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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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17 August 2008

Israel to release 200 Palestinians as Rice visits Middle East
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/18/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel’s Cabinet voted Sunday to release about 200 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to President Mahmoud Abbas aimed at bolstering slow-moving US-backed Middle East peace talks. The August 25 release will coincide with a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice aimed at encouraging the negotiations, which have shown little visible sign of progress since they were revived in November. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev called the move a "confidence-building measure" toward Abbas, adding: "We hope the release will help strengthen the peace process. " The list, which will be considered for final approval by a ministerial committee on Monday, will include at least two veteran prisoners implicated in deadly attacks on Israelis in the 1970s, a senior government official told AFP. They will be a rare exception to Israel’s general. . .

VIDEO - In village with no power, Bedouin family fights to keep baby’s respirator working
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha'aretz 8/18/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for August 17, 2008. Eight-month-old Shaimah was born with a rare brain defect. She cannot breathe on her own, and must be hooked up to a respirator 24 hours a day. The fight for Shaima's life takes isn't the only struggle her family is conducting. On a second front - they face the state of Israel, which refuses to hook their village up to electricity. The village of Al-Bat is one of roughly 45 Bedouin villages unrecognized by the state. Like the others, it is not supplied with running water, electricity, or other basic services. Related articles. . . -- See also: Poll: 70% of youth don''t think Bedouin deserve same rights as Jews and No health care for 80% of Bedouin women in unrecognized towns

IOF navy boat detains Palestinian fishermen for 8 hours
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Sunday detained two Palestinian fishermen off the northern Gaza Strip coast while fishing at sea, forced them to strip then detained them for 8 hours. Dr. Hassan Azzam, the director of fishery in the PA ministry of agriculture, said that the IOF troops detained Mohammed Al-Asy and Abdul Karim Al-Nahhal after forcing them to strip then to swim towards the navy boat. They were handcuffed and detained for 8 hours before allowing them to go ashore and forced them to walk for one kilometer without any clothes on except their underwear, Azzam said, noting that the IOF navy boat confiscated the fishing boat. He said that the incident was the second most prominent violation of the calm against fishermen this week. He recalled that IOF navy boats fired at and sank a fishing boat owned by Ismail Al-Bardawil along with all fishing tools on 10/8/2008.

VIDEO - Supreme Court releases settlers charged with assaulting Palestinian
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/17/2008
(Video) Supreme Court orders release of settlers who kidnapped, severely beat Palestinian farmer from police custody, saying house arrest far from their Hebron area will reduce risk they will commit similar crimes - VIDEO -The Supreme Court reversed Sunday a previous ruling by the Beersheba District Court and determined that the three Jewish settlers from the south Mount Hebron area who are accused of kidnapping and beating a Palestinian will be placed under house arrest. Incident at Asael outpost (Video: Assaf and Efrat, ISM) The presiding judge said the decision to place the settlers under house arrest in Beersheba and Jerusalem was based on the fact that their motive for committing the act was "ideological" and therefore relocating them from the West Bank would reduce the risk that they would commit similar crimes in the future.

Israeli forces storm three towns in northern tip of West Bank
Ma'an News Agency 8/17/2008
Jenin — Ma'an — Israeli forces stormed the village of Silat Adh-Dhahr in south west Jenin on Sunday morning along with villages of Ti'nnik and Zububa north west of the city where the patrols searched agricultural lands. The villages are clustered in the northern most point of the West Bank, near Israel’s Salem military training compound. Last week several dunums of agricultural land and olive groves were destroyed to enlarge the area. Palestinian sources say that Israeli forces stormed the village of Zububa at 2:30am Sunday morning and searched agricultural lands near the separation wall. In Silat Adh-Dhahr and Ti’nnik, Israeli patrols marched the streets with no detentions reported.

Livni helps secure blue ID card for daughter of top Palestinian official
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
It emerged on Sunday that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni may have helped the daughter of senior Palestinian peace negotiator Ahmed Qureia obtain a blue identification card, which promises her rights afforded by Israel to very few Palestinians. The identification cards guarantee national insurance and freedom of movement to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Qureia's daughter Mona is married to an East Jerusalem resident, but under Israel's Family Reunification Law, Palestinians are not automatically eligible for those rights even if they marry an ID cardholder. Livni and Qureia head Israeli and Palestinian teams that meet every few days in an attempt to negotiate a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Foreign Ministry confirmed it had transferred Qureia's request on behalf of his daughter to the Interior Ministry, which then assumed responsibility for the file.

Israeli sources: Israel may attack "Free Gaza" boats
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/17/0200
As a group of non-violent activists and journalists from Israel, the U. S. , Europe and around the world set sail from Cyprus to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza by boat, Israeli officials have told Israeli media sources that they will not hesitate to use force against the boats. Tom Nelson, a lawyers from Portland, Oregon, USA, and one of the participants in the 'Free Gaza' movement, told the IMEMC that the group is simply trying to bring much-needed medical and food supplies into the besieged Gaza Strip. Nelson added that the participants in the boat action are all veterans of the non-violent movement in Palestine, and most have had the experience of being shot at by Israeli forces while engaging in non-violent action in the past. According to the Israeli media, Israeli military officials stated that the Israeli Navy would be "within its rights" to use force against the boats.

Threats to Free Gaza Ship illuminate Israeli stance on mission
Ma'an News Agency 8/17/2008
Bethlehem — Ma'an — Reports released Sunday give the first indications as to what the Israeli response to the Free Gaza Ship will be. Reports claim that Israel is pressuring Cyprus, from where the Free Gaza ship will launch, to halt the voyage. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has also voiced concern over the project. Initially scheduled to set sail on 5 August, the ship has been delayed; waiting for the right meteorological, and political conditions for the small craft to embark on their voyage. Until now it is unclear what the exact nature of the Israeli response to the Free Gaza ship will be. On Sunday, however, Israeli press articles hinted at the response that might be expected. One newspaper reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that it "is within its [the foreign ministry’s] rights to use force against the seafarers. Allowing the ships to reach the Gaza coastline could create a dangerous precedent," the article continued.

Hamas appreciates attempt to break Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Sunday expressed deep appreciation for the parties that organized the sea voyage to break the Gaza siege and called on others to follow suit. The Movement in a statement on Sunday welcomed any effort by individuals, societies or institutions to launch such positive and constructive initiatives that would send a clear message to the world to save the Palestinian people and break the oppressive siege imposed by Israel and the American administration as a collective punishment against the Palestinians for exercising their democratic rights. Hamas asked the international activists coming aboard the vessels to see for themselves the conditions of the Palestinians under the oppressive siege and aggression over the past few months and the extent of devastation and pain inflicted on them as a result of the "criminal American and Zionist policies".

Dozens choke on tear gas as protest is dispersed in Ni'lin
Ma'an News Agency 8/17/2008
Ramallah — Ma'an – Dozens of civilians choked on tear gas Sunday when Israeli forces dispersed a peaceful protest that began in the town of Ni’lin north of Ramallah. The protest was organized by the Ni’lin Committee Against the wall. The committee called for demonstrators to gather in the center of the town and move as a group towards the construction site of the Israeli separation wall, which cuts off the residents of the town from their ancestral land. The day of the protest construction on the separation wall was ongoing. Bulldozers were digging a path for the wall, and Israeli soldiers stood guard at the ready for protesters. The group went to the southern end of the construction site, where they stood in the way of the construction equipment in order to delay the creation of the wall on their lands.

Local struggles continue in al-Masra, Bil’in and Ni’lin
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 8/16/2008
In Ni’lin, the demonstration began with Friday prayers. Occupation border guards, soldiers and several attack dogs, surrounded the threatened village land. Villagers had been prohibited from entering the area, but families and farmers insisted on holding prayers in the area. At the end of the prayers, but before the demonstration could even begin, Occupation forces attacked the demonstration with tens of tear gas bombs. Two jeeps have been equipped with cannons that are capable of firing 36 projectiles at a time, and these cannons rained tear gas onto the group gathered for prayers. A number of children who were participating in the prayers were severely affected by the gas, which spread throughout the village. Clashes between the military and villagers resulted in the injury of seven persons, two of whom were evacuated to the hospital in Ramallah.

Military judge: Naalin arrest unfounded
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Military court orders release of father of girl who documented IDF soldier firing rubber bullets at bound Palestinian in Naalin, accuses prosecution, police of being unprofessional. Father’s attorney: ’Release proves arrest was out of vengeance’ - The Judea and Samaria Military Court of Appeals on Sunday ordered the release of Jamal Amira, the 53-year old father of Salaam Amira, the girl who documented the Naalin shooting incident in which an IDF soldier can be seen firing rubber bullets at a bound Palestinian. The judge who ordered the man’s release reprimanded the prosecution and said that the three charges against the defendant - violation of an enclosed military space, participation in a protest, and assault of a soldier - lacked evidence. The judge expressed the questionability of the charges by asking, "Why was the father of the girl arrested out of all. . . "

Hundreds stranded in ''no man's land'' between Palestine and Jordan
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Nablus - Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces have been holding 15 busses full of passengers traveling between the West Bank and Jordan on the Allenby Bridge. Israeli authorities say that a suspicious object was found on the road in the "no man’s land" between the Jordanian and Palestinian sides of the Israeli controlled border. The travelers coming from Jordan and from Palestine have been held since 14:00 Sunday afternoon and are still waiting as of publication. Local sources told Ma’an thatDr Iyad Al-Azuny, one of the stranded passengers, told Ma’an that the condition of the bus passengers is bad. Some of them, he said, are ill and were traveling to Jordan for treatment, and others are young children.

Egypt, Israel deny entry of medicine into the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation government, and the Egyptian authorities have denied a van loaded with medicine entry into the besieged Gaza Strip although it remained stranded for 26 days at the borders, Egyptian legal activist Iman Badawi confirmed. According to Badawi, who accompanied the van since it entered the Egyptian territories, "the van that was driven by Khalil Al-Mees and his Scottish wife, and crossed 12 European countries carrying medicine to the beleaguered Gaza Strip was denied entry by the Egyptian and the Israeli authorities". Badawi was quoted by the Saudi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat news paper as saying that the Egyptian authorities informed them that Israel denied the van entry through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing point, while Egypt refused to allow them into the Strip through the Rafah crossing point because "it (Rafah crossing point) was only for the passage of people and not for trucks".

Despite truce, still no sign of school supplies in Gaza
Mijal Grinberg and Fadi Eyadat, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Anwar al-Qazaz, 41, sent his eldest son to the market last weekend to buy school supplies for next year for his younger sisters. "He returned home with his sisters and told me there was nothing. No pens and pencils, no notebooks, and no school uniforms," he told Haaretz yesterday. "I don’t know what we’ll do now," the unemployed father of 10 added. "Maybe wait for them to bring stuff in from Israel or Egypt. But the products that come from Egypt are expensive. " Staple foods do reach Gaza, Qazaz said, but prices have skyrocketed because demand outstrips supply. As examples, he cited rice, which now costs NIS 6 per kilogram instead of NIS 2, and tea, which is priced at NIS 5 per kilogram instead of NIS 2. Under its truce with Hamas, Israel has permitted shipments of frozen meat, soft drinks, cookies, jam, shampoo, clothing and other items.

Israel postpones evacuation of Jewish wildcat settlement
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/18/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: 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 Defense 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 Occupied West Bank settlers’ organization, but the Migron residents, some right-wingers and anti-settler activists reject it.

Qassam hits western Negev, causing no injuries
News Agencies, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket at the western Negev on Sunday, in an affront to a fragile two-month old truce between Israel the coastal territory. The rocket caused no injuries or damage, Israel Police said. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the missile landed in a field near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, an agricultural community close to a border crossing with the Gaza Strip. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Rocket firings have become rare since an Egyptian-brokered truce took effect on June 19, but there have been a number of incidents, nontheless. Israel has responded to such attacks by closing border crossings with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The cease-fire is meant to stay intact for six months. Rumors have abounded of an imminent Israel Defense Forces operation in the territory.

US to deploy X-Band radar for missile defense in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The United States is deploying a high-powered early-warning radar system in the Negev desert in Israel, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. An American military spokesperson was quoted as saying that the radar, known as –Band, will be linked into the American satellite-based missile alert system, and could be used to detect a long-speculated missile strike by Iran. American military personnel will operate the system beginning in early 2009. It will be the first permanent US military deployment in Israel. American army personnel were temporarily stationed in Israel during the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq. The American-Israeli agreement was reported in the periodical Defense News, and was confirmed by Haaretz. The agreement had previously been discussed in meetings with Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his American counterpart, Admiral. . .

Qassam rocket lands in western Negev
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Despite truce, Palestinians continue to launch Qassams into Israel. Rocket hits open area within Eshkol Regional Council; no injuries or damage reported - A Qassam rocket was fired Sunday afternoon from the northern Gaza Strip, landing in an open area within the Eshkol Regional Council in the western Negev. There were no reports of injuries or damage. Despite the ceasefire declared between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Palestinians have fired several rockets or mortar shells into the Jewish state over the past few weeks. Another rocket hit the western Negev on Friday afternoon. It landed within the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council without causing any injuries or damage. Last Monday, a rocket landed in an open area near a kindergarten in the city of Sderot. Two days earlier, a rocket hit an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

Projectile fired from Gaza lands in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A homemade projectile fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Negev desert in Israel on Sunday afternoon, causing neither injuries nor damage. An Israeli police spokesperson said that the rocket landed near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Israel and armed Palestinian factions in Gaza entered into a ceasefire on 19 June. [end]

Arab-Israeli group wants to establish Arab pedagogic council
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 8/17/2008
An Arab-Israeli umbrella organization that seeks educational equality is preparing to appoint an autonomous administrative body for Arab education in an effort to give Arab citizens of the country more control over their schooling. Slideshow:The Follow-Up Committee for Arab Education is launching a public relations campaign in the Hebrew press to advocate for the creation of a separate "Arab pedagogic council" which activists say is needed for Arab-Israelis to exercise genuine participation and decision-making power in education. The Arab pedagogic council, which activists say would fall under the Education Ministry, would be able to revise and tailor the current curricula taught in Arab schools to the cultural and linguistic needs of the community, said Ayman Agbaria, a senior consultant for the Follow-Up Committee and a lecturer at Haifa University. -- See also: The Follow-Up Committee for Arab Education

Islamic Jihad leader warns of Israeli plans to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/16/0200
Islamic Jihad leader, Ibrahim an-Najjar slammed the ongoing excavations Israel is carrying out under the Mughrabi Gate ramp near the Western Wall (Al-Buraq Wall) and the Aqsa Mosque Noble Sanctuary, (Haram ash-Sharif) in the old city of Jerusalem. An-Najjar’s comments came during a commemoration marking the 29 anniversary of burning the Aqsa Mosque, on August 21, 1969. An Australian Christian extremist hoping to hurry the coming of the messiah was actually responsible for the arson in the mosque in 1969, but widespread fears that Israel would destroy the area after taking over East Jerusalem in 1967 trumped the truth. Since Israel had razed the Mughrabi Quarter - an 800 year old neighbourhood that stood where the Western Wall compound now is - when they took control over the area in 1967, Palestinians had ample grounds for mistrust as to how the holy area would be treated.

Hamas: PA forces detain 17 members across the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - Palestinian Authority (PA) security systems detained seventeen Hamas members in the West Bank on Saturday and Sunday. Hamas said in a statement received by Ma’an that security forces detained Mohammad Hussein Birri in Imatin and the two brothers Mohammad and Fadi Bakir, Amir Dahbour, Jawad Hussni and Na’el Enayeh all from Azzoun, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya. In the Jenin governorate Hamas said Adib Faris Hijazi and Naser Abdel Qader Yassin were detained from the village of Abu Da’if. In the Tulkarem governorate PA forces detained Ahmad Asem who was released a few days ago from PA prisons, as well as Qassab Zaqqout, Misleh Hamdan and Kifah Ghanem from the village of Deir Al-Ghusun. In Salfit, east of Nablus, PA forces detained Nahel Na’im, Amin Shaker, Sanad Ghazzawi and Ahmad Sidqi.

Nativity Church deportee kidnapped, beaten in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an –Masked gunmen kidnapped and assaulted Mazen Hussein, one of the deportees from the Nativity Church siege of 2002, in Gaza on Sunday night. "I was walking in a street in Gaza City when three masked men jumped from a jeep and drove me inside where they beat me on the head with their guns and then moved me into another jeep, and I think we were in a place not too far from As-Sarayah street in central Gaza City," said Hussein, speaking to Ma’an"Then they took me to the car market east of Gaza City, where a number of masked men started to beat me with iron pipes and kicked me and then threw me in the street where people from the area called the ambulance and sent me to Ash-Shifa Hospital," he added. Hussein was held captive for over an hour before he was left in the street. Both of Hussein’s knees were broken.

Fatah: Hamas police violently disburse women and children protesting
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A non-violent protest involving the wives and children of several Fatah affiliated detainees was violently disbursed by de facto Hamas police on Sunday. A spokesperson of the Fatah central media office in Gaza condemned the attacks saying “police forces in PLC [Palestinian Legislative Council] headquarters square prevented local and international media outlets from covering the incident and imposed consequences against whoever filmed or photographed the protestâ€. The spokesperson further condemned the de-facto police policy of preventing Palestinian or Fatah flags from being raised during weddings of Fatah affiliates in Gaza. De facto police go so far, he added, as to prevent artists and singers from performing in Fatah celebrations, making them sign pledges that they will not perform.

Hamas agrees with four factions on the need to accelerate national dialog
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday evening agreed with four Palestinian factions on the importance of accelerating comprehensive, national dialog and welcomed Egyptian patronage of such dialog. Representative of the PFLP, DFLP, people’s party, Islamic Jihad and Hamas met in the PFLP headquarters in Gaza to discuss means of ending the internal Palestinian rift and restoring unity. A closing statement said that they approved a number of general principles and basis of dialog topped by national concord document and the Cairo declaration. It added that the dialog should focus on formation of national unity government, restructuring security apparatuses on professional, national basis, activating the PLC, respecting election results and restructuring the PLO through elections. The conferees were unanimous in calling for preparatory steps to ensure success of the dialog. . .

Resheq: Hamas awaits Egypt’s next step towards national dialogue
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Senior Hamas political leader and member of the Movement’s political bureau Ezzat Al-Resheq has disclosed on Sunday that Hamas replied to Egypt’s enquiry on the inter-Palestinian dialogue, and that it was waiting for Egypt’s next move on this track. But he categorically denied any Egyptian request made to Hamas to ensure the success of the national dialogue, explaining that all what Egypt had asked were clarifications on a number of matters as it did with other Palestinian factions so as to crystallize its vision for the solution. However, Resheq acknowledged that the security question was one of the points of disputes between Hamas and Fatah but, he added, it wasn’t the only issue. "The dialogue, its points, its axes, and its platforms were indeed more essential than the security question which we believe must be reorganized on national basis and professionalism,. . .

Preventive security seize expired meat and fish in Qalqilia
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – One hundred and sixty kilograms of expired frozen meats and fish were seized by Palestinian preventative security on their way to villages near Qalqilia Sunday. The Preventive Security system in cooperation with the Ministry of National Economy and Ministry of Health all worked together to seize the expired goods. Security sources told Ma’an that the seizure was possible on account of intelligence gathered by preventive security systems. The meat was discovered earlier this week, but was halted en route to its delivery location on Sunday. The meat was promptly destroyed. Security sources confirmed that all parties will follow up on the case to make sure that such incidents to not occur in the future.

50 vehicles seized in security crackdown in Beita
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Palestinian police and security forces began a security campaign in the town of Beita, south of Nablus, on Sunday morning. Police said they seized 50 illegal and unregistered vehicles and arrested a number of "wanted" pople. Eyewitnesses in the village told Ma’an that the security forces are targeting a number of people who are wanted by the Palestinian Authority, including Nazih Naim, ’Oruba As-Shurafa, Hathifa Hilal and Ala Rajeh. The police urged everyone to respect the law and warned against using "illegal vehicles. " [end]

Israeli forces seize three Palestinians near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Nablus – Ma’an - Israeli forces detained at dawn on Sunday three young men from the village of Asira, south of Nablus, after storming their houses. Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli forces identified the detainees as: Taha Yassin and ’Ala Abdel-Latif and Montasser Yassin. [end]

Hamas slams cabinet decision to free Fatah soldiers
Barak Ravid and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called yesterday for Hamas prisoners to be included among the 200 Palestinian prisoners the Israeli cabinet decided yesterday to release as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority. He said freeing only those from PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction would be "an attempt to strengthen the Palestinians’ internal divisions. "Speaking from the Gaza Strip, Abu Zuhri added that the release of "prisoners from all Palestinian factions" was one of the central conditions Hamas was demanding in a prisoner swap, referring to the stalled talks on the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held in Gaza. However, in response to Abu Zuhri’s criticism, the Hamas government spokesman, Taher Nunu, said Ismail Haniyeh’s government sees the release of any Palestinian from Israeli jails as an achievement for the entire public, and as "the victory. . .

Israel to release prisoners as gesture to Abbas
Reuters, The Independent 8/18/2008
The Israeli cabinet agreed yesterday to release 200 Palestinian prisoners, including two jailed 30 years ago for attacks on Israelis, as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Nabil Abu Rdainah, an Abbas aide, called the move "a step in the right direction" as Israel and the Palestinians pursue a statehood deal by January in US-sponsored talks, but said "thousands, not hundreds" of prisoners should be set free. Israel has about 11,000 Palestinians in its jails. A spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the decision was aimed at bolstering Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. The release should be carried out around 25 August, before Ramadan. A release list has not been finalised but would include long-serving inmates, women and children, and two prisoners involved in attacks on Israelis before the 1993 Oslo peace deal.

Hamas spokesman slams cabinet decision to free Fatah soldiers
Barak Ravid and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called Sunday for Hamas prisoners to be included among the 200 Palestinian prisoners the Israeli cabinet decided yesterday to release as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority. He said freeing only those from PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction would be "an attempt to strengthen the Palestinians’ internal divisions. "Speaking from the Gaza Strip, Abu Zuhri added that the release of "prisoners from all Palestinian factions" was one of the central conditions Hamas was demanding in a prisoner swap, referring to the stalled talks on the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held in Gaza. However, in response to Abu Zuhri’s criticism, the Hamas government spokesman, Taher Nunu, said Ismail Haniyeh’s government sees the release of any Palestinian from Israeli jails as an. . .

Haneya gov’t warns Ramallah authority against acquiescing to Israeli dictates
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA caretaker government led by Ismail Haneyya has warned the Ramallah authority’s negotiating team against acquiescing to Israeli demands and American administration’s pressures. Taher Al-Nunu, the government spokesman, said in a press release that the government was closely following up news reports on results of meetings with Israeli occupation such as the "shelf agreement" and other security arrangements such as the one published by Ma’ariv daily on Sunday that stipulated the establishment of a Palestinian disarmed state with no real sovereignty. He said that such proposed agreements curtailed the Palestinian people’s rights and endorsed occupation’s political and security hegemony on the Palestinians. Nunu stressed the government’s rejection of any agreement that might affect the Palestinian people’s stable rights especially Jerusalem, right of return and a full-fledged sovereign state.

Barak pledges to remove checkpoints, grant work permits
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met on Saturday night with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who pledged a number of small measures to ease Israeli restrictions on Palestinian civilian life in the West Bank. Barak pledged that Israel would remove checkpoints, open key roads and grant more permits for Palestinians seeking work in Israel. The meeting took place in Barak’s apartment building in Tel Aviv. Israeli Radio reported that Barak expressed willingness to allow the Palestinian Authority to deploy its security forces in the same way that it did three months ago in Jenin, provided that Israel maintains its "security responsibilities. " Fayyad’s office said meeting was part of a plan for regular talks between the two leaders. The office added that the meeting tackled the ’important issues’ for the Palestinian Authority,. . .

Fayyad opens roads and city councils near Hebron before meeting with Barak
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Before his Saturday evening meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian caretaker Prime Minister visited the village of Yatta near Hebron. Hebron is one the West Bank areas that is most harshly affected by the Israeli occupation, with the highest levels of Israeli settler violence perpetrated against Palestinian civilians. During Fayyad’s visit to Yatta, he inaugurated a number of projects including the village council of Al-Karmel a small hub village south east of Yatta. He also opened a women’s council in the area and an Al-Karmel kindergarten. A paved road connecting Al-Karmel to Yatta was opened, as well as a health clinic in the village of Khallet Al-Maiyya. While in the area he checked out a new water treatment center established by the government earlier this year. Mayor of Yatta Khalil Mohammad Younis asked Fayyad to consider the. . .

Hamas: IOA’s release of Fatah prisoners targets deepening inter-Palestinian rift
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas on Sunday said that the Israeli occupation authority’s decision to release dozens of Palestinian prisoners only affiliated with Fatah faction was meant to deepen the internal Palestinian division and to support a Palestinian party against another. Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that the IOA step was also meant to give the impression that the PA chief had accomplished something in the peace negotiations with the IOA, but he asserted that the insinuation would not deceive anyone. "Our people does not want only Fatah captives to be released but prisoners from all Palestinian factions, which is one of the main conditions of the prisoners’ exchange deal demanded by Hamas," he said, and extended congratulations to any prisoner freed from occupation jails. The Israeli cabinet in its weekly cabinet session on Sunday endorsed the standards set by. . .

Noam Shalit: Release prisoners only upon Gilad’s return
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Kidnapped soldier’s father calls on government to carry out gesture to Palestinian president only after Hamas frees his son - The father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit has called on the government to release Palestinian prisoners only after Hamas frees his son. The cabinet on Sunday approved the release of 200 prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "I am all for gestures, and I am in favor of releasing prisoners, even much more prisoners, but only after Gilad is released," Noam Shalit told Ynet. Ever since his son was captured by Hamas, Israel has freed hundreds of prisoners in a series of such "gestures. " "These gestures," Shalit said Sunday, "did not lead to any progress. I don’t know what Hamas thinks about this, but based on past experience, this has changed nothing in regards to Gilad’s condition.

Son of terror victim slams decision to free his mother’s killer
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Philharmonic violinist Zinovi Kaplan’s mother was killed during a terror attack in Petah Tikva 30 years ago; on Sunday he learned PFLP figure behind attack to be released along with dozens of other prisoners as gesture to Abbas. ’Those who elected such a government shouldn’t be surprised that terrorists are being freed,’ he says -In 1977 Zinovi Kaplan’s mother, Tzila Galili, was killed when a bomb went off at the vegetable market in Petah Tikva while she was standing near a pickle stand. On Sunday Kaplan was informed that the man who had masterminded that terror attack, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) figure Said el-Atba, was on the list of 200 prisoners slated for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "They should have killed the terrorist who killed mother, not imprison him," said Kaplan, a violinist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Bardawil: Fayyad is aiding Barak’s election propaganda
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, has described recent meetings between PA leaders in Ramallah and Israeli officials as election propaganda. Bardawil was commenting on Saturday evening on the meeting between Salam Fayyad, the premier of the illegitimate PA government in Ramallah, and Ehud Barak, the Israeli war minister, in Tel Aviv earlier Saturday. He said that Fayyad went to the meeting without enjoying any popular support, adding that he is not legitimate and thus could not sign any agreement in addition to lacking any pressure cards that he could us in his negotiations with the "Zionist enemy". Fayyad-Barak meeting is an attempt to assist Barak in his election campaign in return for certain financial gains, such as allowing more money to the PA, but no political gains, the MP asserted.

Israel to release 200 Palestinian prisoners in ’goodwill gesture’ to Abbas
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli government approved the release of 200 Palestinian prisoners as a "goodwill gesture" to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Israeli cabinet approved the move after an Israeli ministerial committee tasked with setting criteria for the prisoners’ release signed off on the measure Sunday. The Israeli Prime Minister’s offices released a statement saying: "This is a gesture and a trust-building move aimed at bolstering the moderates in the Palestinian Authority and the peace process. " Responding to the planned release, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)member Issa Qaraqi said the negotiations over prisoners should be changed so that Palestinians, not the Israeli government, are the ones to decide who is released. He said the Palestinian Authority (PA) should not "submit to Israeli conditions.

Hamas: Decision to free prisoners aimed at intensifying Palestinian conflict
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/17/2008
’Israel wants to give the appearance that Abbas has achieved something in the peace negotiations, but this is convincing no one,’ Islamist group spokesman says. Fayyad: Release victory for Palestinian nation -Israel’s decision to release 200 prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is aimed at intensifying the conflict betweenHamas and Fatah, a spokesman for the Islamist group said Sunday. According to Sami Abu Zuhri, by releasing the prisoners "Israel wants to give the appearance that Abbas has achieved something in the peace negotiations, but this is convincing no one. "We praise the release of any prisoner, but we would like to see prisoners belonging to all of the organizations freed, as we plan on doing in the framework of the prisoner exchange deal (with Israel)," he said.

Cabinet approves release of 200 Palestinian prisoners
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Prime Minister’s Office states move aimed at building trust ’in a bid to bolster the moderates in the Palestinian Authority and the peace process. ’ Mofaz, Shas ministers vote against decision - The government on Sunday approved the release of some 200 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Transportation MinisterShaul Mofaz and the three Shas ministers voted against the move. The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying, "This is a gesture and a trust-building move aimed at bolstering the moderates in the Palestinian Authority and the peace process. " Among the prisoners who are slated to be released are two Palestinians who were sentenced to long prison terms about 30 years ago. One of them actually murdered Israelis and the other sent murderers.

Fayyad to Jordan Valley residents: the occupation will not last forever
Ma’an News Agency 8/17/2008
Jericho – Ma’an – The status of the Jordan River valley (Al-Aghwar), from Tubas to Jericho, must be taken into account in any peace agreement, said Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad when he visited the region on Sunday. "The Israeli occupation of Palestine is not destined to last forever," Fayyad said in a speech to Jericho residents and officials from across the valley region. "Residents of Al-Aghwar," he continued, "are guards of the most ancient and most important old sites of Palestine. "His speech stressed that Jordan Valley residents suffer endlessly from the Israeli occupation, but that "complaints and hopes are not enough to end such suffering. " Fayyad promised the region all means of support for success, saying that he was delivering the news as instructed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Fayyad, Barak, met in Tel Aviv on Saturday
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/17/0200
Israeli sources reported that Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, and the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, met on Saturday evening in Tel Aviv and held talks over the release of Palestinian political detainees imprisoned by Israel. The meeting was held at the Tel Aviv apartment building of Barak and media outlets were kept out. Israel recently pledged to free some 150 Palestinian detainees as a good will gesture to the Palestinian government, headed by Fayyad. The office of Fayyad issued a statement following the closed-door meeting and said that Fayyad insisted that Israel should stop all settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories, and also demanded Israel to stop its invasions and its pursuit of resistance fighters. Fayyad said that these attacks undermine the authority of his government in the Palestinian territories.

’Italy allowed Palestinian terror groups to roam free’
Menahem Gantz, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Former Italian president admits that his government had deal with PLO, Popular Front according to which they were allowed free movement within Italian territory in exchange for leaving national targets alone; PFLP leader confirms -It’s official: The Italian government allowed Palestinian terror organizations to act freely within its territory in exchange for their commitment to refrain from targeting national and international Italian sites. In an article written by former Italian President Francesco Cossiga for the national newspaper Corriere della Sera he confesses, "I always knew, though not by official documents and information kept from me, about the existence of an agreement based on ’don’t harm me and I won’t harm you’ between the Italian Republic and organizations such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the PLO. "

Grenades rock Tripoli in wake of deadly bombing
Daily Star 8/18/2008
BEIRUT: In the latest violence to hit the troubled northern city of Tripoli, three grenades exploded in the early hours of Saturday morning, just days after a bomb targeting soldiers ripped through a bus on a busy commercial street. Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers carried out house raids throughout the city after two hand grenades exploded on Syria Street in the impoverished Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood. In a separate incident, a stun grenade was hurled at a political party’s office in Tripoli early Saturday morning. The grenade was thrown by an unknown attacker into the garden of the office in the Abi Samra area at about 3 a. m. , said a report on Naharnet. Tripoli has been the scene of bloody fighting since May. In June and July, at least 23 people were killed in battles between mainly Sunni militants from the Bab al-Tabbaneh district and Alawite residents of nearby Jabal Mohsen, although hostilities had been calming down.

Sleiman describes Lebanon-Syria summit as first step toward brotherly ties
Daily Star 8/18/2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman told his visitors at the presidential palace Sunday that the recent Lebanese-Syrian summit, which was held in Damascus last week, was the first step toward establishing brotherly and friendly ties between the two countries. News reports on Sunday also quoted Sleiman as saying that decrees in Beirut and Damascus would be issued on Thursday to formally establish diplomatic ties between Lebanon and Syria. Meanwhile, Premier Fouad Siniora was quoted as saying on Sunday that Lebanon was looking forward to completing steps toward establishing diplomatic ties with Syria within weeks. Syria and Lebanon agreed on Wednesday to open diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level in a step welcomed by the United States, which had long called on Damascus to formalize ties with Beirut. "We will work on accomplishing it within the coming weeks," Siniora told Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Egypt to provide Lebanon with electricity, gas
Daily Star 8/18/2008
BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora announced on Saturday that Egypt will supply Lebanon with electricity and gas to meet the growing consumption in a country that has been experiencing severe power rationing for the past 15 years. Siniora, who headed a delegation to Egypt, met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and senior officials. "We are coordinating our efforts with [Egyptian] Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif and the relevant ministers in Egypt in order to enable Egyptian electricity and gas to reach Lebanon as soon as possible," Siniora told reporters at a joint news conference with Nazif in thenorthern city of Alexandria. Siniora said energy ministers from both countries would hold meetings over the next few days to begin drafting agreements. Electricity is a constant concern for the Lebanese government, which allocates the third largest slice of its budget, after debt servicing and salaries, to power supply.

Former SLA soldiers protest conditions in Israel
Tal Rabinovsky, YNetNews 8/17/2008
About 100 Southern Lebanese Army veterans living in Israel demonstrate outside Kirya army base in Tel Aviv against apparent discrimination based on military ranks. Lieutenant colonels and higher assisted by Defense Ministry, lower ranks by Ministry of Immigration Absorption - Eight years have lapsed since the pullout from Lebanon and with it, the arrival of numerous Southern Lebanese Army fighters who assisted the IDF and who are presently complaining about inequality in their absorption in Israel. On Sunday, approximately 100 SLA soldiers and their family members demonstrated opposite the David Gate at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv. The soldiers are protesting against what they claim is the discrimination caused by the Israeli government in 2003 when it decided to divide their treatment between two different governmental offices according to military ranking.

Nazzal: Hamas’s meetings in Jordan were ''positive, frank''
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Mohammed Nazzal, political bureau member of Hamas, has described as "important and fruitful" the meetings recently held between a Hamas delegation and Mohammed Al-Dhahabi, the head of the Jordanian intelligence. He said in press statements on Saturday that all files were discussed "clearly and frankly" and all issues of concern to Jordan and Hamas were discussed. The Hamas leader explained that latest developments in the Palestinian arena especially in Gaza were debated, and noted that the topics discussed were not only of security nature but also political. Nazzal pointed out that Dhahabi was the one who invited a Hamas delegation to visit Amman and meet with him. He underlined that the issue of deploying an Arab force in the Gaza Strip was reviewed and his Movement underscored its objection to the idea.

Jewish World / We should stop hugging Israel and start wrestling
Robbie Gringras, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
"If I don’t care about Israel, I will never be upset about the way it operates. "-- The recent row over a U. S. art installation illustrates that our blanket embrace of Israel is outdated. An exhibition in Chicago’s Spertus Museum features Israeli and Palestinian artists engaging with the subjectivity of maps, and all falls apart. After a short struggle, the exhibition is closed down. The curation is described by the Jewish Federation as "anti-Israel," and one commentator goes so far as to describe the closed exhibition as "a cultural crime scene,", no less. Articles are written about "freedom from censorship" on the one hand, and "Jewish communal commitments" on the other. But the huge elephant in the room has once again been stepped around. The truth is that we don’t fundamentally disagree about freedom of expression, or about the need for Jewish cultural institutions to relate to their audiences. We just haven’t fully worked out how American Jewry can relate to Israel.

No borders to Israeli ''˜chutzpa’
Itamar Eichner, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Israeli consulates worldwide receive personal requests from travelers, their parents ranging from stalling flights, retrieving forgotten passports at hotels, vaccinating dogs - A few days ago, one of the Israeli consulates in Europe received a telephone call from a mother whose son was traveling in the country he is stationed in. "My son is late for his flight," said the mother to the consul. "I am asking you to stall the plane until he arrives. "  The consul explained that he does not have the authority to do such a thing. From year to year, Israelis traveling abroad are breaking "chutzpa" records that even veteran Foreign Ministry employees have not witnessed in the past. Recently, for instance, a European consul received a request from the parents of a young Israeli who wanted the official to "go get our son because he’s stuck without money and cannot get to the airport. "

VIDEO - Thousands protest in favor of Falash Mura immigration
Shlomit Sharvit, YNetNews 8/17/2008
(Video) Mass demonstration held in front of Prime Minister’s Office for 8,700 Falash Mura members who were promised aliyah in 2005, yet remain in Ethiopia; nine protestors arrested - VIDEO - Taish Tafaka, a 29-year-old mother of two, has been in Israel for four years. Her father, brother and sister are in Gondar, Ethiopia and are presently forbidden from immigrating to Israel. Jerusalem rally (Video: Infolive. tv) "Why are they separating us? "  Tafaka asked on Sunday morning alongside 5,000 people in a protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, in which some people were arrested. [end]

Israeli officials are reported to have raised concerns about increase in violence by Jewish settlers
BBC, Palestine News Network 8/17/2008
BBC - The Israeli Haaretz newspaper said officials had found an increase in incidents of settlers causing harm to Palestinians and to Israeli soldiers. There were 429 incidents in the first half of 2008, against 551 in 2007. There are frequent reports of settlers harassing Palestinians, with two attacks recently captured on video. These have been widely broadcast and have brought the issue to greater prominence. Haaretz said police, army and security services had also discussed allegations that some police and soldiers were deliberately ignoring violence by settlers against Palestinians, because they preferred not to get involved in difficult issues. Settlement withdrawal delayed In July, an Israeli rights group [working on human rights for Palestinians] published a report saying nine out of 10 investigations into alleged attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers ended without anyone being charged.

For an agreement, against confrontation
Yehuda Ben Meir, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
The agreement reached between the Yesha Council and the government on evacuating the unauthorized outpost at Migron is a good one, and both sides - the government and the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District - should be commended for their responsibility and courage in choosing compromise and agreement over confrontation and the danger of bloodshed. There is no cause for surprise at the howls of protest being voiced in extremist circles on both the left and the right. They were predictable and only prove the compromise was appropriate and fair. As for the response of the left, I admit it is beyond my ken to comprehend why it is permissible and desirable to talk with enemies, but it is forbidden to talk with rivals. Why is it that the same people who are all for speaking to our worst enemies, to terrorists. . .

Tel Aviv U. students host mock peace talks
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
A small group of students from Tel Aviv University Sunday hosted a mock regional peace summit based on the Arab Peace Initiative. The 10 Israeli organizers say their project is the first large-scale grassroots discussion of the Arab peace proposal, which offers Arab recognition of Israel for a total withdrawal of all occupied lands and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees - a phrase taken by many to mean the settlement of Palestinians inside Israel proper. Jerusalem has so far rejected the deal. The 5-day model Middle East Students Conference which started Sunday involves some 50 students from 16 different countries, including Lebanon, Bahrain, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, India and European countries. The participants are divided into five delegations - Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian and international - and will represent the interests of their assigned nation in peace negotiations.

Raising the stakes for Hamas
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Hamas’ condemnation yesterday of Israel’s decision to release 200 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stems from the Islamic organization’s difficult position vis-a-vis the Palestinian public, as well as the state of its negotiations with Israel over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Palestinians viewed Shalit’s abduction as a heroic action that would lead to the release of hundreds of prisoners from Israeli jails. But it has also led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas officials’ promises of a breakthrough in the prisoner negotiations have been revealed as empty. The blockade of Gaza was lifted, but only partially, and the economy there continues to decline. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, are bringing the release of hundreds of Palestinians - 200 now and 400 a few months ago -. . .

ANALYSIS / Israel’s decision to free Palestinian prisoners puts Hamas in difficult position
Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Hamas’ condemnation on Sunday of Israel’s decision to release 200 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stems from the Islamic organization’s difficult position vis-a-vis the Palestinian public, as well as the state of its negotiations with Israel over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Palestinians viewed Shalit’s abduction as a heroic action that would lead to the release of hundreds of prisoners from Israeli jails. But it has also led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas officials’ promises of a breakthrough in the prisoner negotiations have been revealed as empty. The blockade of Gaza was lifted, but only partially, and the economy there continues to decline. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, are bringing the release of hundreds. . .

Among best Arab writers in one just 14 years old
Bethlehem, Palestine News Network 8/17/2008
PNN - The well-known and widely famous Mohammad Mafouz gave 14 year old Yasim Shamalawi the news. She is from the northern West Bank city of Nablus and was selected for the prominent position of one of the Arab world’s best poets and writers. It was via an internet forum that the voices calling for her came, called "Word and Work. "She is now among the best 1,000 Arab writers. Mahfouz is the amazing Egyptian writer who gave praise to the abilities of Shamalawi. He called on Arab officials to "be careful with her unique talent. "She, at 14, is the youngest Arab writer to win such prestigious attention. Shamalawi writes short stories and poetry, the most well-known of which focused on Palestinian children. This young child, a 14 year old girl, has given yet another voice to the Palestinian cause as we have just lost our most prominent: Mahmoud Darwish.

IOA threatens activists boarding siege-breaking vessels
Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the chairman of the popular committee against the siege, has revealed that international activists boarding the siege-breakingships heading to the Gaza Strip within the few coming days had received threats. Khudari told a press conference in Gaza on Saturday that the Israeli occupation authority is responsible for those threats in its capacity as the sole party that objected to the arrival of the ships and said it would block them. He explained that the threats were directly voiced on phone or indirectly through other means, adding that their families were also threatened. The MP said that threats would not deter or terrorize those activists but rather would boost their determination to go ahead with their mission of solidarity. The ships are heading to Gaza to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and the one and a half million. . .

Planning Commission sets Jerusalem building guide
Orit Bar-Gil, Globes Online 8/17/2008
Construction will be restricted in the Old City basin, while residential high-rises will be permitted in outlying neighborhoods. The Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Commission has set the building texture for the city as part of the regional outline plan. The commission said that it supports new housing projects, especially for young couples, but that these projects must ensure the quality of life of the residents and emphasize the development of public space. The current discussion did not cover the Jerusalem city center, which was discussed earlier, or the Old City, which will be discussed later. The Jerusalem Regional Outline Plan proposes a texture for each neighborhood, detailed high-density neighborhoods, low-density neighborhoods, low level buildings in the Old City basin, residential areas for which detailed plans will be formulated, and areas for unrestricted high-rise construction.

Markets in Brief
Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Foodmaker Osem Investments said yesterday that it has inked a pact to buy U. S. -based Tribe Mediterranean Foods, which develops and sells Mediterranean-style chilled salads in the U. S. and Canada. The deal includes Tribe’s assets and plants, distribution network and property, inventory and everything, in short. Osem, which is controlled by Nestle, is paying $53. 2 million at closing plus $1 million contingent on milestones. (TheMarker) Heavy financing costs dragged Africa Israel Residences to a loss of NIS 3. 5 million for the second quarter of 2008, even though revenues increased by 12. 4% year over year to NIS 47. 6 million. Cost of sales shot up by NIS 10 million, depressing its gross margin by 33% to NIS 8. 5 million. As of the quarter’s end, Africa Israel Residences was building 1,043 apartments and had plans to build 826 more.

Israel Police: FBI probe of Talansky comes as no surprise
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
The U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the conduct of Jewish American businessman Morris Talansky, a key figure in the corruption probe currently underway against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, came as no surprise to Israel’s police investigators. Senior police officials said Sunday that it is customary for the FBI to become involved in Israeli investigations being conducted within the U. S. Olmert is being investigated for allegations that he accepted illicit funds over many years from Talansky. In his preliminary deposition in Jerusalem on May 27, Talansky testified that he gave Olmert $150,000, mostly in cash, for political campaigns and travel expenses. He denied receiving anything in return for the cash, which was allegedly conveyed in envelopes through third parties.

Ex-finance minister likely to admit to stealing millions from labor union
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 8/17/2008
MK and former finance minister Abraham Hirchson is expected to admit on Sunday that he took money from the National Workers Organization, but to claim in his defense that his violation was ethical rather than criminal. Hirchson was indicted in June on charges of stealing between NIS 2 million and NIS 2. 5 million from the labor union while he headed it between 1998 and 2005, as well as from a subsidiary known as Nili, which runs social and educational services. In his response to the indictment, to be filed Sunday at Tel Aviv District Court, Hirchson is expected to present his account of the circumstances in which the money was transferred to him. Advertisement Through his attorney, Jacob Weinroth, the MK is expected to say that he failed to divulge the full details of the affair until now for fear that certain individuals were. . .

Hirchson says received money legally
Vered Luvitch, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Former finance minister says in response to indictment filed against him that he was not responsible for embezzlement in National Workers’ Organization - Former Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson said Sunday that the funds he received from the National Workers’ Organization (NWO) were given to him legally, as he did not receive the full amount of his retirement fee. Hirchson denied all the allegations against him, claiming that he was being framed in the alleged embezzlement in the NWO. According to the former minister, he had reached an agreement with the organization which stated that he would receive NIS 25,000 (about $7,030) a month as well as a holiday gift, and that this would all be documented in order to prevent "slander. "CorruptionFormer Finance Minister Hirchson indicted for fraud/ Avi Cohen State Prosecution files charges against former. . .

Hirchson to court: The money I got from National Workers Org. came out of my retirement package
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz
Former finance minister Abraham Hirchson admitted yesterday that he did receive funds from the National Workers Organization during his 1998-2005 term as head of the union, but argued that the money was to come out of his retirement package. The admission was made in a written response to his indictment. The Kadima MK has been charged in the Tel Aviv District Court with stealing approximately NIS 2. 5 million from the union and an associated nonprofit organization, Nili, which operates educational and social services. The charges against Hirchson include embezzlement, aggravated fraud, corporate fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and the falsification of corporate documents. According to the indictment, Hirchson conspired with union and Nili officials to embezzle funds for their own private use. Hirchson is accused of receiving the following amounts: b NIS 25,000 a month in cash for "expenses" - totaling about NIS 1.

Olmert: Barak arbitrarily attacking Livni
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 8/17/2008
During weekly government meeting prime minister defends foreign minister and Resolution 1701 she helped achieve. Minister Ben-Eliezer argues against defense budget cuts, says he believes Nasrallah’s claim that group is rearming -Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during the weekly government meeting on Sunday, as well as the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1701, which Livni promoted following the Second Lebanon War. "A man woke up in the morning and a mosquito bit him, and he decided to attack someone in Kadima, in this case Tzipi," Olmert said, referring to comments made against the foreign minister by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Regarding the UN resolution he said, "Resolution 1701 brought peace to the north. If we spoke less we would lose less and win more.

Mofaz: Livni is inexperienced, Barak failed as a leader
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 8/17/2008
Transportation Minister and Kadima Party chairmanship candidate Shaul Mofaz on Saturday criticized Foreign Minister and Kadima leadership frontrunner Tzipi Livni and Labor Party Chairman Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying they were both right in pointing out each other’s shortcomings. Four weeks ahead of the scheduled Kadima primary, in which the party leader will be chosen to succeed Ehud Olmert as prime minister, Mofaz said "I hear the exchange between my colleagues and I want to tell you ? they’re both right. "Speaking at a Kadima activists’ conference in the northern Druze village of Daliat al-Carmel, Mofaz went on to say "Livni is right ? Barak failed as prime minister and more recently as [Labor] party leader. Barak was also right; he knows that someone without the proper comprehension and experience in defense cannot be prime minister.

Olmert: Barak blocking cabinet debate on defense issues
Tal Levy, TheMarker and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of blocking cabinet debate on issues of security. "Because of you, it is impossible to conduct a serious discussion on the defense establishment," Olmert told Barak during the cabinet’s weekly meeting in Jerusalem. The criticism came amid debate on the 2009 defense budget, which according to Olmert, was never even raised for cabinet discussion, after National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer attacked the Treasury’s proposal the cabinet decides whether to invest in defense or welfare. "We can’t choose one over the other," Ben-Eliezer said. "Haven’t we learned the lesson from Georgia? " Neither was Ben-Eliezer left off Olmert’s sarcasm. "Why not? "The prime minister asked.

Cabinet debate on state budget turns into battleground for Olmert, Barak
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
The political crisis and the upcoming Kadima primaries turned the debate on the state budget in yesterday’s cabinet meeting into a sharp clash between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. At the center of the argument was the criticism voiced by Barak over the past few weeks of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War. The encounter began after National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer went after the move to cut the defense budget. "You can’t choose between welfare and defense," Ben-Eliezer said. "Didn’t we learn the lesson of Georgia? " Olmert, surprised at the analogy, responded with a joke. "What do you mean, didn’t we learn? I promise you we will not attack Georgia. "Ben-Eliezer was not amused. "If we don’t spend on Israel’s security, we will weaken," he said.

IDF to draft celiac sufferers
Yuval Azoulay, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
The Israel Defense Forces have decided to draft celiac sufferers for mandatory military service. Until now, the army had refrained from drafting people with celiac disease, primarily because of the difficulty in supplying them with suitable food. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder in which the immune system treats gluten - a protein found in wheat, barley and rye - as if it were a virus attacking the body. For those with the disorder, eating food that contains gluten can cause a severe allergic reaction. The plan is to draft some 150 celiac sufferers each year, starting in 2009. With some 450 draftees by the third year, the army figures it will save up to NIS 40 million in salaries that it currently pays career army members to do the jobs the young recruits will perform. A Defense Ministry official said yesterday that the policy change is part of its cost-cutting efforts.

Talansky here and there
Ze''ev Segal, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
The recent announcement by Morris Talansky’s lawyers that their client would not be returning to Israel to complete his cross-examination should not have come as a big shock to anyone involved in the case. Morris, known in Israel as Moshe, is a United States citizen, and his life is centered in the U. S. According to a letter that State Prosecutor Moshe Lador sent last week to his subordinates, in Talanksy’s case there are "different dynamics" that are hard to anticipate, and these may give rise to a "genuine threat" that he will not return to testify, "whether for reasons within his power or for reasons that are not. "Thus the prosecution asked the court to let Talansky be deposed early with regard to the envelopes of cash, which he allegedly gave Ehud Olmert during the latter’s tenure as cabinet minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

Cabinet refuses to follow Bar-On budget
Rotem Sella and Tal Levy, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
Finance Minister Roni Bar-On and the treasury planned that the discussion at yesterday morning’s cabinet meeting would be about whether to cut the defense budget or the social-welfare budgets. However, the cabinet did not dance to the treasury’s tune, and the discussion quickly turned into one that focused on enlarging the 2009 budget spending framework. In his attempt to make the ministers take responsibility for the painful cuts to their own ministries, Bar-On failed to take into account the possibility that two of his coalition partners raised: loosening the spending reins. The Labor Party and Shas both ignored his proposals and came up with their own: enlarging the increase in government spending planned for next year by 2. 5%, instead of the treasury’s proposed 1. 7% rise.

Iran says its warplanes can fly to Israel and back
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/17/2008
State TV quotes air force general as saying Islamic republic’s aircraft can now fly 3,000 kilometers without refueling - Iran says it has increased the range of its warplanes, allowing them to fly as far as Israel and back without refueling. State TV is quoting air force chief Gen. Ahmad Mighani as saying Iranian warplanes can now fly 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles) without refueling. He didn’t specify the aircraft type or explain how the range was extended. Israel is about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from Iran. Such a range could be achieved by using external fuel tanks attached to the wings or fuselage that can be released when empty. Sunday’s report did not refer to Israel by name, but Mighani’s remarks come after an Israeli air exercise in June that US officials described as a possible rehearsal for a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iran tests rocket for future satellite launch
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/18/2008
TEHRAN - Iran has test-launched a rocket it plans to use to carry a research satellite into orbit, state television reported yesterday. Saturday’s test of the two-stage rocket, called the Safir-e Omid, or Ambassador of Peace, was successful, state TV said, broadcasting images of the nighttime launch. The rocket released equipment that beamed flight data back to ground control, said Reza Taghipoor, the head of Iran’s Space Agency, in a live television interview. Iran has long held the goal of developing a space program. In 2005, it launched its first commercial satellite on a Russian rocket in a joint project with Moscow, which appears to be the main partner in transferring space technology to Iran. Iran first tested a rocket it said was capable of delivering a satellite in February, saying that trial was also successful.

Iran says it put first dummy satellite in orbit
Reuters, YNetNews 8/17/2008
Islamic Republic says it put dummy satellite into orbit on home-grown rocket for first time; technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons. Israeli expert: ’Iran far from launching military satellite with real capabilities’ - Iran said it had put a dummy satellite into orbit on a home-grown rocket for the first time on Sunday -- a move likely to increase Western concerns about its nuclear ambitions. The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into space can also be used for launching weapons, although Iran says it has no plans to do so. "The Safir (Ambassador) satellite carrier was launched today and for the first time we successfully launched a dummy satellite into orbit," Reza Taghizadeh, head of the Iranian Aerospace Organization, told state television.

IRAQ: IDPs in tent camps continue to suffer - IOM
IRCS, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/18/2008
BAGHDAD, 17 August 2008 (IRIN) - While the rate of people fleeing their homes in Iraq has decreased during the first half of 2008, daily life for the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in tent camps remains grim, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in an assessment issued on 15 August. "Tent camp residents have little or no access to basic services, cannot protect themselves against the elements or extreme weather, and are located far away from medical care, education and other services," the IOM statement said. "These harsh conditions, combined with a cultural aversion to living without familial privacy and personal dignity, make tent camps a last resort for Iraqi IDPs. " The assessment, which was carried out in conjunction with Iraq’s Ministry for Displacement and Migration and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, also said that although the number. . .

ICJ: calling all journalists
Palestine News Network 8/17/2008
The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is seeking applications for an exciting program that will pair U. S. and Muslim-World journalists for joint reporting projects on issues of importance to audiences in both places. With support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, ICFJ will hold a conference Dec. 14-16 in Istanbul, Turkey, called "Faith in Media: Improving Coverage of Islam and Other Religions. "Four pairs of journalists will then embark on joint reporting projects in Muslim countries and in the United States. Reporting does not have to take place immediately after the conference. Applicants from either the United States or a majority Muslim country may propose projects. ICFJ will select four projects that will be funded by this program. ICFJ will then find reporting partners for the journalists whose proposals have been selected.


Qureiâ's pathetic warnings
Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank, Palestinian Information Center 8/17/2008
Ahmed Qureiâ, the leading Palestinian Authority (PA)  negotiator, is behaving very much like Alice in Wonderland. Last week, he warned for the umpteenth time that the "Palestinian leadership" would switch to the "one-state solution" if Israel continued to obstruct the two-state solution.
Speaking before Fatah delegates in Ramallah, Qureiâ reiterated the mantra that the PA would never settle for anything less than a viable state on all the Palestinian  territories occupied by Israel in 1967, with "al-Quds al Sharif" or "Noble Jerusalem" as its capital.
Qureiâ and some other PA leaders have been voicing similar warnings for years. These leaders, however, seem to utterly lack the will and inclination to abandon the defunct Oslo process. The reasons for that apparently have more to do with personal and partisan expediency and less with  true Palestinian national considerations.
This is why Qureiâ's  remarks shouldn't be taken seriously. After all, the very survival of the PA depends, almost completely, on its subservience to Israel.