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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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2 September 2008

Strike in Gaza threatens to deepen Hamas-Fatah rift; Unions extend action another week
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Teachers, health workers, and other public sector employees in the Gaza Strip decided on Tuesday to extend a strike for another week, a move that will likely increase tensions between Hamas and Fatah. Jamil Shihadah, the secretary-general of the teachers’ union said during a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah: “We expected to see a more realistic and positive view from the de facto government of Gaza after more than one week of a teachers’ strike. We thought the government would reconsider its calculations and practices against teachers there. ”Shihadah added that the union is calling on the Hamas lead government in Gaza to apologize to teachers who it labeled “cheaters” and “unbelievers. ” ’Politicized’ strikeA series of strikes has rocked the Gaza Strip over the last week.

B’Tselem to Attorney General: Stop reckless use of rubber-coated steel bullets
B’Tselem - The Israeli information center for Human Rights, Palestine Monitor 9/1/2008
B’Tselem’s data indicate that security forces have adopted a practice of reckless firing of rubber-coated steel bullets in the West Bank, killing two Palestinians and injuring many more since the beginning of the year. Since the intifada began, 21 Palestinians have been killed by rubber-coated steel bullet fire, a measure that is meant to be non-lethal. The organization has requested Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to stop the illegal firing and prosecute both soldiers and police officers who violate the Open-Fire Regulations and commanders who condone the trigger-happy attitude. Early this morning, "˜Awwad Sadeq Sror, a mentally disabled father of four from Ni’lin, was severely injured when a soldier fired a cylinder containing three rubber-coated steel bullets at him from short range. B’Tselem’s initial investigation indicates that two bullets penetrated his skull and a third struck him in the chest.

Boy from Susiya almost dies from suffocation after journey to hospital is delayed by Israeli roadblock
International Solidarity Movement 9/2/2008
Hebron Region - Photos - On the 31st August, one and a half year old Omar almost died from suffocation as his journey from Susiya to hospital was prolonged from 5 to 20 minutes due to Israeli road block. Sunday afternoon Omar had caught a fever witch caused his tongue to swell up and and fall back blocking his windpipe. As a part of the reaction his brain went into shock and closed his mouth. In order to save the boy from suffocation, it was crucial to get him to the hospital as quickly as possible. Under normal conditions it would take the family 5 minutes to drive the direct road to the Al Er Demat hospital, but this road has been closed by a Israeli roadblock for the past 8 years. As Susiya is in Area C the Palestinians have no authority to build andrepair roads without Israeli authorisation, which meant the family had to use an old dirt-road to get to the hospital.

Egypt, Jordan voice fears about partial Israeli-Palestinian deal
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Egypt opposes an Israeli-Palestinian partial agreement because Cairo doesn’t think such a deal would end the conflict in the region, and Jordan fears that such an agreement would force it to take in hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. The Egyptian and Jordanian position is encouraging to the Palestinian Authority, which opposes an agreement in principle. In talks with the PA, Israel has suggested signing a partial agreement in a bid to realize the goal of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian deal by the end of this year. That goal was set at the Annapolis summit last November. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this week, rejected the proposal and insisted that any deal include solutions to all the core issues: borders, Jerusalem and the refugees. But Olmert is still pushing the Israeli proposal.

Court convicts two Israeli guards of killing Palestinian
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/3/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: An Occupied Jerusalem court has convicted two Israeli border guards in the 2002 killing of a Palestinian teenager in the Occupied West Bank town of Hebron, a court spokeswoman said Tuesday. The two were found guilty of participating in the murder of Imran Abu Hamdieh, 18, by hurling him out of their jeep while driving at about 80 kilometers per hour. Abu Hamdieh died later of serious head wounds. The officers and two others had seized the teenager from his home in Hebron in December 2002 and dragged him into their jeep, according to the indictment. Earlier this year, the driver of the car was sentenced to six-and-a-half years jail, but fled the country. A fourth officer is serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence. - AFP

Israeli court lenient on soldiers who abused Palestinian Taxi dispatcher
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
The Jaffa Israeli Military Court handed down lenient rulings against Israeli soldiers who attacked a Palestinian Taxi-dispatcher in the southern West Bank city of Hebron in January 2008. The soldiers were indicted on charges of severely abusing the Palestinian man, forcing him to strip naked, and assaulting him with rifles until he lost consciousness. The taxi dispatcher was identified as Ziad Abu Sneina. He was ordered to fully undress, yet in refusing to remove all of his clothes, the soldiers kicked, punched, and hit him with their rifles. The Israeli army totally rejected the allegations and claimed that soldiers tried to subdue the man after he became "uncontrollable. "  The court ruled that three soldiers of the Kfir Brigade will receive active prison terms ranging between 67 days and five and a half months.

Palestinian patients continue dying as a result of Israeli blockade
International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
The death toll of patients has reached 245 as 77 year-old patient, Hussain Abu Jazzar died on Tuesday after having been unable to get treatment for his failed kidney, due to the continued Israeli blockade of Gaza. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry of the ruling party Hamas, the closure of Gaza’s crossings including the Rafah crossing terminal by Israel since June 2007 has doubled the suffering of hundreds of patients awaiting a glimpse of hope for treatment abroad. The Ministry called on all free minds and souls around the world to intervene immediately to relieve the suffering of such patients, by pressuring the Israeli occupation to reopen the crossings. Amidts this situation, the ministry also called on its staff workers to commit to working hours and not strike in compliance with ’political controversies.

Israel, Egypt won’t let Blair’s sister-in-law leave Gaza by land
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, who arrived in Gaza with a boatload of activists protesting an Israeli blockade last month, said Tuesday she was stranded because both Israel and Egypt had denied her entry. Lauren Booth, sister of the former British prime minister’s wife Cherie, revealed her predicament as Blair visited the region to further Western-backed efforts to achieve a limited Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Booth was one of 44 foreign "Free Gaza" activists who set sail from Cyprus, docking in Gaza last month, and was one of 10 who remained when the others sailed back to Cyprus on Friday. Israel allowed the activists to dock in Gaza on August 23 despite its blockade of the coastal territory since Hamas Islamists, who oppose Israel’s existence, seized control last year. Booth said she has tried unsuccessfully over the past few days to leave through Gaza’s land crossings with Israel and Egypt.

Relatives of patients: Partial opening of Rafah crossing inconclusive step
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The committee of relatives of patients in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday described the Egyptian authority’s opening of the Rafah crossing for two days as a positive step but added that it was still inconclusive. The committee in a press release said that the Egyptian security forces should open the border terminal before patients and all Palestinian citizens. They should also allow the entry of medical assistance as an important step to stop the fall of more victims who surpassed 240 patients, it elaborated. The committee hailed the entry of 400 patients into Egypt, but pointed out that around 1,000 others were still in dire need of treatment abroad. It finally thanked the Palestinian government in Gaza for organizing traffic during those two days.

Nasser hospital holds Abbas and doctors legally responsible for patients’ lives
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The administration of the Nasser medical complex held PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and the striking health workers legally responsible for the life of any patient who dies because of the politicized strike called for by the PA unions in Ramallah. In a statement received by the PIC, the administration said that the striking workers should assume responsibility and consequences of their strike, confirming that it will file on behalf of patients criminal complaints against them in a court of law. The statement underlined that this strike was organized without any reason or gradual steps like any strike in the world, pointing out that the illegal health ministry in Ramallah threatens everyone not abiding by the strike with cutting their salaries. Fatah websites had published the names of more than 39 doctors who were fired because they did not comply with the strike call.

Gaza human rights organization: stop politically motivated strikes
Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the expansion of strikes by employees across the education sector, as well as ongoing strikes amongst workers in the health sector and other public services in the Gaza Strip. PCHR is concerned about the impact of these ongoing strikes, that threaten the delivery of all public services in the Gaza Strip. Patients, students and other civilians are all being seriously affected by these politically motivated strikes. On Saturday, 30 August 2008, public sector employees announced the start of an all-out strike in all governmental facilities in the Gaza Strip, in response to a call by the Palestinian Syndicate of Public Employees. Thousands of public sector employees joined the strike. At the beginning of last week, education sector employees launched an open strike in response to a call by the General Union of Palestinian Teachers.

Police open fire on Palestinian bulldozer driver
Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
In the wake of two bulldozer terror attacks in Jerusalem in recent months, police opened fire at a Palestinian man who tried to escape on a tractor on Tuesday afternoon near Modi’in. The Palestinian man did not heed to the calls of the policemen asking him to stop, and tried to drive away on his tractor. The policeman apparently felt threatened when the man raised the tractor’s bucket and fled from the scene, and shot at the escaping tractor’s wheels. Army Radio reported that the incident appeared to be criminal and not terror-related. The Palestinian, who was caught driving negligently, did not stop the tractor when instructed to do so, but rather tried to flee from the area while raising the construction vehicle’s bucket. From the initial investigation it appears that man was afraid of being arrested as he did not have the necessary legal documentation to work in Israel, and was trying to escape back into the West Bank.

Palestinian arrested after fleeing with stolen tractor
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Police fire several shots at bulldozer near Modi’in for fear of another terror attack; driver not injured, apprehended. Incident not terror-related -Police officers opened fire at a Palestinian who stole a tractor near Modi’in Tuesday afternoon. The man, who was not injured in the incident, was eventually caught and taken into custody. A police spokeswoman said the incident was not terror-related. Hadas, a Modi’in resident who witnessed the chase told Ynet "We stopped at a red light near the Shilat junction and suddenly saw a tractorheading toward a small jeep, whose driver was trying to dodge it. Then a police squad car stopped in the middle of the road; the tractor’s driver proceeded to make a u-turn on a traffic island, attempted to flee the scene and then came to a stop. "A police officer then stepped out of his vehicle and fired a few shots at the tractor," she recounted.

Israeli terror plot suspects charged
Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Two Israelis who were arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in August for allegedly setting up an Islamic Jihad cell near Ramallah and planning to assassinate air force pilots and scientists were indicted on Tuesday. Anis Zfori, a 20-year-old student at Bir Zeit University north of Ramallah, and Husam Halili, a 19-year-old who studies in Jordan, are both residents of the Western Galilee town of Shfaram. Zfori was charged with aiding the enemy during a time of war, conspiracy to assist the enemy, membership in an illegal organization and conspiracy to commit murder. His cousin, Halili, was charged with transferring money to the Islamic Jihad. In August, the pair had confessed to contacting Islamic Jihad’s headquarters in Syria and to raising funds to buy weapons. The cell allegedly underwent training and planned a shooting attack on an IDF. . .

2 Israeli Arabs indicted for Jihad plot to kill pilots, scientists
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
Prosecutors on Tuesday indicted two Israeli Arabs for a series of grave security offences including forming an Islamic Jihad cell and planning to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists and university professors. The pair are Shfaram residents Anis Sappori, 20, who studies communications at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, and Hussam Khalil, 19, who studies electrical engineering in Jordan. They reportedly attempted to contact Islamic Jihad operatives in Syria, with the intent of receiving money and expertise in order to help them carry out terror attacks in Israel. The two suspects used the internet to find the names of physics professors at Israeli universities, and proposed using remote operated car bombs to kill them. The two also planned to carry out attacks on Israeli pilots, telling investigators that they wanted to take revenge for Israel Air Force operations in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Arab who planned assassinations indicted
Ahiya Raved, YNetNews 9/2/2008
State files grave charges against Shfaram’s Anis Saffouri, thought to be behind plot targeting Israeli pilots, scientists -The State Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday filed indictment against Anis Saffouri, 20, of Shfaram for allegedly plotting terror acts against Israeli Air Force pilots and various scientists. TheIslamic Jihad cell’s assassination plot was exposed in a joint IDF, Shin Bet and police operation, last week. The indictment against Saffouri further listed counts of aiding and abetting an enemy at war, membership in an illegal organization, contacting a foreign agent, raising funds for terror activities, forming a terror cell, conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to commit murder and various weapons charges. Security-Related AffairIslamic Jihad suspects deny allegations/ Court extends remand of two Israeli Arabs suspected of planning to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists.

UNIFIL details role in effort to get Israelis out of Ghajar
Daily Star 9/3/2008
BEIRUT: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said Tuesday that it had offered to Israel and Lebanon concrete proposals on how to facilitate an Israeli withdrawal from the northern part pf Ghajar village. Israel seized control of the northern side of Ghajar, along with the disputed Shebaa Farms, when it captured the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967. The Jewish state ostensibly withdrew from the village in 2000 when it pulled out of most of South Lebanon, only to re-occupy it during the 34-day war of July-August 2006. Although the Israeli Cabinet agreed to hand over Ghajar to UNIFIL in December 2006, it has continued to occupy the side north of the UN-designated "Blue Line" which serves as a de facto border between the two countries. In a statement released on Tuesday, UNIFIL spokesperson Yasmina Bouzianne noted that UN Security Resolution 1701, which was issued to end the. . .

Officials: Israel didn’t agree to cede Shaba Farms
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Israeli officials say no decisions have been made regarding withdrawing from the northern side of the village of Ghajar, despite unconfirmed media reports indicating Israel has recently expressed a willingness to withdraw. "No new decisions have yet been taken," government spokesman Mark Regev said on Tuesday. "Anything more you would say is mere speculation. " Both Haaretz and the London-based a-Sharq al-Awsat quoted unnamed Lebanese and Israeli sources this week as saying that Israel had informed the United States of its readiness to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar, which straddles the Israel-Lebanon border. But the US State Department said Tuesday that it was unaware of any such communication. "As far as we know, no official statement has been received" from the Israeli government, a state department official told The Jerusalem Post.

Israel will withdraw from Lebanese village, Lebanese sources confirm
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Lebanese sources confirmed the news on Tuesday that the Israeli military plans to withdraw from the Lebanese village of Al-Ghajar, on the Israeli border. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday that Israel is prepared to leave the village, after receiving guarantees from UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, that part of the village would be controlled by international forces. The London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat daily newspaper quoted a Lebanese official as saying that the Lebanese authorities expect Israeli forces to withdraw soon from the village. The Yasmina Bouziane said she hoped UNIFIL would soon reach an agreement between the Israelis and the Lebanese on the village in preparation to implement UN resolution 1701, which authorizes UN troops to police the ceasefire in Lebanon.

Campaign to end Israeli forces’ use of rubber-coated bullets
Abu Wardeh, Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
Nablus -- Israeli forces continue to shoot Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets in the West Bank. These bullets are marketed as "non-lethal. "However, since the beginning of the Second Intifada, Israeli forces have killed 21 Palestinians with them. Two of the people were killed this year. A 40 year old father of four, Awad Sadiq, suffers permanent brain damage after Israeli soldiers shot him three times at close range, once in the head. The Israeli group working for Palestinian human rights, B’Tselem, is calling to ban the use of these "non-lethal" bullets that are used indiscriminately. The human rights organization is asking for the Israeli legal system to prosecute the soldiers and police who shoot Palestinians. West Bank resident Sadiq will never be the same after being shot in the head and chest.

November 9 - 16: Join the 6th Week against the Apartheid Wall!
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 9/2/2008
As part of the national and international mobilization to mark the 60th year of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe), in which millions of Palestinians were either slaughtered or displaced by the Zionist militias and army, the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and its Popular Committees call for the Sixth Week against the Apartheid Wall. Six years after the first mass protests started in the northern West Bank against the Apartheid Wall, Occupation bulldozers and military are still targeting our land and people. Wehave continued to stand our ground, halting the construction works with our own hands, defending our land and mourning our latest martyrs - Ahmad Mousa (12 years) and Yousef Amira (17 years) from Ni’lin - that have given their lives in the struggle against the Wall.

For some in impoverished Jenin, Ramadan has become ''a burden''
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Jenin – Ma’an – Hazim, a Palestinian Authority (PA) employee in Jenin showed us the grocery list he was carrying in his pocket and put his other hand on his head, wondering where he would get the money to buy even basic needs. “What shall I do now? ” he said, “the month has just started and I’m still waiting for the salary to buy things I need. I don’t think of buying more than that since my salary only covers basic needs, how would I, when Ramadan means higher prices than all other days? ”Hazim says that during a normal month, he waits and waits for his salary from the cash-strapped PA. When his check finally arrives, he spends it all on the necessities of life. If there is a wedding in his family, he goes into debt. He said he also went into debt to pay school expenses for his five children. During Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began on Monday, the necessity of. . .

Tulkarem celebrates Ramadan amid economic downturn
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Tulkarem – Ma’an – The markets of the West Bank city of Tulkarem are bustling this week with the arrival of Ramadan and an influx of Palestinians from inside Israel, but the increased traffic can only mask a deepening economic recession in Tulkarem. The price of food is soaring, unemployment is rising, and many ordinary families are struggling to pay supplies and tuituion for the new school year along with food and other expenses for Ramadan. Contributing to the economic stagnation is Israel’s network of checkpoints, walls, roadblocks and other forms of closure. In Tulkarem, and throughout the West Bank, the Palestinian economy is barely coping with these physical impediments. The UN counts 29 such closures in the Tulkarem area alone. Because of these, goods cannot be moved to market, and workers cannot reach their workplaces.

Terrorist’s home will not be demolished
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/2/2008
In response to petition by father of Mercaz Harav shooter, High Court orders Homefront Command to freeze demolition of family home -The Israeli High Court ruled Tuesday evening to freeze demolition on the home of terrorist Alaa Abu Dhaim, who murdered eight unarmed students and injured ten others, in an attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March. The decree, announced by High Court Judge Salim Jubran, came in response to a petition by the terrorist’s father, Hisam Abu Dhaim, who claimed that a Homefront Command order to demolish the second and third stories of the four-story family residence would make the entire residence uninhabitable for the rest of the family. In early August, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered tolaunch proceedings aimed at razing the Dhaim family home, pursuant to the son’s terrorist actions.

Court issues injunction prohibiting demolition of Mercaz terrorist’s house
Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
The High Court of Justice in Jerusalem on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the IDF from demolishing the house of Mercaz Harav terrorist in Jebl Mukaber, in east Jerusalem. Justice Salim Jubran ruled in response to a petition from the terrorist’s father, Hisham Hussein Abu Dhaim. Ala Abu Dhaim killed eight students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in March this year. [end]

Court suspends demolition of East Jerusalem terrorist’s house
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
The Supreme Court yesterday issued a temporary injunction against plans to demolish parts of the home of Palestinian terrorist Ala Abu Dahim, who killed eight people at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem last March. A petition filed on behalf of the Abu Dahim family claimed plans to demolish the second and third floors of the four-story house in Jabel Mukkaber, East Jerusalem, are unlawful. Attorney Andre Rosenthal, who represents the Abu Dahims, said the second floor did not belong to the gunman - it was rented out - and that he resided on only part of the third floor, along with his parents. Rosenthal argued that the Israel Defense Forces’ Homefront Command, which is responsible for the demolition, has not shown that the building will withstand a partial demolition. He added that authorities have not presented evidence that the gunman was part of a terrorist organization, and that the gunman might have been criminally motivated.

Court prevents demolition of Jerusalem terrorist’s home
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the Israel Defense Forces from demolishing the home of the terrorist who gunned down eight students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem in March. Attorney Andre Rosenthal petitioned the court on behalf of the terrorist’s father, Hisham Hussein Abu Dhaim, arguing that the IDF Home Front Command was planning to demolish the second and third floors of a four-storey building owned by the terrorist’s family in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and that the second floor was rented out to foreigners while the third floor was occupied by the terrorist, when he was alive, with his parents as well as his brother, who actually lives abroad. The petition maintains that the Home Front Command failed to present the family with estimates. . .

Rightists try to block roads in protest of settler eviction warrants; 50 detained
Eli Senyor, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Dozens of right-wing activists attempt to hold protest rally outside Central Command chief’s Reut home; large police forces block their path -Dozens of right-wing activists were detained Tuesday afternoon for attempting to hold an illegal demonstration in front of the home of IDF Central Command Chief Maj. -Gen. Gadi Shamni in Reut, near Modi’in. Shamni recently issued three restraining orders against settlers residing in the West Bank settlements of Yitzhar and Adi-Ad, banning them from the area pending the conclusion of the upcoming Palestinian olive harvest. The protest did not receive prior police approval and was therefore considered illegal. Large police forces have boosted security around Shamni’s home in the past few hours, and major traffic arteries in the area were blockedto prevent more protesters from approaching.

Right-wing Reut rally-goers arrested
Tovah Lazaroff And Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Some right-wing 50 activists were detained Tuesday night at the Modi’in police station for their involvement in a rally at Reut to protest the temporary eviction of three settlers from the West Bank in advance of the olive harvest season. OC Central Command Maj. -Gen. Gadi Shamni issued the restraining orders against the three settlers, who the IDF said were provocateurs. On Tuesday evening, right-wing activists had planned a rally in Reut in front of Shamni’s home in defense of the three, who they say were innocent of any wrongdoing and should not be kept away from their homes. But many of the activists were stopped by police en-route and never made it to the rally. Police said they detained the activists before their arrival at the rally as well as those at the event itself on the grounds that they were participating in an illegal demonstration.

Maan: Two injured in Israeli attacks on Palestinian fishermen in Gaza
International Solidarity Movement 9/2/2008
International Actions - Gaza Region - Two Gazan fishermen were injured when Israeli naval vessels fired on Palestinian fishing boats on Monday. Palestinian medical sources told Ma’an that 32-year-old Husam Sultan was hit in the head with shrapnel. His wounds were described as serious. Ninteen-year-old Muhammad Sultan was lacerated by shrapnel in various places on his body. The Israeli navy opened fire at the fishermen off the Gaza shore near the former site of the Israeli settlement Dugeit, west of the Palestinian town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. This Israeli attack is an apparent violation of the ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip which went into effect on 19 June.

Two Palestinian fishermen wounded in IOF navy shooting
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Two Palestinian fishermen were wounded Monday evening when an Israeli navy boat fired a projectile at their fishing boat off the Beit Lahia coast in northern Gaza Strip. Medical sources said that the two fishermen were hit with shrapnel, adding that one of them was hit in his head and his condition was serious while the other was hit with shrapnel all over his body. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank detained a Palestinian director of a company arranging Haj (pilgrimage) and Omra (minor pilgrimage) trips to Saudi Arabia. Local sources said that Khaled Al-Ali was detained three days ago while returning from Jordan with 200 Palestinian passports in his possession after obtaining visit permits to Saudi Arabia for holders of those passports to perform Omra during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Scottish activists intend to stage two trips to break Israel’s siege on Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- Scottish human rights activists announced their intention to organize two trips soon by land and sea to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip with the participation of a number of Scottish lawmakers. At a joint press conference with human rights activist Janet Legget, Dr. Khalil Al-Neiss, the deputy head of the Scottish national party and the coordinator of the anti-siege campaign, said that the campaign organizers intend to organize a land trip from Scotland to Rafah in mid-November, pointing out that six Scottish lawmakers and 34 human rights activists will participate in this journey. Dr. Neiss added that the organizers of the land trip, which started 50 days ago from outside the Scottish parliament building, will organize another trip by sea to Gaza within two weeks. The head of the campaign also noted that he and the organizers of this anti-siege campaign. . .

Israelis fire warning shots near Gaza fishermen, foreign activists
Daily Star 9/3/2008
BEIRUT: Israeli naval vessels fired warning shots at Palestinian fishing boats carrying international human rights workers several kilometers off the coast of the Gaza Strip, the activists told The Daily Star on Tuesday. Upon leaving the Gaza City port early Monday, three Israeli gunboats began trailing the fishing convoy. The Gaza fisherman, accompanied by human rights activists from the Free Gaza movement, maintained their course. At 6 miles (9. 6 kilometers) the Israeli presence became more pronounced, according to Donna Wallach of Free Gaza. "Typically [the fisherman] can’t get out past 3 to 6 miles," Wallach said, adding that the coastal Gaza fisheries have been heavily depleted because of over-fishing due to Israeli interference. "[But] we continued out to 9 miles, trawling up and down the Gaza coast. ""There were seven fishing boats in the convoy," she said, "and warning shots were fired at each boat. "

Palestinian legislator calls on the Arab FM’s to activate their decision of breaking the siege
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
Palestinian legislator, Jamal Al Khudary, head of the Popular Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza, called for forming an Arab Ministerial committee which would urgently visit the Gaza Strip and observe the devastating effects of the Israeli siege, especially as the Muslims are marking the holy month of Ramadan. Al Khudary added that this step would resemble a great importance towards breaking the unjust Israeli siege on Gaza. He also said that after the international activists sailed to Gaza in spite of the Israeli siege and managed to deliver some aid to the residents, and after Egypt opened the crossing for two days to enable thousands of residents to travel, the atmosphere became ready for a visit by Arab foreign ministers to Gaza. Al Khudary added that Egypt’s call for a Palestinian national dialogue and its efforts to achieve truce and reconciliation between all factions are well appreciated and welcomed by the Palestinian people.

Palestine Today 090208
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 20 MB || Palestine Today Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Tuesday September 2, 2008. Israel beefs up police presence in Jerusalem on the second day of Ramadan, and the Gaza siege continues, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast The deposed Palestinian Ministry of Health of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza announced on Tuesday that the death toll of patients, dying for being denied access abroad for medical treatment is increasing on daily basis. The ministry called on all concerned parties to intervene immediately for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has been in place for more than 14 months. In the West Bank, Israeli troops took prisoner two brothers in Al-Fawwar refugee camp near the southern city of Hebron.

Palestinian man stabbed to death in clan clash near Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – A Palestinian man was stabbed to death and two others were seriously injured on Monday evening in a clan-related fight in the northern West Bank village of Beit Furik, east of the city of Nablus. Palestinian security sources said that two families with a history of conflict began a violent confrontation. a clash was renewed on Monday between two families who had fought in the past. Several houses were set ablaze in the fighting. Security sources identified the dead as 45-year-old Rafi Nasasrah who died before he could be taken to a hospital. The two injured men were treated at a hospital. [end]

Solidar mission to Palestine and Israel – Day 1
Solidar, ReliefWeb 9/2/2008
SOLIDAR Secretary General Conny Reuter and International Cooperation Coordinator Andrea Maksimovic, together with Sergio Bassoli the Chair of the International Cooperation Committee are currently on a visit to Israel and Palestine. The four-day mission encompasses meetings with SOLIDAR member organisations working in the field, with partners in both Israel and Palestine, trade unions and other key civil society actors engaged in working on the issue. The objective of the mission is to hear from these organisations their views and opinions on the prospects for peace, with a view to orientating SOLIDAR’s work in the area. "Our first few days have underlined the urgency of civil society engagement for peace in the Middle East. The isolation of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, the continuing frustration at the endless waiting at check points, the human tragedy of separation. . . "

International ecumenical debate on the ''Promised Land''
Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
PNN -- Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah is joining the World Council of Churches conference in Bern addressing the issue is that of the "Promised Land. "The WCC suggests that the difficulty in dealing with the situation between Palestinians and Israelis is that it unfolds on land that Muslims, Christians and Jews consider holy. For four days the international conference will discuss theologian issues related to the concept of the "Promised Land" in an effort to "help more churches become advocates for a just peace," writes the WCC. As part of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum, 65 theologians from WCC member churches worldwide will be hosted by the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches and the Reformed Churches in Bern-Jura-Solothurn beginning on 10 September. WCC program executive focusing on the Middle East, Michel Nseir, says, "One of the main goals we. . .

Hamas, Khartoum deny Meshaal moved to Sudan
Middle East Online 9/2/2008
DAMASCUS - The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Tuesday denied that its political supremo Khaled Meshaal had moved from his self-imposed exile in Syria to Sudan. "The movement totally denies media reports saying that Khaled Meshaal has left Syria for Sudan," a Hamas official said in a statement. "These reports are false. " Meshaal early August paid a visit to Sudan. However, Hamas, the democratically elected resistance movement, said Meshaal had since returned to Damascus. In Khartoum, a spokesman for Beshir too denied that Meshaal had moved to Sudan. "We have no information about that," said Mahgoub Fadl. Israeli media on Monday, quoting a Kuwaiti newspaper, reported that Meshaal had left Syria to live in Sudan allegedly because of the relaunch of talks between Syria and Israel. The two countries announced in May that they had resumed indirect peace talks brokered by Turkey after an eight-year freeze.

Hamas leader Meshal ’leaves Syria for Sudan’
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported Tuesday that Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal has left Damascus to live in Sudan at Syria’s request, in a move stemming from Syria’s desire to advance indirect peace talks with Israel. The paper quoted Palestinian sources stating that the move was part of a secret deal between Meshal and the Syrian authorities. Meshal has been based in Damascus since his expulsion from Jordan some ten years ago. Israeli sources believe that the move signals a serious desire on Syria’s part to advance the negotiations. Hamas denied the report. A Damascus-based Hamas official denied the report, saying "media reports that Hamas’ politburo chief, Khaled Meshal, and other members will move to Sudan are false. "He spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

Hamas denies its leader moved to Sudan
Rami Almeghari&Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
Ruling Hamas party in Gaza denies any reports that its exiled supreme leader, Khaled Masha’l has moved from Syria to Sudan, asserting their strong ties with Syria. Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Ismail Redwan, describes Hamas-Syrian ties by stating that "our relations with twin Syria are strategic, profound and good. "Redwan also received an official invitation from Cairo for dialogue, pointing out that Egypt will host a delegation of the party in the upcoming three weeks for bilateral talks between the party’s representatives and Egyptian officials; following a Hamas-Fatah talk. For a week now, Palestinian factions’ representatives and Egyptian officials have been holding meetings in the framework of Palestinian national dialogue. On the sideline of the meetings, Egypt proposed deployment of Arab troops in Gaza. Hamas spokesperson Redwan rejected such a suggestion claiming that "what is. . .

Ehud Barak believes current truce helps create atmosphere for a prisoners swap deal
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said on Tuesday that the current truce deal with the Palestinian factions have helped create the atmosphere for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit. Barak’s remarks were reported by Israeli Radio-Arabic Program, which stated that the Minister expected resumption of indirect talks with Hamas over a prisoner swap deal very soon. Barak emphasized the need that such talks be held in secrecy to ensure their success. He also pointed out that the Shalit case has been the main item of talks between Egypt’s President Husni Mubarak and his Intelligence Chief, Omar Sulieman, which took place last week in Egypt’s coastal city Alexandria. Minister Barak was also quoted as saying, "the recent calm around the Gaza Strip has enabled the school children of adjacent Israeli population centers to return back to their schools for the first time in a long period.

Israel’s Internal Security Chief maintains Hamas obstructing a prisoner swap deal
International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
Israeli Internal Security Chief Avi Dikhter believes that Hamas is obstructing a prisoners swap deal, in which captured Israeli soldier , Gil’ad Shalit will be released. Dikhter was quoted saying that Hamas has not yet revealed the ID of its negotiators and remains ambiguous toward the terms of a possible prisoners swap deal. The Israeli official also believes that there is no coordination between Hamas’s Gaza leadership and that of Damascus, claiming that this matter that would hamper the negotiations over Shalit. Hamas and two other resistance groups in Gaza captured Gila’d Shalit in a cross-border attack in southern Gaza in June 2006. Israel responded with lethal force against Gaza, yet Shalit remained in captivity. Hamas demands the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, in exchange of Shalit.

’Gilad is a human shield for Hamas’
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Aviva Schalit took to the airwaves on Tuesday to publicly apologize to her son Gilad, 22, for failing to secure his release from Gaza, where Hamas has held him captive for 800 days. "I’m asking him to forgive me for not securing his release after so many days and nights," she told Army Radio. "I take responsibility for this. I do not know if it is a personal failure, but we have not succeeding in getting him back," Aviva said. She also had harsh words for the government. "They didn’t do enough to bring Gilad back. It’s not possible that after so many days there’s no progress. . . I don’t know why that’s happening. " When asked if she was angry, she said she wasn’t, but that more could have been done. "There’s no progress at all and we’re in the same spot that we were in before," Aviva Schalit said.

Abu Hadib: Jordan opposes Egypt’s proposal for sending Arab troops to Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
AMMAN, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohamed Abu Hadib, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the Jordanian parliament, stated Sunday that Jordan is not satisfied with the Egyptian proposal for dispatching Arab troops to the Gaza Strip, warning that the approval of such a thing would be a last nail in the coffin of the Palestinian cause. Dr. Abu Hadib underlined that it is unacceptable to send Arab troops to Gaza because that does not at all serve the interests of the Palestinian people or their cause which in practice will be terminated once these troops enter Palestinian lands still occupied by Israel. The Jordanian lawmaker opined that the Egyptian proposal would perpetuate the reality of the occupation of Arab territories and also would deepen the division in the Palestinian arena. The lawmaker highlighted that Hamas Movement’s rejection of the Egyptian proposal is a correct decision. . .

Israelis again urged to leave Sinai
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Israelis are being urged to avoid Sinai in the coming months as a number of Palestinian terrorist cells are believed to have infiltrated the area with advanced plans to strike at Israeli tourists, officials from the Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned on Tuesday. The warning came a day after the bureau revealed that two attempts by Hizbullah to kidnap five Israeli businessmen overseas were recently foiled by Israeli security services. The plots were also in the advanced stages and defense officials said Tuesday that Hizbullah would continue trying to attack Israelis in retaliation for February’s assassination of the group’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. "Hizbullah means business and is in the midst of a number of plans to retaliate for Mughniyeh’s death," a defense official said.

Intelligence: Hezbollah still targeting Israelis abroad
Amos Harel Haaertz Correspondent, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Israeli intelligence experts increasingly think Hezbollah is determined to attack an Israeli target - most likely institutions or officials abroad, especially in third-world countries - to avenge the assassination of one of Hezbollah’s top leaders. Another, less likely, possibility is that Hezbollah will attempt to kidnap Israeli businessmen abroad. Israeli military and security officials told Haaretz on Tuesday night it appears that Hezbollah wants to attack Israeli targets even though several previous attempts have failed. Over the last few weeks, Hezbollah leaders have been taking a particularly aggressive line in public threats against Israel, saying such attacks would be in revenge for Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination and to "liberate the Shaba Farms," an area along the northern border that Israel refers to as Har Dov.

Kuntar claims Abbas asked for Beirut meeting
Herb Keinon And Ap, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Freed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar said on Tuesday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had requested the recent meeting between the two that has angered Israel. Kuntar said in a statement issued in Lebanon that the meeting last week in Beirut had been in response to a "direct request" by Abbas. An aide to Abbas, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied this, saying Kuntar had requested the meeting. Kuntar was convicted of murdering three people in a grisly attack in Nahariya in 1979. Israel traded Kuntar and other prisoners for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in July’s prisoner swap with Hizbullah. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert chastised Abbas for the meeting when he met the PA leader in Jerusalem on Sunday. Welcoming Abbas to his Jerusalem residence, and with the cameras on, Olmert said Israel was disappointed by the meeting and that Abbas’s place was "not with the murderers.

Qintar: I met Abbas at his request and did not invite myself
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Former dean of Arab prisoners in Israel Samir Al-Qintar revealed on Monday that his meeting with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in Beirut was organized at the latter’s request, denying that he invited himself or asked someone to invite him. In a press release, Qintar stated that the meeting took place at the direct request of Abbas, asserting that he accepted the invitation after PLO officials Ahmed Qurei and Abdelrahim Mollaweh insistently urged him to meet Abbas despite he was in a poor health condition as a result of a surgery conducted to him. Abbas had disavowed on Sunday this meeting with Qintar in Beirut after he was reprimanded by Israeli premier Ehud Olmert, alleging that Qintar invited himself.

Clumsiness in the Caucasus
Lily Galili, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
An Israeli political activist with lots of connections swore the story is true: Two weeks ago Kadima representatives arrived in the Russian capital to reach an unprecedented agreement under which Kadima would open an office in Moscow and Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party would open an office in Israel. The activist was not overly pleased with the development. In his mind, Russia was his monopoly and the visit by the Kadima delegation was no less than a hostile takeover. Even though he did not have much faith in the initiative’s success, he called one of his sources in Moscow. That little-known source, the activist knew, was supposed to arrange a critical meeting for the Israeli delegation. "Your friend Dima is here now," whispered the Russian source. The activist wracked his memory and despite a number of Dimas in his past, he could not think of who it could be.

Syria to host four-way talks on peace process with Israel
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/3/2008
PARIS: A summit on the indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel will be held Thursday in Damascus and will involve France, Syria, Turkey and Qatar, the French presidency said on Tuesday. Israeli and Syrian envoys have held talks in Turkey - without meeting face-to-face - on four occasions since May, when the talks were relaunched after an eight-year freeze. The last round was at the end of July. Thursday’s meeting will bring together Syrian President Bashar Assad, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. France currently holds the presidency of the European Union, while Syria heads the Council of the Arab League and Qatar is the current chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The main issue dividing the two long-time enemies remains the strategic Golan Heights, seized by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war.

Syria President: Door is open to peace with Israel
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that indirect negotiations with Israel have brought about the possibility of peace, though the two countries still have quite a way to go toward that goal. Syria’s foreign minister said last week that the talks had not made enough headway for the two sides to hold direct negotiations. In an interview with France-3 television,Assad said officials were working to make direct talks happen. "Today there is a possibility of peace," Assad said. "But nonetheless, we cannot say that we are close to achieving peace. We are preparing for direct negotiations. When we reach that step, we will be able to say that we are approaching peace. ""Today, we can only say that we have opened the door to peace," he said, in remarks in Arabic that were dubbed over in French.

Seeking peace, yearning for Golan
Brooke Anderson in Damascus, Al Jazeera 9/2/2008
Former residents of the Golan Heights are hopeful that ongoing Turkish-led peace talks between Syria and Israel can reunite them with the land that has been occupied since 1967. "It needs to happen. Everyone wants peace," said Munir Kanshaw, a Circassian, who was 19-years-old during the 1967 War, when Israel seized much of the Syrian province of Qunaytra, now known as the Golan Heights. " It is what everyone hopes for. Peace is everything. "But he does have doubts and is wary of previous peace talks which collapsed. The land was captured by Israel in the 1967 War. Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in the 1973 War but failed to recapture it. In 1974, Israel destroyed the main city of Qunaytra (in the province of Qunaytra) following a pullback negotiated by Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state.

Assad: ’Possibility of peace’ with Israel
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Syrian president says indirect negotiations have been promising, says will speak of direct negotiations once new US president is elected -Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that indirect negotiations withIsrael have brought "the possibility of peace," though the two countries still have quite a way to go toward that goal. Syria’s foreign minister said last week that the talks had not made enough headway for the two sides to hold direct negotiations. In an interview with France-3 television, Assad said officials were working to make them happen. "Today there is a possibility of peace," Assad said. "But nonetheless, we cannot say that we are close toachieving peace. We are preparing for direct negotiations. When we reach that step, we will be able to say that we are approaching peace.

Sarkozy heads to Syria to rebuild top-level ties
Middle East Online 9/2/2008
DAMASCUS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives Wednesday in Damascus on a high-profile visit aimed at restoring top-level ties and drawing Syria further out of international isolation. The French leader’s two-day trip is the latest step towards normalising relations that were frozen after the 2005 killing of Lebanon’s former premier Rafiq Hariri, a close friend of Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac. The first visit by a Western head of state in five years, it is seen at home as a diplomatic victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, six weeks after he made a comeback on the world stage with a high-profile trip to Paris. Analysts also see the French leader’s trip as a chance for Syria to improve its relations with the United States, which continues to blacklist Damascus as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Top Palestinian negotiator affrims East Jerusalem remains capital of Palestinian state
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/2/2008
Top Palestinian negotiator Ahmad Qurai (Abu Ala’a), reiterated the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to not renouncing occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Abu Ala’ has voiced the Palestinian leadership’s rejection to final status talks that exclude any significant issue such as the issue of Jerusalem or refugees. Abu Ala’s remarks came during a meeting with Mr. Tony Blair, the International Quartet’s envoy to the region that took place in his office in East Jerusalem. Abu Ala’a told reporters that he briefed Mr. Blair on the Palestinian leadership’s rejection to any partial or transitional accords or the delaying of any final status issues, stressing the need to conclude a "package deal" agreement. The Palestinian negotiator also cautioned the possibility of increased conflict since the Palestinian people currently face multiple choices in the shadow of Israel’s continued "anti-peace policies.

Court: PA must compensate family of U.S. terror victim
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
A Jerusalem judge Sunday said a U. S. court ruling that the Palestinian Authority must compensate the family of a U. S. citizen killed by Palestinian militants is enforceable in Israel too. The judgment means the family’s lawyers can claim around $117 million from Palestinian Authority assets in Israel. The Palestinians are expected to appeal. Sunday’s court ruling was the latest development in a long-running lawsuit filed by relatives of Yaron Ungar, who also holds Israeli citizenship, and his wife Efrat, who were killed by Hamas gunmen in June 1996. His family filed a claim with a federal court in Rhode Island, saying the gunmen acted under orders from the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, making them responsible.

Al-Maliki: PA determined to reach agreement before end of Bush’s term
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority is still seeking an agreement with Israel before the end of the term of US President George W Bush in 2009, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said on Tuesday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with Bush on 26 September, during the UN General Assembly session in New York, Al-Maliki said. Al-Maliki made this comment after meeting with John Kjaer, head of the EU mission in Jerusalem, at the ministry’s headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday. Undersecretary Ahmad Subeh was also present for the meeting. Al-Maliki gave Kjaer a detailed explanation of Palestinian situation and the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end of occupation that began in 1967 and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The officials also discussed the bilateral relationship between Palestine and the EU.

Haneyya gov’t: Right of return inalienable
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The PA caretaker government headed by Ismail Haneyya on Monday condemned the PA president’s statement on the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees, describing the right as inalienable and not for bargaining. The government’s spokesman Taher Al-Nunu said in a statement on Monday that no-one could surrender the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their ancestral homeland in its capacity as an individual and a collective right for all refugees. For its part, the popular front for the liberation of Palestine expressed dismay in a statement on Monday over PA president Mahmoud Abbas’s recent statement in which he said that he could not ask Israel to allow the return of millions of refugees to the lands from which they were forcibly evacuated and that he was discussing with Israel details on the numbers of those to be allowed to return.

VIDEO - Al-Aqsa in danger - now animated
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/2/2008
(Video) New video by Hamas TV accuses Haredi Jews of digging under Temple Mount as "˜Muslim world sleeps’ - VIDEO -Religious Jews are digging under the Temple Mount, encouraged by the IDF, alleged Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television station Tuesday night, in a preview of a new animated incitement film about the al-Aqsa mosque or Temple Mount. The film, provided to Ynet via the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) organization, shows the characters of a smoking Israeli soldier and Haredi Jews, dressed ridiculously, all digging beneath the Temple Mount. Video courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch -The film is the latest in a series of propaganda films, clips and news articles launched by Hamas and other Arab groups regarding the alleged threat to the Temple Mount caused by Israel. According to PMW, the film’s message is clear: "Jerusalem and the. . .

Salah reveals the establishment of a new foundation to support the Aqsa
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 areas, has asserted that supporting the holy Aqsa Mosque and worshippers there would continue despite the Israeli closure of the Aqsa Foundation. He revealed in a statement to Al-Jazeera. net on Monday that the Aqsa foundation for wakf and heritage would shoulder the role carried by the Aqsa foundation for reconstruction of Islamic shrines that was closed more than a week ago at the hands of the Israeli occupation authority, which also confiscated all its content. The new foundation, which was established without much publicity, would now start its first steps and would serve the Aqsa Mosque and all Islamic holy shrines, Sheikh Salah underlined. He noted that many Palestinians have extended material assistance to the new foundation to facilitate its work.

Qurei: ’We will reject any agreement that does not make Jerusalem the Palestinian capital’
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Palestinian leaders will not sign a peace agreement with Israel that does not guarantee the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, said Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmad Qurei on Tuesday. Qurei met with the envoy of the international Quartet, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday at Qurei’s office in the town of Abu Dis, in East Jerusalem. The meeting addressed the results of recent meetings between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators. Qurei reaffirmed the Palestinian position that any agreement must address all the core issues, including Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Any agreement must address these issues in a binding way. Qurei, the former Palestinian prime minister, also said that Israel’s policies are threatening to destroy the peace process.

World Bank delivers 120.7 million US dollars in aid to PA
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The World Bank donated 120. 7 million US dollars to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help provide education, health and other services in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday. The Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah reported that the first installment of the money has been paid, after what the Bank said was progress in implementing a reform and development plan. [end]

As Ramadan starts, Israel seeks to ease travel
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
With the start of Ramadan’s month of daytime fasts, the Civil Administration moved into high gear on Monday in an effort to assist the tens of thousands of Palestinians who are fasting and traveling to visit family throughout the West Bank. Earlier this week, as part of its political battle with Hamas, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in Ramallah put an end to daylight savings time and is currently one hour behind Israel. With Ramadan starting Monday, the time change has affected the hours of the day IDF soldiers man checkpoints and permit Palestinian traffic. "We try to be sensitive during Ramadan," Lt. -Col. Sharon Biton, operations officer for the Civil Administration, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "We changed operations hours at the checkpoints to facilitate the Palestinian needs and to coincide with their time zone since they are now on standard time.

Thousands of African refugees in Israel not vaccinated against tuberculosis
Ran Reznick, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Thousands of asylum-seekers have been released from the Ketziot detention center in the Negev without being tested for tuberculosis, or receiving preventive treatment or vaccinations for other serious infectious diseases. According to the custody tribunal that deals with illegal migrants, active TB has been identified in 12 refugees who were held at Ketziot, and the percentage of refugees with active TB among all TB patients in Israel has doubled from 14 percent in 2006 to 28 percent in 2008. Nevertheless, the health and interior ministries allow the refugees to move to other parts of the country without conducting a chest x-ray that would identify the disease, and without other essential tests. The head of the Tuberculosis and AIDS department in the Health Ministry, Dr. Daniel Shem-Tov, testified before the tribunal in May that the lack of testing and vaccinations as mandated by the Health Ministry constitutes "a danger to public health.

Needing vaccinations, dozens of African refugee kids barred from North TA schools
Igal Hai, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Some 40 children from African refugee families have been barred from four north Tel Aviv elementary schools due to a last-minute demand that they receive vaccinations and undergo medical exams. The children were registered and assigned classes two months ago, but it wasn’t until Sunday that the Tel Aviv municipality instructed the children’s parents not to send them to school, which began Monday. The parents were told to send the children to a health clinic in central Tel Aviv to receive routine vaccinations that all public-school children must have, as well as a meningitis vaccine. Once the children were vaccinated, they were asked to undergo additional exams, including lung X-rays. The percentage of African refugees with active tuberculosis has doubled to 28 percent of all TB patients in Israel this year, according to the custody tribunal for illegal migrants.

VIDEO - Petah Tikva religious schools reject kids of Ethiopian immigrants
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Close to two million children went back to Israeli schools on Monday, but not all of them managed to make it into the classroom. Several Ethiopian families say their children were refused entry by Petah Tikva schools, having been told by administrators that there were too many of their kind. Several religious schools in Petah Tikva came under fire last year for refusing to enroll dozens of Ethiopian children. Because many are in the midst of an obligatory conversion process, they must attend religious schools, some of which reject them, claiming they are not sufficiently Jewish. [end]

Some 2.35 million Palestinians in West Bank, census finds
Deutsche Presse Agentur - DPA, ReliefWeb 9/1/2008
Ramallah_(dpa)_ Some 2. 35 million Palestinians currently live in the West Bank, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said Monday, basing the number on a census conducted in 2007. This represents an increase from 1. 87 million ten years ago when the first census was conducted, PCBS director Loai Shabaneh said in a statement He said annual growth rate between the two census periods was 2. 6 per cent, which means the Palestinian population in the West Bank will double after 27 years and not after 23 years, as was previously predicted. This is a direct result of a decline in fertility rate and of emigration, he added. The number of persons per household has also dropped between 1997 and 2007, from 6. 1 people per household to 5. 5 people, which also indicates a decline in the fertility rate and a change in living style from the more traditional extended family to the nuclear family.

Photostory: The month in pictures, August 2008
Electronic Intifada 9/2/2008

Fuad Rizq, Palestinian communist leader, dies at 73
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The former secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), Fuad Rizq, who is also member of the PLO’s central committee and the Palestinian National Council, died on Tuesday at the age of 73 after a long period of illness. “Our great man departed after long years of national, social and international struggle within the Communist Party which he joined in 1953 and kept rising in until he became secretary-general,” said the PPP Central Committee. “With his departure, the Palestinian people and the PPP have lost a pioneer of national struggle. He will join those who dug deep in the Palestinian people’s memory and inspired us and our children,” the statement added. Rizq was born in 1935. He joined the communist party in Palestine in 1953. He received his master’s degree from a communist party school in Bulgaria.

Former PPP secretary-general, Fuad Riziq, dies at age 73
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
The leftist Palestinian People Party, formerly known as the Palestinian Communist Party, issued a press release on Tuesday announcing with regret the death of its former secretary-general, member of the Palestinian National Council and the Central Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fuad Riziq (Abu Anwar) who died on September 2 at age 73. The party said that Abu Anwar spent his life in social and political activities and is considered one of the intellectuals and prominent political leaders. He was known as the role model for the Palestinian progressive movement. Abu Anwar joined the Communist Party in 1953 and was its first secretary-general. The Palestinian People Party expressed its condolences to the family of Riziq and to the Palestinian national movement. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and several Palestinian factions issued. . .

Moussaka, kebab and escalope in East Jerusalem
Michal Palti, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
Arab cuisine that is influenced by world trends is gaining in popularity. According to restaurateur Hussam Abbas, many chefs who are considered stars in the Arab world have moved to the Jordanian capital of Amman. Among these are Lebanon’s famed Ramzi Shwayri of Lebanon and the Egyptian chef Osama el-Sayed. The restaurants in Jerusalem’s American Colony hotel fulfills the role of mediator between Arab cuisine and guests from France and Italy. Its Arabesque restaurant and coffee shop offers scones alongside baklava. The restaurant’s menu, says Sami Suleiman, one of the chefs working there, includes Arab dishes such as moussaka with sumac, kebab and shishlik and Lebanese salads, as well as mussels, calamari and escalopes. The hotel’s food and beverages division is headed by Kevork Alemian, the founder of Chefs for Peace, which brings together Israeli and Palestinian chefs.

Haredim move to eradicate ’foreign’ pop
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Musicians who use rock, rap, reggae and trance influences will not receive rabbinic approval for their CDs, nor will they be allowed to play in wedding halls under haredi kosher food supervision, according to a new, detailed list of guidelines drafted with rabbinical backing that differentiates between "kosher" and "treif" music. The guidelines, which are still being formulated, also ban "2-4 beats and other rock and disco beats;" the "improper" use of electric bass, guitars and saxophones; and singing words from holy sources in a disrespectful, frivolous manner. "Michael Jackson-style music has no place in our community," says Mordechai Bloi, a senior member of the Guardians of Sanctity and Education, an organization based in Bnei Brak that enforces what it sees as normative haredi behavior. "We might be able to adopt Bach or Beethoven, music with class, but not goyishe African music and beats.

OPT: ''Political'' strikes affect Gaza’s health, education sectors
Naela Khalil/IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/2/2008
RAMALLAH/GAZA, 2 September 2008 (IRIN) - Strikes in state schools and the health sector are plaguing the Gaza Strip, causing turmoil and reminding all that the rival Fatah and Hamas factions in Gaza are still far from working out their differences. According to international observers, the strikes at hospitals in Gaza, which started on 30 August, led to a significant section of the medical workforce staying away. At the main Shifa hospital and several of the larger medical institutions, some 30 percent of doctors and 70 percent of nurses absconded, although at some smaller hospitals in the north and south the impact was not as deep. An official at the International Committee of the Red Cross said services were mainly limited to emergency needs, and a local observer said standard medical checks and procedures were hardly being carried out.

Zakarna to PNN: Gaza strike against Hamas will escalate
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
PNN -- Speaking to PNN on Tuesday, Bassam Zakareh confirmed that the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions intends to take steps to escalate the strike in Gaza. The union leader said, "The spread of the strike will be significant in response to the crimes perpetrated by Hamas and the police. " He is referring to the Teachers Union strike, which was followed by the Health Professions strike in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Center of Human Rights then called on all Palestinians to stop using political reasons for striking, and to keep the strikes away from the schools. PCHR was taking note of the pro-strike position of Fateh, and the anti-strike position of Hamas. The teachers strike was supported by the Ramallah government, the Palestinian Authority, while being condemned by Gaza’s Hamas government.

Hamas stages protests outside homes of striking doctors
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Hamas movement on Tuesday called for demonstrations in front of the homes of doctors who are on strike in the Gaza Strip, beginning with with three doctors in the city of Khan Younis. “These sit-ins will continue across the Gaza Strip until doctors end their strike,” Hamas sources said. A Hamas spokesman, Ashraf Abu Dayyah told Ma’an, “The sit-ins began a few days ago with patients’ families, when they found out that hospitals had no doctors. Today, everybody began to participate in sit-ins and it will expand to all districts in the Gaza Strip. ”Health workers across Gaza are on strike against the Hamas-led government, accusing the government of discriminating against non-Hamas members in hiring practices. Hamas says the strike is a political ploy by the rival Fatah-led government to weaken Hamas’ hold on the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza to PNN: only way out of crisis is dialogue
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
Gaza -- The Palestinian Authority arrested six members of Hamas in the West Bank on Tuesday: a common headline. The Hamas government arrests 45 strikers in Gaza: not as common, but the general idea is there. Both were reported on today. Leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, Khalid Al Batsh, told PNN Tuesday that politically motivated arrests must stop. He issued an urgent appeal to both President Abbas in the West Bank and to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in the Gaza Strip to release all Palestinians from their respective jails. Al Batsh described this period as "one of dialogue" that must be preserved. The Fateh and Hamas internal conflict has led to the imprisonment of party members on both sides. He said that the national cause is being lost in the midst of the strife. Israeli Prime Minister "Olmert is talking about peace in order to detract from the. . .

Gaza strike deepens Palestinian rift
Reuters, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Education and health dispute sparks tensions between Hamas and Fatah, harms chances of Palestinian reunification - An education and health dispute that has sparked a huge strike in Gaza may deepen the rift between Hamas and Fatah and harm chances of Palestinian reunification, a United Nations envoy said on Tuesday. Middle East envoy Robert Serry made the remarks as a pro-Fatah employees union in Gaza announced plans to extend the strike, involving thousands of educators and health care workers, for another week. Some 85 percent of education workers and about 70 percent of primary care personnel have walked off their jobs in Gaza since Saturday, paralyzing services, a UN source said. They accuse Hamas rulers of transferring Fatah supporters from their posts. In a statement, Serry expressed "concern at the reports of transfers and replacements of health and teaching professionals in the Gaza Strip.

P.A Forces arrests 6 Hamas members
IMEMC Staff, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Media sources loyal to Hamas movement in the occupied West Bank reported on Tuesday that Palestinian security forces arrested six members and supporters of the movement in several West Bank areas. The sources said that the Palestinian security services, loyal to Fateh movement, arrested in Nablus district, in the northern part of the West Bank, Baha’ Al Takroury, Amjad Jamal, Fadi Jamous, and sheikh Mo’tasim Hanani, the Muezzin of Beit Dajan mosque. In Tulkarem district, in the northern part of the West Bank, the security forces arrested Sheikh Mohammad Al Jallad, the imam of Al Safareeny mosque in the city. This is the second time Al Jallad is arrested by the Palestinian security forces. In Jenin, also in the northern part of the West Bank, the forces arrested Sheikh Ahmad Salatna after breaking into his home.

Palestinian university workers go on strike
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Workers at Palestinian universities went on strike on Tuesday demanding increased pay. The strike by the General Union of university employees will effect nine universities in the West Bank and two in the Gaza Strip. The organizers of the strike said that the strike has nothing to do with political affiliations and rivalries. Instead, it is a unifying strike as will be held in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Head of employees union at the Islamic University in Gaza City, Dr Kamal Ghneim said, “The strike they are talking about has been discussed and negotiated since one year, and there was a warning one month before the strike began. The warning came during meetings between the union and the Palestinian Council for Higher Education. The workers are demanding a unified salary system, and pay increases.

Arab League chief: Palestinians have three months to resolve internal split
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa will reportedly give Hamas, Fatah, and other Palestinian factions up to three months to reach a unity agreement, Palestinian officials who met with Moussa said on Tueday. A delegation from the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) met with Moussa in Cairo on Monday night as a part of Egyptian sponsored Palestinian unity talks. The PFLP said the meeting addressed the Palestinian political crisis, the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and negotiations with Israel. According to the PFLP, Moussa told the PFLP leaders that he will hold a meeting with the foreign ministers of Arab states to discuss the Palestinian internal split and to formally task Egypt with the job of holding Palestinian national dialogue.

PCHR Concern at ongoing Gaza Strikes
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 9/2/2008
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the expansion of strikes by employees across the education sector, as well as ongoing strikes amongst workers in the health sector and other public services in the Gaza Strip. PCHR is concerned about the impact of these ongoing strikes, that threaten the delivery of all public services in the Gaza Strip. Patients, students and other civilians are all being seriously affected by these politically motivated strikes. On Saturday, 30 August 2008, public sector employees announced the start of an all-out strike in all governmental facilities in the Gaza Strip, in response to a call by the Palestinian Syndicate of Public Employees. Thousands of public sector employees joined the strike.

Defense industry celebrates 75th anniversary
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Implementing the lessons of the Second Lebanon War, Israel Military Industries has designed a mortar shell that uses a satellite guidance system to accurately hit its target. The 120mm mortar shell is in the final stages of development by IMI and the American Raytheon defense company. The shell has a range of 10 kilometers and with the GPS system hits targets within a three-meter radius. The built-in guidance system also allow operators to direct the mortar shell to its target with a laser-honing device. Officials said the "smart mortar" would improve infantry units’ ability to neutralize enemy forces that were positioned out of sight. Since the shell is especially accurate, IMI CEO Avi Felder said military units would be able to carry fewer mortar shells into battle while achieving the same level of lethality as in the past.

Worry in J’lem as Egypt halts gas supply
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
The supply of natural gas from Egypt to Israel was halted on Friday and has yet to be resumed. Concern is mounting in Jerusalem: Sources there believe Egypt is struggling to supply all its clients, and has chosen to cut back its supply for its neighbors, including Israel, some of which pay especially low prices for the fuel. Israel receives Egyptian gas through Egyptian-Israeli consortium EMG. The Israel Electric Corporation, which is the main consumer of the Egyptian gas, has resorted to buying larger amounts from the Tethys Sea group through spot deals that are significantly more expensive. The outcome could well be higher electricity bills for Israel’s consumers as the IEC rolls over the higher cost onto them. Advertisement In 2001, EMG won a tender issued by the IEC to supply gas at an attractive price of $2.

Proliferation of damaged and expired food as Israeli packaging lines shelves
Hiba Lama, Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
PNN - With the spread of expired food on store shelves many West Bank residents have become apprehensive about buying anything packaged. There are merchants taking advantage of the increase in demand for food during Ramadan. The evening breakfast is a special occasion for a month, this leads to an increase in need which is being exploited with higher prices and damaged foods. It seems that there is a well-honed scheme between Israel and some corrupt Palestinian merchants to buy repackaged food or who repackage it themselves and then sell it to the stores. Once it expires the food is put into containers with new dates. In other cases, Palestinian Customs Officer Wael Annan tells PNN, it is caught before reaching the shelves. "Yesterday about six tons of expired biscuits were seized coming from an Israeli settlement.

Expired dates and pickled olives seized in Nablus
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The Palestinian Preventive Security forces on Tuesday afternoon seized 46 tons of dates and pickled olives with expired validity dates. The goods were confiscated from a warehouse in the eastern neighborhood of Nablus. The director of the Preventive Security’s operations, Yasser Al-Bulbul, told Ma’an, “The economic department of the Preventive Security service received information about a truckload of pickled olives coming from Egypt. After inspections, we knew where the truck was unloaded and we stormed the place accompanied with representatives of the Ministry of Health. ”A Ministry of Health employee told Ma’an’s reporter that 16 tons of dates and 30 tons of pickled olives were seized.

Industry, commerce ask court to reinstate work at ports
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
The Israel Manufacturers’ Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce have joined forces to stop labor irregularities at Israel’s ports which have already cost the business sector NIS 1. 2 billion. On Monday, the two organizations submitted a request to the National Labor Court against the Histadrut Labor Federation and the government to enforce an injunction and order the ports’ workers to return back to work at full capacity. Since Monday last week, Ashdod and Haifa port workers launched labor sanctions including reduced workdays and slowdowns to protest a clause in the 2009 Economic Arrangements Bill passed by the cabinet last month. That clause would allow the Israel Ports Company to manage operations at the ports, rather than simply acting as Israel’s port-property landlord, overseeing the government’s assets.

Histadrut claims port disruptions unplanned
Shay Niv and Yael Gross-Englander, Globes Online 9/2/2008
Histadrut to the National Labor Court: It’s hard to calm them down so long as the cabinet decision is operative. "The workers in the field organized an immediate spontaneous protest, and it is hard to calm them down so long as the cabinet decision is operative," the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) told the National Labor Court today. The Histadrut is trying to explain why the ports workers are disrupting operations at Israel’s seaports before a formally declared labor dispute can come into effect. This evening, National Labor Court President Judge Steve Adler will hear a petition by theManufacturers Association of Israel for an injunction ordering an end to the disruptions at the ports. Hundreds of employees ofAshdod Port Company Ltd. andHaifa Port Company Ltd. are expected to demonstrate outside the courthouse.

Is Israel ready for the OECD?
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is coming this week to Israel to compile a macroeconomic review of the local economy and evaluate its compatibility with the norms and standards set by the organization. "This is just one of the delegations that will be coming to Israel as part of the accession path, but it is an important one," said a Bank of Israel official. In May last year, Israel - along with Russia, Estonia, Slovenia and Chile - was invited by the OECD Council of Ministers to begin the accession process to join the organization, which currently is made up of 30 of the most economically developed states. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On said that he was confident that Israel would be able to complete the accession process by the end of 2009. The OECD delegation headed by Andrew Dean, director of the OECD economic division, arrived this week in Israel for four days to meet with Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof.

Sheikh Tamimi: this is a month of piety and forgiveness, not excessive eating
Hiba Lama, Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
PNN -- The advent of Ramadan brings with it a month of price gouging. As people rush to the shops to stock up on food and sweets for the sundown breakfast the most vulnerable are hit hardest. No matter how economically devastated the Palestinian economy is there are always those with money to spend and for those who do not have extra they still must buy food. Some in the commercial sector take advantage of the excess in demand. Umm Bassam is among thousands suffering from the yearly spike in inflation. "During the holy month everything is more expensive, including a kilo of tomatoes. And there is a great deal of food that is expired or rotten. All I can say is, God guide the merchants," Umm Bassam told PNN today. One Palestinian official said, "There is a remarkable rise in prices that accelerates with the beginning of Ramadan, especially for basic commodities such as vegetables, fruits, meat and poultry.

Biden: Obama and I will be strong on protecting Israel
The Associated Press and Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
U. S. Senator and vice presidential nominee Joe Biden assured older Jewish voters Tuesday that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would be strong on protecting Israel, which he said is less secure now than when President George W. Bush took office. Biden, Obama’s running mate, laid out his own history on Israeli issues for the audience of several hundred at a Broward County retirement community in Florida and emphatically said Obama stands right along side him on Israel. Biden said he has fought the sale of sophisticated weapons to Arab nations, has known every Israeli prime minister since Golda Meir and has co-sponsored legislation to fight Palestinian terrorism. "I am chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee," Biden said. "I give you my word as a Biden: I would not have given up that job to be Barack Obama’s vice president if I didn’t in my gut and in my heart and in my head know that Barack Obama is exactly where I am on Israel. And he is. "

Israel firm on boycotting Durban II despite UN plea
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Israel is still likely to boycott the so called "Durban II" conference, set for 2009, in spite of a plea made by the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that it reconsider its position. On Monday, her first day in office, Pillay said, "My instinct would be to get as many countries to participate as possible. " But Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Roni Leshno Yaar said in response, "So far I have no reason to believe that Israel was wrong in deciding not to participate. " Israel fears Durban II would be a repeat of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fest that characterized the first UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which met in Durban, South Africa in 2001. Although the follow-up conference is to be held in Geneva, it has been nicknamed Durban II.

Ex-Barak aide charged with manslaughter over killing of homeless man
Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
The Tel Aviv prosecutor’s office on Tuesday filed an amended and harsher indictment against a former aide to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, charging him with manslaughter over the killing of a homeless man. On August 12, A Tel Aviv court charged Shmuel Levi with premeditated aggravated assault for the attack he perpetrated the previous week. The homeless man, 63-year-old Rana Avraham, died of his wounds later in the month. Levi made headlines due to his role as Ehud Barak’s grassroots campaign manager during the successful 1999 run for prime minister. After the assault, Avraham suffered head injuries, inner cranial bleeding, and damage to his ears. According to the August indictment in the Avraham case, Levi is alleged to have noticed him in the street.

Netanyahu looking for ways to put celebrities high up on Likud list
Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu is considering several different options to allow several well-known public figures to make the party’s list for the next Knesset, sources close to Netanyahu confirmed on Tuesday. No final decisions have been made, but Netanyahu is considering alternating between current Likud MKs and new people in the party’s first 23 slots, or switching off between them every five places on the list. According to one idea, Netanyahu will recommend the candidates and the Likud membership will rank them. Netanyahu is interested in reserving slots for former generals Moshe Ya’alon, Uzi Dayan and Yossi Peled, former police superintendent Assaf Hefetz, his former bureau chief Yehiel Leiter, the grandson and namesake of revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, former basketball star Tal Brody and hi-tech executive Yair Shamir, the son of former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir.

Netanyahu forced to shelve plan to reserve top 20 Knesset slots
Mazal Mualem, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu will apparently have to shelve a plan to reserve nine slots on the party’s Knesset list for outsiders, including former minister Dan Meridor and former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon. Netanyahu’s plan aroused a tempest among faction members and the party’s central committee. Netanyahu had wanted to reserve the first 20 places on the party list for 11 current MKs and another nine personalities. These 20 people would have been ranked by the party’s registered voters. Netanyahu wanted to reserve seats for Meridor, Yaalon, former police commissioner Assaf Hefetz, Uzi Dayan, and Yair Shamir, the son of prime minister Yitzhak Shamir and the grandson of Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Netanyahu had hoped these candidates would make Likud more attractive to voters and bolster the party’s emphasis on security issues.

IDF tracker indicted for aiding smugglers on southern border
Hanan Greenberg, YNetNews 9/2/2008
NCO Yasser Ataika indicted for alleged involvement in smuggling of tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods on Israel-Egypt border; tracker charged with endangering national security, fraud, breach of trust. Defense attorney: He will fight to clear his name just as he fought for his country -An IDF tracker, who serves on the Israel-Egypt border, was indicted Tuesday on suspicion of being involved in the smuggling of tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods. Additionally, the tracker, Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Yasser Ataika, was accused of endangering national security by transferring information about troop locations. His trial is expected to begin in the upcoming weeks. According to the indictment, filed by Military Prosecutor Major Ofira Elkabetz with the Southern Command Military Court, Ataika received hundreds of dollars for each smuggling. . .

Deri mulls running for J’lem mayor
Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
Rumors that former Shas chairman Aryeh Deri will throw his hat into Jerusalem’s mayoral race sent shock waves through the city’s political arena yesterday. Deri, who over the past two years has repaired his rift with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, recently spoke to the Shas spiritual leader about the possibility of running in the election slated to be held in November. Sources close to Ovadia said the rabbi pledged his party’s support to Deri if he decides to enter the race. The Shas Council of Torah Sages is set to convene in the near future to discuss whether to support Deri’s candidacy and the formation of a party list for the city council. Still, it is not clear whether Deri would run as an independent or as a representative of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. So far, three candidates have entered the mayoral race: Businessman Nir Barkat, the leader of the city council’s opposition;. . .

Banks must provide homes for mortgage evictees
Michal Margalit, Globes Online 9/2/2008
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee today passed an an amendment to the Bailiffs Law to this effect. The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee today approved an amendment to the Bailiffs Law which will require banks to provide alternative housing for up to 18 months for families evicted from their homes because of mortgage arrears. The foreclosed homes will be sold to cover the debt. The amendment was approved for the second and third readings by the Knesset plenum. The amendment stipulates that the bailiff may not order the sale of the property until after proving the debtor and his family have reasonable alternative accommodations or have the wherewithal to obtain reasonable alternative accommodations, or have been provided with alternative arrangements

’We’ve become babysitters for Israelis abroad,’ diplomats fume
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
"Why aren’t you sending planes to evacuate Israeli tourists from Thailand? What are you waiting for? "asked a frantic caller to the Foreign Ministry’s situation room yesterday, following the Thai government’s declaration of a state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok. Foreign Ministry officials were not alarmed by the hysterical calls about the safety of Israelis in Thailand. Only a day before, they had been flooded with callers asking the ministry to evacuate Israelis from New Orleans in light of the approaching Hurricane Gustav. Such incidents illustrate a subject that has been hotly debated in the Foreign Ministry’s corridors and offices in recent months: To what extent is the state responsible for its citizens’ safety abroad? It is doubtful whether any other country’s diplomats invest as much time and effort in tending to the problems of individual citizens overseas as Israeli diplomats do.

Bureaucrats beware: Show up at Knesset panels or face penalty
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
A public servant who does not appear before a Knesset committee when summoned will be subject to disciplinary action, Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander wrote to Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel. The decision came after two committee meetings were canceled during the Knesset’s summer session when the relevant civil servants did not appear. Copies of the letter were sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. Hollander wrote that according to Civil Service regulations, civil servants are obligated to appear when summoned and that "failure to comply with these instructions constitutes a disciplinary infraction with all its implications. "Hollander also wrote that "the disciplinary branch of the Civil Service will deal with any complaint it receives.

Iranian air force announces extensive drill
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Islamic republic’s chief of staff declares air force to hold wide-scale exercise ’to display the ability and strength of those defending Iran’s skies. ’ New fighter jets to be presented throughout year, he adds - Iran’s chief of staff, General Atallah Salhi, announced Tuesday that the Iranian air force would be holding a comprehensive military drill during the month of Ramadan, which just began in the Islamic republic. "In this great exercise we will display a small portion of the abilities and strength of those guarding Iran’s skies," the Iranian news agency Fars quoted Salhi as saying. In a ceremony in honor of the new air force commander, General Hassan Shah Safias, Salhi said that a number of new locally-produced fighter jets will be presented throughout the year. " The air force has gained achievements in building various fighters, and this. . .

The Dutch Connection
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Middle East Online 9/2/2008
‘Without doubt, psychological warfare has proved its right to a place of dignity in our military arsenal. ’ - Eisenhower - The recent De Telegraaf article[i] ‘revealing’ the Dutch intelligence cooperation with the CIA is a propaganda piece aimed at undermining the credibility of United Nations, its specialized agency, the IAEA, and its chief Mohammad ElBaradei. It also seeks to demoralize the Iranians and undermine their resolve in confronting outside enemies. De Telegraaf would have the readers believe that the Dutch intelligence has been secretly operating inside Iran and the information gathered is being shared with the CIA. It is common knowledge that the American administration is frustrated with the lack of information it has on Iran and its civilian nuclear program. Equally frustrating is the Administration’s dissatisfaction at being in the dark about the complex Iranian society and its government.

Arabiya TV says Iran expelling bureau chief
Reuters, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Network accused of ’bias’ following report on plans for ’insulting’ Egyptian film on Ayatollah Khomeini - Iran is expelling the bureau chief of Al Arabiya television in Tehran after accusing the Saudi-owned satellite network of bias, the station said on Tuesday. An official at Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry said Hassan Fahs had not been told to leave but no decision had been taken about renewing his visa. The official referred to "some problem" with Al Arabiya without elaborating. Al Arabiya broadcast a report last month about plans for an Egyptian film called "Imam of Blood" that would criticize Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. The film idea had sparked protests in the past in Iran. Students of 10 universities in Iran called for the closure of Al Arabiya’s offices in Iran over what they said was an "insulting" film. . .

Iran shuts down Saudi-owned TV station over ’false reporting’
Yoav Stern and Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
Iranian authorities on Tuesday shut down the offices of the Arabic language satellite TV channel Al Arabiya in Tehran and expelled the station manager from the country. The Dubai-based TV channel reported on Tuesday that Iran had accused the network of "bias and false reporting. "The chairman of Iran’s parliamentary foreign relations committee said in response that the "network has slandered all the residents of Iran. " Al Arabiya is Saudi-owned, like most of the media in the Arab world, and is considered the second most popular television network among Arabs, second only to Al Jazeera. Al Arabiya broadcast a report last month about plans for an Egyptian film called "Imam of Blood" that would criticize Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Iran to Jewish community: Go anywhere but Israel
Danny Adina Ababa, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Islamic republic’s goverment lets Jews leave country only if they promise not to immigrate to Jewish state - Iran opens another front in its war against Israel: The Iranian government has begun demanding that Jews leaving the country make a promise not to immigrate to Israel. Several weeks ago, some 40 Jews arrived in Austria from Tehran in a bid to immigrate to the United States after receiving the required permits and visas. The American authorities are delaying the documents, while the Iranian Jews are stranded in Vienna. The Jewish community in Vienna and the Jewish Agency suggested that the Iranian Jews immigrate to Israel instead of waiting for the required permits to enter the US, but the Jews refused, saying they promised the Iranian government they would not immigrate to Israel.

Maliki says security pact with Washington will go to Parliament ’within 10 days’
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/3/2008
BAGHDAD: A draft security deal between Washington and Baghdad on the future of US forces in Iraq is to be submitted to Parliament within 10 days, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was quoted as saying Tuesday. "The SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] will be sent to Parliament within 10 days," he said in the Badr newspaper, run by the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, a key Shiite political party which is closely allied to Maliki. "The government is waiting for an answer from the US on the Iraqi suggestion to keep the sovereignty of Iraq and the interests of its people. The members of Parliament will accept or reject the agreement," Maliki said. But Badr Brigade party chief Hadi al-Ameri, told AFP he was unaware of any deal. "There is no final draft until now," he said. The paper also quoted Parliament Speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani as saying the two sides differed on seven issues, although he did not reveal them.

POLITICS: Why Its Iraqi ''Client'' Blocked U.S. Long-Term Presence
Analysis by Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service 9/2/2008
WASHINGTON, Sep 1(IPS) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signaled last week that that all U. S. troops -- including those with non-combat functions -- must be out of the country by the end of 2011 under the agreement he is negotiating with the George W. Bush administration. That pronouncement, along with other moves indicating that the Iraqi position was hardening rather than preparing for a compromise, appeared to doom the Bush administration’s plan to leave tens of thousands of military support personnel in Iraq indefinitely. The new Iraqi moves raise the obvious question of how a leader who was considered a safe U. S. client could have defied his patron on such a central U. S. strategic interest. Al-Maliki declared Aug. 25 that the U. S. had agreed that "no foreign soldiers will be in Iraq after 2011". A Shiite legislator and al-Maliki ally, Ali al-Adeeb, told the Washington. . .

Fearing terrorist attack, cop fires at Palestinian who stole tractor in Modi’in
Roni Singer-Heruti, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
A police officer on Tuesday fired at a Palestinian man who stole a tractor from a work site and was driving recklessly at a high speed near the entrance to the city of Modi’in. The police officer noticed the tractor driving at a high speed near the entrance to the city and when he and a police volunteer ordered the driver to halt. The driver refused and attempted to hit the police volunteer with the shovel of the tractor. In response, the police officer shot at the tractor’s wheels, causing a puncture and bringing the vehicle to a halt. The officer and the volunteer then managed to pull the driver from the tractor and place him under arrest. Police suspect the driver was a Palestinian from the West Bank who wanted to steal the tractor. They do not believe that he was intending to carry out a terrorist attack.

Israeli police fire on Palestinian who ’attempted to steal tractor’
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli police officers opened fire at a Palestinian who reportedly attempted to steal a construction vehicle near the Israeli town of Modi’in on Tuesday afternoon. According to Israeli media, the driver of the tractor was arrested after the run-away bulldozer sparked fears of a violent attack. An Israeli police spokeswoman said the incident was “not terror-related. ”No one was injured. Three people were killed on 1 July when a construction worker drove a bulldozer off a construction site in Jerusalem. Another bulldozer driver was shot dead on July 22 in what appeared to be another attack in Jerusalem. [end]

Hamas denies Mash’al moved office to Sudan
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Hamas may join reconciliation talks in late September - Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas denied reports on Tuesday that the exiled head of its political bureau, Khalid Mash’al, has moved his office from Damascus to Sudan, asserting that relations between the Islamic movement and Syria are still strong. “Our relation with Syria is strategic and deep,” said senior Hamas leader Isma’il Radwan. Radwan was addressing a report published in a Kuwaiti newspaper that Mesh’al had moved his operation to Sudan at Syria’s request. Unity talks - Radwan also denied that his movement received an official invitation from Egypt to Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo. All Hamas learned, he said, was that Egypt will host a Hamas delegation during the last ten days of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan for bilateral talks with. . .

Hamas denies Mishaal’s departure from Syria to the Sudan
Palestinian Information Center 9/2/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, on Tuesday officially denied the press report that its supreme leader Khaled Mishaal was leaving Syria to resettle in the Sudan. A Hamas press release said that the Movement categorically denies the baseless report and asks the media to be careful in relaying truthful news. Hamas said that the press, out of keenness on its professionalism, should have contacted the Movement’s officials to ask about correctness of the report that was attributed to unknown Palestinian sources. [end]

Fundamentally Freund: A Zionist earthquake
Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
If you listened carefully on Sunday, you could hear the ground shake under the corner of King George Avenue and Rehov Keren Kayemet in Jerusalem. It was there, at the headquarters of the Jewish Agency, that a revolution took place, one that could prove to be a milestone in the history of aliya and absorption. After years of dispute, the Agency finally agreed to cede control over the promotion of aliya from the United States and Canada to the wildly-successful private organization Nefesh B’Nefesh. The group, headed by a dynamic young rabbi named Yehoshua Fass, has single-handedly transformed the aliya experience for thousands of North Americans in recent years, making it more accessible, user friendly and comprehensible. Harnessing the Internet, advanced marketing techniques and some good, old fashioned Zionist enthusiasm, Nefesh B’Nefesh long ago outstripped the aliya bureaucracy, making much of it painfully obsolete.

US donates additional 8.86 million dollars to UNRWA
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – During a visit to Shufat refugee camp in Jerusalem, US Consul General Jake Walles announced an 8. 86million dollar donation to UNRWA, the UN’s agency of Palestinian refugees, bringing the total US contribution to UNRWA to 157 million US dollars this year. This latest contribution comes in response to severe budget shortfalls resulting in part from a global increase in fuel and food costs. “The United States partnership with UNRWA is longstanding and strong; it is but one example of America’s commitment to the welfare of the Palestinian people,” said Walles during his announcement. Walles thanked UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Abu Zayd and her staff “for their dedication and hard work--often at great personal risk--on behalf of Palestinian refugees” and praised the teachers of the Shufat Girls’ School for their work educating Palestinian children and preparing them for a bright future.

Making aliya the American way
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/1/2008
It would be a mistake to view the agreement announced on Sunday between the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh to cede aliya promotion in North America to the smaller organization as a mere logistical arrangement, as Jewish Agency spokespeople have claimed in recent days. Nor is the Jewish Agency’s ceding ground in itself a history-changing event, as Nefesh B’Nefesh officials believe. The agency is not losing its exclusive right to determine eligibility for aliya, and a majority of its North American staff, who work largely in education and fundraising, and not aliya, will stay put. Even so, Sunday’s announcement was a momentous one. It amounted to a recognition by the Jewish Agency that the Jewish world has changed. The agency has come to recognize that the spectacularly successful tools it has developed over some eight decades, during which it brought over three million Jews to Israel, do not work in the United States.

Palestinian man convicted of ''stealing 150 Israeli cars''
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli court at Kfar Saba sentenced 26-year-old Imad Ubeid, a resident of the West Bank city of Qalqilia, to eleven years in prison on Tuesday after convicting him of stealing 150 cars and reselling them to their Israeli owners. Ubeid also was charged with 60 counts of property-related crimes, including taking stolen cars into Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, then selling them back to their owners for 3,000 to 4,000 shekels each. Ubeid was said to specialize in deactivating car alarms. He was also charged with robbing 80 houses. [end]

Border cops convicted of killing Hebron teen
Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
Two border policemen were convicted of manslaughter Tuesday in a Jerusalem court for the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in Hebron six years ago, in a case that prompted international condemnation. Border policemen convicted of killing Palestinian teenThe two men, Shahar Botabicka and Denis Alhazov, were among a group of four border policemen who detained 17-year-old Imran Abu Hamdia on December 30, 2002, ordered him to enter their jeep, beat him on the head, then shoved him out of the fast-moving vehicle. An autopsy overseen by a Danish pathologist concluded that Abu Hamdia died from a sharp blow to the skull, although it remained unclear whether the fatal wound was caused by his being thrown from the jeep or by the beating. The Jerusalem District Court also convicted the two border policemen of aggravated assault, abuse of authority and obstruction of justice.

Israeli border guards convicted of kidnapping, killing Palestinian teenager
Ma’an News Agency 9/2/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli Jerusalem District Court found two Israeli border guards guilty on Tuesday of the abduction and manslaughter of a Palestinian youth in the West Bank city of Hebron in 2002. Shahar Botabicka, Denis Alhazov and two other officers were involved in the kidnapping, which was caught on tape. Alhazov caught the crime on videotape. Botabicka and Alhazov were also convicted of aggravated assault, abusing power and obstruction of justice. Officers Yanai Lalza and Bassam Wahabee were convicted for their involvement in the incidents. According to the indictment, the four kidnapped 17-year-old Amran Abu Hamadya in Hebron in December of 2002. They dragged him into their jeep, beat him and eventually threw him out of the car at high speed. The indictment noted in detailed how Abu Hamadya was first ordered to jump out of the moving vehicle, and. . .

Border Guard officer convicted of kidnapping, manslaughter
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/2/2008
Jerusalem District Court finds fourth officer involved in 2002 kidnapping of 17-year-old Palestinian youth guilty. Policeman who filmed incident convicted of same offenses -The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday found Border Guard officer Shahar Botabicka guilty of the abduction and manslaughter of a Palestinian youth. Botabicka and three other Border Guard officers were involved in the 2002 kidnapping of a Palestinian teenager, during their service in the West Bank city of Hebron. The incident was caught on tape by Border Guard officer Denis Alhazov, who was also found guilty of abduction and manslaughter. Officers Yanai Lalza and Bassam Wahabee were also convicted for their involvement in the incidents, with the court sentencing Lalza to six and a half months in prison and Wahabee to four and a half years.

Two Border policemen convicted of manslaughter in killing of Palestinian teen
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
Two Border policemen were convicted of manslaughter Tuesday for their part in the kidnapping and wrongful death of a Palestinian teen from Hebron in 2002. The two, Shahar Botbeka and Denis Alhazov, were posted in Hebron in 2002 when they along with two other patrolmen abducted several Hebron residents, among them 17-year-old Amran Abu Hamadiya, and took them for a ride in their jeep. They abused the men and beat them with truncheons and rifles. They hurled Abu Hamadiya out of the moving vehicle, causing his death. One of the patrolmen, Yanai Lalza, was convicted in November 2006 as part of a plea bargain. He confessed, among other things, that he and one of Botbeka had beaten Hamadiya, then opened the jeep’s back doors before Lalza pushed Hamadiya out of the vehicle.


Poetry, Hip-Hop and the Palestinian experience
Remi Kenazi, Palestine News Network 9/2/2008
      At a time when Palestinians’ conditions are devastating, Poets For Palestine seeks to give humanity its proper voice.
     In 1948, my grandmother was expelled from Palestine. Like many of the 780,000 evicted that year, she never saw her birthplace again. But she always dreamed of a dignified return: to Yaffa, her home city, a place of warmth and beauty; to her house, which in her heart, towered higher than the hills of Lebanon; and to an unfettered life, which no apology or compensation could ever replace.
     My grandmother passed on her story to inspire and galvanize—to insure that her children and grandchildren, and all those they encountered, would never forget Palestine.
     Poets For Palestine continues this vision as a unique collection of poetry, spoken word, hip-hop and art devoted to Palestine.

Israel Must Rein in Settler Movement

Joel Gulledge, Palestine Chronicle 9/2/2008
      I left my home in the United States to spend the summer in the West Bank, where I was attacked by Israeli settlers late last month. As a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team, I went to the South Hebron Hills to help keep young Palestinian children safe from Israeli settlers intent on hurting Palestinians. Armed only with a video camera, it was my job to escort the children back and forth from school and summer camp.
     On July 27, the children and I were walking home when a group of Israeli settlers assaulted us from a hilltop with fist-sized stones. Some narrowly missed my head. Focusing my video camera, I recorded an Israeli settler flinging stones at the children from his long-range slingshot. When he saw that I was filming him, he struck me in the leg with a rock. He chased me, kicked me and screamed that he was going to kill me. Wrestling the video camera from my hand, he then repeatedly struck me in the face and upper body with a stone.

Nilin village continues to resist Israeli siege

Jonathan Cook, Electronic Intifada 9/2/2008
      The window through which Salam Amira, 16, filmed the moment when an Israeli soldier shot from close range a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainee has a large hole at its center with cracks running in every direction.
     "Since my video was shown, the soldiers shoot at our house all the time," she said. The shattered and cracked windows at the front of the building confirm her story. "When we leave the windows open, they fire tear gas inside too."
     Her home looks out over the Israeli road block guarding the only entrance to the village of Nilin, located just inside the West Bank midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It was here that a bound Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, was shot in the foot in July with a rubber bullet under orders from an Israeli regiment commander.
     The treatment of the family stands in stark contrast to the leniency shown to the soldier and his commander involved in that incident.
     B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has accused the Israeli army of seeking "revenge" for the girl’s role in exposing the actions of its armed forces in the West Bank.

Border Control / Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed

Akiva Eldar, Ha’aretz 9/2/2008
      Some 1.1 million Palestinian children started the new school year in the occupied territories. At least, that is the number of children registered with the education offices in Ramallah and Gaza. Sources at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) say many children will be staying at home, with an unemployed father and an anxious mother (the month-long fast of Ramadan started yesterday).
     The teachers who returned to the long lines waiting at the Israel Defense Forces checkpoints are worried about getting to school on time. The question of whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) will reach U.S. President George W. Bush on time is much farther from their thoughts.
     Even in Abbas’ inner circle there is little interest in the Israeli media reports concerning new proposals by the Jewish state’s temporary prime minister.

Encountering Peace: From concepts to realities

Gershon Baskin, Jerusalem Post 9/2/2008
      It has been reported that the Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations being conducted in parallel by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei are moving toward the final stages. To reach agreement there are issues which are unavoidable and must be addressed. There are also steps on the ground which are necessary to build public support for the potential agreement, which could be implemented immediately, even before a full agreement is reached.
     Apparently Livni will not agree to any kind of treaty that does not fully recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In the preparation for the Annapolis summit in November 2007, we recall that this was one of the major Israeli demands that made it impossible to reach a joint statement of principles for permanent status. The Palestinians rejected the demand. Negotiator Saeb Erekat stated: "We recognize Israel, don’t force us to determine your identity."

Forcing the Neighbors into Play

Ghassan Khatib, MIFTAH 9/2/2008
      The Israeli strategy for dealing with the Palestinians has changed significantly since the first agreement was reached between the two sides in 1993. This change is forcing Jordan and Egypt, unwillingly, to adapt.
     Until the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by a Jewish extremist, the Israeli vision of a solution was to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and allow for a Palestinian state to emerge. Certainly, this was not a vision in line with international law. At the negotiating table, Israel was bargaining over the exact location of borders as well as aspects of Jerusalem and the issue of refugees. Away from the negotiating table, Israel was creating facts on the ground, expanding and creating settlements, in an attempt at directing the outcome of negotiations.
     Nevertheless, the two sides, as well as interested and involved third parties and the international community in general, were promoting a solution to be reached through negotiations that involved two states on the basis of the 1967 borders. It was a strategy pursued, albeit more hesitantly, in the years between the assassination of Rabin and the assumption to power of Ariel Sharon.

Local Priorities

Daoud Kuttab, MIFTAH 9/2/2008
      Whether those supporting the moderate leadership of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas admit it or not, Hamas appears to have won. Now, before Islamists around the world start celebrating, it is important to note that the region, let alone the world, is far from embracing hard-line fundamentalists. Hamas, for the record, has made some important ideological and practical changes, the most important of which was the "tahdiya" (ceasefire-like quiet).
     The signs of Hamas’ victory can be seen all over. From the success of the siege-breaking peace boats to the partial opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the serious talks Hamas leaders are holding with Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence chiefs.
     Part of the reason for Hamas’ success is the fact that the region and the world have little choice but to accept the reality that emerged in February 2006 and that Hamas in June 2007, with its takeover of Gaza, served notice was not going away.
     Another reason is global and regional changes. The Russian-Georgian struggle exposed Washington’s geopolitical weakness, a result of its military overstretch in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also comes at a time when George. W. Bush, a president with the lowest approval ratings in decades, seems to have blinked. America is near agreement on a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq and Washington clearly lacks the stomach for a confrontation with Tehran. The Iranians have called Bush’s bluff and seem to have succeeded.

Israel Turns Gaza into Prison

Zohair M. Abu Shaban – Gaza, Palestine Chronicle 9/2/2008
      ’Though Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it still controls our borders.’
     As a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, I could not have been more proud to learn last June that I had earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States.
     As a child, I would wonder how televisions, computers and washing machines actually worked. I took this fascination to the Islamic University of Gaza, the only Gazan university offering a degree in electrical engineering. There, I developed an ECG monitoring system that enables patients’ hearts to be monitored at home through a personal computer and an Internet link. I won the university prize for distinguished projects for my innovation. I long dreamed of the other advances I might make after an education at the University of Connecticut, where I was scheduled to study this fall for a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
     Now, my dream has been stolen from me. I am devastated; my parents heartbroken. Though Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it still controls our borders and determines who and what enters or exits. Since a 2006 election that brought a Hamas majority to the Palestinian Legislative Council, Israel has steadily diminished access into and out of Gaza. Many Palestinians reportedly died in the past year because they could not leave to obtain medical care they desperately needed. Food, fuel and medicine are scarce. Hundreds of students like me, with scholarships to study abroad, are being arbitrarily denied the right to leave Gaza to fulfill our educational aspirations.

The Build Up to the Third World War

Pablo Ouziel, Middle East Online 9/2/2008
      Last century’s great depression ended with the build up to the Second World War, and the unacknowledged economic depression of today will give way to the official beginning of the Third World War.
     Perhaps a couple of decades from now we will all be praising the mainstream media for the wonderful work they have done reporting on our collective insanity. If we could all leave aside for a minute our nationalisms and ideologies, we could see through every page printed, every word aired, or every media image shown, that global confrontation is just around the corner. The media seems to be seeing what its readers, viewers and listeners are not able to grasp. A large scale war is now unavoidable, and we have all contributed to it through our obtuse obsession with ourselves and our ideals, and our lack of holistic understanding of human interaction. That said, it could be that news are no longer news, and are just part of the 21st century satirical entertainment culture. If that is the case, we can safely say that once the television is turned off, the war ends.
     Week after week, escalation is the game being played by “our” governments. Every country flexing its muscle to see what it is able to obtain, as the cake of global resources is safely being distributed between those with access to the knife. The British fighting for the little bit of oil which they might be able to extract, if they push the boundaries of their empire past the legal 200 nautical miles from the shoreline of its colonized Ascension Island. The Americans pushing for their famous missile shield in the ex-soviet states, which for years now professor Chomsky has been labeling as a declaration of war. The Israelis focused on their territorial expansion on Palestinian land, through their now world-renowned settlements. The Russians with their personal conflict in Georgia, which the “international community” of hypocrites is unanimously condemning, with the same might as they unanimously support every aggression they personally wish to impart.

Jordan-Hamas: the Historic and Strategic Meaning

Asher Susser, MIFTAH 9/2/2008
      Jordan’s recent widely publicized resumption of contact with Hamas should be seen through the wider lens of the historic and strategic context. In the summer of 1999 King Abdullah II, shortly after his ascension to the throne, expelled the Hamas leadership from Jordan. The recent resumption of contact with Hamas was the first significant reversal of Jordan’s almost decade-long confrontational stand toward the organization.
     Hamas’ expulsion from Jordan was a reflection of the young King Abdullah’s shifting priorities in comparison to those of his late father King Hussein. For Hussein, the Hamas presence in Amman was a card to play against Yasser Arafat in Palestinian politics, from which he never really withdrew. For Abdullah, far more focused on Jordan of the East Bank, it was a political nuisance and a potential domestic security problem. But now, after nearly a decade on the throne Abdullah II is far more confident in the saddle. Moreover, in the Jordanian elections in November 2007 the Islamists were battered into virtual parliamentary insignificance by massive fraud, sanctioned if not directly orchestrated by the regime.