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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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31 August 2008

Abbas rejects Olmert’s bid to seal partial peace deal
Compiled by, Daily Star 9/1/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israel’s idea of an interim peace agreement at a Sunday summit, a Palestinian negotiator said, insisting on an all-or-nothing approach that virtually ruled out an accord by a January target date. The latest meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was their shortest, lasting less than an hour. Neither side pointed to progress. Olmert entered the meeting in a weakened position after his decision to submit his resignation this month when his party picks a new leader. Just two days before Abbas arrived for talks at Olmert’s residence Sunday, Israeli police passed through the same entrance to interrogate Olmert for the seventh time in a series of corruption cases. Abbas, too, is not in a strong political position, having lost control of Gaza to the Islamist Hamas movement last year.

Palestinians continue to leave Gaza as Rafah crossing remains open
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 8/31/2008
Gaza_(dpa) _ The Rafah crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt opened its gates for a second day Sunday, for the benefit of stranded Palestinians, students, and people seeking medical attention. Police officials said 1,952 people crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, most of them residents of Arab and foreign countries stranded in the Strip since January. At the same time, 882 Palestinians who had been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border crossed back into the salient, police spokesman Mohammed Adwan said. Another 400 Palestinian patients and their companions were expected to leave the Strip Sunday to receive medical treatment in Egypt or in other countries. Rafah, Gaza’s main crossing point to the Arab world, has been completely shut for over a year, ever since Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and seized control of the salient.

Demonstrations in Ni’lin continue after a 4 month old baby is injured and a 9 year old shot in the head
Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 8/30/2008
On Thursday morning Occupation forces stormed the town in an attempt to suppress protests and intimidate the people of Ni’lin. The military gathered close to the girls’ secondary school and fired tear gas and sound bombs, terrifying the the children. They fired on various homes and directly into the home of Said Salim Khawaje, whose 4 month old baby suffered from the suffocating gas. They later attacked a Bedouin family who lives close to the path of the Apartheid Wall outside the village. However, the attacks did not block the protests from taking place. The Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall called for a commercial strike lasting three hours, and around 3 pm the villagers began marching to their lands which are slated for destruction. The Occupation forces shot at the protesters with live rounds, rubber coated bullets and tear gas.

ISRAEL-OPT: Settler violence against Palestinians on the rise
Shabtai Gold/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/1/2008
HEBRON, 31 August 2008 (IRIN) - Violence by settlers perpetrated against Palestinians has been on the rise in recent weeks in Hebron and the surrounding areas, residents and international observers said. "These areas are hot spots for violence and are priority areas for us," said Matteo Benatti, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC’s) delegation in the city. He was referring to H2, the part of Hebron under Israeli control, and the rural southern part of the district, also mostly under Israel’s jurisdiction, according to the accords of the 1990s with the Palestinians. "Day and night, night and day, it makes no difference, the settlers always abuse us," said Jamal, a Palestinian refugee in his mid-40s. Given the city’s violent history and perpetual troubles, the settlement in the middle of a Palestinian urban area, not surprisingly, attracts radical figures,. . .

Israel tells Hamas to soften its demand to free over 1,000 prisoners for Shalit
Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Israel sent a message to Hamas on Sunday telling it to retract its demand that Israel free more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Foreign Ministry director general Aharon Abramovitz sent the message during a meeting in Cairo on Sunday with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, in which he said Hamas must stop raising the price for Shalit’s freedom. Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said Saturday the group would not settle for its earlier demand for 450 Palestinian prisoners, but is seeking the release of more than 1,000 in exchange for Shalit. Last week, Egyptian officials told Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Hamas wants 1,500 Palestinian prisoners set free in exchange for Shalit, with the release of 450 prisoners considered only the first of two stages of the deal.

Olmert to Abbas: You’re not supposed to meet killers
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Prime Minister Olmert reprimands Palestinian leader over his meeting with released murderer Samir Kuntar; Abbas requests another prisoner release but Olmert’s associates say PM made no such pledge - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reprimanded Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas Sunday for meeting with released murderer Samir Kuntar in Lebanon. "You’re not supposed to meet with killers," Olmert said during a meeting between the two in Jerusalem. In his visit to Beirut three days ago, the Palestinian leader expressed his support for the right of return and said that the 400,000 Palestinians residing in 12 refugee camps in Lebanon have the right to "return home. " During Sunday’s meeting, Abbas requested that Israel release more Palestinian prisoners and remove West Bank roadblocks. However, PM Olmert’s associates said he did not pledge any further releases.

IOF troops kidnap four Palestinians
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces on Sunday kidnapped four Palestinian young men at a roadblock south of Nablus city after ordering them out of their car and searching them, eyewitnesses reported. They said that the IOF soldiers forced all commuters out of their cars before rounding up the four citizens. In Salfit, IOF troops closed the Za’tara roadblock east of Salfit at the pretext they found a "suspicious object" near the barrier, locals reported. They said that thousands of citizens queued at the barrier and waited for a long time before the soldiers allowed them access after getting rid of the "suspicious object". [end]

Israeli forces detain four civilians at military checkpoint near Jenin
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Israeli forces detained four civilians at a military checkpoint near Tubas from different villages in the Jenin governorate. The civilians were traveling from the area to Nablus city and were stopped at a checkpoint set up by Israeli forces on the road between Tubas and the El-Far’a refugee camp. Several cars were stopped and checked. The four men, Jihad Hassan Ibrahim from Kafr Ra’i, Wahid Najem Nawasrah from Fahma and Nayef Hardan and Sobhi Arda from Arraba were taken out of the cars they traveled in and transferred to an unknown location. [end]

Health ministry: Two children die due to the siege and the politicized strike
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The health ministry in Gaza stated Sunday that the ongoing Israeli siege and the PA politicized strikes claimed the lives of two Palestinian children, calling on the international community to urgently intervene to pressure Israel to open the crossings and allow patients to get medical treatment abroad. In a press statement received by the PIC, the ministry said that the number of siege victims rose to 242 Palestinians after the death of a five-month-old child called Mohamed Al-Serhi who was barred by the IOA from receiving treatment for his heart defect in hospitals outside Gaza. The ministry added that earlier this morning, an infant called Mohamed Abu Fatayer died inside an incubator as a result of the strike in the health sector incited by the PA in Ramallah, where there was no one to follow his health status.

Abbas and Olmert: negotiations to continue to end of 2008
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – During their Sunday meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed that despite the latter’s imminent departure from office, the sides will push forward with peace negotiations. Olmert’s spokesperson Mark Regev told the Israeli press on Sunday that the two leaders would work to ensure that the negotiation process continues until the end of 2008. Regev also noted that while there has been considerable progress in the series of talks, there are still "considerable gaps between sides. The meeting came in the wake of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region that began 25 August. Rice traveled to Jerusalem and Ramallah to speak with Palestinian and Israeli leaders with the hope of advancing the negotiation process between the two.

President Abbas focusing on release of prisoners and return of deportees
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/31/2008
Jerusalem -- President Abbas is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert in Jerusalem today. They will continue discussing Final Status issues and last week’s visit by US Secretary of State Rice. Also present in Sunday’s meeting are Palestinian negotiator and former Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. This meeting comes before Abbas meets in New York with US President Bush on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly session. President Abbas is calling for an end to settlement expansion, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to establish an independent state on 1967 boundaries which include East Jerusalem, and the release of more Palestinians from Israeli prisons. There are approximately 11,000. Last week 198 were released in what was called a "good-will gesture" toward President Abbas.

Gaza fishermen to be accompanied by human rights workers on Monday
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/1/1902
The Free Gaza Movement reported on Sunday that human rights workers, members of the movement and members of the International Solidarity Movement launched a campaign to monitor the aggression of the Israeli Navy against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza. On Monday morning, the human rights workers will accompany the fishermen. According to the Oslo Accord, fishermen should be allowed 20 nautical miles out to sea in order to e able to catch sardine migrating from the Nile delta towards Turkey during spring time but the Israeli Navy reduced the limit to 6 miles. Many fishermen were killed, attacked and arrested by the Israeli navy which tried to impose its own agenda. The movement said that on Monday morning the fishermen will be accompanied by it Human Rights Workers, adding that this step aims at documenting the Israeli violations against the fishermen.

Families of Nativity Church exiles living in Gaza protest in Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Families of Bethlehem activists who were deported to the Gaza Strip in 2002 organized a sit-in strike in Bethlehem in front of offices of the Fatah offices in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) buildings. Protestors demanded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas place pressure on Israel to allow the deportees back into the West Bank. In April 2002, 39 Palestinians claimed sanctuary in Bethlehem’s Nativity Church as they were being chased down by Israeli solders. The incident lead to a month long standoff and ended when an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel saw 26 of the men temporarily exiled to Gaza, and 13 sent to Europe. Muhammad Lahham, the PLC member from Bethlehem representing Fatah, met with the protestors and listened to their demands. He telephoned Fatah’s parliamentary speaker Azzam Al-Ahmad, and was assured that the. . .

Officials: PM not pushing joint document
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Jerusalem on Sunday in what could be their final meeting. Kadima elects a new leader in less than three weeks, and Abbas’s term ends in January. Slideshow:Despite pledges to continue working for a "shelf agreement" by the end of the year, they gave no indication that progress had been made to render this possible. Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev said after the two-hour meeting - one hour with the negotiating teams present and another one-on-one - that the two sides reiterated their "commitment to the Annapolis process, to continuing negotiations, and toward a historic document. " Regev emphatically denied as "erroneous" reports that Olmert was interested in pushing for an interim document with the Palestinians that would chart progress that had been made up until now and serve as a framework. . .

Israel, Palestinians seek quick ’understandings’
Roni Sofer and Reuters, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Olmert, Abbas to meet in Jerusalem, try to draw up preliminary document of understandings to present to Washington next month. Livni: We mustn’t let timetables dictate concessions on issues crucial to Israel -Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert andPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will try to draw up a preliminary document of understandings to present to Washington next month, Israeli media reported on Sunday. Olmert and Abbas meet again in Jerusalem on Sunday to pursue US-brokered talks with a goal of achieving a limited peace agreement before President George Bush leaves office in January. Their last talks were Aug. 6. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert, confirmed the Israeli leader was pressing to reach a deal, but not necessarily by as soon as next month. "We will continue all our efforts to reach an historic joint Palestinian-Israeli agreement," Regev said.

Shin Bet chief: Abbas’ time as PA President is running out
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin on Sunday told the cabinet that Mahmoud Abbas’ time as Palestinian President was nearing its end as elections in the Palestinian Authority approach. Diskin added that, "Hamas knows that Abu Mazen’s time is running out,", referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre. He told the ministers that Israel has to monitor closely developments in the PA that are likely to turn into a political crisis. "Given the fractious state of the Palestinian Authority, presidential elections are impossible [to hold]," Diskin said. The Shin Bet chief said PA officials are mulling a number of alternatives. One option is for Abbas to retire from politics. Another is for the PA to adopt a constitutional amendment which would permit Abbas to continue his term beyond the allotted period.

Erekat: Abbas told Olmert PA won’t accept interim peace deal
Aluf Benn Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israel’s idea of an interim peace agreement at summit with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday, a Palestinian negotiator said, insisting on an all-or-nothing approach that virtually ruled out an accord by a January target date. The latest meeting between Abbas and Olmert was their shortest, lasting less than an hour. Before the talks in Jerusalem, Olmert’s aides had said earlier the premier hoped the Palestinians would sign a document outlining any agreements reached with Israel before he leaves office. But Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abbas flatly rejected that at the brief summit on Sunday. "We want an agreement to end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Erekat told The Associated Press.

Israel, PA to aim for peace deal by year’s end
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed yesterday that Israel and the Palestinians would continue to aim for a peace agreement by the end of the year, despite Olmert’s plans to step down after a September primary in his Kadima party. At a meeting in Jerusalem, the two decided the deal would be a full agreement rather than an outline of the disputed issues. Yesterday’s Olmert-Abbas meeting is likely to be their final session before the Kadima primary on September 17, after which Olmert will leave his post. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the front-runner in the race to replace Olmert as Kadima leader, warned yesterday that the two sides must not let time constraints set the agenda for talks. "I support negotiations, but a final agreement has to explicitly reflect Israel’s interests," she said.

Diskin: PA heading for tumultuous times
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Shin Bet chief briefs cabinet on current security, political situation in Palestinian Authority, says end of Abbas’ presidency may plunge PA into political turmoil -The situation in the Palestinian Authority is volatile and may result in political turmoil, Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin told cabinet ministers Sunday. Diskin noted that as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will end his tenure in early 2009, the PA will face another potentially stormy presidential election. "With therift between the Palestinian factions so deep it will be nearly impossible to hold an election," he said. The current situation, he added, has four possible solutions: Abbas can end his tenure as planned; the factions can devise a constitutional solution which would allow him to remain in power; Fatah and Hamas can agree on an election date; or Abbas can choose to declare. . .

President Abbas meets with Olmert in Jerusalem
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 8/31/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, will be meeting in Jerusalem Sunday for talks over contentious outstanding negotiations issues. Their meeting follows a visit by U. S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, last week, as negotiations teams of both sides will be part of such an expected meeting, Israeli radio reported. The radio pointed out that the teams will be discussing the possibility of releasing more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, after Israel had released 198 prisoners in the past few days, in what Israel said a ’gesture of good-will towards President Mahmoud Abbas’. According to senior Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Eriqat, President Abbas will request Olmert to allow the return back of the Church of Nativity’s deportees, who Israel expelled to the Gaza Strip and abroad in 2002.

Released Fatah member aims to reform faction
Jerusalem Post 9/1/1908
A large banner at the entrance to Husam Khader’s three-story home here reads: The occupation and corruption are two faces to the same coin. This slogan sums up the story of Khader, a young Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who was released from an Israeli prison last week along with 197 other security prisoners. Prior to his arrest by the IDF in 2002, Khader was an outspoken critic of financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority. His recurring attacks on Yasser Arafat and the veteran Fatah leadership earned him many enemies over the years. Khader is even convinced that his arrest by the IDF was part of a plot by senior Fatah security officials to get rid of him. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of financing and directing armed Fatah cells in Nablus.

CIA papers show Arafat ordered murder of American diplomats in Sudan
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Henry Kissinger instructed the CIA to continue diplomatic contacts with Yassir Arafat’s PLO representatives before the 1973 Yom Kippur War, even after Arafat ordered the kidnapping and murder of the American ambassador and his deputy in Khartoum, Sudan. The diplomatic contacts, described only as related to security issues - which had been revealed previously but not their contents - were exposed in the papers of former CIA chief Richard Helms that were made available to the public last week. The documents mainly relate to the period Helms was the U. S. ambassador in Iran, 1973-1976, after he completed six years as the head of the CIA. The newly-released material contains, among other things, information on the Egyptian effort in the spring of 1973 to plead with the U. S. , through Iranian channels, to reach a peace arrangement with Israel "on the basis of the. . .

Caretaker gov’t decides to flatten Saraya compound
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Yousef Al-Mansi, the minister of public works, stated that the caretaker government decided to demolish, during the coming three months, the governmental Saraya compound which includes different departments as well as the Gaza central prison. In a press statement published on Sunday by the Palestine newspaper, Dr. Mansi elaborated that the departments would be transferred to new government buildings on the outskirts of Gaza city, while a new prison would be built on an area of 20 dunums instead of the old one. The minister pointed out that the humanitarian and psychological aspects of prisoners had been taken into account in designing the prison. Regarding the reasons that prompted the government to take such a decision, the minister explained that the removal idea had been on the table since the PA arrived in the Gaza Strip in 1994.

Palestinian police deactivate explosive device near Al-Jalazun school
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – An explosive found near the Al-Jalazun boys school was dismantled on Sunday by engineering experts from the Ramallah/Al-Bireh police department. The police statement said the explosive device was a gas cylinder weighing 12 kilograms, and containing nails, gasoline and cotton. Engineers used specialized equipment to deactivate the device. The interrogation department will follow up with this case. Police warned anyone wishing to harm children and the civil peace with violence and destruction would be found and punished to the fullest extent of the law. [end]

Gazan woman slain by father over family honor; father and brothers arrested
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - A 24-year-old Palestinian woman found dead with her hands and feet bound was taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. A report from the Palestine Center for Human Rights said that the father of the woman, 67-year-old Hussein Mustafa Kaware from the Jourat Al-Lout area in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis, went to the Gaza police station and confessed to killing his daughter, Hala. Police went to the man’s home and dug up the body of the young woman, which was found with hands and feet bound, and her mouth muzzled. Hala’s father is reported to have confessed to the crime, saying that he "did it to protect the family honor. "Mustafa and his four sons were arrested by police. ***Updated 18:45 Bethlehem time

Girl Murdered by Relatives in Khan Yunis to ''Maintain Family Honor''
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 8/31/2008
PCHR strongly condemns the murder of a girl in Khan Yunis allegedly to maintain “the honor” of her family. PCHR calls for the perpetrators of all so called ‘Honour Crimes’ to be rigorously prosecuted, and for appropriate legal action to be taken in order to end such crimes. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 09:00 on Saturday, 30 August 2008, Hussein Mustafa Kaware’, 67, from Jourat al-Lout area in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis, went to a police station in the town and confessed murdering his 24-year-old daughter, Hala, and burying her in land belonging to the family. Immediately, the police moved to the area and took the body out.

PFLP rally in Nablus marks seven years after leadership assassinated
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – A rally commemorating the seventh anniversary ofthe assassination of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Abu Ali Mustafa was held on Saturday. The event was organized by the PFLP in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The rally began in front of the PFLP’s office and headed to Martyrs Square in central NAblus, where a memorial for Abu Ali Mustafa was erected. Participants in the rally raised Palestinian flags, PFLP banners and photos of late Secretary Feneral Abu Ali Mustafa as well as other former leaders now deceased. Several speeches were delivered during the rally calling for Palestinian national unity[end]

Former Deputy Palestinian PM asks Abbas to release all Palestinian political prisoners
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Former Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Addin Ash-Sha’ir wrote a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday asking him to release all Palestinian political detainees jailed in Palestinian Authority (PA) prisons. The letter urged parties to begin serious national dialogue as soon as possible in order to end the state of rivalry. Ash-Sha’ir appealed to Abbas on behalf of families of political prisoners asking him to give those prisoners and their families the opportunity to reunite during the holy month of Ramadan. Also in the latter Ash-Sha’ir applauded Abbas’ efforts to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, which is expected to be an agenda item on Abbas’ Sunday meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "I appeal to your courage as you have not spared any effort to free our brave brothers imprisoned in Israel," said Ash-Sha’ir’s letter.

Hamas: PA political arrests and strikes prove ill intentions of Fatah
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement stated Sunday that the continuing political arrests against the Movement’s cadres in the West Bank and the politicized strikes poison the atmosphere needed to initiate dialog and confirm that the Fatah faction is harboring malicious intentions. In a press release received by the PIC, Hamas underlined that the arrests and strikes are aimed at blocking Egypt’s efforts to instigate inter-Palestinian dialog, pointing out that it would reevaluate its positions in the light of these practices which are associated with Israeli schemes. The Movement warned that it would have to pursue the policy of reciprocal action to ensure the cessation of the political arrests in the West Bank and the politicized strikes in Gaza if the concerned Arab parties did not pressure PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to stop such practices.

Popular committee: We hope to bring Palestinians together
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- The popular committee formed to prepare for celebrating Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture in 2009 said that it was not founded to widen the inter-Palestinian discord but rather to serve as a bridge that would bring together all Palestinians. The committee added that it aims to gather all spectra of the Arab nation around occupied Jerusalem and the dream of its liberation.   These comments were made during a meeting held on Saturday in Beirut by the preparatory committee in the presence of members of the administrative board of the international Quds institution.   During the meeting, Dr. Mohamed Al-Adlouni, the secretary-general of the Quds institution, called on the organization of the Islamic conference and the Arab League to declare Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement in 1948 occupied lands, and father Attalla Hanna, the bishop of Sebastia. . .

High-level PFLP delegation heads to Cairo for unity talks
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A delegation of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) left the Gaza Strip for Egypt following an official invitation to participate in national unity talks. The delegation includes member the political office Rabah Mohanna and central committee Kayed Al-Ghoul, who will be joined shortly by Deputy Secretary General of PFLP Abdel Rahim Mallouh along with political office member Nasser Kafarnah. A high-ranking official within the party said that the delegation expects that talks with Egypt will "focus on ways of ending internal split and commencing a comprehensive national dialogue," in addition to other issues like the truce and blockade in Gaza. The delegation will present suggestions to Egyptian mediators aimed at ending split and starting dialogue. The source explained that PFLP will push for partners in the dialogue to put together. . .

Islamic Jihad: Ramadan should be for reconciliation
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Islamic Jihad issued a statement Sunday urging all parties to take the holy month of Ramadan as a chance for reconciliation. "Ramadan is an opportunity to reform our relationships and to restore our unity in order to recruit all efforts to countering enemies’ plans and to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque," the statement read. It also called on all Palestinians to confront any effort to separate the people of the West Bank and Gaza, saying that they should be dealt with as one entity, not two. Islamic Jihad maintained that resistance would be the most efficient way to thwart "our enemies’ plots and prove anew that they are helpless". "Compromise negotiations have not achieved any good for us," the statement continued. " What Israel and the US are offering does not meet the minimum Palestinian ambitions and rights, and so we must keep an eye on our people’s interests. . .

Ramadan fast begins tonight
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Activists of a local Islamic organization, Ansar al-Hak, in the central Israel town of Baka al-Garbiyeh were busy yesterday hanging strings of colored lights across the main streets. "It’s the least I can do for the local people. It’s even worth missing the Sakhnin-Beitar Jerusalem game," Hathem Gnayim said, sweating profusely as he worked outside the group’s office in the heart of town. Muslim communities in Israel were working hard yesterday, getting ready for the holy month of Ramadan, marked by dawn-to-dusk abstaining from food, drink and smoking. The evening meal that breaks the fast, the iftar, begins at 7:10 P. M. , after a fast of more than 15 hours, from 3:50 A. M. "This year the fast is particularly hard because it begins in the summer. The winter is also easier because you burn less energy at work and the fast is shorter," an Islamic movement activist told Haaretz.

Ramadan begins Monday
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/31/2008
Bethlehem -- The announcement from mosques filled the air last night. The Mufti of Jerusalem had declared that the month of Ramadan would begin on Monday after the crescent moon was seen last night. He sent a message to all Muslims wishing them a virtuous and generous month, with congratulations to all Arab and Islamic countries. Ramadan starts the day after the sighting of the crescent moon that marks the beginning of a new lunar month and the last day of Shaaban. Today is often spent eating breakfast in the morning with friends and preparing for the meal that will come tomorrow at sunset after the first day of fasting. Fasting begins at sunrise and ends at sunset daily for the month. Days are spent obstaining from taking in anything, from food to water to cigarettes, and are instead focused on spiritual practice.

RCA allocates Dh2.6 million for Ramadan charity programmes in Palestine
Government of the United Arab Emirates, ReliefWeb 8/27/2008
The Red Crescent Authority (RCA) will deliver best services to fasters during the holy month of Ramadan in all Palestine with emphasis on the under-siege Gaza Strip. ’Acting upon directive of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the RCA, the UAE premier charity and aid organisation said it has allocated an initial budget of Dh2. 6 million to the fast-breaking programme in Palestinian territories and Diaspora camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen," said Dr. Saleh Al Taie, RCA Secretary General. ’We have drawn an elaborate plan to expand the umbrella of beneficiaries of Ramadan charity programmes. It will be carried out in coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs and UNRWA as well as UAE embassies in the three said countries,’ he added. According to a breakdown of the budget, he explained a fast-breaking programme will be carried inside the Aqsa Mosque in tune of Dh558,000.

Rafah terminal opens on Sunday for patients, stranded students
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
RAFAH, (PIC)-- The Egyptian authorities on Sunday opened the Rafah border terminal with the Gaza Strip and allowed entry of Palestinian patients and stranded students into its territory for the first time in several months. The step was made in coordination with the Palestinian government in Gaza for the second day after almost two thousand Palestinians managed to cross into Egypt on Saturday and around 900, who were trapped at the Egyptian side of the border, managed to enter the Strip. The Egyptian authorities said that the crossing would be open from 8 am till 8 pm for two days starting Saturday but due to the long period taken in scrutinizing travel documents and other papers work in the crossing on Saturday continued until dawn on Sunday. The PA interior ministry groups the passengers at a sports club in Khan Younis and checks their papers before carrying them to the terminal.

1,952 exit Gaza via Rafah Saturday; Sunday students and patients to follow
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – On Saturday 1952 people left the Gaza strip through Rafah crossing and 882 entered the area from Egypt. Spokesperson of the Gaza crossing points department Muhammad Udwan said that those who left Gaza included Egyptian citizens, those who hold Egyptian residency, foreign passports or valid travel documents. Udwan applauded the high-level coordination between Egyptian and Palestinian officials at the crossing. The de facto government interior ministry announced that patients and students would be allowed to pass through Rafah crossing Sunday. The ministry said 400 hundred patients, whose names have been published on the ministry website and whose documents are completed by the health ministry, will be allowed to leave Gaza. With regards to attendants for the ill, the ministry said only one attendant can accompany women or children under the age of 15.

Al Khudari: use the month of Ramadan to break the siege on Gaza
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/31/2008
Gaza -- Jamal Al Khudari, Chairperson of the People’s Committee against the Siege, called the Arab and Islamic nations, along with the Palestinian people, to "take the blessed month of Ramadan and break the siege on the Gaza Strip. " To the press on Sunday, Al Khudari called on Arab and Islamic countries to "support the beleaguered residents of the Gaza Strip to live a free and dignified life. "He said that recent events signal a beginning of the end. Al Khudari pointed to last week’s arrival and departure of the Free Gaza boats that symbolically broke the Israeli siege and the two-day opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt. "Hundreds of medical patients and students were able to travel," said Al Khudari. "The beginning of the internal dialogue in Egypt is another factor in some hope being returned to the people regarding the situation in Gaza.

Khudari calls for breaking the Gaza siege in Ramadan
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular anti siege committee, on Sunday called on the Arab and Islamic countries to break the Gaza siege on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. In a press release, Khudari urged the Arab and Islamic countries to support the besieged Gaza people and enable them to live a free and dignified life. Events over the past few days such as the symbolic break of the siege through the sea voyage launched by foreign activists, opening the Rafah border terminal for two days and the start of dialog in Cairo gave hope for Palestinians on the approaching end to that siege, the MP elaborated. He underlined that the Gaza Strip is experiencing very difficult humanitarian, social and economic conditions as a result of the siege on its population of more than one and a half million people.

Rafah crossing operational for second day
PNN, Palestine News Network 8/31/2008
Gaza -- The Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt is operational in both directions for the second consecutive day. The two-day opening is the first in a year and a half, Spokesperson for the General Administration of Crossings in Gaza, Mohammad Radwan, told PNN yesterday. The criteria for passage are specific but the Egyptian authorities did allow 3,500 people to cross in and out of the southern Gaza Strip border that is shared with Egypt. According to Palestinian officials the border remained open for about two hours after the end of the specified period on Saturday. Yesterday 2,500 exited and 1,000 entered the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister in the Gaza government Ismail Haniya called on the Egyptians to extend the opening longer than two-days in order to "end the tragedy faced by hundreds of families. "

More than 2,800 passengers cross Rafah during first day
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Mohamed Edwan, a spokesman for the interior ministry, stated that on Saturday1952 passengers were able to travel through the Rafah border crossing into the Egyptian territories, while 882 Palestinians stranded in Egypt crossed into the Palestinian side, pointing out that the ministry managed to operate the crossing at ease. In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Edwan hailed Egyptian authorities for facilitating the movement of citizens and helping in the success of the first day. The spokesman added that 400 Palestinian patients along with stranded people would be transported on Sunday by buses into the Egyptian side. In another context, the international media commission for the defense of Jerusalem appealed to all Arab and Islamic satellite channels to televise on air the Taraweeh prayers (the night prayers during Ramadan) and the Friday Khutba performed in the Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Fuel prices to rise 0.50 percent Sunday at midnight
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Fuel prices will increase 0. 50 percent at midnight on Sunday, according to Israeli sources. Benzene with 95 octane will reach 6. 69 shekels per liter in self-service, and 96 octane benzene prices will reach 6. 71 shekels per liter in self-service. Full service prices will be 0. 12 shekels higher per liter. [end]

Tunnel Industry brings jobs, drugs, lion cubs and tax revenues to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The tunnels running between Egypt and the Gaza Strip have become an industry of their own, bringing jobs, money and contraband into the area. Tunnel diggers make up to 100 US dollars per meter dug, and the underground structures are between 20-30 meters deep, and up to 1,500 meters long. The labor, however, is high risk. Tunnels collapse for any number of reasons, and tens of Gazans and Egyptians have been killed in the last year. Some estimates have the tunnel-industry employing around 4,000 people, mostly Gazans, and including a significant number of children. While the de facto Hamas government in Gaza works to limit drug smuggling and child labor, tunnels are not shut down by local police. Since the party appears to be using the tunnels to supply Gazans with fuel, it seems in fact that they have sanctioned the method of importing goods.

Hamas angered by Egypt’s statement of deploying Arab forces in Gaza
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/1/1902
In what appeared as an angry objection letter from Hamas against the statements of Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al Gheit who spoke of the possibility of sending Arab b forces to Gaza in order to end the tension and internal unrest, Hamas said that it totally rejects this idea and will fight any Arab or foreign forces that tries to deploy in Gaza. Hamas stated that it rejects the deployment of any Arab of foreign forces in the Gaza Strip and added that there is a legitimate government in Gaza. Yahia Mousa, a Hamas leader and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, threatened that Hamas will fight any Arab force that tries to deploy in Gaza, and added that the Palestinian are capable of defending themselves and are capable of resolving their internal differences. Mousa added that any foreign force which deploys in Gaza will be considered as an occupation force which will be facing resistance.

Hamas reasserts rejection of foreign force in the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Information Center 8/31/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas on Sunday reasserted its previous position of rejecting the entry of Arab or foreign troops into the Gaza Strip under any circumstances or any pretexts. Fawzi Barhoum, the Movement’s spokesman, said in a press statement that a national, legitimate government is present in the Strip and oversees the supremacy of law and order. He pointed out that the current security apparatuses in the Strip are professional and legal and work for the interest of the Palestinian citizens after wiping out corruption, security chaos, systematic murder and all kinds of violence, which were rampant during the reign of previous security apparatuses. "If the Arabs want to come and help the Palestinian people, let them send forces to fight alongside the Mujahideen and liberate the Aqsa and protect Jerusalem and the Palestinian lands," Barhoum said, adding, "But if they want to send. . .

Hamas rejects Egypt’s suggestion to send troops to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas slammed Egypt’s suggestion that troops be sent into Gaza to stabilize the situation. The statements of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit were published in the Egyptian daily newspaper Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat on Saturday. He commented that he believed Arab forces would help end internal clashes, and make Israel pause before braking the truce in Gaza. While Abu Al-Gheit affirmed that his suggestion did not represent an initiative, he said that it should be something considered by the Arab League. In a press conference on Sunday in Gaza City Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri rejected Abu Al-Gheit’s suggestion and described it as “unjustified and unbalanced. ”During his speech Abu Zuhri said that Hamas was prepared to re-form either Arab or Palestinian committees to work out the details of releasing all political detainees.

Abu Al-Ghait: Sending Arab troops to Gaza is an attractive idea
Palestinian Information Center 8/30/2008
CAIRO, (PIC)-- Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Abu Al-Ghait has described on Saturday the idea of sending Arab troops to control the Gaza Strip as an "attractive" idea that should be seriously taken into consideration. According to Abu Al-Ghait, the presence of Arab troops in the tiny Gaza Strip would help prevent inter-Palestinian fighting, and it would serve as buffer between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation army that, according to him, would give the Palestinians enough time to rebuild their capabilities inside the populated Strip. The statements of Abu Al-Ghait harmonize with the call of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas who welcomed the idea of dispatching Arab troops into Gaza Strip. Hamas Movement took over security in Gaza Strip after it succeeded in defeating elements of the mutiny trend in Fatah faction and the defunct PA security apparatuses that were working on command. . .

’J’lem has agreed to release Barghouti’
Khaled Abu Toameh And Mark Weiss, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
The Israeli government has informed the Palestinian Authority that it has no objections to the release of jailed Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, a senior PA official in Ramallah said over the weekend. Slideshow:The official told The Jerusalem Post that Barghouti and several other prominent security prisoners could be released in the coming days or weeks. Barghouti is serving five life sentences for the murders of four Israelis and a Greek monk. But an official in Jerusalem said Saturday night that "the release of Marwan Barghouti is simply not on the table today. "The official also said that last week’s release of 198 Palestinian detainees freed "was not the first prisoner release and will not be the last. " The question of an additional prisoner release will be one of the items on the agenda at talks in Jerusalem on Sunday between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ramon: Hamas may scuttle Schalit deal
Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon And Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
Vice Premier Haim Ramon warned Hamas on Sunday that its refusal to reduce its demands would doom a deal to swap Palestinian prisoners for captive soldier Gilad Schalit. Slideshow:Ramon spoke at the end of a ministerial meeting that debated relaxing the criteria for the release of Hamas prisoners, in hopes of concluding a swap for Schalit. Ramon said the onus was not just on Israel. "If there is no flexibility in Hamas’ demands as well, it won’t be possible to reach a deal," he said. According to Channel 10, a Hamas representative warned on Sunday that if Israel did not agree to a deal, Schalit was in danger of suffering the same fate as airman Ron Arad, who disappeared in 1988 after he had been held captive in Lebanon for two years. Hamas is reportedly demanding some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the release of Schalit, who was kidnapped by the group along the Gaza border in June 2006.

Noam Shalit: Gestures to PA haven’t advanced deal for my son’s release
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Captive soldier’s father says supports the release of many Palestinian prisoners, ’but only after Gilad returns home’ -The father of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit said Sunday he was opposed to the release of any additional Palestinian prisoners unless it is guaranteed that such a gesture would advance a deal for his son’s release. Shalit was captured during in a cross border raid on an IDF base bear Gaza on June 25, 2006. Noam Shalit’s comment came in response to reports that during the scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem later in the day, the Palestinian leader is expected to ask that Israel release more prisoners. "Ever since my son fell captive more than two years ago, Israel has released thousands of Palestinians as a gesture (to Abbas)," Noam Shalit said.

Hamas calls for release of Al Barghouti and Sa’adat, Israel rejects
Palestine News Network 8/31/2008
PNN -- The Israeli Ministerial Committee is meeting to change the criteria for releasing Palestinian political prisoners. Negotiation on the prisoner exchange is ongoing between Gaza, Cairo and Tel Aviv. According to political sources the latest proposal is to increase the number to be released by introducing a new standard: those released should not have lengthy sentences or serious charges levied against them. If the names on the list change, the Israelis will accept a higher number. A higher number will also be accepted if the people are elderly or ill, meaning they will not be able to return to armed resistance if they were ever involved. The Hamas government in Gaza increased the number of Palestinians to be released from Israeli prison in exchange for the soldier captured while invading the southern Strip two years ago to 1,500.

Haniyeh’s nephew released from Israeli prison after 15 years
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – After serving 15 years in Israeli prisons, the nephew of Palestinian Prime Minister of the de facto government Ismail Haniyeh was released. Abel Mo’ti Haniyeh was released on Sunday afternoon, and is not at Erez crossing on his way to the Gaza Strip. The announcement came Sunday from the media spokesperson for senior prisoners Mahmoud Abu Hasirah. According to Abu Hasirah, Haniyeh served his sentence in different prisons including Ashkelon, Nafha, Hadarim and Megedo. He also spent time in solitary confinement. [end]

Damour Bridge reopens after postwar renovation
Daily Star correspondent, Daily Star 9/1/2008
CHOUF: Two years after its destruction by Israeli warplanes during the summer 2006 war, the freshly renovated Damour Bridge was finally open to motorists on Friday. Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi and Saudi Ambassador Abdel-Aziz Khoja, whose country funded the renovation of the bridge, attended a ceremony to inaugurate the span. "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia not only contributes to the reconstruction of Lebanon but also works hard on building bridges between various Lebanese groups," Aridi said, adding his usual rejoinder that Saudi Arabia "stands at an equal distance from all Lebanese groups and embraces their hopes and fears. "Aridi said the inauguration of the bridge, "will hopefully help in erasing some of the grievances of the summer 2006 war and herald the start of a new era of piece and stability.

Israel ready to mull leaving part of northern border town of Ghajar
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Israel told the United States on Sunday it was prepared to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar on the Lebanese border, a change in its policy for the past year and a half of not wanting to discuss the issue. A government source in Jerusalem said the decision was made after the Lebanese government delivered written assurances that UNIFIL would be given security and civilian control over the northern part of the village, which is in Lebanese territory. "The Americans have been asking us for a long time to move ahead on the Lebanon issue and after receiving the letter, it was decided to show a more positive stance," the source also said, referring to the written assurances by Lebanon. The Israel Defense Forces Planning Branch and the Northern Command are now at work on the details of the withdrawal from the northern part of Ghajar.

Report of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team
Daily Star 9/1/2008
Report - Executive Summary - 1. Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) called upon the Government of Lebanon to secure its borders and all entry points to prevent the entry into Lebanon without its consent of arms or related material. 2. At the invitation of the Security Council, and in close liaison with the Government of Lebanon, the Secretary-General dispatched to Lebanon a team of border security experts, (the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team (LIBAT I), to fully assess the monitoring of Lebanon’s border with the Syrian Arab Republic and to report back to the Council on its findings and recommendations in this regard. The team visited Lebanon from 27 May to 15 June 2007 and submitted its report (hereinafter referred to as the LIBAT I report) to the Secretary-General on 22 June 2007. The report was forwarded to the Security Council on 26 June 2007.

Jewish Agency cedes North America aliyah operations to Nefesh B’Nefesh
Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
The Jewish Agency has ceded its Aliyah operations in North America to the private organization Nefesh B’Nefesh. The Agency will continue to be in charge of the eligibility process of prospective immigrants. The details of the impending deal were revealed in Haaretz a month and a half ago. The Agency, which has managed Israel’s Aliyah campaign from the State’s inception, has been at logger-heads with newcomer Nefesh B’Nefesh over the last two years. The Agency accused Nefesh B’Nefesh of selecting the most successful candidates for Aliyah while it continued its commitment to bring every eligible immigrant and for taking credit for a rise in Aliyah from North America and Britain which was not of their creation. Nefesh B’Nefesh accused the Agency of hindering their efforts, jealousy of their success and not fulfilling its obligation to pay the airfare of every immigrant.

North American aliya officially ceded to Nefesh B’Nefesh
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/1/1908
For the first time in its history, the Jewish Agency for Israel has ceded its function of promoting aliya to a private organization. According to an agreement signed on August 22 but only announced on Sunday, aliya promotion in the United States and Canada will be handled by the private Nefesh B’Nefesh organization. The Jewish Agency will maintain sole rights to determine eligibility and to open files in official Israeli agencies, but this function will be made accessible through the NBN Web site. The agreement marks a shift of responsibility from the large, history-laden Jewish Agency, whose leadership is appointed by political coalitions of Zionist groups in the World Zionist Organization, to a tech-savvy organization utilizing up-to-date business models and marketing strategies. According to officials in the Jewish Agency, the shift will include largely dismantling the network. . .

West fears Russia will supply anti-aircraft missiles to Iran
Ynet, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Sunday Telegraph says proposed deal between Moscow, Tehran ’causing huge alarm’ in US and Israel. ’Purchase of S-300 missiles would ’change the game’, significantly improve Iranian defenses against any air strike on its nuclear sites, Pentagon official quoted as saying -"US intelligence fears the Kremlin will supply the sophisticated S-300 system to Iran if Washington pushes through NATO membership for its pro-Western neighbors Georgia and Ukraine", The Sunday Telegraph reported. According to the report, the proposed deal is causing huge alarm in the US and Israel as the S-300 "can track 100 targets at once and fire on planes up to 75 miles away". The UK-based newspaper quoted Pentagon adviser Dan Goure as saying that the acquisition of S-300 missiles would "change the game", as it would significantly improve Iranian defenses against any air strike on its nuclear sites.

Telegraph: US fears Russia to sell S-300 to Iran
Jerusalem Post Staff, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
The US intelligence community is concerned Moscow will supply its S-300 antiaircraft missile system to Iran if Washington pushes through NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, the Telegraph reported Sunday. Slideshow:The S-300 is one of the most advanced multi-target, antiaircraft missile systems in the world, with a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 27,000 meters. Iran’s acquisition of the system would vastly upgrade the country’s defenses against any air strike on its nuclear sites, Pentagon adviser Dan Goure was quoted by the British newspaper as saying. "This is a system that scares every Western air force," he said. "If Teheran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran," Goure said.

Shalev to leave for UN post
Greer Fay Cashman, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s incoming ambassador to the United Nations, met with President Shimon Peres on Sunday and said she intends to represent the country at the UN General Assembly this month. Although the working meeting was strictly tete-a-tete, without any of the president’s aides present in the room, Shalev, when asked by The Jerusalem Post whether she intended to be in New York on September 23, replied, "I intend to be there tomorrow [Monday]. " September 23 is the date for the convening of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly, where the Iranian nuclear program is set to be the central issue. Because of the political upheavals in Israel and the Kadima primaries on September 17, it is unclear whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be representing Israel as was originally planned. Shalev, who has familiarized herself with the Iranian issue, got a few more. . .

ME Arabs ’reject’ idea of Iran strike
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
By and large, Arabs in the Middle East "absolutely reject" an Israeli or American strike on Iran or its nuclear facilities and believe the Islamic Republic is being "targeted" for reasons other than its nuclear program, an Egyptian expert on Iran has told The Jerusalem Post. Slideshow:Unlike the US-led Iraq War of 2003, an attack on Iran would likely fail to garner any Arab support and any country that chooses to participate in such a strike would be branded a traitor, said Mohammed Said Idris, head of the Gulf Studies department at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and editor of Iran Digest. "It is considered the right of Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear program and it is a legitimate right and there is nothing that confirms with convincing evidence, and especially for the experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that the Iranian. . .

New Israeli Medical Association boycott website
Stop The Wall 8/31/2008
The Medical Committee for Boycott of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) has launched a new website. The site contains information, articles and analysis on the Occupation’s use of torture as well as the acceptance by Israeli doctors of this practice. The boycott targets the IMA because it has consistently refused to condemn or issue advise doctors who are involved with torture. As an institution, the role of the IMA is to insure that international medical standards are met. By remaining silent, it is effectively condoning torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians. The IMA boycott movement began in the UK. Last year, they published a letter in The Guardian signed by 130 British doctors calling for a boycott of IMA. Those involved in the IMA boycott have also been active in supporting Palestinian universities and students, sending aid to Gaza and working toward an academic boycott within the UK.

Al-Aqsa Brigades in Gaza graduate a class of fighters
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A class of fighters trained by the Al-Aqsa Brigades, Fatah’s armed military wing, graduated on Sunday in the northern Gaza Strip. The group stated during the graduation ceremony, that they intend to continue armed resistance against the Israeli occupation. The fighters are part of the Brigades controlled by Fatah, the party which also controls the caretaker government in the West Bank. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is also a member of the party. Abbas is currently taking part in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on details of a possible peace agreement before the end of Olmert’s term in mid-September. The general commander of the Al-Aqsa Brigades and leaders of the Consultation Council (senior leadership of the party who discuss Fatah policy) attended the graduation along with members of other Palestinian factions.

Gaza kids ’training to kill Jews’
Ali Waked, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Salah al-Din Brigades training dozens of Palestinian children to ’fight the Jews and kill Jewish children’. Eleven-year-old trainee: I’d rather die fighting the occupation than die at home from a missile. Islamic Jihad threatens to unleash ’the fires of hell’ on Israel - The armed Palestinian groups in Gaza have recently stepped up their military training amid what they refer to as the threat of a wide-scale Israeli operation in the Strip. In this framework dozens of children have undergone training in the past few days by gunmen from the Salah al-Din Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. The training included firing pistols and rifles. "I am learning how to fight the Jews and kill Jewish children," 11-year-old Muhammad told Ynet, "the parents of the Jewish children are the soldiers and officers who kill us here.

Top police commander ordered to take leave of absence pending hearing
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen on Sunday ordered the commander of the police’s Southern District, Major General Uri Bar-Lev, to take a paid leave for 30 days. During that period, Bar-Lev will be subject to a hearing, after which his future with the police will be decided. Earlier in the day, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter met with Bar-Lev, after Cohen announced last week that he had decided to remove him from his post. Dichter initially said he had not given his consent to Bar-Lev’s dismissal, which emerged after he refused to go on a study leave, but told Bar-Lev during their meeting on Sunday that he mulls approving Cohen’s decision. News of Bar-Lev’s imminent retirement caused uproar among police officials. Some high-ranking officers said Cohen’s decision was motivated by unprofessional considerations.

Dichter considers dismissing Bar-Lev
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
Efforts by Insp. -Gen. David Cohen to force out one of Israel Police’s most senior officers, Southern District Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev, took a dramatic turn on Sunday when Bar-Lev was compelled to take a 30-day leave of absence over his refusal to take a two-year study leave. Slideshow:The forced leave came after a surprising about-face by Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, who last week distanced himself from Cohen’s attempt to fire Bar-Lev via the media, but who changed his mind on Sunday and said he would hold a hearing to decide whether or not to fire Bar-Lev. A meeting between Dichter and Bar-Lev on Sunday saw the decorated police officer, who has brought crime levels in his district down by 50 percent and is eight years away from retirement age, receive another offer of a prolonged study leave. Bar-Lev, who holds degrees in both engineering and political science, rejected the offer, saying he would be wasting public funds by agreeing.

Ethics? Forget about it
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
The members of the Zamir Committee, which formulated an ethics code for the Knesset, recently announced they were boycotting discussions of their recommendations by the special Knesset panel headed by MK David Tal (Kadima). Their decision followed the lawmakers’ refusal to adopt the main recommendation of the Zamir Committee - the appointment of an ethical adviser to the Knesset who would handle complaints, respond to MKs’ queries on ethical issues and deal with ethics education. Retired Supreme Court justice Itzhak Zamir headed the committee. It originally intended to recommend appointing an ethics commissioner who could initiate complaints against MKs. Such commissioners have been appointed in many parliaments in the West. However, the idea was dropped in light of opposition to it. The committee instead proposed an ethics adviser who could not initiate complaints, and that compromise was turned down by the legislature.

Lindenstrauss may expand police probe
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss yesterday ordered officials in his office to gather relevant information on the upcoming round of appointments in Israel police. Lindenstrauss is expected to decide soon whether to expand the ongoing examination of senior appointments in the IDF and police to include the present round. In March, the comptroller announced his examination after a joint meeting of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee and the State Control Committee on the question of the non-promotion of Chief Superintendent Efraim Ehrlich, who exposed the Parinyan affair and claimed his advancement in the police was blocked since he revealed corruption in the force. The investigative team conducting the examination has received numerous complaints over the past few months from police officers, retired and still serving, that outside interests were behind many promotions, not professional considerations.

Livni goes into battle to pry Rishon Letzion away from Mofaz
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is trying to break her main rival’s grip on the biggest prize in Kadima’s leadership race: Rishon Letzion. The city has some 6,000 registered Kadima members, more than any other city in Israel. However, it is considered a stronghold of Livni’s only serious rival, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, because Mayor Meir Nitzan and other key local party activists are backing him. Although only two and half weeks remain until the primary, Livni has decided not to concede the city. Over the weekend, therefore, she appointed MK Yoel Hasson, a Rishon Letzion native son, to run her campaign there. His mission will include recruiting local activists and organizing a get-out-the-vote operation on election day. Livni’s campaign staff, headed by campaign chairman MK Tzachi Hanegbi, have prepared a detailed list over the last few days of every key Kadima activist in the city - most of whom currently support Mofaz.

Mofaz accuses Livni of dividing J’lem
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
Kadima leadership candidate Shaul Mofaz attacked his main competition in the September 17 primary on Sunday, accusing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of dividing Jerusalem. Slideshow:Mofaz said he heard that Livni had made concessions on Jerusalem in the negotiations that she leads with the Palestinians. He said this was unacceptable and goes against what the majority of the public and Kadima members believe. "I want to tell Tzipi that if she is negotiating the division of Jerusalem, she needs to admit it to the public," Mofaz said during a meeting at his office in the capital with Moshav Movement leaders in Kadima who support him. "The Kadima platform says that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided capital; if any minister in Kadima thinks differently, they must admit it. " Asked by The Jerusalem Post whether Livni must reveal every concession she has made to the Palestinians. . .

’Galilee Arabs could declare a state’
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/1/1908
"If the Israeli government doesn’t make sure there is a Jewish majority in the Galilee, the Arab majority could declare independence and [demand] international recognition based on the precedent of [breakaway Georgian provinces South] Ossetia and Abkhazia," Danny Ayalon, former ambassador to the US and current co-chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, said at a political gathering in Carmiel Sunday evening. The event marked the official announcement by Ayalon that he was joining the right-wing Israel Beiteinu Party, where he is expected to be chosen for a slot on its Knesset list. Ayalon’s first position in the party will be as head of World Israel Beiteinu, a position last filled by MK Yuri Stern, who died in January 2007. "We need as many Jews as possible to move to the Galilee immediately," Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post after the event.

Second fiddle won’t play
Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
In January 2003, when Labor dropped from 26 Knesset seats to only 19, party politicos put the blame on the charisma (or lack thereof) of its then-chairman, Amram Mitzna. When the results were just as disappointing in March 2006, they said choosing Amir Peretz as the party? s leader was a mistake. Now, when the polls predict that Labor, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu will be in a tight race for third place in the elections, Ehud Barak is getting a turn as scapegoat. Everyone is taking the easy way out, looking for the easy answer under the bright lights of the Akirov Towers. That? s much easier than searching for the answer on the dark roads where the Labor Party leadership has taken the party for the last seven years. Since Barak was routed in the February 2001 elections, Labor has established its role as surplus baggage in governments led by its rivals.

VIDEO - NBA’s finest train female basketball hopefuls in Palestinian East Jerusalem
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for August 31, 2008. A basketball court in Jabel Mukaber was the site of an unlikely encounter last week between two very disparate demographics. Palestinian girls from the East Jerusalem neighborhood trained with basketball coaches from the NBA, who visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories in order to give children an opportunity made rare by political and cultural restrictions. However, as is so often the case for girls from traditional backgrounds, visible participation in physical activity generally reserved for their male peers rubs many in the community the wrong way. Related articles:NBA’s only Jew visits Israel to instruct Jewish, Arab children Palestinians and Israelis come together to lose weight, make peaceFrom Australia to Israel, on a footballing peace mission Also on Haaretz.

Sectarian fighting claims imam in North Lebanon
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/1/2008
AKKAR: An imam was killed and five people wounded in a gun battle between rival communities in a village in North Lebanon on Sunday, a security official said. The shooting erupted between Sunnis and Alawites in the village of Sheikhlar in the Northern region of Akkar, he said, adding that rescue workers were unable to enter the area because of the intensity of the fighting. The official identified the victim as Ezzedin Kassem, the imam of the mosque in a neighboring village. Five other people were hurt in the shootout, he said, adding that automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades were used in the fighting which was triggered by a "dispute between villagers. "The village lies about 50 kilometers north of Tripoli, the scene of a recent spate of deadly clashes between the two communities which each support rival political factions.

Berri flays Gadhafi over Sadr’s disappearance
Daily Star 9/1/2008
BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday held Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi responsible for the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sader, a Shiite cleric who founded Berri’s Amal Movement. "We tell the leader of the Libyan regime Moammar Gadhafi: you are personally responsible for the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr," Berri said in a speech to the crowds in the Southern town of Nabatieh. "Let no one think that we will forget or make any compromise," he added. Addressing the Libyan leader, Berri warned, "your tactics and maneuvers will not change anything. . . We insist on revealing the truth in the case of Imam Musa al-Sadr and his two companions. "Tens of thousands joined the rally to mark 30 years since Sadr vanished without trace in Libya, with the circumstances of his disappearance as mysterious as ever.

Gaza youth support Obama’s presidential bid
The Media Line, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Dozens of Palestinian students, professionals in Gaza take on new political agenda - getting Barack Obama elected next US president - "Hello, I’m calling from Gaza. I want some of your time. We are supporting Barack Obama"¦"For the past seven months, a group of 24 students and young professionals have gathered in the Gaza Strip nightly to phone random telephone numbers in the United States, urging the voices at the other end to "vote for Barack Obama. " Although only American citizens can actually cast a ballot in the election, this Gaza-based effort is a forceful demonstration of how Internet technology opens the door for anyone, anywhere to take an active role in US politics. Even if they have never even been to the USA. Far from utilizing a state-of-the art call-center of the sort that have become a mainstay of American political marketing, the Gaza callers. . .

Analysis: Israel’s view of McCain unchanged by VP choice
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
With his brash and bold pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain sewed up the Eskimo vote (her husband is part Yup’ik Eskimo) as well as the ballots from University of Idaho alumni (where Palin earned a degree in journalism). But it will take some time, and some getting to know Palin, before it will be possible to gage the impact on other key US constituencies, like the Jews. On the surface, McCain’s choice seems designed to realize a couple of key campaign objectives. First, it is widely expected to galvanize the right-wing Evangelical vote, a key vote McCain will need if he is to win the White House. On the surface it would seem that the "religious right" in the US really has no option but to vote McCain in November. True, they might not be in love with the maverick Arizona senator, who admitted. . .

Evangelicals in Israel back McCain
Jerusalem Post 8/31/2008
Evangelical Christians living in Jerusalem on Sunday voiced unflinching support for presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, and heaped praise on his surprise selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. "McCain has a depth of understanding of foreign policy - including in the Middle East - which makes him the best choice for Israel," said Michael Mott, a native of Colorado who has lived in Israel for the past 12 years. McCain’s choice of Palin was a "strategic move" that "blew away" last week’s Democratic National Convention, he said, adding that it was certain to win him more votes in the November election. The selection of Palin, who is anti-abortion and pro-gun rights, electrified social conservatives, including Evangelicals, who had previously been tepid about McCain’s candidacy.

Lev Leviev sells properties in New York
Erez Wollberg and Globes'' correspondent, Globes Online 8/31/2008
Africa-Israel sold two downtown properties and half of the Clock Tower and The Times building in midtown Manhattan. Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE: AFIL; Pink Sheets: AFIVY), controlled by chairman Lev Leviev, has signed a term sheet for the sale of stakes in properties the company owns in New York held through AI Holdings (USA) Corporation, for a total of $350 million. Africa-Israel declined to name the buyer, and added that it would report only an immaterial financial gain on the sale. Africa-Israel sold all its rights in two properties - 23 Wall Street and 15 Broad Street - for $150 million, 49. 9% of the rights in the Clock Tower project in Midtown Manhattan for an investment of $150 million by the buyer, and 49% of the rights and liabilities in The Times Building for $49 million. The buyer will also participate proportionately in the $711 million development cost of the Times project.

Israeli winery leaves premises in illegal West Bank settlement
Ma’an News Agency 8/31/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Barkan Wineries moved its operations from the illegal northern West Bank settlement of Barkan near the Palestinian city of Salfit. The company began moving its operations in 2004 to Kibbutz Hulda in central Israel, and announced recently the closure of all operations in the West Bank. According to the Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom, the Barakan Wineries "systematically" reduced their activity in the settlement and by 2007 had only warehouses in the illegal location. Gush Shalom reported on Sunday that the lease of the winery was now terminated. In September 2004, the Israeli drinks company Tempo acquired a 39% controlling interest in the Barkan winery. Around the same time Tempo made an agreement with the Dutch beer company Heineken, which became a controlling interest in a new company, Tempo Drinks, which was granted permission to make and distribute Heineken beers.

Violence, attacks and threats? Not here
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
In an old office in a residential building in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood, sparsely furnished and with no air conditioning, four men sit behind desks piled high with papers and old issues of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) newspapers. The hands on the yellowing clocks show that it is already 5 P. M. , but activity here is at its height. The secretary lights another cigarette and picks up the ringing phone. Someone wants to know whether it is permitted to bathe at Tel Aviv’s single-sex Sheraton Beach. The conversation will last for five seconds: "Taref [unclean], pork," he rules dryly. "It’s not only the beach, all the entrances are no good. Both for men and for women. " Deviants and pedophiles - That is how the headquarters of the Committee for Preserving Our Camp’s Purity works. The Jerusalem-based committee is in charge of modesty issues among the ultra-Orthodox public.

Haredi chastity squad methods exposed
Yifat Reuven, YNetNews 8/31/2008
Following arrest of chastity squad members, riots erupt in religious neighborhoods. Former members reveal how squads operate - The arrests of two alleged chastity squads members, Elhanan Buzaglo and Binyamin Meirovich, have sparked a new wave of violence in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. Following the arrests, garbage bins in the neighborhood of Geula were set on fire. Police officers who arrived were greeted with rocks being thrown at them. A store selling MP4 devices was attacked last week. Buzaglo, 29, was indicted over an incident which took place two months ago. The District Prosecutor’s Office believes that Buzaglo, along with six other chastity squad members, broke into a divorced woman’s home located in the Jerusalem neighborhood of, Maalot Dafna, beat her and threatened her.

Rabin assassin allegedly threatens wife’s neighbor from his prison cell
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/1/2008
Yigal Amir, the assassin of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, reportedly posed as an attorney in a telephone call to a neighbor of his wife, Larissa Trimbobler, after she had argued with the man. Amir told guards at Hadarim prison, where he is serving a life sentence, of the phone calls, after which, authorities decided to withhold visitation and calling privileges from the inmate. The Israel Prisons Service confirmed yesterday that Amir’s privileges had been suspended for several weeks. Yesterday the neighbor, Philip Schlechter, complained to Jerusalem police. "I never believed that someone who murdered the prime minister of Israel would call to threaten me," he said. The argument between Trimbobler and the neighbor stemmed from a drainage pipe she had had installed two months ago over the entrance to the Schlechter home.

Maliki ’removes negotiating team, picks confidantes to seek pact with Washington’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/1/2008
WASHINGTON: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has reshuffled a negotiating team working on an agreement on withdrawal of US troops from Iraq amid worries the move may sabotage the deal, The Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site late Saturday. The newspaper said the reshuffle was disclosed to it by a senior Iraqi official close to Maliki, who also suggested that the two sides remained deadlocked on key issues. According to the report, Maliki dismissed the delegation headed by the Foreign Ministry and picked his national security adviser, Mowaffak Rubaie, chief of staff Tariq Najim and political adviser Sadiq Rikabi to conduct the negotiations in their final stage. The three report directly to the prime minister. Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Hajj Hamoud, who led the original negotiations, has been removed, the paper said.

Iraqi Army takes over security at camp for Iranian rebels
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/1/2008
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi Army has replaced American troops in securing a refugee camp north of Baghdad where members of Iran’s main rebel group are grouped, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday. "Iraqi forces have taken over responsibility from US forces to protect Ashraf camp," Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad al-Askari toldAFP "Our forces have deployed to protect this camp, not to seize it as recent rumors have alleged," Askari added. Nearly 4,000 members of the People’s Mujaheddine Organization of Iran (PMOI) fled to Iraq in the 1980s and settled at Ashraf camp, some 80 kilometers north of Baghdad, which the group now uses as its headquarters. Opponents of the Iran government and wary of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whom they consider too close to Tehran, the future of the PMOI in Iraq is uncertain and Maliki has said he is looking for ways to end their presence.

GCC, Turkey to sign pact aimed at boosting ties
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/1/2008
RIYADH: Oil-rich Gulf Arab monarchies will sign an accord with Turkey aimed at boosting ties between the pro-Western Arab bloc and Ankara, the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said on Sunday. The "memorandum of understanding" to be inked in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea city of Jeddah on Tuesday will provide for "cooperation in the economic, political and security domains," GCC chief Abdel-Rahman al-Attiyah toldAFP. Attiyah said GCC foreign ministers were due to meet in Jeddah Tuesday and will hold talks with their Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan on the sidelines of the meeting. The Turkish foreign minister said the deal would pave the way for the conclusion of a free trade agreement between the GCC and Turkey that has been under negotiation since 2005. The GCC, which has good relations with Turkey, groups the Gulf nations of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Khaddam scoffs at life jail term handed down by Syrian court
Compiled by, Daily Star 9/1/2008
Former Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam said Sunday that a life jail term issued against him for "treason" is proof the Damascus government is transforming the country into a prison for its people. "This verdict does not worry me or affect my determination," the former senior official turned opposition figure, who now lives in exile in Paris, said in a statement sent toAFP by his office. The sentence of life in prison with hard labor showed "the isolation of the Syrian regime, which is transforming the country into a huge prison and increasing its repression of the people," the statement said. A Syrian lawyer close to the prosecution, Hossam Ed-dine Habash, said on Saturday that a military tribunal held in Damascus had on August 17 sentenced Khaddam, 73, to hard labor for life on 13 charges, including high treason.


Strategies of Resistance in Palestine
Vijay Rajiva, Palestine Chronicle 8/31/2008
      ’The immediate task for Sustainable Resistance is to unify the political parties.’
     In a recent article on Palestinian political economy we are given a lucid and comprehensive account of neo liberal economic policy and the US-Israeli and European involvement in the process of integrating the Palestinian economy into a source of profiteering for the former colonial powers (and Pax Americana). (1).
     This should not surprise anyone familiar with the historical trajectory of colonialism and neo-colonialism. However, it is incumbent on all who support the liberation of Palestine to understand the economic realities that are propelling the strategies of resistance to continued colonial and neo-colonial exploitation of the people of Palestine. It would also assist in identifying and forwarding these strategies if the big picture of the Palestinian Authority’s fraudulent claims of settling final status issues with Israel are seen for what they are, a surrender of Palestinian national rights. In this article I shall draw out the implications of the above-mentioned article for political struggle in Palestine.

Boats and Prisoners Considered Minor Victories for Palestine [August 24 – August 30]

MIFTAH, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
      There has been some good news this week in Palestine. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were overjoyed to host the two freedom boats on August 24 bringing with them 44 international peace activists intent on breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza. During their days-long stay in the Strip, the internationals, hailing from 17 countries, toured the Strip, met with Palestinian officials including some from the de facto Hamas leadership there and took in the scenes of deprivation resulting from the year-long siege.Deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh even promised to grant all of the activists Palestinian passports in appreciation of their solidarity.
     Before most of them sailed out of the Strip on August 29 – nine have stayed behind to continue humanitarian work there – they took with them seven Palestinians who would otherwise have had no means of traveling out of Gaza. On board was Saeed Musleh, a young boy who lost his leg in Israeli shelling and was never allowed to leave the Strip to seek medical treatment. He is now in a Larnaca hospital along with his father. Others, including students and a mother and her children who were reunited with family in Cyprus were also on board. The boats arrived safely in Cyprus early August 30.

To Carry a Camera in Gaza

Diana Mukkaled, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
      Anybody carrying a camera in the Gaza Strip is a potential target.
     This is the simple conclusion that can be reached following the Israeli military prosecutor’s report that was issued a few days ago. The report cleared Israeli soldiers who shot dead Palestinian cameraman Fadel Shana who died on April 16, 2008 along with eight unarmed youths under 16 years of age.
     Why did Israeli soldiers venture upon launching two missiles towards a group of unarmed youths and the Reuters cameraman who was holding his camera and whose clothes and equipment were clearly marked ‘press’?
     This may seem like a silly question to many or may bring about answers that further complicate the conflict with Israel and the continuous targeting of Palestinians. But it is a question that should be contemplated. This is what the international news agency Reuters, for which Fadel Shana worked, has embarked upon.
     Reuters rejected the Israeli military’s report and launched a large campaign to gain the support of scores of media figures, journalists, civil associations and others who want to see Shana’s killers brought to justice because the conclusion that was reached by the Israeli military prosecutor is a green light for more killings.

Hamas Seeking to Come in from Cold

Sana Abdallah, MIFTAH 8/30/2008
      Chances of coming in from the cold are looking better for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement ruling the Gaza Strip, as the world braces itself for crucial changes in political leaderships and power shifts that might also bring strategic policy turns in the Middle East.
     The U.S. George W. Bush administration, which has led a fierce campaign against Hamas and is widely seen as the friendliest U.S. government yet to Israel, has fewer than 150 days left in office, with no sign that the peace talks it is sponsoring between the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, and Israel are getting anywhere.
     The Israeli leadership is also on its way out, as a corruption scandal forced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to announce his resignation next month to elect a new Kadima party leader who will need to keep the coalition government together or else hold snap elections.
     Abbas, too, has not yet said whether he will seek re-election if a Palestinian presidential poll is held next January. And he has indicated on several occasions he wants to step down out of frustration that peace negotiations are not making headway toward statehood; neither has he been able to reunite Palestinian ranks and mend the split between Gaza and the West Bank.

As a Palestinian state recedes, Jordan contacts Hamas

Saad Hattar, Daily Star 9/1/2008
      Jordan’s move to thaw relations with the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) following nine years of estrangement has raised eyebrows as to the timing and the motives behind this tactic. Internal and external factors dictated the rapprochement amid growing Jordanian dismay at American and Israeli behavior - the kingdom’s main strategic allies since the turn of the century. Hence, the timing bears significance considering the last months of President George W. Bush’s tenure and Israel’s political paralysis. On the other side, the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas looks headed toward failure in light of Hamas’ pounding and US-Israeli indifference.
     Anxious about the deadlocked Palestinian track, the dwindling prospects for a viable Palestinian state and disenchanted with the lip service paid by the outgoing Republican administration, Jordan has moved fast to rebuild ties with Hamas - an arch-enemy of the PA in the West Bank and an offshoot of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.
     Jordan’s concerns are strategic. If the prospects for a Palestinian state diminish, it revives the old notion of the Jordan option, positing the kingdom as an alternative state for Palestinians. Jordan is home to 1.9 million Palestinian refugees - 41 percent of the UNRWA-registered refugees in the region and more than 50 percent of Jordan’s population.

Woman who wore a suicide bomb takes up fight for Middle East peace

Kim Sengupta and Said Ghazali in Tulkarem, West Bank, The Independent 9/1/2008
      Shifa al-Qudsi stood in the dark corner of a room while a young man from the Al-Aqsa Brigade checked the suicide vest rigged to her body to make sure the explosive charge was correctly connected. "All you have to do is press the button," he said, before stressing the importance of ensuring that she produces her martyr’s will in front of a video camera.
     "It was the hardest, cruellest moment of my life," Ms Qudsi recalls. "I did what was asked, and I made my will trying to explain to my six-year-old daughter and my parents what I was doing. I also sent a message to the Israelis and the outside world that I was a freedom fighter and not a terrorist."
     The 24-year-old beauty technician was being sent from her home in the West Bank town of Tulkarem to blow up a supermarket in the nearby Israeli town of Netanya. In the bitter hatred spawned by years of savage violence between Israelis and Palestinians, she had convinced herself her action was a justified response to the brutality inflicted on her people.

A dirty business?

Josh Scheinert, Jerusalem Post 8/28/2008
      Three years ago, privately owned garbage trucks from west Jerusalem began dumping their loads in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Dahiyat a-Salam to avoid paying for designated dumping sites near Abu Dis.
     Today Dahiyat a-Salam is home to a giant, illegal garbage dump, hundreds of meters wide, where one can find anything from construction materials to medical lab supplies and dead animals. Local air quality has been affected as dust and fumes are swept upward into the residential area that borders the site, with apartment buildings and houses dotting its perimeter. At times children can be seen playing in the refuse.
     In total, there are 16 sites in east Jerusalem that have been used for illegal dumping - Dahiyat a-Salam is the biggest. While area residents have managed to stop the dumping there, the city has yet to begin a promised clean-up.
     Human rights organizations say the problem is illustrative of an overall neglect of east Jerusalem by the municipality, noting that Dahiyat a-Salam is not even on the list of illegal dumping sites slated to be cleaned up. Furthermore, human rights groups and residents say, the municipality has said debris from the dump will be used to help level land to facilitate construction of the West Bank security fence in the area.
     However, on a visit to the site, workers constructing the fence said they had heard of no such plans....

They failed to free Shalit

Haaretz Editorial, Ha’aretz 8/31/2008
      A ministerial committee headed by Haim Ramon will begin work this morning on a list of 450 Palestinian prisoners whom Israel will be willing to release in exchange for Gilad Shalit. It is difficult to offer an explanation for this puzzling story. Is this the first time that someone is busying himself with preparing a list of 450 prisoners? Is it really true that they have only managed to come up with 80 candidates for release "who meet the criteria"? Or was a decision made to release to the press news of the preparations, in order to give the people a sense that something is happening.
     The more time goes by, the tougher Hamas’ stance is becoming, making Israel’s shame all the more evident. If immediately after the abduction it was possible to gain Shalit’s release for a few prisoners, today Hamas is signaling that it will not accept only the 450 about whom there was talk in the past, but will demand the release of 1,000 prisoners, and maybe as many as 1,500.
     In response to these demands come proposals by the Shin Bet security service to impose sanctions on the Gaza Strip and bar the shipment of fuel, even if this will threaten the calm - just as long as Hamas recognizes that Israel does not succumb easily to blackmail. Ofer Dekel, who is in charge of the negotiations, argues that the calm in the Gaza Strip has led Hamas to toughen its stance, even though in the past the defense minister expressed a contrary opinion.

Israeli PR Fails the Test

Stuart Littlewood - London, Palestine Chronicle 8/31/2008
      When Ron Prosor arrived in London last year to take up his post as Israeli ambassador he was eager to step up public relations. He told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "I’m not afraid to appear anywhere, and there is no platform’ that I will not utilize for PR work."
     We are familiar with the usual Israeli PR mantras:
     - having to contend with suicide bombers - how Arafatturned down former prime minister Barak’s so-called ’generous offer’ in 2000
     - how the Israeli public has moved to the left in recent years whereas Palestinians have moved to the extreme right
     - Israel is a democracy under attack - Jerusalem is the capital of Israel forever
     - Israel is against any negotiations with Hamas because it as a terrorist movement
     This last is all the more preposterous when echoed by the US, Britain and the EU, which have connived to keep Palestine under Israel’s military jackboot for 40 years.

Food may break the Middle East’s back

Rami G. Khouri, Daily Star 8/30/2008
      If you think the Middle East is already a source of trouble for itself and the rest of the world in the form of violence, extremism, refugees and illegal immigrants, hold on tight, because rougher days are ahead. Discussions with researchers and executives of leading international organizations, as I have just had during a working visit to Geneva, unambiguously reveal the problematic position of the Middle East region amidst the complex, interconnected stresses the world faces.
     The crisis of food prices and availability, in particular, may be the straw the breaks the back of many camels, in this case vulnerable states and societies. Communities and some countries could slowly unravel in years to come, under the combined, cumulative stress of five simultaneous crises: higher prices and curtailed availability of basic foodstuffs; higher energy prices that will raise the cost of almost every other service or product we buy; increasingly scarce and poorer quality water; population growth rates that outpace the economy’s ability to generate new jobs for a disproportionately young population; and national environments characterized by political crises, active wars, intermittent terrorism and low-quality governance, and that are increasingly dominated by security agencies and their considerations.