Al-Manar television station. Nasrallah made no comment about Israeli charges that Hezbollah was rearming other than to say that "no one should expect us to say whether we have new weapons or not. " Israel’s 34-day summer war two years ago on south Lebanon and Hezbollah resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, a third of them children, as well as 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. The conflict destroyed more than 25,000 Lebanese homes and 50,000 other buildings, notably in the country’s south, before ending with a UN-brokered ceasefire on August 14, 2006.

Nasrallah on anniversary of 2006 war with Israel: their army does not scare us
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Israeli generals were responsible for Georgia’s defeat in its current war with Russia. His comments came during a speech delivered via television broadcast to mark the second anniversary of the end of the second Israeli war with Lebanon. During the speech Nasrallah claimed that "Israel exported failed generals to train Georgian forces. " He said that Brigadier General Gal Hirsh was one of the Generals sent to train Georgian forces; he was also the commander for the section of Israeli forces in the Galilee when soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were captured by Hizbullah fighters. The bodies Regev and Goldwasser were recently returned to Israel as part of a prisoner swap that saw the return of 190 bodies of Lebanese and Palestinian fighters, as well as five high-profile living fighters including Samir Quntar, captured in 1979.

Nasrallah: Barak and Ashkenazi don’t scare us
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah said yesterday evening that Israel’s defense minister and army chief’s "failures" in the past meant they did not scare his Lebanese militant organization today. In a speech marking two years since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah said: "[Defense Minister Ehud] Barak, who accuses the political and security echelon of lacking experience during the period of the Second Lebanon War - what can he say of his failures during his term as prime minister, particularly the hasty departure from Lebanon? ""I also remind [Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi] Ashkenazi of his failures during the period when he served as the general in charge of the Northern Command. They both failed then, and therefore they don’t scare us today," he said. He also made fun of former defense minister Amir Peretz, saying he could not remember. . .

UN agency reports progress on cluster bombs in southern Lebanon
Palestinian Information Center 8/15/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- The United Nations agency responsible for clearing mines in southern Lebanon said on Thursday that it has dealt with half the cluster bombs dropped by the Israeli airforce on southern Lebanon two years ago. The report of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre of South Lebanon, published on Thursday, states that an estimated area of 40 square kilometers of land became contaminated with hundreds of thousands of unexploded cluster munitions, which have so far killed 20 people and maimed 194 others. Whole villages were covered with unexploded cluster bombs according to the report, which posed great danger to the lives of the villagers and affected their economy as most of them depended on agriculture for their livelihood and with their field infested with these bombs there were great economic losses.

US claims Iran training Iraqi hit squads
Middle East Online 8/15/2008
WASHINGTON - Iraqi assassination squads are being trained in Iran by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and Lebanese Hezbollah for attacks on specific Iraqis, a US military official said Friday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Shiite "special groups" were being trained in Qom, Tehran, Mashad and Ahvaz in assassination and bombing techniques. "We have intelligence reports confirming Iranian-sponsored groups are planning to return back to Iraq and are targeting specific coalition forces, ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) and Iraqi citizens," the official said. The official said the information has been turned over to the Iraqi government "and they are taking the lead in handling the situation," said the official, who spoke from Iraq. The groups were being trained in "reconnaissance, small arms, small unit tactics, cellular operations, EFPs and other IEDs, RPGs and assassination techniques," the official said.

US: Quds, Hezbollah training hit squads in Iran
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 8/16/2008
Iraqi Shi’ite assassination teams are being trained in at least four locations in Iran by Teheran’s elite Quds force and Lebanese Hizbullah and are planning to return to Iraq in the next few months to kill specific Iraqi officials as well as US and Iraqi troops, according to intelligence gleaned from captured militia fighters and other sources in Iraq. A senior US military intelligence officer in Baghdad described the information Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. The officer on Wednesday provided Iraq’s national security adviser with several lists of the assassination teams’ expected targets. He said the targets include many judges but would not otherwise identify them. Iraq’s intelligence service is preparing operations to determine where and when the special group fighters will. . .

UNIFIL chief accuses Israel of violating Resolution 1701
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/16/2008
Maj. -Gen. Claudio Graziano, head of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Thursday accused Israel of unilaterally violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701, the cease-fire agreement that ended the 33-day-long Second Lebanon War. Ambassador Dan Carmon, head of Israel’s UN delegation, met with the UNIFIL chief on Friday over the remarks he made about Israel. Graziano made his comments at a press conference at UN headquarters in New York. He said that continued Israel Air Force flights in Lebanese airspace and Israel’s refusal to submit maps of areas on which it dropped cluster bombs during the war constituted a "permanent violation of 1701. "Graziano also referred to the village of Ghajar, which sits on the Israel-Lebanon border, as "a permanent area under occupation.

French FM to make four-nation Mideast tour
Middle East Online 8/15/2008
PARIS - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the European Union presidency, will head to the Middle East next Friday for a four-nation tour, diplomats said. Kouchner will travel to Lebanon, Syria, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and Egypt between August 22 and 25, diplomats said The minister’s visit to Damascus will be the first by a French government member since former president Jacques Chirac broke off ties in response to the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. France on Thursday hailed the decision by Syria and Lebanon to establish diplomatic relations as an "encouraging sign" for the region. The French foreign ministry said in a statement Friday it "hopes" the decision will "rapidly take effect. " The decision was announced during a visit to Syria by President Michel Sleiman, the first by a. . .

Hamas and Jordan continue talks, ending 10-year boycott
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas met with Jordanian officials Wednesday in the second such meeting this month. Hamas spokespeople say the meetings are part of attempts to open lines of communication in the Arab world. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Friday that the meetings seek openness among the Arab, Islamic and international communities as well as promoting "Palestinian legitimacy. " "Such relations enhance and strengthen support to the Palestinian people supports them as they face challenges around the Palestinian question," Barhoum told Ma’an. Asked whether the meetings between Hamas and Jordan were being brokered by any third party, Barhoum answered, "There are no mediators as there have been no disputed issues. They had their own attitude towards Palestinian elections [calling them fair and free] which we respect since it is not our policy to interfere in any country’s affairs.

Hamas meets Jordanian official, says frozen ties starting to thaw
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
GAZA - Officials from Hamas have met with a top Jordanian security official to try to patch up ties soured since 2006 by charges that the Islamist Palestinian group was planning to carry out attacks in Jordan. Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday that the contacts, involving two Hamas officials and Jordan’s intelligence chief, Mohammed al-Thahabi, could help reconcile Hamas with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah faction. "These are positive developments and a beginning which we hope will succeed. There are great causes and common interests between us in Palestine and our people in Jordan," Haniyeh said during Friday prayers at a Gaza mosque. Jordanian sources confirmed that intelligence officials had met members of the Islamist group in recent weeks but gave no details on what was discussed.

Palestinian journalists’ syndicate slams Israeli decision Reuters cameraman death
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem -Ma’an – The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate issued a condemnation of the Israeli military court decision to clear of guilt the tank crew responsible for killing Reuters photojournalist Fadel Shana’a and five others. Na’eem At-Tubasi, head of the Syndicate, has promised to take the matter to the United Nations in Geneva, as well as the international Court of Justice if the Israeli government does not re-evaluate its decision in order to comply with international resolutions and regulations. Fadel Shana’a was killed on 16 April while his media jeep was parked on a bridge filming Israeli tanks firing shells on a Gaza village. The tank then fired on the press vehicle and the civilians standing nearby. Eyewitnesses and a Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) report have affirmed that the car and Shana’a were clearly marked with "Press" signs.

Gaza reporters protest against Israel’s decision to clear soldiers who killed their colleague
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/15/0200
Dozens of Palestinian reporters in the Gaza Strip held a protest on Friday in protest to an Israeli court decision to clear the soldiers who shelled a Reuters vehicle and killed Reuters Cameraman Fadel Shana’a, 24, in April 2008. The protesters chanted slogans rejecting the Israeli decision and some of them placed tapes on their mouths in a symbolic move to show their rejection to all Israeli attempts to silence the reporters and the press. The mother of Shana’a participated in the protest and said that she could not protect her son from the Israeli aggression, and that this Israeli court ruling "is considered that knife that threatens to stab my other sons". Khalil Abu Shammala, head of Ad Dameer Institution for Human Rights, said that the soldiers who are responsible for killing Shana’a should be prosecuted and punished for their crime, and added that the Israeli occupation always endangers the lives of Palestinian reporters.

PCHR condemns Israeli response to death of Reuters cameraman by an IOF missile
Palestinian Information Center 8/15/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), in a statement on Thursday, condemned the official response of the Israeli military Advocate-General to the death of a Reuters cameraman and three other civilians, including two children, who were killed in Juhor al-Dik in the central Gaza Strip, on April 16, 2008. The cameraman, Fadel Shana’a, and the other civilians were killed by an Israeli tank crew, who, according to Israeli military advocate-general, Brigadier General Avihai Mendelblit, acted properly and will therefore not face any legal action for killing these four unarmed civilians. PCHR pointed out that "this response once again underlines the chronic failure of the State of Israel and its Occupation Forces to conducts proper investigations into the hundreds of crimes they have committed against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

Dome of the Rock ’erased’ from Temple Mount
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Religious movement’s Tisha B’Av pamphlet shows Temple Mount minus Muslim sites; group chairman says hopes al-Aqsa will be obliterated altogether, not just through Photoshop software - "On the eve of Tisha B’Av the serious question is raised whether we should take the opportunity and ascend to the Temple Mount as it stands empty, inviting us to build our dream house on it. "Whoever read this caption which appeared on the cover of the Maayanei Hayeshua movement’s latest pamphlet might have thought that this was a symbolic expression of the expected redemption on the eve of Tisha B’Av. However, those with a keen eye noticed that the huge picture of the Temple Mount which was spread on the cover page was missing the Dome of the Rock, and that the pamphlet "cleaned" the mount of all Muslim signsThe Islamic Movement’s northern branch did not. . .

Jaffa pool restricts entry of Arab residents
Omer Ori, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Jewish neighborhoods’ committees find original, controversial way to deal with violent incidents by local Arab pool goers, restricting their access to facility for one day every fortnight - Jewish and Arab relations in the city of Jaffa have always been tense, and Jewish residents’ committees of some of Jaffa’s neighborhoods have decide to do something about it, at least where the city pool is concerned: They rent out the pool every two weeks - to Jews only. "There was quite a bit of violence at the pool on the Arab residents’ part and we had to figure out what to do," said a source familiar with the subject. "It’s a city pool and we want people to come here with their children, have a good time and enjoy some peace and quiet. It got to the point where violence was the order of the day and police presence (at the pool) was a common sight.

The Voice of Mahmoud Darwish
Ibtisam Barakat, Middle East Online 8/15/2008
COLUMBIA, Missouri – On Saturday August 9th in the afternoon, I was getting ready to give a talk about Palestinian olive trees to a gathering of authors and thinkers at Keystone College in Pennsylvania. For the title of the presentation, I cracked the word olive in two, and turned it into O’ Live! But death mocked me. Shortly before I left my room for the talk, the phone rang. It was my friend, musician Saed Muhssin, calling me from San Francisco. His voice was deep like a valley, barely climbing up to speak: “Have you heard? ” he asked. “This is hard news,” he warned. “Mahmoud Darwish died today. ” My mind cried. My heart ached with all of the unhealed Palestinian losses that are recalled with each new loss—losses Darwish made sure to record in his poetry. I belong there. I have many memories, Darwish wrote. Memories that he recorded in at least 30 books of poetry and prose, translated into at least 20 languages.

King Churchill: new play by acclaimed Palestinian writer makes big splash
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an – A new play titled King Churchill: the story of the first Palestinian negotiating delegation, was released on Friday by the Palestinian novelist and playwright Ahmad Rafiq Awad. The play has been called an "adventure," where Awad almost embarrasses his readers by asking new questions and opening old wounds from an era that was lost to assumptions. In his review of the book Palestinian writer and critic Yahya Yakhlef – who also wrote the introduction to the work – described the work as one that presents some of the age old arguments about "defeat and victory, comparing negotiating [at different moments], confronting and revealing the power of culture as one of the foundations of strategies in the great negotiation policies. " The play, continues Yakhlef, "reveals the scandal of the historical climax [the White Paper that Churchill delivered to Palestine]. . .

Palestinian ''Super Star'' Murad As-Suwieti sings in Jericho
Ma’an News Agency 8/15/2008
Jericho- Ma’an – The young Palestinian "Super Star" Murad As-Suweiti brought in a crowd of 6000 fans on Thursday as he performed his first concert in Jericho. When Murad returned home from the Lebanese contest after placing third, he first apologized to Palestinians for not being able to bring them the joy of having him win, but promised to hold a concert soon. And as promised the only a few weeks after returning from Lebanon, Murad’s fans crowded the amphitheatre in Jericho, Murad’s home town. Among those who attended the concert were Dr Saeb Erekat , the Palestine Legislative Council member for the Jericho district, Hasan Saleh, head of the municipal council of Jericho and Amar Al-Akar, the executive manager ofPalestinian company Jawwal, the official sponsor of the concert in addition to head of the police department in the district and other senior officials.

Pacifists assail Israel Scouts for recruiting army enlistees overseas
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Local pacifists this week sharply criticized the Israel Scouts movement for recruiting ex-Israelis and Diaspora Jews to enlist into the Israeli military, saying its project "cynically brainwashes children into joining Israel’s foreign legion. "Over the past five years, the Garin Tzabar project, which the Israel Scouts founded in 1991, has seen a 500-percent spike in participation. This week, the final members of a record-breaking cohort of 160 army-age Jews from the West, predominantly from the U. S. , arrived in Israel. They are set to enlist in the coming weeks. Twenty of the participants of the program, which the movement runs in partnership with the Israel Defense Forces, the Jewish Agency, MASA and the Absorption Ministry, are new immigrants. The remaining 140 are children of ex-Israelis. "The cooperation between the Israeli military and Israel’s branch of the Scouts movement,. . .

IOA confirms: Not a single Palestinian refugee would return to 1948 lands
Palestinian Information Center 8/15/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Office of the Israeli premier Ehud Olmert has vehemently denied Thursday that Israel would absorb 20,000 Palestinian refugees into the 1948-occupied Palestinian land, adding that the stand of Israel was clear that no Palestinian refugee would be allowed to return. The official website of the Israeli premier’s office on the internet asserted that any future Palestinian-Israeli agreement would exclude the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees despite their number, underlining that such Israeli stand was made clear to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas. According to Olmert, "the future Palestinian state would absorb the Palestinian refugees opting to return, but for those who choose not to return, an international mechanism would be created to see how they could be compensated financially". The Israeli stand in this regard was similar to the position of US president George W.

It’s all been done before, and it all failed, says former ambassador about Israel advocacy projects
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Having just enjoyed the presentation of six new projects to improve Israel’s image abroad, the 150 Israeli students who convened on Wednesday at the Begin Center in Jerusalem seemed to be in a particularly self-congratulatory mood. They didn’t realize Alon Pinkas, Israel’s former consul general in the U. S. , was about to provide them with a reality-check. "All of these projects are nothing new," he told the crowd of students from all six major local universities and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. "The Foreign Ministry has been involving itself with such projects for the past 40 years. Everything here has been thought of already, and it all failed. " Pinkas was referring to pitches (see box) by graduates of a program by StandWithUs - a Los Angeles-based Israel advocacy nonprofit, which in 2006 started the Israel fellowship. . .

Unruly Israelis run wild in Cyprus
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 8/15/2008
More than 10 Israeli youths detained in Cyprus in recent days over reckless behavior - More than 10 young Israelis were detained at the Ayia Napa resort in Cyprus in recent days on charges of drunk driving and unruly behavior at clubs and hotels. Several other Israeli youngsters were held at the Larnaca International Airport after misbehaving and being rude to local police. Some of the Israelis were sent back to Israel. Israel’s embassy in Cyprus informed the Foreign Ministry that in recent days it has been receiving almost daily reports about Israeli groups being detained. In all cases, the youths in question traveled to Cyprus ahead of their military service. According to the reports, the unruly behavior starts at the airport upon arrival, with young Israelis swearing at local police who reprimand them for misbehaving.

Speak for yourself
Raphael Ahren, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Some Americans in Israel take issue with a new lobby group they say is speaking in their name. The American Israeli Action Coalition was recently formed "to serve as a united voice of American citizens living in Israel," according to its Web site. "I do not believe it is a possible for anyone to fulfill this role, particularly a self-appointed voice," said Hillel Schenker, vice chair of Democrats Abroad Israel. "These people are obviously to the right of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, both of whom want the talks to continue. "Schenker, who moved from New York to Tel Aviv in 1963, added, "They represent themselves, they represent a certain percentage of the American citizens living in Israel, but that’s all," he said. The new lobby says it aims to provide American citizens in Israel with "the long-needed ability to have a highly effective, positive influence upon American policy towards Israel and the Middle East.

Miki Goldwasser: We are one family, with a task - to bring home Shalit
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Over a hundred people attended the unveiling of the gravestone of Eldad Regev, the abducted Israel Defense Forces reserve soldier whose body was returned to Israel last month as part of Israel’s prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah. Among the participants at the ceremony in the Haifa cemetery was Noam Shalit, father of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006. Shlomo and Miki Goldwasser, parents of Ehud Goldwasser who was abducted with Regev, were also present at the unveiling, as Miki called for Israel’s public to unite in demanding the release of Gilad Shalit. "We are one family. We must carry on, despite the difficulties. We have a mission - to bring Gilad home," she said, adding "We move on with a great sense of loss, but we have to.

This year, too, the army will win
Reuven Pedatzur, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
"We do not have the luxury of cutting the defense budget," Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned this week. "We cannot permit ourselves to do this as a country and as a nation. "Barak’s statement was echoed by senior officers, who warned of the grave consequences of a cutback in the defense budget "at a time when the threats to the country are increasing and security needs are growing. "Just as it does every year, this year, too, the regular ritual is taking place: Senior members of the defense establishment are protesting against the cuts in the army’s budget and threatening ministers and Knesset members, so that nobody will dare to dream of deciding to reduce the defense budget. However, the discussion of the defense budget is based entirely on deception. The data presented to policy-makers by the army are at best "manipulative," to quote the Brodet Commission.

PM’s aides: ’No-show’ Talansky is unreliable
Tomer Zarchin and Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Morris Talansky’s announcement that he will not return to Israel for the continuation of a corruption probe into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proves that the state’s key witness is unreliable, Olmert’s associates charged yesterday. The American Jewish businessman’s decision was announced earlier yesterday by his attorneys in Israel, who were informed of it by his attorneys in the United States. He consulted his attorneys before reaching the decision. Talansky is the state’s key witness in what has been dubbed the "cash-filled envelopes" affair - suspicions that Olmert illicitly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Talansky over the course of 15 years. "This shows who Talansky is, how much he can be trusted and how much he can be relied on," an associate of Olmert’s told Channel 10. "Talansky is scared, because the main point of the story isn’t the money he transferred. . .

ANALYSIS / Talansky’s absence won’t save Olmert from indictment
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not want to declare himself incapacitated, so as not to give Vice Prime Minister Tzipi Livni an advantage. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz did not want to declare Olmert incapacitated, so as not to set a dangerous precedent for the next attorney general and prime minister. But yesterday, someone finally stood up and dared to declare himself incapacitated: Morris Talansky. Talansky’s story has been told in English, but Olmert’s, the more important one, will be told in Hebrew. In Olmert’s tale, the plot runs in a predetermined direction, even if the order of the chapters changes. Thus even if Talansky gives no further testimony in Jerusalem, it will not save Olmert from being indicted. The police promised the prosecution that the first batch of evidence against Olmert would be presented in early September.

Barak: Kadima heads incapable of making decisions
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Labor chairman continues to slam contenders in ruling party’s primary elections, says ’with all the challenges Israel is facing and the decisions which must be made, Kadima would have failed to even set a date for primaries without our interference’ - Defense Minister Ehud Barak continued Friday to slam the Kadima party. In a Labor assembly held at the party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, Chairman Barak once again referred to Israel’s ruling party as a "refugee camp," accusing its leaders of being incapable of reaching decisions and of making the wrong decisions during theSecond Lebanon War. According to Barak, "With all the challenges the State of Israel is facing and the decisions which must be made, Kadima contenders would have failed to even set primaries in their party without the Labor Party’s interference.

Likud officials seek alliance with Shas
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 8/15/2008
Senior party members hold intensive talks with haredi party officials in bid to prevent winner in Kadima primaries from forming new government. Meanwhile, sources in Labor criticize Barak’s remarks against Livni - Senior Likud members have been holding intensive talks with top Shas officials in a bid to prevent the establishment of a new government after the Kadima primary elections. Party sources said Thursday evening that Likud ChairmanBenjamin Netanyahu is keeping his distance from the political squabbles surrounding the primaries, and that most efforts are aimed at wooing Shas Knesset members and sources close to the ultra-Orthodox party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and involved in the Council of Sages. The talks’ goal is to convince Shas not to join the new government which the new Kadima chairperson will attempt to form after the primaries.

Another nasty surprise: CPI up 1.1% in July
Adrian Filut, Globes Online 8/15/2008
The Consumer Price Index has risen 3. 5% so far this year, and the annual rate of inflation is currently 1. 8% above the government’s target range. The July inflation figure is a complete surprise, with analysts’ projections way off the mark. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 1. 1% last month, double the estimates. This means that inflation over the twelve months to July was 4. 8%, similar to the rate in the twelve months to June. Since the beginning of 2008, the CPI has risen 3. 5%. The rate of inflation is currently 1. 8% above the government’s target range. Eight main items in the CPI rose sharply, prominent among them being : housing, home maintenance, public transport, cultural and entertainment services, fresh fruit and vegetables. Banking service prices rose 16. 2% following the reform in bank charges.

Phone company’s ’Einstein’ ads shelved due to Hebrew U. copyright row
Shimrit Sela, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Pelephone removed the name "Einstein" from its outdoor advertising in response to a request from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the rights to the image of Albert Einstein and the use of his name in Israel. The company will remove the signs themselves within a few days. The oversight is estimated to cost the mobile phone firm hundreds of thousands of shekels. Pelephone used the slogan "Everyone’s become an Einstein" as part of its current ad campaign for its Google search service on its mobile phones. The Hebrew University appealed to the CEOs of Pelephone and Google Israel with an urgent request to stop their use of Einstein’s name immediately. The university said in a statement, "If the companies do not remove the advertisements we will consider submitting an urgent request to issue a cease-and-desist order against Pelephone and Google.

Netanya policewoman keeping peace in ’pastoral’ Abkhazia
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Netanya’s Superintendent Shahori is the first Israeli security officer to participate in a UN peacekeeping mission. She has been in Zugdidi since June and is due to remain until December. The UN force there comprises nine officers from different countries, only two of whom are women. "We are here to advise the local police, but now we are doing all sorts of other jobs," she said. The area has come under fire during the current conflict, and there are Georgian forces and tanks on the highways and Russians stationed not far off. When she first arrived, Shahori said, the UN peacekeepers distributed children’s games and coloring books. "Now, we distribute water and bread, which are hard to come by. " "Because of the state of the roads, we are the only ones who can get around with our jeeps," Shahori explained, noting that the. . .

From war-ravaged Georgia to a Jordan Valley kibbutz
Eli Ashkenazi, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
The Mamashvili family - Vazha, 39, Irina, 29, and their two children - arrived on Thursday from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and went directly to their new home in [the illegal settlement] Kibbutz Massada in the [Palestinian] Jordan Valley. Both the parents and the children, 3-year-old David and 8-year-old Nicolazh, said they were very excited to be here. They had thought previously about immigrating to Israel, the parents said, but not under such circumstances. "They arrived in Israel with nothing, empty-handed. Even the few suitcases they managed to take were lost at the airport," said a kibbutz member responsible for the new immigrants. Moreover, Vazha left his parents and brothers behind and is worried about them, though he says they are all right. The children have already been placed in educational frameworks.

Jerusalem and Babylon / ’80% of Georgian Jews want to move to Israel - just not yet’
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
TBILISI - On Wednesday evening, Rossiko Harnavi stood at the entrance to the Israeli Embassy in Tbilisi waiting to receive the longed-for visa that would enable her to immigrate to Israel. After a while, a security guard told her that the consular section was no longer receiving the public, but she could come back the next day. The real reason for this rejection was that Harnavi is a resident of the capital, and at the moment, the beefed-up staff, which remained at the embassy well into the night, was concentrating on applications submitted by Jews who had fled from battle zones, many of them with only the clothes on their back. About 300 Jewish refugees came into Tbilisi this week from the bombarded city of Gori; most of them have already filed applications to immigrate to Israel.

Iran open to dialogue on nuclear stand-off
Middle East Online 8/15/2008
ISTANBUL- Iran is open to dialogue to resolve the standoff on its controversial nuclear programme, but will not give up its right to possess atomic energy, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday. "We believe that dialogue is the best way to resolve the issue and we are always ready for dialogue," Ahmadinejad told reporters here after talks with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. But negotiations had to take into account Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy technology, he added. "Those who do not respect that will lose themselves. There will be no change in the will of the Iranian people," said Ahmadinejad. Some powers suspect Tehran’s nuclear programme are a cover for the development of the atomic bomb, but Ahmadinejad said the allegations were a reflection of Washington’s "ill will" towards Tehran.

Tax dispute threatens future of National Defense College
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
A serious dispute over taxation between the Finance Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces is threatening the opening of the school year at the IDF’s most prestigious academic institution: the National Defense College. The Israel Tax Authority has issued a regulation stating that studies at the Defense College are a taxable benefit. This decision would require students to pay almost NIS 60,000 a year in taxes on their studies. The IDF is trying to appeal the regulation, but it is doubtful whether a compromise can be reached. Dozens of senior officers and officials from throughout the defense establishment study every year at the college - mostly from the IDF, but also from the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad and the police. The year-long program focuses on security issues, and at the end, students receive a master’s degree.

AG calls Friedmann plan ’ploy to devalue office’
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz yesterday charged that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s proposal to split the function of the attorney general, who is legal adviser to the government and heads the state’s general prosecution, is an attempt to crush the role of the attorney general and empty the office of any meaning, and therefore is a disaster. The proposal, says Mazuz, aims to create two weakened posts, both subordinate to the justice minister and the government, with no real authority and a clear orientation toward "appointing someone who thinks like we do. "Mazuz spoke at a conference on Friedmann’s proposal at the law faculty of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Last month Friedmann presented the proposal for a law to establish the split that was formulated, at his request, by attorney Dan Avi Yitzhak.

Iraq’s Sadr calls for pledge to resist occupiers
Middle East Online 8/15/2008
KUFA, Iraq - Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr on Friday called on his followers to "sign with their blood" a pledge to resist occupying forces in Iraq. Sadr urged "believers to sign with their blood an oath of allegiance to the imam Mahdi," in a statement read during Friday prayers by Sheikh Assaad al-Nasseri in the Shiite holy city of Kufa, south of Baghdad. The pact commits believers to "take part in resistance in all the Muslim countries and especially Iraq, militarily and ideologically, to the occupiers and colonisers," the Shiite cleric said. The pact must include a person’s name, country and details of where the signing occurred, and to pledge allegiance, a person must cut their thumb and leave a bloody fingerprint on the paper. "I think of all Muslims, especially in Iraq, as my brothers and I would never do anything to harm their blood, their goods or their dignity," the statement added.

US eyes diplomatic solution to Iran standoff
Middle East Online 8/15/2008
KUALA LUMPUR - The United States will seek a diplomatic solution with Iran over its controversial nuclear plan, a top US envoy said Friday, as he urged Tehran to play "a responsible role" in the region. "The United States is committed to securing a diplomatic resolution with Iran on the nuclear issue," Sada Cumber, US special envoy to the 57-member Organisation of The Islamic Conference (OIC) told reporters. "Once that is resolved, there will be enough opportunities with Iran, through the OIC and others, to work on other areas," he added. Cumber described Iran as an important country in the Middle East with considerable influence among Muslims. "We want Iran to play a responsible role in the region and it is an important country," he said. Cumber said the US was committed to ensuring peace in the region.


When the Boats Arrive in Gaza
Stuart Littlewood – London, UK, Palestine Chronicle 8/15/2008
      Volunteers from around the world are making an effort. Can we hope for the same from those who claim to govern?
     Is the Palestinian Authority for or against the siege?
     While others put on a show of solidarity with the brave ’freedom’ voyagers as they set sail to break the siege of Gaza, where is the voice of the PA?
     The siege has been going on for more than 2 years but here in the UK I have heard the Palestinian Delegation speak only once of the injustice, suffering and devastation. As far as I know, these ’official’ representatives of the Palestinian people have said nothing in the media about the freedom boats, which potentially present the most important challenge to the Israeli occupation for a very long time.
     Volunteers are doing in their small way what the EU -- if it had a shred of moral decency -- should have done massively with cargo ships, helicopters and the necessary armed escorts when this offence against every code of humanity was first committed. The slightest interference by Israel, or attempt to re-seal Gaza’s borders, should have resulted in the EU-Israel Agreements being torn up and consigned to the wastepaper basket of history.

Poem: At the Israeli Checkpoint

Sam Hamod, Palestine Chronicle 8/15/2008
      In memory of Mahmoud Darwish, the greatest of Arab Poets.
     At the checkpoint, the
     Israeli private asked me my name, I told
     her, my name is
     Zaitoun, she asked, what does that mean,
     I told her 4,000 year old trees, she laughed,
     asked for my real name, I told her, "Dumm," what?
     i said, it means blood, she said, that’s no name, I told her
     blood of my grandfather, my father, my uncle
     and even mine if necessary, she bridled, called the corporal,
     he came running up, said, what kind of threat is that,
     I said, it’s no threat, it’s just a fact,
     he called the sergeant, he came up and hit me before he spoke,
     my mouth bled, I told him, this is the blood I mean, that same
     blood, you are afraid of, it’s over 4000 years old, see how dark it is
     he called the lieutenant, who asked why my mouth was bleeding....

Fleeting words

Haim Gouri, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
      The death of poet Mahmoud Darwish, in an American hospital, far away from his land, grieves me. This man and his multifaceted poetry has occupied me since the 1960s. Even then he was already known as a young member of the group of poets and writers from Maki - the binational Israel Communist Party - whose work appeared in the party newspaper, Al-Ittihad, and its literary supplement, Al-Jadid. There you found names such as Emile Habibi, Saliba Hamis, Dr. Emile Toma, Samih al-Qasim, Mahmoud Darwish, Salem Jubran, "and others."
     In those years a few encounters took place between Arab and Hebrew artists, which, if they did not offer a balm to the wounds of our land, stimulated mutual curiosity and forged personal ties that proved to be enduring. I remember one such instance in Haifa, in 1970, which still haunts me. My wife and I came from Jerusalem for a protest meeting held in a cinema in the lower part of the city. On the agenda: a military censor order demanding that Arab poets submit their manuscripts for review prior to publication! I no longer remember everyone who spoke. One of the speakers was Amos Kenan. We told a few of our Arab colleagues that despite the dispute between us, we shared their protest against a directive which we perceived as insulting, foolish and pointless.

Sixty Minutes Becomes Israeli-Occupied Television

Ira Glunts, NY, US, Palestine Chronicle 8/15/2008
      The Sixty Minutes segment is not a news report, but a paean to ’The Israeli Air Force’.
     As Philip Giraldi points out in his article "America’s Israeli-Occupied Media,"(1) the Israeli government is continuing its campaign to get the U.S. military to attack Iran or at least give a "green light" for a massive Israeli bombing strike. In pursuit of this reckless and ill-conceived plan Tel Aviv has a willing co-conspirator in the mainstream American media, who will present the Israeli world-view without criticism or qualification.
     The recent CBS broadcast (2) of the Sixty Minutes segment "The Israeli Air Force" (3) provides a rather startling example of how the American news media will permit the Israelis to present their point of view to the exclusion of any competing narrative. The report, which is presented by correspondent Bob Simon, first aired on April 27 and was rebroadcast on August 10.
     The message of "The Israeli Air Force" is clearly and succinctly communicated by the CBS report as: Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence and to the rest of the world; Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon soon; when it does it will use it to destroy Israel. Thus it is apparent that if Iran does not quickly agree with the demands of Western powers to cease its uranium enrichment program, the Israeli Air Force can and will attack and incapacitate the Iranian nuclear facilities.

Family Politics and the New Gaza Crisis

Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle 8/15/2008
      Clan militants became a necessary phenomenon to protect each family’s interests.
     Yet more haunting images of blindfolded, stripped down Palestinian men being contemptuously dragged by soldiers in uniform from one place to another. Yet more footage of bloodied men lying on hospital beds describing their ordeals to television reporters who have heard this story all too often. Yet more news of Palestinian infighting, tit-for-tat arrests, obscene language and embarrassing behaviour from those who have elected themselves -- or were elected -- to represent the Palestinian people.
     Once again, the important story that ought to matter the most -- that of a continually imposing and violent Israeli occupation -- is lost in favour of Palestinian-infused distractions, deliberate or not.
     In Gaza, the story of the Israeli siege, which represents one of today’s most catastrophic man-made disasters, is relegated in favour of renewed infighting between Hamas and Fatah, whether directly or by proxy. As always, the Gaza story is largely told with biased and presumptive undertones: to indict one party as terrorist and extremist and to hail another as a champion of liberty and a defender of democracy. Such nonsensical conclusions cannot be further from the truth as in the latest clashes between Palestinian police under the command of the deposed Hamas government and militants from the Helis family, concentrated mostly in Gaza City.

’We are running out of time’

Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
      At the end of my conversation with Sari Nusseibeh at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, the highly respected president of Al-Quds University - and cosignatory of "The People’s Choice" [see box below], a peace plan that he formulated with former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon - told me he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the Palestinian residents of the city ran for mayor in the municipal elections in November. The candidate would not run as a representative of Jerusalem per se, Nusseibeh stressed. Rather, he would be running on behalf of all Palestinians in the occupied territories.
     "Why don’t you do it?" I blurt out. The 59-year-old son of Anwar Nusseibeh, a Jordanian government minister, does not smile. "It’s possible," says the professor of Islamic philosophy, who briefly replaced Faisal Husseini a few years ago as the top Palestinian official in East Jerusalem.
     "Anything is possible," he adds without batting an eyelid.
     Nusseibeh’s previous contention that the Oslo "house of cards" had begun to collapse was further confirmed by this week’s report in Haaretz regarding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s latest peace offering (Israel would annex 7 percent of the West Bank and compensate the Palestinians with territory in the Negev, which would be equivalent to 5.5 percent of West Bank land; an agreement on the future of Jerusalem would be postponed to a later date; there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel; and the entire plan would be implemented after Hamas is removed from power in the Gaza Strip. -- See also: The plan''s terms

It stinks

Yossi Sarid, Ha’aretz 8/15/2008
      What is actually new about that invention that scatters demonstrations and is called "The Skunk"? It has a "source in the Border Police" waxing lyrical: "Here the effect is tremendous. People can’t stand themselves and they leave the site." For over 40 years we’ve been stinking, in the words of the Border Policeman, we can still tolerate ourselves and we have yet to leave.
     Colonel Amir Baram just ended his term as commander of the Samaria Brigade. In a summarizing report, he identifies Daniella Weiss of Kedumim and Gabi Ben Zimra of Ma’aleh Levona as "major provocateurs," and warns of the harm caused by the gangs of settlers, which is steadily escalating without anyone stopping it.
     In contrast, another brigade commander, one Udi Ben Moha, who began his tour of duty three months ago, identifies the provocateurs elsewhere; he wakes up to work on the left side: Were it not for the presence of the leftist groups in Hebron and its satellites, in his opinion, the city of apartheid would be a model of coexistence.
     How is it that such a huge gap separates two brigade commanders? The occupation is the same occupation, the Palestinians are the same Palestinians and the settlers are the same settlers. There is no real difference between the strong-armed men in Yitzhar and the empty-headed ones in Hebron. The explanation is simple: One brigade commander is leaving the territories, the other is just beginning.

HLT: Israeli forces destroy and we rebuild

Osama Awwad, Palestine News Network 8/15/2008
      Israeli forces uprooted tens of trees and demolished a home in Wad Rahal in southern Bethlehem. This is not new for the Israelis, but this time a group of nonviolent demonstrators rebuilt the house and replanted trees.
     The keys have been handed back to the family.
     The reasons for Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes range from confiscating the land for the Wall, for settlements, or for declaring an area where ones house is a "closed military zone." Also a "lack of permit" is often invoked in certain areas, particularly East Jerusalem. But most say the real reason is for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
     But the Palestinian nonviolent resistance continues to fight back. A small part of the sun rose on this home today after the Bethlehem-based NGO Holy Land Trust rebuilt it. They had their own crew and also many foreign volunteers with them. Even if it is one house at a time out of thousands, then they will do it.

Imagine if the Kids Took Over

Khaled Diab, Middle East Online 8/15/2008
      BRUSSLES – A couple of months ago, as Israelis celebrated 60 years of statehood and Palestinians marked six decades of dispossession, I wondered whether there would ever be peace between the two peoples.
     Rather than dwell on the depressing present or venture into the minefield of the past, I decided to look forward in time, to a fictional future where peace prevailed.
     Commenting on my article, Hitham Kayali of OneVoice, a grassroots movement which has gained the written support of 600,000 Palestinians and Israelis for a two-state solution said: "Only [by using their imagination] will people understand why compromises should be made."
     I was pleased to learn from Kayali that Israeli and Palestinian schoolchildren have been involved in a similar experiment: using their imagination in an essay contest to dream of what life could be like, 10 years from now, in a peaceful 2018.