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

VTJP Archives | Newslinks Archives  
19 August 2008

Israel closes Gaza crossings over rocket fire
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Intermittent rocket fire persists despite ceasefire between Israel, Gaza terror groups. No injuries or damage reported in Tuesday attack as Qassam lands in kibbutz - Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the commercial crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip closed as of Wednesday morning following the launching of a Qassam rocket towards southern Israel earlier on Tuesday. The crossings are to remain closed over the next two days. On Thursday Barak will conduct a revaluation of the situation Palestinian gunmen launched a Qassam rocket from northern Gaza towards Israel on Tuesday evening. The rocket landed in an open area in a kibbutz belonging to the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused. In recent weeks construction has begun in parts of the kibbutz to fortify buildings against rocket attacks.

PA condemns Israeli plans to build military bridge and Synagogue in Old City of Jerusalem
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/19/2008
Ramallah -Dr Riad Maliki, Minister of Information in the Palestinian Authority, condemned Israeli excavations and designs to erect a military bridge and Synagogue in the vicinity of Bab al-Maghareba, close to the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, the site of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. In a press conference today, following a weekly meeting of the government in Ramallah, Al-Maliki said that the Cabinet had commissioned Hatem Abdel Qader, adviser to the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, to raise legal objections in the Israeli courts in order to obstruct the implementation of the plan and give an opportunity to diplomatic efforts to stop it. He called on the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to shoulder its responsibility in defending the third holiest site for Muslims, in particular by engaging in efforts at an international level to prevent the plans.

Court orders IDF to explain soft indictment against Naalin commander
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Palestinian shot in anti-fence rally files High Court petition demanding IDF amend indictment to include offences punishable by actual jail time; court delays legal proceedings, orders military to explain indictment -Several human rights groups petition the High Court Tuesday asking that it order the Military Advocate General, Brigadier-General Avi Mandelblit and the IDF’s Chief Prosecutor, Colonel Liron Lieberman, to explain their reluctance to amend the indictment filed against Lt. Col. Omri Burberg and Staff Sergeant L. for their involvement in the Naalinshooting incident. The petition was filed by B’Tselem, Yesh Din, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and the Palestinian who was shot, Ashraf Abu-Rahma. Subsequently, the court issued an interim order suspending the legal proceedings, as well as order-nisi compelling the Military Prosecution. . .

Human Rights Watch calls on Israelis to stop demolishing Palestinian homes
Palestine News Network 8/18/2008
Human Rights Watch / Jerusalem -- The Israeli government should reject plans to resume the demolition or confiscation of the homes of alleged terrorists, Human Rights Watch said today. These measures would violate international legal prohibitions against collective punishment, as they affect the owners or inhabitants of the homes who have no involvement in terrorism. The call follows an order issued on August 6, 2008, by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to demolish the home of Alaa Abu Dheim, a 26-year-old Palestinian who killed eight people during a gun attack on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem in March. The house concerned does not belong to Abu Dheim but is occupied and owned by his relatives. Barak’s order marks the resumption of demolitions of homes after a three-year lull and comes in the wake of two separate attacks in which Palestinian men used bulldozers to attack people in July on the streets of Jerusalem.

Hamas: ''There is no Egyptian initiative for national dialogue''
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/19/2008
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, denied the existence of any Egyptian initiative to pave the way for a new round of internal Palestinian dialogue, and added that Egypt also presented some questions that required answers from the factions, but there was no official invitation for talks. Hamas legislator, Ismail Al Ashqar, told the Palestine News Network (PNN) on Tuesday afternoon that there was no invitation for talks, and added that the internal dialogue should be open "without any veto or objections". He added that the dialogue should include talks on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, should also focus particularly on the differences between Fateh and Hamas, and should include other factions. Ayman Taha, another Hamas leader, reiterated Hamas’ position which rejects the deployment of Arab or foreign forces in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli army seizes eight civilians
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/19/2008
Israeli army troops invaded Tulkarem, Nablus and Jenin on Tuesday at dawn and rendited eight civilians, as reported by local sources. Israeli troops invaded Tulkarem with a number of military jeeps and launched a widespread search campaign among several neighborhoods. Troops searched, several houses kidnapping the total of six civilians and taking them to unknown detention camps. In Nablus, a number of Israeli military vehicles invaded the city. Troops searched several houses and took two civilians to an unknown detention center before they withdrew from the city. Troops also invaded Jenin; military vehicles drove through out the streets for a couple of hours then withdrew, no people were taken and the reason of this incursion is unknown. On August 11, Palestinian and Israeli security officials met in Jenin to discuss security issues.

Russia: Israel gave Georgia arms
Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff Col. -Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn accused Israel in a Moscow press conference on Tuesday of arming the Georgian military with mines, explosive charges, special explosives for clearing minefields and eight kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Russia still holding key positions in Georgia"In 2007, Israeli experts trained Georgian commandos in Georgia and there were plans to supply heavy weaponry, electronic weapons, tanks and other arms at a later date, but the deal didn’t work out," Nogovitsyn said. Georgia’s Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia previously said that "Georgian corporals and sergeants train with Germans, alpine units and the navy work with French instructors, and special operations and urban warfare troops are taught by Israelis. " Nogovitsyn also said that the Russian soldiers had detained 20 mercenaries near the Georgian. . .

’We exercised restraint in Lebanon war’
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent a stern warning to Beirut on Tuesday, pledging that Israel would not restrain itself if Lebanon sanctioned a new Hizbullah offensive. Although Olmert is engaged in a tough budget battle to scale back on defense spending, he had no problem talking tough on Tuesday during a visit to the IDF Home Front Command headquarters in Ramle. "In the Second Lebanon War we had much greater means and capabilities, which we avoided using since [during that war] we fought against a terror organization and not a country," Olmert said. "In this context, if Lebanon turns into a Hizbullah state, we won’t restrain our response. " He added that this was true for any nation that attacked Israel. His statements came after the Lebanese parliament overwhelmingly approved a national unity cabinet on August 12, following a five-day debate on a controversial. . .

Hezbollah pays tribute to 2006 war with Israel
Middle East Online 8/19/2008
NABATIYEH, Lebanon - A recording of slain Hezbollah military chief Imad Mughnieh’s voice echoes around the charred remains of captured Israeli tanks as the Lebanese resistance showcase their 2006 "victory" over Israel. In a large car park in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh, battle relics from the deadly 34-day conflict are arranged as exhibition artefacts. Smoke pours around a tank, which is bathed in an eerie red light; just one of the many war trophies Hezbollah has put on display since August 15 to mark the two years since its "divine victory" over Israel. The devastating conflict, which was sparked after Hezbollah’s capture on July 12, 2006 of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers. The war ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire on August 14, 2006.

Huckabee: Israel shouldn’t swap land
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Israel should not have to trade land for peace, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said as he explained to a small group of reporters Tuesday morning why he believed Israel should remain sovereign both in Jerusalem and the West Bank. "As an American, I do not feel that the Israelis are obligated or required to give up land in order to bring peace," said Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister who earlier this year lost his bid to become the Republican party’s presidential nominee but still holds sway with the key evangelical constituency. During the press conference, Huckabee spoke of his admiration for US President George W. Bush even as he took issue with his support for a two-state solution that involves giving portions of the West Bank and Jerusalem to the Palestinians. That, Huckabee said, would be "irrational" from both the security and effective governance perspectives.

Gaza still suffers from fuel shortage
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 8/18/2008
GAZA, Aug 18, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network)-- Gaza Strip is still suffering from fuel shortage, especially cooking gas, an official said on Monday. Mahmoud al-Shawa, director of Gaza Gas Stations Owners Union, said the Israeli claim that cooking gas is not subject to reduction was untrue. "Gaza Strip needs not less than 500 tons of cooking gas every day and Israel only allows 170 tons," al-Shawa said. Israel began to reduce fuel shipments to Gaza in September last year, three months after Hamas took over the territory, to force the Islamic movement stop cross-border attacks against Jewish territories. In June this year, Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, aimed at ending violence and slowly easing the blockade. Hamas says Israel did not commit itself to opening the crossings into Gaza according to what the ceasefire deal stipulated.

IOA reopens Karm Abu Salem, allows passage for only 25 trucks
Palestinian Information Center 8/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority reopened the Karm Abu Salem on Monday after four months of closure only to allow the passage of 25 trucks loaded with various goods. Sources in the PA caretaker government’s national economy ministry told the PIC reporter that the supplies varied from foodstuff to plastics and detergents. The Palestinian trade center said that the Karm Abu Salem crossing could handle 160 trucks per day after completion of its expansion project but the number of trucks before its closure on 1/4/2008 did not exceed 40 trucks per day. It also noted that the Sufa crossing could handle 200 trucks a day but the IOA allowed entry of 80 trucks only. For its part, the professional syndicates union in Gaza Strip warned on Tuesday of a popular explosion in the Strip in the event the Rafah crossing remained closed.

Israel reopens key Gaza commercial crossing
Reuters, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Nearly five months after it was shut down following a terror attack, Kerem Shalom goods terminal reopened to allow truck convoy into Gaza -Israel has allowed food and other supplies to enter the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip through a key commercial crossing that had been closed for months, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Tuesday. Israeli Defense Ministry official Peter Lerner said about 80 trucks would pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing in a trial run before it is officially reopened in accordance with an Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and Hamas. Kerem Shalom has been closed since April, when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a car at the crossing. Palestinian officials said some 15 trucks carrying canned food and fruit passed through on Monday and they were told more would follow on Tuesday.

Barak orders Gaza crossings closed after Qassam hits Negev
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/20/2008
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket into Israel Tuesday, in violation of the two-month old truce between Israel the coastal territory. The rocket landed in an open area in the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council area. No injuries or damage were reported. Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the border crossings with Gaza closed between Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon in response to the rocket attack. Rocket firings have become rare since an Egyptian-brokered truce took effect on June 19. Israel has responded to such attacks by closing border crossings with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Israeli and Palestinian officials said earlier on Tuesday that Israel had allowed food and other supplies to enter the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip through a key commercial crossing that had been closed for months.

Israeli army attacks agricultural shops in Tulkarem
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/19/2008
Israeli army troops attacked a number of shops selling fertilizer and agricultural materials in Tulkarem on Monday mid-afternoon. Eye witnesses reported that Israeli troops entered the city and focussed their force on farm lands and fertilizer shops. Troops confiscated a agricultural equipment and crops at an estimated worth of 35,000 shekels. [end]

Israeli army seizes two civilians in Hebron
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/19/2008
The Israeli army troops invaded Hebron, kidnapping two civilians following a search of their houses, as reported by local sources. Troops entered the city and searched a number of houses, releasing concussion grenades and shooting at random. They took Ahmad Al Qayq aged 57 and Yasser Amr aged 47. [end]

Israeli lightly wounded in stone-throwing north of Jerusalem
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
An Israeli was lightly wounded Tuesday when his car was pelted with stones thrown by Palestinians north of Jerusalem. The man was treated at the scene. [end]

VIDEO - Gaza militants train women suicide bombers in case of renewed violence
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 8/20/2008
The cease-fire agreement struck between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip has brought a semblance of calm to the region, but neither side has stopped preparing for the possible renewal of violence. In Gaza, Islamic Jihad members recently offered TV cameras a rare glimpse into training undergone by women who are prepared to carry out suicide attacks should the Israel Defense Forces reinvade the coastal territory. T he women take as an example Fatma Al-Najar, a 57-year-old grandmother who blew herself up in Gaza in 2006, wounding three soldiers. Related articles: Israeli movie turns camera on female would-be suicide bombersIsraeli film on mothers of suicide bomber, victim tapped for 3 Emmys Fatma Al-Najar, 57, becomes first grandmother suicide bomberAlso on Haaretz.

Report: Homemade projectile ’falls near Sderot’; no injuries
Ma’an News Agency 8/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A homemade projectile apparently fired from the Gaza Strip landed in a field west of the Israeli border town of Sderot on Tuesday evening, Israeli media reported. No injuries were reported. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from any Palestinian group. This was the first such projectile fired since Sunday. Last week Israel briefly imposed total closure on the Gaza Strip’s borders in response to another homemade rocket. Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza entered into a ceasefire on 19 June in which Israel pledged to ease its blockade of Gaza’s borders. Palestinians say Israel has failed to deliver on this latter pledge. [end]

Dichter: We must ensure Gaza ’barrel of explosives’ doesn’t go off on us
Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
"I will ensure that in Ashkelon we will be able to live quiet, normal lives as well as in Netivot and Ofakim," Public Security Minister and Kadima leadership candidate Avi Dichter said Tuesday, some two hours after a Kassam rocket fired from Gaza landed in the Sha’ar Henegev region. Speaking at a rally for Kadima’s Ashkelon mayoral candidate Itamar Shimoni, Dichter called Gaza a "barrel of explosives," saying that Israel must make sure it "explodes in Gaza and not on us. "[end]

Israel warns activists not to break Gaza siege
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/20/2008
ATHENS: Israel has warned a group of human rights activists sailing for the Gaza Strip to break a year-long blockade to steer clear of the territory, the Israeli Embassy in Athens said on Tuesday. "The area to which you are planning to sail is the subject of an [Israeli Navy] advisory notice which warns all foreign vessels to remain clear of the designated maritime zone," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in an open letter to the participants of the Free Gaza Boat Expedition. "We assume that your intentions are good but, in fact, the result of your action is that you are supporting the regime of a terrorist organization in Gaza. "Ruled since June 2007 by Hamas, an Islamist movement that is considered a terrorist organization by the West, the Gaza Strip has been under Israeli blockade for the past year except for scarce humanitarian aid.

Free Gaza Movement: Israeli government recognizes ''humanitarian'' mission to break the siege of Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 8/19/2008
International Actions - Gaza Region - NICOSIA, CYPRUS (18 Aug. 2008) - In a letter today to the Free Gaza Movement, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged that the group of international human rights activists attempting to break the siege of Gaza were "humanitarian," and stated that the Israeli government "assume[s] that your intentions are good. "  Greta Berlin, one of the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement stated that, "Since the Foreign Minister’s office responded to our invitation to join us, and said that we have good intentions, we now fully expect to reach Gaza. " According to recent reports in the Israeli media however, the Israeli military is preparing to use force to stop the nonviolent campaigners from reaching Gaza. It’s not clear if the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs signals. . . -- See also: Free Gaza Movement

Free Gaza Movement expects to make landfall in defiance of Israeli Navy
Ma’an News Agency 8/19/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Free Gaza Movement’s ship will arrive on the island of Cyprus on Tuesday evening, its last stop before its attempt at a siege-defying voyage to the coast of the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, Palestinian lawmaker Jamal Al-Khudari said. Al-Khudari, the Gaza-based deputy head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege says that the ship, which is carrying a cargo of medical supplies, is now expected to arrive in Gaza on Thursday or Friday. In an email message to supporters on Monday evening, the Free Gaza Movement said that it has been recognized as a humanitarian mission by the Israel government. The group forwarded an email from Noam Katz, a spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Katz’s email, however warns the sailors that "the area to which you are planning to sail is the subject of an advisory notice that has been. . .

Israel threatens participants in anti-siege trip
Palestinian Information Center 8/19/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Israeli embassy in Athens threatened Tuesday the group of activists participating in the anti-siege sea trip that the Israeli navy would use armed force if they approached the Gaza shores. The warning was issued in an open letter by the Israeli foreign ministry and published by the Israeli embassy in the Greek capital Athens. The letter called on the activists to surrender the humanitarian aid cargo they brought with them to assist Gaza people or else they would be accused of supporting the Hamas authority in the Strip. For his part, MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, stated, following a telephone call conducted with him by the anti-siege activists, that despite the Israeli threats, the boats will leave Cyprus for Gaza on Thursday evening or Friday morning loaded with medical assistance for Gaza children.

Court halts IDF tribunal against soldier who shot bound Palestinian
DPA, Ha’aretz 8/19/2008
High Court Judge Ayala Procaccia ordered an injunction on Tuesday against the Israel Defense Force’s military tribunal overseeing the case of the IDF soldier who shot a bound Palestinian with a rubber bullet at close range. The move effectively delays the legal proceedings. A Palestinian who was shot in the foot at point-blank range by an Israel Defense Forces soldier petitioned the High Court of Justice on Tuesday demanding that the soldier and his commander be charged with aggravated abuse. Ashraf Abu Rahmeh, 27, was shot during a protest last month in the West Bank village of Na’alin against the construction of the separation fence in Na’alin and nearby Palestinian villages. He was arrested when the demonstration turned violent and protesters began throwing stones at security forces.

Court suspends Ni’lin shooting case
Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
High Court Justice Ayala Procaccia issued an interim injunction on Tuesday suspending legal proceedings against a lieutenant-colonel and a sergeant charged with responsibility for the shooting of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian during a protest in Ni’lin last month. Procaccia also gave the state 21 days to reply to a petition filed by the victim, Ashraf Abu Rahma, and four rights organizations demanding that the army indict the two suspects on more serious charges than "conduct unbecoming a soldier. " The shooting took place on July 7 during one of a series of protests by Ni’lin villagers, other Palestinians and international supporters against earthwork being conducted by the Defense Ministry for a section of the West Bank separation barrier on farmland belonging to the village. Abu Rahma was arrested during the protest.

Court gives state 90 days to resolve Migron controversy
Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
The High Court of Justice has given the state three more months to work out a mutually acceptable arrangement with settlement leaders to remove the residents of the illegal Migron outpost, according to a decision revealed Tuesday. The decision came in response to a brief by the state on August 13 in which it informed the court that settlement leaders had agreed to choose a new site inside the West Bank for the roughly 50 Migron families within 30 days. Palestinians who say they own the land upon which Migron is situated and Peace Now petitioned the court in October 2006, demanding that the state dismantle the outpost, which was built without government authorization. The state admitted immediately that the mobile homes and other structures belonging to the Migron settlers were built on private Palestinian land and must be removed.

After a petition filed by human rights groups, High Court suspends proceedings in Nil’lin case
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/19/2008
Ashraf Abu Rahma, the Palestinian resident who was shot by the soldiers after they bounded and blindfolded him, filed a petition along with Israeli Human Rights groups; B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and Yesh Din, against the Judge Advocate General’s decision to prosecute the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Omri Borberg, and the soldier who fired the shot, Staff Sgt. L, for "unbecoming conduct", the High Court issued a decree nisi, forcing the Judge Advocate General to justify his decision, B’Tselem reported. The court also decided to suspend the military court until a decision is made on the petition. The petition was written by attorneys Limor Yehuda and Dan Yakir of ACRI. The petitioners demanded the court to change the decision against the soldier due to the severity of the offense he carried out when he shot and wounded the bound detainee.

The sister of the soon to be released: We are waiting for all 11,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 8/18/2008
Sena Al A’taba’ spoke with PNN after receiving the news that her brother, long-time political prisoner in Israeli jail, Sa’ed Al A’taba’, is about to be released. He is among the 200 names presented to President Abbas by the Israelis as what they refer to as a "good-will gesture. "Although Palestinian officials say that 200 out of over 11,000 [number reported by the Mandela Institute] falls far short, Sa’ed’s sister is pleased at the possibility of seeing her brother. He has been imprisoned since 1977, well before Oslo in the early 1990s when all prisoners were to be released. But the Israelis never honored that agreement: that is, until now, at least for some. Sena’s brother was arrested on the night of his marriage ceremony just days before his sister was planning to travel abroad. He is among the 200 names presented to President Abbas by the Israelis as what they refer to as a “good-will gesture.

Palestinians slam Israel’s ’revolving door policy’ on prisoners
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Human rights center says Israel detaining far more Palestinians than it is releasing; 1,751 since beginning of year -Officials in the Palestinian Authority do not appear overly enthused by the Israeli cabinet’s recent decision to release 199 prisoners, including detainees with ’blood on their hands’, as a gesture to President Mahmoud Abbas. According to data provided by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the IDF has arrested 1,751 Palestinians in the West Bank since the beginning of the year, including 500 who have been detained since last month’s Mediterranean summit in Paris, during which Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to free more prisoners. Palestinian Legislative Council member Mustafa Barghouti said that since the Annapolis peace conference in late November, Israel has released 788 Palestinians, but detained more than 3,700 others, among them 30 teenagers.

Israeli lawyer gets Palestinian prisoner out of solitary confinement after seven years
Ma’an News Agency 8/19/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An Israeli lawyer working with the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs managed to get prisoner Muhammad Abdi out of solitary confinement after seven years at Ramlah prison on Tuesday. Lawyer Avigdor Feldman secured Abdi’s transfer to Hadareim prison, where he met fellow prisoners again. Palestinian lawyer Jawad Amari, who is in charge of legal affairs at the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs said, that Abdi’s transfer was a step towards getting all other Palestinian prisoners out of solitary confinement. He asserted that the ministry was doing its best, given limited financial resources, to achieve this. He named a number of notable Palestinian prisoners who have been in solitary confinement: Abdullah Barghouthi, Hasan Salamah, Mahmoud Issa, Ahmad Al-Mughrabi, Ibrahim Hamid, Jamal Abu Al-Hayja, Mu’taz Hijazi, Jum’ah Muhawish, PLC member Muhammad Natshah and Abu Humam, amongst others.

Palestinian PM: Israel Should Free More than Just 200 Prisoners
Shahar Ilan, MIFTAH 8/19/2008
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Sunday welcomed Israel’s decision to release close to 200 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority, but said Israel should release even larger numbers of prisoners. The cabinet approved the release of the Palestinian prisoners, including two prisoners "with blood on their hands," meaning they were directly involved in the killing of Israelis, during the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning. " We welcome the release of any Palestinian prisoner. It is considered a victory for Palestinians," he told The Associated Press during a tour of the northern village of Tubas. "We ask Israel to change its conditions for releasing prisoners and we ask for the release of all prisoners without exception. "One of the Palestinians expected to be freed is said to have dispatched terrorists to carry out an attack while another attempted to carry out an attack of his own.

Qatar to Mediate Between Hamas, Fatah
Khaleej Times, MIFTAH 8/19/2008
GAZA - Qatar has entered the mediation efforts between rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas in a new bid to achieve reconciliation between the two sides, Palestinian sources said on Saturday. " Qatar, as a state of strategic weight in the region, seeks to sponsor the mediation between Hamas and Fatah to end the internal split and reunite the two wings of Palestine," the sources said. The split was made last year when Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza and seized control of the coastal Strip. Fatah was driven out to the West Bank where it consolidated its rule while Hamas tightened its grip on Gaza. Qatari officials are holding talks with leaders from Hamas and Fatah to convince them to return to dialogue, the sources added. The Qatari efforts focus on overcoming the consequences of Hamas’ violent takeover of the Strip before Hamas starts dialogue with Fatah. The new efforts come as Egypt, the long-dominant mediator, is also boosting its own efforts to achieve reconciliation between the Palestinian factions.

Fayyad: Palestinian unity still possible through Abbas’ initiative
Ma’an News Agency 8/19/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Restoration of Palestinian unity is still possible through implementation of President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative and the formation of a transitional government to run the country and prepare for elections, said Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday. Fayyad’s comments came during a graduation ceremony for the Palestinian Food Products Industry Syndicate. The celebration was held in association with USAID. The graduating class included 128 experts who were awarded certificates in quality control and inspection. Fayyad added that a national consensus could be achieved through Arab countries’ support to for restored PA control of the Gaza Strip. He said this renewed control would be based on professionalism and objectivity rather than partiality and factionalism. Arab states’ support would help residents of the Gaza Strip during the transitional period until security arrangements are completed.

Hamas May Try Fatah General in Absentia
Khaled Abu Toameh, MIFTAH 8/19/2008
In the first case of its kind, a Hamas "security court" in the Gaza Strip has issued a warrant for the arrest of Gen. Rashid Abu Shabak, the former commander of the Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Service. The warrant gives Abu Shabak 10 days to hand himself over to the Hamas security forces in Gaza City or face being tried in absentia. The court ruled that Abu Shabak should be arrested for misusing public funds and abusing his powers. Abu Shabak, who was one of the most powerful Fatah security commanders in the Gaza Strip prior to Hamas’s takeover of the area in June 2007, has since been living in Cairo together with a number of his colleagues who also fled to Egypt. The court also issued a similar ultimatum to Maj. Manhal Arafat, a top Fatah operative and son of Maj. -Gen. Musa Arafat, the PA Military Intelligence chief who was assassinated in Gaza City three years ago. The Hamas court warned the two men that failure to comply with its rulings would result in the confiscation of all their properties and money.

Hamas, Fatah delegations head to Cairo for reconciliation talks
Reuters, Ha’aretz 8/19/2008
Egypt has invited Palestinian groups to Cairo next week for talks on Palestinian reconciliation, the state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported on Tuesday. The agency quoted an unnamed official as saying Egypt would hold talks with Fatah and Hamas individually and would then organize wider discussions with all the groups simultaneously. The Palestinian delegations are expected to begin arriving on Monday, MENA said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas renewed calls for dialogue with Islamist rivals Hamas in late July and said that Egypt would call representatives of Palestinian groups for dialogue sessions in Cairo. Mistrust and disputes over conditions and terms had buried several calls for a dialogue in the past year. Hamas has always rejected Abbas’s demand that it relinquish control of Gaza, which it seized last. . .

Hamas upset by Fatah prisoner release
Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Israel’s plan to release 200 Fatah prisoners as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has angered Hamas and could result in a policy change regarding any future prisoner exchange deal with Israel to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Slideshow:Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar was quoted Tuesday by the London-based Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying that if only Fatah prisoners are released it will convince Hamas to demand the release of prisoners that "would fit" its agenda. "This type of separation in releasing prisoners is saddening," he added. "We, in Hamas, got the message and will act accordingly despite the fact that until now, our policy regarding prisoner releases was unrelated to political factional membership. " Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that Hamas has rejected an Egyptian offer of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Hamas rejects Arab deployment plan
Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Hamas has rejected a proposal to deploy Arab troops in the Gaza Strip, saying such a move would only deepen divisions among the Palestinians. The proposal, which was presented to Hamas by Egypt and Jordan in recent days, has won the full backing of the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. The initiative has also won the backing of the Saudis, who told visiting PA President Mahmoud Abbas that they would do their utmost to persuade Hamas to accept it, a senior PA official said Tuesday. The proposal calls for deploying an Arab security force in the Gaza Strip to help the Palestinians "reconstruct" their police forces and pave the way for a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation. One of the staunch supporters of the idea is PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, who believes that this would be the only way to end the differences with Hamas.

Hamas Meets Jordanian Official, Says Frozen Ties Starting to Thaw
Reuters, MIFTAH 8/19/2008
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. The sources did not say whether further meetings were planned. The Hamas official said Jordan was interested in reviving contacts with the group, but did not give further details.

Jordanian source: Abbas is upset at Jordan’s openness to Hamas
Palestinian Information Center 8/19/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- An informed Jordanian source disclosed that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas expressed his fears to Jordanian officials about Jordan’s openness to the Hamas Movement, adding that Abbas said these renewed relations with Hamas would weaken his position. The source told the Quds Press on condition of anonymity that Abbas during his visit to Jordan called for isolating Hamas not to restore relations with it. He said that the welcome voiced by a number of PA officials to the current rapprochement between Hamas and Jordan was a media stunt, noting that the serious talks between Hamas leaders and an influential Jordanian figure like intelligence chief Mohamed Al-Dahabi really irritated the PA leadership.  The source expected that the meetings between Hamas and Jordanian officials might continue until the end of the current year, where the picture is contingent on the American elections. . .

Palestinian President Abbas to visit Saudi Arabia
Rula Shahwan, International Middle East Media Center News 8/19/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will arrive in Jeddah on Tuesday afternoon to meet with King Abdullah Ibn Abdel Aziz, Crown Prince Sultan Ibn Abdel Aziz and Foreign Minister prince Saud Al-Faisal. The meetings will be held to address bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, Palestinian concerns, and broader regional issues. Abbas’s visit will be for a couple of hours only, to discuss the situation in Gaza, negotiations with Israel, the Palestinian internal political crisis and Abbas’ initiative for national unity Saudi Arabia has a clear and defined attitude of working towards Palestinian national unity. Mecca’s agreement represents this attitude and is working towards ending the rift in Palestinian society.

Foreign Ministry denies Livni helped get Israeli ID for Palestinian official’s daughter
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 8/19/2008
A foreign ministry official on Tuesday denied that the daughter of senior Palestinian peace negotiator Ahmed Qureia obtained an Israeli identification card, with the intervention of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. According to a recent news report by Channel 10 television, Qureia approached Livni to help his daughter, Mona, obtain a blue Israeli ID card, granted by Israel to very few Palestinians. Following the report, Qureia approached Livni and said his daughter had never been issued a blue ID. The Foreign Ministry then confirmed with the Interior Ministry that Qureia was right, and that his daughter had not received the blue card. 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.

Huckabee backs Jewish land purchases in Arab areas of Jerusalem
Cnaan Liphshiz, Ha’aretz 8/19/2008
Following up his objection to any division of Jerusalem in an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday praised moves to boost the Jewish presence in Arab areas of Jerusalem through property purchases. His host for his two-day trip is The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a New York foundation working to move Jews into the Muslim Quarter of the capital’s Old City. The foundation, Huckabee says, is "going about the process the right way. Not of forcibly taking territory but the old fashioned way of purchasing land and having families move in. "The former governor says he does not see any problem with the income gap between Jewish home buyers and poorer Palestinian sellers, describing the difference as "an economical reality" rather than a political one.

Visits to east Jerusalem sites up dramatically
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
The Company for the Development of East Jerusalem reported 28 percent growth in the number of visitors to the historical sites in and around the Old City’s walls during the first six months of 2008. "More Israelis have rediscovered Jerusalem this year and they visit it more frequently then they used to do in the past," Gideon Shamir, the company’s director-general, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. During the first half of the year, 143,967 people visited the Ophel Archeological Park, situated at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, a 24% rise over the same period in 2007, the company said. The Old City Ramparts saw 74,728 people walk on them from January to June, a up 29% from the same months in 2007. Both sections of the Promenade begin at the Jaffa Gate; one route passes through the New Gate, Herod’s Gate and the Lions’ Gate (aka St.

Prominent Jerusalem lawyer Hussein Ghanem tells PNN: Palestinian institutions must support young
exclusive / PNN, Palestine News Network 8/19/2008
Fadi Yacoub -- The prominent Jerusalemite lawyer, Hussein Ghanem called for unconditional support for Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem by Palestinian institutions. He described the situation faced by Jerusalemites as urgent as they face Israeli actions aimed at encouraging the migration of the Palestinian population from the holy city, including the withdrawal of Jerusalem identity cards and access to national insurance and healthcare. The call came in an exclusive interview with PNN in which the lawyer warned of the necessity of supporting Palestinian Jerusalemites financially and through other means in order that they can afford to remain living in Jerusalem and not be compelled to look for housing in the West Bank, outside the Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. Palestinians leaving Jerusalem would then be likely to face the Israelis’ removal of their Jerusalem residency rights.

How powerful is Israel’s lobby in Washington?
Middle East Online 8/19/2008
WASHINGTON - Criticizing and exposing the powerful public role of American Zionism in shaping US policy in the Middle East is the biggest taboo in US politics. Politicians, academics, journalists, prelates and ordinary American citizens who publicly voice their dissent are targeted for political purges, denied academic tenure, and access to the mass media and scurrilously labeled as ‘anti-Semites’ by the Zionist power configuration. The book Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power by James Petras challenges the claims of Zionist apologists who argue that the ‘Israel power configuration’ is just another lobby, by empirically examining several major policies. The case studies demonstrate conclusively that today issues of war and peace, trade and investment agreements by US, European and Asian oil companies and banks in the Middle East, multi-billion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia are all subject to ZPC scrutiny and veto.

Al Jazeera demands an Israeli apology
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 8/19/2008
A lawyer for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera News Agency demanded that the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, apologize for publishing a faulty report in its printed and online editions. The report in question claimed that Al Jazeera had apologized to Israel for a weekly report which focused on Sameer Al Quntar, a Lebanese fighter who was release recently in a prisoner-swap deal after more than 30 years in Israeli prison. The lawyer added that Al Jazeera never apologized and was never asked to apologize after it published the "Open Dialogue" program focusing on Quntar on August 7. Waddah Khanfar, the general director of Al Jazeera, issued a press release stating that a statement released by Al Jazeera did not include any apology to Israel. The statement revealed that several speakers who participated in the program violated the "media honor code" of Al Jazeera, and described this issue as a serious violation.

Russian official reveals Israeli military assistance to Georgia
News agencies, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Deputy chief of staff holds press conference in Moscow, details extent of Israeli aide to Georgian army; blames latter for breaching ceasefire agreement - General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of staff of the Russian Military revealed Tuesday the extent of the military assistance Moscow claimed Jerusalem had given Georgia. " Israel armed the Georgian army," he told reported at a press conference held in the Russian capital. According to Nogovitsyn, Israel provided Georgia with "eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for the clearing minefields. " Since 2007, he continued, Israeli experts have been training Georgian commando troops; and Israel had planned to supply Georgia with heavy firearms, electronic weapons and tanks, but that plan was eventually scrapped.

Salafist groups ’freeze’ agreement with hizbullah
The Daily Star, Daily Star 8/20/2008
BEIRUT: Salafist groups announced on Tuesday their decision to "temporarily freeze" a memorandum of understanding they signed with Shiite group Hizbullah one day earlier. "The agreement will be temporarily frozen pending appropriate circumstances that allow for its implementation," Sheikh Hassan al-Shahhal, who signed the memorandum with Hizbullah’s Sheikh Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed told a news conference in Tripoli Tuesday evening. He added that the Sunni community "needed more than ever to stand united and shun divisions. "Shahhal said the memo "needs to be carefully studied. " Shahhal held a joint conference with his cousin, alleged founder of the Salafist movements in Lebanon Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal, who said on Monday that the memorandum was "insignificant. "The eight-item memorandum between Hizbullah and representatives of Sunni Salafist groups banned internal strife between Muslims as well as all forms of sectarian incitement.

Analysis: Hizbullah’s ’political Jujutsu’: Using its leverage in Lebanon
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
The accord that Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hizbullah group signed this week with some local Sunni factions to defuse sectarian tension is a strategic political move intended to signal its leverage and its ability to build bridges with even the most unlikely of allies, experts say. "This shows how good Hizbullah is at capitalizing on the politics of the moment, to show how responsible it is, how effective it can be. . . what leverage it has in stretching across the Shi’ite-Sunni divide, and particularly amongst the groups that have been most problematic for Lebanon’s stability," said Magnus Ranstorp, a Hizbullah expert at the Swedish National Defense College. Monday’s agreement prohibits any Muslim group from attacking fellow Muslims. It was signed by the Iranian-backed Hizbullah and some Salafist groups, followers of a radical form of Sunni Islam.

Olmert: No holding back against Hizbullah
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Prime minister tours Homefront Command bases, responds to the possibility of renewed attacks in northern Israel, states Israel will go all out if ’Lebanon becomes a land of Hizbullah’ - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that Israel "would not hold back" in the face of renewed Hizbullah attacks on northern Israel. According to the prime minister, Hizbullah is arming itself with weapons designed to target civilians. "The Homefront Command’s job, in such a war, will be more critical to Israel than ever before. " During a visit to the IDF Homefront Command’s headquarters, Olmert noted that Israel had "massive capabilities and tools during the Second Lebanon War that it refrained from using, because it was fighting a terror organization, not a state. " If Lebanon becomes a "land of Hizbullah", however, the rules of the game will apparently change.

Sheetrit: PM needn’t be a general
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Internal affairs minister launches bid for Kadima primary elections, pledges to change method of government. Stings leading rivals Livni, Mofaz - ’some of the candidates only supported by the media’ -Internal Affairs Minister Meir Sheetrit launched his campaign for chairmanship of the Kadima party on Tuesday evening, stressed the importance of political experience, stating that "the fate of the party and the state can’t be gambled away by letting people without experience jump right into senior positions. " "The prime minister does not need to be a general," Sheetrit told supporters at a rally in Holon, adding that he believed it would bemisguide to elect anyone who comes straight from military service or the private sector, and whose popularity has only been derived from media exposure. "With me the phone wouldn’t ring at 3:00 a.

Interior Minister Sheetrit announces candidacy for Kadima leadership
Mazal Mualem and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/19/2008
Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit announced his candidacy on Tuesday for the leadership of Kadima at a news conference in Holon. The veteran politician will square off against frontrunner Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, and Avi Dichter. "We are not permitted to gamble away the future of the state and the future of the party," the interior minister said. "People without enough experience are immediately jumping into senior positions without taking the long, hard route of accumulating knowledge and experience over the years. ""The prime minster does not have to be a general," Sheetrit added. When asked about the publicized dust-up between Livni and Labor Party chairman Ehud Barak, who have been going back and forth on the question of who is most qualified to answer the phone at 3 A.

Israel’s Kadima primary shapes up as race between Mr. Security and Mrs. Clean
Inter Press Service, Daily Star 8/20/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Members of Kadima face a vexing choice ahead of the ruling party’s leadership primary next month: Do they support Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz, who may have the best chance of cobbling together a new governing coalition, or do they back Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni because polls show that Kadima under her leadership would significantly outperform a Mofaz-led Kadima in a general election? It all depends on which scenario Kadima members believe is more likely - that a new government can be carved out of the current Parliament or not. After a new Kadima leader is elected - the first round of voting is on September 17 and a second will be held a week later if no one gets more than 40 percent - they will be given six weeks to form a new government. If they fail, early elections will follow within 90 days.

Shas concerned Labor will fold on budget
Rebecca Anna Stoil, Jerusalem Post 8/20/2008
In a game of political "chicken" in advance of Sunday’s cabinet vote on the 2009 state budget, Shas promised Tuesday to remain steadfast in its demands and expressed concern that Labor Party ministers would eventually waver in their opposition to both budget options presented by Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On. Slideshow:Channel 10 reported late Tuesday night that Kadima and Labor had reached a deal under which the latter would support the budget proposal. Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak’s vehement opposition to the budget, voiced following last Sunday’s cabinet meeting, put him on a collision course with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but on Tuesday, both sides played down the strife between the two party leaders. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon (Labor) eagerly offered a description of a Tuesday-morning phone call between Olmert and Barak that he said had helped to ease the tension.

Olmert to face sixth police grilling session
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/20/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: For the sixth time since May, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to be questioned by police this week over allegations of graft, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Tuesday. Friday’s questioning, to take place at Olmert’s official residence in Occupied Jerusalem, should last two and a half hours, Rosenfeld said. It will be the third such interview since the beleaguered premier announced on July 30 he would step down after his centrist Kadima party holds primary elections in mid-September. Olmert, 62, is under investigation in six different cases of alleged wrongdoing in the years before he took office in 2006, when he was mayor of Occupied Jerusalem and trade and industry minister. Anti-fraud officers will question Olmert over several of the cases, army radio said. - AFP

Olmert aides: We’ll win war on budget
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Source close to PM says debate over 2009 budget ’matter of principle, not power struggle between Barak and Olmert’, adds Olmert ’determined to prevent campaign economics’ -"There are a number of political elements, such as Labor and Shas, which are looking to score sectorial achievements at the expense of the general public," an aide to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday in light of Labor’s decision to vote against the 2009 State Budget, as introduced by Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On. Labor adopted the recommendation brought forth by party member Avishay Braverman and will demand that the government expenditures framework will be boosted by 2. 5% rather than 1. 7%. Flexing MusclesLabor to vote against state budget / Attila Somfalvi Political crisis brewing? Labor decides to vote against 2009 state budget, will intensify efforts to convince. . .

Olmert to face additional round of police questioning on Friday
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 8/19/2008
Israel Police spokespman officer says investigators are to quiz Prime Minister Ehud Olmert again on corruption allegations in what will be the sixth round of questioning so far. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said detectives would interview Olmert at his official residence in Jerusalem on Friday morning. Olmert is suspected of improperly accepting funds from U. S. businessman Morris Talanksy and of violations in funding trips abroad. Talansky previously testified that he gave Olmert $150 thousand, mostly in cash, for political campaigns and travel expenses. Olmert has said he will resign once the Kadima party picks a new leader in September. Friday’s session with fraud squad detectives is scheduled to last around two and a half hours, Rosenfeld said Tuesday.

''Our Village, Our Recipe,'' a culinary journey through Palestine, is the centerpiece of Ma’an TV’s Ramadan lineup
Ma’an News Agency 8/19/2008
Qalqilia – Ma’an – Ma’an Network and Palestine TV will take viewers on a culinary journey through Palestine with a new series titled "Our Village, Our Recipe" which will be aired during the Islamic month of Ramadan, beginning on 1 September. Each episode of the show takes a look at the historical and cultural heritage of one Palestinian village. At the end of every edition, a resident of the village demonstrates how to cook a local specialty. Ma’an Network worked with its local partner stations across Palestine to film the series. Ma’an Network Director of TV programming Nahid Abu T’eimah said the show is one of sever that the network will produce in association with Palestine TV with the aim of transmitting Palestinian life and culture to the rest of the Arab world. Abu T’eimah referred to another show called "From the Heart of Our Capital" which is being shot in the alleyways of Jerusalem.

Syria’s assad to visit Moscow
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/20/2008
MOSCOW: Syrian President Bashar Assad plans to visit Russia on Wednesday at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. "On August 20-21, 2008, the president of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar Assad, will make a working visit to Russia at the invitation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev," the Kremlin said in a statement, providing no further details on the agenda for the visit. It was announced as Russia faced mounting international pressure to pull its forces out of Georgia and as Moscow signaled it was in no rush to do so. Assad visited Moscow in December 2006, when he said that, as an influential power in the Middle East, Syria was open to dialogue with the United States but would not take "instructions" from Washington. Russia’s conflict with Georgia has also turned into a standoff between Moscow and Washington.

Profit triples at Africa-Israel Properties
Globes'' correspondent and Michal Yoshai, Globes Online 8/19/2008
Financial figures show growth at the company despite the breakdown of talks to sell its malls to the Azrieli Group. Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL ; Pink Sheets:AFIVY ) subsidiaryAfrica-Israel Properties Ltd. (TASE:AFPR ) today published its consolidated financial report for the second quarter of 2008. The company posted a net profit of NIS 64. 7 million compared with a net loss of NIS 22. 4 million for the corresponding quarter of 2007. Operating profit nearly tripled to NIS 141. 5 million from NIS 51 million for the corresponding quarter. Africa-Israel Properties posted NIS 214. 2 million revenue for the second quarter, 2. 4 times its NIS 89. 1 million revenue for the corresponding quarter. Rental revenue rose 62. 4% to NIS 105. 1 million from NIS 64. 7 million. The company attributed part of the growth the purchase of its partner’s 50% holding in Half Jubilee Ltd.

US, South African Jews to build 300 units in Jerusalem
Ariel Rosenberg, Globes Online 8/19/2008
The investors are planning a large project in Givat Shaul. A group of US and South African Jews has bought a nine-dunam (2. 25-acre) site in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem for $23 million, on which they plan to build more than 300 apartments for the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community. The price amounts to $77,000 per land per apartment. The investors will submit a plan to consolidate the lots in order to build nine buildings with 34,000 square meters of residential space alone. The total investment in the project will reach NIS 200 million and proceeds are expected to exceed NIS 300 million, leaving a net profit of around NIS 70 million. The haredi community accounts for a substantial part of the Jerusalem housing market, but few haredim can afford to buy the luxury apartments that have been built in the city in recent years.

Ex-Mossad chief: Ahmadinejad is Israel’s greatest gift
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 8/20/2008
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s incendiary anti-Israel outbursts have united the international community against his country, thus serving a key Israeli interest, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy told an American-sponsored Arab satellite television network on Tuesday. "Ahmadinejad is our greatest gift," Halevy told the Arab language television network Al-Hurra on Tuesday. "We couldn’t carry out a better operation at the Mossad than to put a guy like Ahmadinejad in power in Iran. " Halevy added that the Iranian president’s extremist statements "proved to everyone that Iran of today is an Iran that is impossible to live with. [Ahmadinejad] unites the entire world against Iran. "Halevy told Time magazine in an interview published last month that an Israeli attack on Iran "could have an impact on us for the next 100 years" and should only be considered as a last resort.

Top Iranian cleric chides VP over Israeli remarks
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/20/2008
TEHRAN: A top Iranian cleric has chastised a leading aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over his controversial remarks that Iranians are "friends with Israelis," the press reported on Tuesday. Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi questioned the competence of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaie to hold office over his comments, which sparked fury among MPs, Islamist student groups and some clerics. "There is no doubt that the Israeli regime and people are both against Islam and Muslims, occupying their lands. . . so how could we speak of friendship with them? "Marakem Shirazi was quoted as saying by the conservative Jomhuri Eslami newspaper. "Why should people who think like that be one of the president’s colleagues? "he added. Rahim-Mashaie, vice president in charge of tourism, is one of Ahmadinejad’s closest allies and earlier this year his daughter married the president’s son.

Iran preparing to build more nuclear power plants
Dudi Cohen and AP, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Head of state-owned nuclear energy production company says signed agreements with other domestic firms to find locations to build new nuclear power plants within 13 months -Iran’s official news agency says the country is preparing to build more nuclear power plants. Tuesday’s IRNA report quotes Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh, the head of a state-owned nuclear energy production company. He says his company signed agreements with six other domestic firms to find locations to build new nuclear power plants. He says the process could take about 13 months. Iran has previously announced plans to build six more nuclear power plants by 2021. About a year ago the Iranian government issued an international tender calling on foreign construction companies to bid on two nuclear power plants.

Iran picks six firms to hunt for new nuclear sites
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/20/2008
TEHRAN: Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization on Tuesday tasked six local companies to hunt for potential sites for new nuclear power plants, the official news agency IRNA reported. "These six domestic companies have been given 13 months to find appropriate locations to build new atomic power plants," the director of the agency’s nuclear energy production department, Ahmad Fayaz Bakhsh, was quoted as saying. "After finalizing the locations, construction of the power plants can begin," he said, without mentioning how many would be built. The announcement came with Iran facing a fourth set of UN sanctions over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, a process used to manufacture nuclear fuel but which can also be diverted to make the core of an atomic bomb. Iran has vehemently denied Western allegations it is seeking to build nuclear weapons and insists it only wants to produce energy for its growing population.

US official: Iranian satellite launch was ’a dramatic failure’
Jpost.com Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Iran’s attempt to launch a dummy satellite into orbit earlier this week was a "dramatic failure" that fell far short of the country’s assertions of success, Reuters quoted a US official as saying on Tuesday. Slideshow:"The attempted launch failed," the official said. "The vehicle failed shortly after liftoff and in no way reached its intended position. It could be characterized as a dramatic failure. " On Sunday, Iran said it had put a dummy satellite into orbit on a home-grown rocket for the first time, using a technology that could also be used for launching weapons. Despite stonewalling and frustrating efforts by the IAEA and Western powers to discern the nature of Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic Republic asserts that it has no plans to militarize its nuclear project and insists that it seeks nuclear technology to generate electricity.

US: Iranian launch of dummy satellite failed, but still worrying
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 8/19/2008
American military official says part of rocket that is supposed to hold satellite detached during test. White House: Iranians development and testing of rockets, troubling, raises further questions about their intentions -A source in the US Military said Sunday’s launching of an Iranian dummy satellite into orbit on a home-grown rocket was "not as successful as the Tehran claimed it to be". The US official was quoted by the London-based Arabic language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat as saying the part of the rocket that is supposed to hold the satellite was detached during the test, adding that recent Iranian statements, such as talk of developing anti-ship missiles, "do not indicate peaceful intentions on Tehran’s part".

NATO ministers review ties with Russia
Associated Press, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Rice, NATO counterparts expected to curtail high-level meetings, military cooperation with Russia if its troops do not pull back in Georgia. ’Allies must ensure Russia does not learn the wrong lessons from the events of the last two weeks,’ British FM Miliband says - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her NATO counterparts reviewed their relations with Moscow Tuesday and were expected to curtail high-level meetings and military cooperation with Russia if its troops do not pull back in Georgia. At an emergency meeting at the NATO headquarters, the allies planned to send a message of support to Georgia. "The first priority is to provide practical and political support to Georgia," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on arrival at the NATO foreign ministers meeting. He said the allies must "ensure Russia does not learn the wrong lessons from the events of the last two weeks.

BoI expects stable foreign investment
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Israel’s admission to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and its possible reclassification from emerging market to developed market is not expected to have a negative impact on foreign investment, the Bank of Israel said Monday. "Israel’s accession to the OECD and to the list of developed economies would certainly improve its international standing, lower its cost of borrowing and oblige it to meet the accepted international standards on all matters related to economic policy," the Bank of Israel’s Shelly Reiss and Nimrod Mevorach said in a report. Their study examined the effects on capital inflows of Israel’s expected accession to the OECD. "In this sense, the commitment itself is likely to lead to a further improvement in Israel’s economic fundamentals and to make it more attractive to foreign investors," the report said.

Technion MBA program switches to English
Ehud Zion Waldoks, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
Taking a step into the global village, the Technion’s MBA program will be taught exclusively in English from now on. Program dean Prof. Boaz Golany hopes to achieve several aims by switching to English, he told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. The idea is to prepare students for the international business world and to encourage more foreign students to come here to study, he explained. "The decision came about as a result of a process of self-evaluation initiated by the Council for Higher Education in 2006-2007. They invited an international evaluation committee which looked at 14 MBA programs in Israel," Golany told the Post. "The conclusions of the Greenbaum committee were very harsh. One of their major recommendations was to switch the language of instruction to English as the global language of the business world," he said.

Human Rights Ministry in Iraq calls for trial of torturers
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 8/20/2008
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry says it wants to put on trial torturers who benefit from full immunity despite what it says are dozens of proven cases of abuse in the country’s prisons. "We call on the government and judicial authorities to ensure the protection of prisoners, to punish torturers and not to include them on amnesty lists," said Saad Sultan, head of the ministry’s prisons supervision service. Iraq, which on Sunday announced it has ratified the UN convention against torture, has no law against the practice. "It’s true that there is no specific law, but [torturers] could be charged for voluntary blows and injuries," the senior official told AFP late Monday. He said 121 "proven cases" of detainees - including three women - being tortured had been unearthed in 2007. Two-thirds of them were in Interior Ministry facilities and the rest in centers run by the Defense Ministry.

IRAQ: Threat of ethnic tension, violence in Kirkuk
IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 8/19/2008
BAGHDAD, 19 August 2008 (IRIN) - Ethnic tension and violence could erupt if decisions on the future of the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk are imposed without agreement among its residents, an analyst said on 17 August. "I do believe that the best solution for Kirkuk is that it be run as a separate region - after resolving all pending issues between its segments, conducting a census and then letting its population determine its fate through a referendum, instead of one party imposing a solution," Amer Hassan al-Fayadh, a lecturer at Baghdad university, told IRIN. Oil-rich Kirkuk lies just outside the autonomous region of Kurdistan. A referendum on the city’s status was supposed to be held no later than 31 December 2007 but was shelved after Arabs and Turkomans accused the Kurds of flooding the city with their ethnic kin.

Former MI chief Binyamin Gibli dies
Roi Mandel, YNetNews 8/19/2008
Forced to step down following Lavon Affair in mid-50’s, the 89-year-old went on to number of high-profile positions in business sector - Former Military Intelligence chief, Col. Binyamin Gibli (res), died on Tuesday afternoon in Tel Aviv at the age of 89. His funeral will apparently be scheduled for Wednesday. "He gave a lot for the country, he fought for it since he was very young," his brother, Avshalom Gibli, told Ynet. Col. Gibli was one of the highest ranking figures in the scandal that came to be knows as the ’Lavon Affair. ’ Israel was at war with Egypt when it hatched a plan in 1954 to ruin its rapprochement with the United States and Britain by firebombing sites frequented by foreigners in Cairo and Alexandria. But Israeli hopes the attacks, which caused no casualties, would be blamed on local insurgents collapsed when the young Jewish-Egyptian bombers were caught and confessed at public trials.


Articles


Blocking a Gazan’s Path to San Diego
Fidaa Abed, MIFTAH 8/19/2008
      As a young Palestinian from Gaza, I had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to study at the University of California San Diego on a Fulbright scholarship. The chance to escape Gaza’s confines and immerse myself in an American education was deeply thrilling. With Israel controlling Gaza’s border exits, air space and sea access – notwithstanding its “pullout” of 2005 – I imagined the long, open roads of the United States and its people’s unchallenged freedom of movement.
     I love my people and my homeland, but a young person needs opportunities. These are far more abundant in the United States than in the besieged Gaza Strip.
     Last week, I landed in Washington, D.C., brimming with optimism. Upon arrival, I was whisked into a separate room. An American official informed me that he had just received information about me that he could not reveal. However, it required him to put me on the next plane home. I was shocked. And I was taken aback at the cruelty of snatching away my educational dreams at the last possible moment.

Georgia: Israel’s Home Sweet Home

Hesham Tillawi, MIFTAH 8/19/2008
      The Israeli Georgian Connection is more than a thousand years old. Most of the Jewish residents of Israel are of the same stock as of the Jews of Georgia. Non should be shocked to discover the depth of Israel’s involvement in the Georgian/Russian conflict. Once examined, the historical blood relation between Israeli Jews and Georgian Jews, it all becomes clear. Let us take a look first at the current relationship after which we will prove the historical connection between them a little later..
     Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili said Saturday August 9, 2008 one day after Georgia attacked South Ossetia–“The Israelis should be proud of themselves for the Israeli training and education received by the Georgian soldiers…”
     The Jerusalem Post on August 12, 2008 reported: “Georgian Prime Minister Vladimer (Lado) Gurgenidze(Jewish) made a special call to Israel Tuesday morning to receive a blessing from one of the Haredi community’s most important rabbis and spiritual leaders, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman.” The Prime Minister of Georgia, principally a nation of Orthodox Christians called Rabbi Steinman saying ‘I’ve heard he is a holy man. I want him to pray for us and our state.’

Swiss bank excludes company involved with illegal tramway

Adri Nieuwhof, Electronic Intifada 8/19/2008
      Palestine solidarity activists based in Basel, Switzerland demanded Bank Sarasin to divest from Veolia Environnement in early June, because of its involvement in the illegal tramway being built by Israel that runs through occupied East Jerusalem. Within a month Bank Sarasin replied with a five-page response, to explain its longstanding practice of assessing its sustainable investments. In its letter, Bank Sarasin referenced articles published by The Electronic Intifada, and stated that while it "is completely aware that the project in East Jerusalem is significant from a local perspective," it evaluates Veolia from the perspective of its worldwide activities.
     Another financial institution, The Swiss Alternative Bank (ABS), refers clients to Bank Sarasin’s sustainable investment funds. Established in 1990 at the initiative of people active in the area of development cooperation and environment, ABS holds offices in several parts of Switzerland and is a member of the the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. Inspired by the initiative of Palaestina-Solidaritaet, a client informed ABS about Bank Sarasin’s refusal to divest from Veolia. In response, ABS acknowledged that these investments are controversial and explained that Veolia does not meet its newly developed strict criteria for investment. As a result, ABS expects Bank Sarasin to influence Veolia to withdraw from the tramway project or to sell its shares in Veolia.

Is this the way?

Daniel Gavron, Jerusalem Post 8/19/2008
      Why would a pamphlet published 60 years ago be of any interest today? This was the question I asked myself, when it arrived on my computer recently, in response to a public discussion in which I had participated in London. Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian, noted academic and peace activist Tony Klug and I had debated "Two-states for two peoples: solution or illusion?" At the end of the evening, Prof. Michael Zander approached me about his late father, Walter Zander, and subsequently e-mailed me his Web site (www,walterzander.info). I was fascinated by both the books and essays, but particularly struck by a 45-page pamphlet he wrote in 1947.
     "Is This the Way?" was published early in 1948 by Victor Gollancz, price one shilling. While much of the material relates very much to its own time, I was astounded at how relevant its insights are to our situation today. The German-born Zander was the secretary of the Friends of the Hebrew University in Britain for almost three decades. A lawyer by training, he was a prolific author, writing about everything from economics and legal matters to Soviet Jewry and the holy sites in this country.
     "Is This the Way?" was composed in the dramatic period between the United Nations vote partitioning Palestine in November 1947 and the declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948. Very much in defiance of the triumphal mood in the Jewish community at that time, Zander criticizes the Zionist policy toward the Arabs. IN ITSELF, this is not remarkable. There were several critics of the Zionist movement’s policy - or rather lack of policy - toward the Arabs. What makes Zander’s essay special is his insistence that, with a Jewish state on the way, we Jews should stop blaming everybody else for our problems and take responsibility ourselves. In the shadow of the Holocaust and with the nascent Jewish state fighting for its life, it must have required great courage to stake out such a position.

The Only Alternative to Two States is Conflict

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 8/19/2008
      With Palestinians facing greater and greater difficulties in their struggle to achieve an independent state in the territories occupied by Israel in the war of 1967, a serious debate has been sparked over the viability of the two-state solution.
     The continuing Israeli changes to the reality of these territories--whether through the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and related infrastructure including the wall, or the disintegration of these territories through a comprehensive system of checkpoints and other forms of barriers--and the stagnation of the political process have further shaken Palestinian faith that a two-state solution is the most viable and suitable.
     The Israeli-imposed separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank--which was deepened after the Israeli redeployment from Gaza and further exacerbated by the subsequent confrontations between Fateh and Hamas that left Gaza under the control of one and the West Bank under the control of the other--have also raised further question marks about the possibility of a two-state solution.

Failing Darwish’s legacy

Sumia Ibrahim, Electronic Intifada 8/19/2008
      Last Wednesday’s state funeral in Ramallah for the revered Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish revealed how far the Palestinian people are from realizing the justice imagined in Darwish’s writing, and was a sad reminder of how the Palestinian Authority (PA) helps undermine his people’s struggle.
     On the day that Darwish’s body was laid to rest, amid tens of thousands of Palestinians mourning in the streets and many more in their homes, his criticisms of and hopes for the Palestinian and Israeli governments and societies remained unheeded and unrealized. However, Darwish’s official funeral at the PA headquarters, with all of its military pomp, demonstrated that the PA had its own interests in mind over that of respecting, never mind fulfilling, Darwish’s message and legacy.
     Darwish joined the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1973 but broke 20 years later in disagreement with their signing with Israel the Oslo Accords which Darwish believed did not even minimally fulfill Palestinians’ rights. The Oslo Accords established the PA and initiated the "peace process" supposedly aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state, but were null and voided after Israel doubled its illegal settlement population in the years that followed, dashing any hopes of Palestinian sovereignty.

Palestinians Lose a Voice

Mohammed Omer, Inter Press Service 8/19/2008
      GAZA CITY, Aug 19(IPS) - In the death of poet Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine has lost a voice.
     It was a voice that carried into the hearts of Palestinians, and far across the world. His poems were translated into 22 languages, including Hebrew.
     Darwish, who died last Saturday Aug. 9, was born in the northern Palestinian village Birwah, six years before the state of Israel came into being. When that happened in 1948, Darwish and his family fled the massacres to Lebanon.
     He returned the following year, too late to be included in Israel’s census of Palestinians who had remained. There was no record of his existence, his village had been erased from the new map drawn up by the Israelis.
     This was the fate of at least three-quarters of a million Palestinians.

The Anger, the Longing, the Hope

Uri Avnery, Middle East Online 8/19/2008
      One of the wisest pronouncements I have heard in my life was that of an Egyptian general, a few days after Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem.
     We were the first Israelis to come to Cairo, and one of the things we were very curious about was: how did you manage to surprise us at the beginning of the October 1973 war?
     The general answered: "Instead of reading the intelligence reports, you should have read our poets."
     I reflected on these words last Wednesday, at the funeral of Mahmoud Darwish.
     During the funeral ceremony in Ramallah he was referred to again and again as "the Palestinian National Poet".
     But he was much more than that. He was the embodiment of the Palestinian destiny. His personal fate coincided with the fate of his people.
     He was born in al-Birwa, a village on the Acre-Safad roa

People: DARWISH, Mahmoud -- Writer

Electronic Intifada 8/19/2008
      Described as the Arab world’s poet laureate, Mahmoud Darwish passed away in Houston, Texas on 9 August 2008 at the age of 67.His life and words reflect the experience of a generation of Palestinians, and upon his death, observers noted that his words will preserve the spirit of resistance that Israel failed to destroy as it wreaked destruction wherever Darwish and his people went.
     Darwish’s birthplace, al-Birweh village near Acre, was destroyed by invading Israeli forces during the Nakba -- the period that witnessed the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the destruction of the Palestinian homeland. Along with hundreds of thousands of other Palestine refugees, Darwish’s family fled to Lebanon, but later risked death by returning to what became Israel. There Darwish’s family lived under military rule second-class citizens in a self-declared Jewish state.
     The author Ahdaf Soueif, writing in The Guardian, recalls: "He was seven when -- in the Nakba of 1948 -- he fled from Birweh, his village in the Galilee. At the age of 12, living in Deir al-Asad, in what had become Israel, with a reputation as a precocious child poet, he was asked to compose a poem for a public reading. The occasion was the celebration of Israel’s "Independence Day" and the poem he read described the feelings of a child who returns to his town to find other people sleeping in his bed, tilling his father’s lands. He was summoned to the military governor who told him that if he continued to write subversive material his father’s work permit would be revoked." Decades later, Israeli officials continued their attempts to muffle Darwish’s voice by preventing the Education Minister from including even Darwish’s non-political poems in the Isareli education curriculum.