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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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3 September 2008

Prisoners’ Ministry in Gaza: Israel detained 3,900 Palestinians so far this year
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Israeli forces carried out more than 250 raids in the West Bank during July, and detained more than 420 Palestinians, including children and members of local government councils, statistics released by the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs in Gaza show. According to the ministry, Israel has detained 3,900 Palestinians so far this year. Forty children under the age of 18 were detained during August. Nine hundred prisoners from the Gaza Strip have been denied the right to family visits for more than 15 months on the pretext that Israel will not coordinate the visits with the de facto government in Gaza. The International Committee of the Red Cross normally facilitates such visits. Forty one members of the Palestinian Legislative Council are still in Israeli prisons.

US ’terror’ suspect freed from jail
Al Jazeera 9/3/2008
A US court has ordered the release of an Arab-American former professor who had been in jail for five years after he was accused of being a Palestinian terrorist. Sami al-Arian was freed on Tuesday after US immigration officials failed to explain his continued detention pending a trial for refusing to testify before a grand jury about a cluster of Muslim organisations in northern Virginia. "We are obviously relieved and delighted,’’ Jonathan Turley, al-Arian’s lawyer, said. But the former computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida, in custody since early 2003, is not yet fully free. He must remain under home detention at his daughter’s residence in Virginia, pending trial. In February 2003, federal prosecutors charged al-Arian with being a leader of the Palestinian. . .

Palestinian leadership rejects Barak’s suggestion of Palestinian capital in parts of East Jerusalem
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A top Palestinian negotiator rejected a suggestion by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday that Israel might allow certain parts of East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and a member of the Palestinian negotiating team said that East Jerusalem is not an entity that can be separated from the rest of the West Bank. In an interview with Ma’an, he said that Israel must withdraw from all areas it occupied in 1967. Palestinian negotiators, he said, would accept nothing less. Barak told Al-Jazeera television in an interview broadcast on Wednesday, "We can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighboring villages around Jerusalem.

Security forces ’arrest striking health workers’ in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Security forces affiliated to the de facto government in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday arrested a number of doctors and to other employees of Gaza Strip hospitals because they are on strike, said Bassam Zakarnah, head of the Palestinian union of civil servants. Fatah-linked unions voted to extend a major strike against the Hamas-lead government of Gaza on Tuesday. Speaking from Ramallah, Zakarnah told Ma’an, “De facto government police on Tuesday arrested Maysarah Fayyad, a nurse who works at Mubarak Hospital, Dr Kamal An-Namlah, head of surgeons at Nasser Hospital, Dr Abdul-Halim Al-Masri, from Ash-Shifa Hospital, Wisam Karim, administration employee at Muhammad Ad-Durrah Hospital, Usamah As-Sa’idi and Muhammad Lafi from Muhammad Ad-Durrah Hospital. He added that de facto government security assaulted the arrestees, beating while them in detention at Al-Mashtal prison in order to pressure them to end strike.

UN peacekeeper killed by IDF bomb from Second Lebanon War
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
A Belgian peacekeeper was killed on Wednesday while clearing cluster bombs that Israel dropped on southern Lebanon during its 2006 war with Hezbollah guerrillas, witnesses said. There are some 370 Belgian soldiers in the UN peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, that is helping the Lebanese army patrol a border zone in the south under a UN Security Council resolution mandate that ended the 34-day war. The witnesses said a second Belgian peacekeeper was lightly wounded. The chief of public information for UNIFIL, Neeraj Singh, confirmed that a peacekeeper had died but would not disclose his nationality. "A member of a UNIFIL explosive ordnance disposal team died from an explosion around midday today while carrying out an unexploded ordnance clearance recce mission in the vicinity of Aitaroun," he told.

Israeli warplanes terrorize residents of Tyre
Daily Star 9/4/2008
TYRE: Six Israeli warplanes flew over South Lebanon and broke the sound barrier twice over the port city of Tyre on Wednesday, a security official said. "Six Israeli warplanes flew all over southern Lebanon and the city of Tyre at low altitude for more than an hour and broke the sound barrier twice over Tyre," the official told AFP. The overflight prompted scared shoppers to flee Tyre’s main market, witnesses said. Residents also poured on to the streets nervously watching the skies, little more than two years after the summer 2006 war with Israel devastated much of southern Lebanon, the correspondent added. There has been a mounting war of words between Hizbullah and Israel in recent weeks with the resistance leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowing to "destroy Israel" in any new conflict. For their part Israeli cabinet ministers have warned that Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure. . .

Government to discuss evacuation-compensation plan for West Bank
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Prime minister’s office confirms cabinet to debate initiative put forward by Vice Premier Ramon proposing compensation for settlers who voluntarily leave West Bank. No vote scheduled to be held on proposal at present time - The government will discuss an initiative put forward Vice Premier Haim Ramon on Sunday, proposing the voluntary evacuation and compensation of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank. The matter will be debated but not brought to a vote. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said in regards to the upcoming meeting that Olmert would allow cabinet ministers to sound off on the proposal before legislation advances. However two Kadima ministers said they doubted the current government could pass such a divisive proposal. " This government’s days are numbered, and so long as the negotiations (with the Palestinian Authority). . .

Israeli forces seize ten Palestinians during West Bank raids
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Wednesday morning seized ten Palestinians during raids in the West Bank. According to Israeli sources, the arrestees were from Nablus and Qabatiya in the northern West Bank as well as Halhul in the southern West Bank. Palestinian security sources said that Israeli military vehicles invaded the old city of Nablus and forcibly searched several homes before they arrested 6 young men. The sources identified the arrestees as, 16-year-old Ra’id Hamdan, 17-year-old Nasr Mabroukah, 21-year-old Ramiz Jum’ah, 20-year-old Eyhab Al-Arboudi, his brother 23-year-old Tha’ir and 19-year-old Zahi Fatayir. [end]

Israeli forces steal cash and jewelry from elderly Palestinian’s house near Hebron
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces on Wednesday morning ransacked the home of an elderly Palestinian man, 80-year-old Muhammad Abu Rayyan, in the West Bank town of Halhul, near the city of Hebron. According to a family member, Bilal Abu Rayyan, Israeli soldiers stole jewelry and cash worth estimated at 3000 Jordanian Dinars (4300 US dollars) while searching the house. He added that Israeli forces damaged parts of the family’s blacksmith workshop near the house before leaving. Witnesses said the interior of the house was largely destroyed. [end]

Israeli army threatens and physically abuses Kafr ad Dik resident
International Womens’ Peace Service 9/3/2008
August 30th 2008 - 2:30-3am - Kafr ad Dik - Witness/es: Residents of Kafr ad Dik - On August 30th at 2:30am, Israeli soldiers are reported to have forcibly demanded entrance to a family residence in Kafr ad Dik, Salfit district. One resident of the home reports that first all of his family members’ identity cards were reviewed; next, he was forced to exit the house while the rest of the family was locked inside. Three soldiers demanded from him to give information about a resident of Kafr ad Dik. Refusing to answer, the soldiers beat the man on the back, shoulders and face, and held him at gunpoint; he then revealed the other’s residence. The soldiers eventually left, next forcing entry into the wanted man’s home who was not to be found. Since the evening of August 30th, the Israeli army returned almost every evening at around prayer time, patrolling the streets and using sound bombs to intimidate residents and thereby preventing them from leaving their homes.

Israeli violations increase during August in spite of ''˜official truce’
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
The National and International Department in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) issued a press release documenting the Israeli violations during the month of August. It stated that the Israeli army killed 2 Palestinians, shot and wounded 131, including 26 children, demolished 5 homes in addition to 22 patients that died in Gaza due to the ongoing Israeli siege. In its report, the department stated that soldiers shot and killed 18 year old Ahmad Younis Amira from Nil’in, a village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Amira was killed by a live round fired by an Israeli soldier while she joined hundreds of residents and peace activists in a protest against the Annexation Wall. Also, an Israeli contractor shot and killed a Palestinian youth working for him. Furthermore, soldiers shot and wounded 131 Palestinians, including 26 children, all in the month of August.

Armed resistance in Gaza prepares for Israeli onslaught
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/3/2008
Gaza -- Recent Israeli threats against the Gaza Strip are intensifying. With the siege and random invasions ongoing, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is now making statements about further attacks. In light of this latest development, the Nasser Salah Addin Brigades, the armed resistance wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, announced on Wednesday that they would be ready. Preparations are underway in the Strip to confront any increase in Israeli aggression. They carried out maneuvers in the streets of Gaza City, practicing and reviewing fighting skills. Away from the crowds they fired weapons, hoping to not have a repeat of the deaths in both the northern Strip and Khan Younis caused by the stray bullets of training resistance groups. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has issued numerous reports regarding deaths and injuries due to maneuvers such as this. . .

IOF troops kidnapped 70 Palestinians from Nablus in August
Palestinian Information Center 9/3/2008
NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces kidnapped 70 Palestinians from Nablus city during the past month of August, Tadamun institute for human rights said on Wednesday. It noted that among the abductees was municipal council member Majda Fidda, who was kidnapped from her home after IOF troops ransacked it in a violent search operation. Tadamun condemned the escalating IOF arrest campaign in lines of Nablus inhabitants, and urged the international community and human rights organizations to assume their responsibilities in this regard. IOF soldiers at dawn Wednesday rounded up six citizens in Nablus suburbs including two brothers after wreaking havoc in their homes. In another atrocity, the Palestinian child Ismail Ulayan, who was kidnapped by IOF troops on 19/6/2008, said that soldiers beat him up after arresting him and throwing him under their feet in the army jeep.

Israeli military forces kidnap 7 civilians from several West Bank cities
Marina Ayyoub, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Israeli troops invaded the West Bank cities of Nablus, Jenin, Tubas and Tulkarem at dawn, kidnapping 7 civilians on Wednesday, as reported by local sources. A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded the city of Nablus, positioning themselves in the streets and surrounding several houses. Troops searched and ransacked several houses before kidnapping 6 civilians, taking them to an unknown detention camp for investigation. The Israeli military claims that the 6 detainees are wanted for allegedly being members of the Palestinian armed resistance. In addition, Israeli troops invaded the West Bank city of Jenin and 3 nearby cities, kidnapping one civilian. Troops were centered in several streets in the area and shot sound bombs and heavy gun fire at random before surrounding a number of houses and kidnapping one civilian.

Israeli forces seize Islamic Jihad fighter in Qabatiya
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Jenin – Ma’an Israeli forces on Wednesday arrested an Islamic Jihad activist in the northern West Bank town of Qabatiya, Islamic Jihad sources said. “Dozens of Israeli military vehicles raided the town and launched a search campaign allegedly looking for wanted activists affiliated to the Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades. Then, the invading forces apprehended ShadiZakarnah after they ransacked his family home,” the forces said. “Israeli forces also stormed several Islamic leaders’ homes, damaging their contents,” the sources added. They explained that armed confrontations broke out between Israeli forces and Al-Quds Brigades sections in different parts of Qabatiya. [end]

Shooting reported near governor’s home in Salfit
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – Gunmen opened fire near the home of the governor of the West Bank district of Salfit on Wednesday, witnesses said. Governor Munir Al-Abboushi said, “A gunman opened fire 500 meters away from my house near an Israeli watchtower without any casualties. ”He said earlier reports that his house had come under direct attack were false. He added that that Palestinian security forces searched the area and found ammunition cartridges and opened an investigation. [end]

Palestine Today 090308
IMEMC News - Audio Dept, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Click on Link to download or play MP3 file|| 3 m 30s || 3. 20 MB || Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center www. imemc. org for Tuesday September 3, 2008. Israeli troops storm a number of West Bank cities, rounding up 7 Palestinians while in Gaza, Israeli authorities deny International activists passage out of the Gaza Strip, these stories and more are coming up, stay tuned. The News Cast The frequent Israeli military offensives against Palestinian cities, towns, villages and refugee camps in the occupied West Bank today, resulted in the detention of seven Palestinians from Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem. Witnesses said that scores of Israeli military vehicles swept into the said areas earlier at dawn and that the soldiers ransacked and searched residents’ homes, rounding up and taking the seven residents to unknown destinations.

Alkhudari: internationals denied exit, have a chance to live the Israeli siege
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Jamal Alkhudari, chairman of the local popular committee to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, believed on Wednesday that the internationals who have been denied exit from Gaza by the Israeli occupation authorities, have a chance to live the Israeli siege on Gaza. In a press release, emailed to media outlets, "denying 9 internationals exit out of the Gaza Strip, can be a chance for those people to live the Israeli siege of Gaza, in a way that might lead to the reopening of border crossings". Israel has prevented entry of 9 international activists through the Eritz checkpoint in northern Gaza, in their way back to their destinations after they have spent several days in Gaza. The internationals , including British journalist Lauren Booth and sister-in-law of Mr. Tony Blair, envoy of the Quartet Committee for Middle East peace, have been part of the Free Gaza boat, which arrived in Gaza in August23.

Blair’s relative ’stuck in Gaza’
BBC Online 9/3/2008
Lauren Booth, human rights activist and sister-in-law of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has said she is being prevented from leaving Gaza. Ms Booth arrived in the Gaza Strip on a "peace boat" to publicise Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory. But she said the Egyptian and Israeli authorities had prevented her from leaving Gaza three times. Mr Blair, now an international envoy to the Middle East, is currently in the region meeting senior Israeli leaders. ’Non-violent resistance project’ Israel tightened an economic blockade on Gaza after Hamas forces violently seized control from Fatah in June 2007. The borders between Gaza and Egypt and Israel are closed to people most of the time. About 45 people - including Americans, Palestinians and Israelis - took part in the "peace boat" mission last week.

Israel traps Blair’s sister-in-law in Gaza
Middle East Online 9/3/2008
GAZA - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s sister-in-law says she is trapped in the Gaza Strip as Israel refuses to let her leave the Palestinian territory she entered aboard a humanitarian boat. "They have made it clear I won’t be admitted to Israel," said Lauren Booth, a British journalist and peace campaigner. Israeli authorities have rejected Lauren Booth’s request to leave Gaza, arguing she did not enter legally when she and another 43 humanitarian activists travelled by boat to the impoverished coastal strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade. "This is a real Palestinian experience of being between the devil and the deep blue sea," Booth said. Booth asked over the weekend for authorisation to leave Gaza through the Erez crossing with Israel. She was also prevented from crossing into Egypt through the Rafah crossing.

Blair’s sister-in-law stranded in Gaza
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
The sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that Israel and Egypt have prevented her from leaving the Gaza Strip, more than a week after she entered the territory in defiance of the blockade. Lauren Booth said she has been trying to leave Gaza since Friday, but was turned away at Israeli and Egyptian border crossings. Booth was among 46 pro-Palestinian international activists with the Free Gaza Movement who sailed into Gaza waters on August 23 to draw attention to Israel’s blockade, which has prevented the area’s 1. 4 million Palestinians from traveling abroad and crippled the local economy. Most of the protesters left Gaza on the same boats last Thursday and sailed to Cyprus, but Booth and several other activists chose to remain behind to do human rights work.

Tony Blair sister-in-law ’trapped in Gaza’
David Batty, The Guardian 9/3/2008
he sister-in-law of the former prime minister Tony Blair said today she has been barred from leaving the Gaza Strip, more than a week after she entered the territory in defiance of an Israeli blockade. Lauren Booth, the half-sister of Cherie Blair, said she has been trying to leave Gaza since last Friday, but has been prevented at both Israeli and Egyptian border crossings. Booth was among 46 pro-Palestinian international activists with the Free Gaza Movement who sailed into Gaza waters on August 23 to draw attention to Israel’s blockade. The blockade has prevented the area’s 1. 4 million Palestinians from travelling abroad and crippled the local economy. [end]

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. . .

Anti-siege boats to return to Gaza with a bigger third one, more relief material
Palestinian Information Center 9/3/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The two boats that broke the sea blockade on the Gaza Strip are to return to the Strip along with a bigger third boat that would carry more solidarity activists and more medical aid. The foreign activists, who remained in Gaza after departure of the two boats, said that the boats are expected back in the Strip within the few coming days and would bring more relief material. The international sympathizers said that their continued presence in Gaza would unmask the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, charging that regional parties were participating in besieging Gaza along with Israel. The foreign activists asked the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border terminal with Gaza and allow them to return home to their families. They lashed out at both Israel and Egypt for not allowing them to leave the Strip via Rafah and Erez crossings, charging. . .

Gaza committee against siege: activists now trapped as we are
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/3/2008
Gaza -- The head of the Popular Committee against the Siege, Jamal Al Khudari, said today that it was a good thing when Israeli forces at Erez Checkpoint refused to allow foreigner supporters to exit. The activists were among the group that arrived on the Free Gaza boats two weeks ago in a symbolic action "to break the siege. "Although most of the activists and seven Gaza residents left, nine stayed behind to document Israeli breaches of Palestinian human rights and to try to aid in anyway possible. The activists joined Palestinian fishermen in their boats hoping to stop Israeli forces from opening fire or arresting the working men. Al Khudari said that it is important for the foreign activists to get a feel for real life under siege and occupation, and by not being allowed to travel through the northern crossing in Beit Hanoun, they got just that.

Israel and Egypt do not allow Blair’s sister-in-law out of Gaza by land
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Israel and Egypt continue to deny entry to some Free Gaza Movement members into Israel en route to their destinations abroad, after having spent several days in Gaza. Laurn Booth, who is the sister-in-law to British envoy for the Middle East Quartet Committee, Tony Blair, along with two other activists, have until now been denied access to leave Gaza. They have been denied both through the Rafah crossing terminal controlled by Egypt in southern Gaza and the northern Gaza Strip checkpoint in Eritz controlled by Israel. Booth has been one of 44 international human rights activists, aid workers and journalists who arrived in Gaza by sea last month in a bid to break the 14-month-old Israeli blockade of Gaza. Booth was quoted as saying, "I tried through the proper channels, through the United Kingdoms’ embassy, but I was told I was not allowed to come through.

Palestinian rights group accuses PA of judicial abuse
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
The Palestinian human rights group al-Haq accused the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday of undermining judicial independence in the occupied West Bank and appealed to Western donors to intervene. Al-Haq director Shahwan Jabbarin said Palestinian security services in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction holds sway, and in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip were functioning illegally and "are running the country". "I tell the donors it’s high time they pressured theAuthority to implement its commitments towards the independence of the judiciary," Jabbarin told reporters. Jabbarin said military courts were issuing arrest warrants against civilians and undermining a civilian judiciary that had undergone reform and improvement in the West Bank.

Al-Haq: PA Military Courts might lead to ''authoritarian regime''
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday to end the use of military courts in trials of civilians in order to stop a dangerous slide towards authoritarianism. In a statement sent to journalists, the organization said these uses of the Military Judiciary “might lead towards an authoritarian regime, at the expenses of the fundamental rights and freedoms of Palestinians, the rule of law and the independency of the judiciary. ”“Several calls and statements have been sent to the Palestinian president and prime minister as well as the Ministry of Justice and general prosecution, to stop military judiciary intervention in the civil judiciary. Despite this, the military judiciary still violates and intervene in civil judiciary jurisdiction,” said Al-Haq Director Sha’wan Jabarin during a press conference at Ramattan News Agency in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Canaan Center slams settlers attack against a female legislator
IMEMC News, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Ghassan Al Masry, head of the Canaan Center for Media and Studies issued a press release slamming an attack carried by a group of extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian legislator, Najat Abu Baker. Abu Baker was in her vehicle on the road between Nablus and Jenin. The settlers also uttered threats against the life of Abu Baker while the Israeli army did not even attempt to stop them. Al Masry stated that the last three months marked a "new settler war" against the Palestinian people, as the settlers fired missiles at Nablus villages adjacent to Israeli settlements, repeatedly attacked the villages and repeatedly set farmlands and orchards on fire. The settlers also attacked dozens of villagers and attempted to bar them from working in their orchards while the army remained idle and in many cases Israeli soldiers protected the settlers and allowed them to wander in Palestinian orchards, cut and burn the trees.

Prison conditions deteriorate
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/3/2008
Nablus -- Solitary confinement and the use of military dogs in Israeli prisons were prevalent in Israeli prisons during the month of August. Raids and arbitrary punishments both work to crush spirits and deprive Palestinians of the most basic of rights, the Prisoner Support Society wrote in the latest report. Abdullah Barghouthi is serving a life sentence. Prison guards at Askelon beat severely during a random attack. Bruises now cover his body, his muscles are torn and he is in solitary confinement. A 36 year old woman from Askar Refugee Camp in Nablus revealed that she suffered cancer in her uterus, finding out from a medical exam inside the prison. Megiddo Prison within the boundaries of northern Israel is holding 850 Palestinians. The report states that they suffer from a shortage of drinking water as part of the Prison Administration’s policy.

Rights group: Gazan man held in ''secret location'' since Hamas-Fatah shootout in early August
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights (PICCR) said on Wednesday that de facto government security forces in Gaza have been detaining Zaki As-Sakani without disclosing his location or allowing him to see a lawyer. Thirty-Three-year-old As-Sakani has been held since 2 August. According to his family, As-Sakani was detained after he was wounded in fighting in the Ash-Shuja’iyyah neighborhood of Gaza City. Hamas-allied security forces fought a battle with Fatah-linked gunmen that day, leaving nine Palestinians dead. The de facto government in Gaza previously claimed to have released all detainees jailed during the events in Ash-Shuja’iyyah. As-Sakani was reportedly taken to the intensive care unit at Ash-Shifa Hospital. His mother tried to visit him at hospital, but she was not allowed to go enter the ICU.

Ramallah - PLC members issue statement of support for striking workers in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah-allied members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Ramallah released a statement on Wednesday supporting the right of workers in the Gaza Strip to strike against the Hamas-led government there. “The strike that was carried out in the education and health sectors of Gaza Strip is within the normal practices of and rights. Hamas’ practices against strike are illegitimate and go against legal and humanitarian values,” the statement said. The lawmakers blamed Hamas for its “repressive and aggressive practices” against the striking workers. [end]

Palestinian university workers continue strike, rejecting offer from three schools
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – University workers in the West Bank and Gaza are still on strike for increased pay on Wednesday after the union rejected a public offer from three universities for a 50% increase in salaries. The presidents of three Palestinian universities, An-Najah, Birzeit and Palestine Technical, called on their workers to end their strike in exchange for the 50% pay increase, short of the 80% the union is demanding. Nine Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza went on strike on Tuesday demanding better pay in a labor action they unions say is not related to partisan politics. Employeest at the universities of An-Najah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Al-Quds, Arab American, Al-Azhar,Al-Quds Open University, Islamic University and the Polytechnic University all stoped work on Tuesday, said Mousa Ajwah, a spokesperson for the General Union of university workers.

PRC leader rejects proposal for Arab peacekeepers in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an armed group in the Gaza Strip, added his voice to a chorus of rejection of a proposal to bring Arab or international forces to police the Strip. “All indications refer to the fact that bringing such forces is against Palestinian people’s interests,” said PRC leader Ayman Shishniyya. The proposal had been floated at the Palestinian unity negotiations in Cairo as a step towards restoring unified political control to the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have already rejected the idea. “We will deal with any forces which enter the Gaza Strip for any purpose except freeing Palestinian lands, as enemies. We will not replace occupation with another occupation,” he added. He added that Arab forces must rather head to Jerusalem to liberate it, despite the fact that they would be” 40 years late.

Khudari calls on Arab ministers to visit Gaza
Palestinian Information Center 9/3/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the anti siege committee, has called for the formation of an Arab ministerial committee to visit the Gaza Strip during the holy month of Ramadan to inspect the catastrophic results of the Israeli siege. Khudari in a press release on Tuesday said that the visit could be prepared during Ramadan to brief the delegation members on all details of the siege. The MP noted that the arrival of the anti-siege boats to Gaza and the opening of the Rafah crossing for two days before thousands of patients and stranded citizens facilitate the proposed visit of such a committee. The Arab foreign ministers decided to break the siege on the Palestinian people during a meeting on 12/11/2006. Khudari said that the Arab ministerial decision taken two years ago was not implemented, warning that all aspects of life in Gaza suffered from the blockade.

Palestinians to propose Arab military force for Gaza
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian 9/3/2008
The Palestinian government in Ramallah will propose that Arab nations deploy a joint military force in Gaza once a coalition government has been formed between the rival factions Fatah and Hamas, the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, said today. Malki said he would be taking the idea to a meeting next week of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, which opens on Monday. He said the proposal came from the Palestinians though Egypt’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, also raised the prospect of sending a pan-Arab force to Gaza last week. Gaza is now under the control of the Islamist Hamas movement, which won Palestinian elections in 2006 and then seized full control of the strip last year after a near civil war with its rival Fatah. The Hamas government was then sacked and the Palestinian president and Fatah leader, Mahmoud. . .

PRC refuses deployment of Arab forces in Gaza
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
The Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza (PRC) refused on Wednesday an Egyptian suggestion to deploy Arab forces in Gaza as ’contradicting with the higher national interests of the Palestinian people. ’ Political leader of the PRC, Ayman Al-Shishniya, was quoted by media sources as saying "the idea to bring in Arab or foreign troops to Gaza is totally rejected by our faction, as it is in stark contradiction with the interests of our Palestinian people and their resistance. " Al-Shishniya added that "any troops that enter Gaza not for the sake of liberating the lands, will be dealt with as hostile forces and therefore won’t be welcomed with flowers. "He further made clear that ’any Arab troops should head for the occupied East Jerusalem to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has been under captivity for the past four decades.

Analysis: Increasingly, Hamas is gaining acceptance in the Arab world
Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
A series of recent developments point to Hamas’s increasingly solid position in the Palestinian and broader Arab political constellations. This process is of significance both for Arab politics itself, and for the likely direction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the coming period. In the past week, it was announced that Jordan’s Intelligence Department, led by Gen. Muhammad Dahabi, has opened a dialogue with Hamas. The renewal of contacts between Amman and Hamas reverses a decade of Jordanian policy since the Hamas leadership were expelled from Jordan in 1999. The fraught nature of Jordan’s relations with Hamas was compounded in April 2006 with the arrest of 20 men suspected of being Hamas operatives. Three of the detainees were charged with maintaining a Hamas cell that surveilled Israeli targets in the kingdom in order to carry out terror attacks.

Terror cells scope El Al crew in Toronto with attack in mind
Zohar Blumenkrantz, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
Terror cells have recently been seen observing El Al crew members in Toronto, apparently in preparation for a terror attack targeting airline personnel. This appears to be the first time Israeli airline crews have been specifically targeted by terrorists, although Israeli businessmen abroad have already been warned that Hezbollah may attempt to abduct them. The suspected terrorists were seen at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, one of the hotels where the pilots and crew of the Boeing 767s that fly El Al’s direct Tel Aviv-Toronto route stay between flights. The sighting has triggered a higher alert level, and the Shin Bet security service has ordered El Al procedures altered. U. S. television stations, basing their information on American intelligence sources, reported in mid-June that a Hezbollah cell had been caught collecting. . .

Shin Bet warns El Al about terror abroad
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Fearing a Hizbullah attack and after a terrorist squad was spotted tracking an El Al flight crew in Toronto, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has issued new orders to Israeli airline companies to take extra precautions when operating overseas. In a recent meeting with airline chiefs, representatives from the Shin Bet Security Division asked El Al Israel Airways, Arkia Israel Airlines and Israir Airlines to ensure that their crew members remove company uniforms with Israeli markings when on stopovers abroad. The crews were also asked to try not to stand out as Israelis, to blend in with their surroundings and to raise their level of vigilance when overseas. The new orders came after a flight crew in Toronto was tracked by a terrorist cell that Israeli security services fear was planning to either kidnap or attack the crew.

UNIFIL soldier killed by cluster bomb
Reuters, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Belgian peacekeeper clearing bomblets in southern Lebanon dies after charge explodes, another lightly wounded - A Belgian peacekeeper was killed on Wednesday while clearing cluster bombs that Israel dropped on southern Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. There are some 370 Belgian soldiers in the UN peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL, which is helping the Lebanese army patrol a border zone in the south under UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The witnesses said a second Belgian peacekeeper was lightly wounded. The chief of public information for UNIFIL, Neeraj Singh, confirmed that a peacekeeper had died but would not disclose his nationality. "A member of a UNIFIL explosive ordnance disposal team died from an explosion around midday today while carrying out an unexploded ordnance clearance mission in the vicinity of Aitaroun," he told.

Biden backs Israel, criticizes AIPAC
Hilary Leila Krieger, Minneapolis, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden said Wednesday that Israel should be able to take whatever action it feels necessary to defend itself from Iran, pressing his Israel credentials even as he lashed out at AIPAC and those who have criticized his record toward the Jewish state. "Israel has an absolute right to defend itself. It doesn’t have to ask us," Biden, a Delaware senator and Barack Obama’s running mate, said in response to a question from The Jerusalem Post during a conference call with Jewish media. Biden was in Florida stumping for Jewish votes while the Republican National Convention took place in this Midwestern city. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, who was set to accept the nomination to be the GOP vice presidential candidate after press time Wednesday, visited with AIPAC members here to reassure them of her commitment to Israel.

Biden: Israel will be more protected with Obama
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Democratic vice presidential candidate addresses Jewish pensioners near Miami, declares Jewish state’s security to improve if Obama is elected president - WASHINGTON - Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, appeared Tuesday evening before Jewish voters in south Florida and declared that Israel’s security would be improved if Barack Obama is elected US president. He further stated that there is no doubt that Obama supportsIsrael, despite rumors spread by his rivals. Israel is not as safe today in the world as it was eight years ago, Biden said, promising that the Democrats will make it more protected. Speaking at a home for the elderly in Deerfield Beach, north of Miami, the senator noted that Hamas and Hizbullah have grown stronger and that Iran is working to attain a nuclear weapon.

’Palin told AIPAC she wants stronger Israel ties’
Haaretz Service and Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
U. S. Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin told the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Tuesday that she would "work to expand and deepen the strategic partnership between U. S. and Israel," the group’s spokesman told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. According to the Wall Street Journal, Palin spent Tuesday in her hotel suite with campaign aides working on her speech at the Republican Convention scheduled for Wednesday. Sources familiar with her schedule said that she also had a private session with Jewish Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman, a democrat and former vice presidential nominee, has come out in support of the Republican ticket, saying in his speech Tuesday "Governor Palin, like [presidential candidate] John McCain, is a reformer, that’s why I sincerely believe the real ticket for change is the McCain-Palin ticket.

Biden: Israel’s decisions must be made in Jerusalem, not D.C.
Natasha Mozgovaya, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
Delaware Senator and Democratic Party Vice Presidential nominee Joseph Biden said that Israel must remain a strong ally of the United States, however its decisions "must be made in Jerusalem", during a teleconference held with members of the Jewish press on Wednesday. Biden also expressed his support of Israel’s right to defend itself, saying "Israel has the right to defend itself and it doesn’t have to ask, just as any other free and independent country. The Vice Presidential nominee vowed that the United States will "always standby Israel, without telling Israelis what they can and cannot do. "Biden dismissed the prominent role played by the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, saying the group "doesn’t speak for the entire Jewish community," and it "doesn’t speak for the state of Israel, no matter what it insists on any occasion.

Both US vice-presidential candidates vow to back Israel
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Both Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for US Vice-President, and Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, have both met with pro-Israel groups in the US within days of their respective nominations, and have promised complete and unconditional support for the Jewish state. Their positions on the issue are in line with both major Presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, who both spoke earlier this summer at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference to pledge support for Israel. The only US presidential candidates that have expressed support for Palestinian human rights are from minor parties, and unlikely to win. Cynthia McKinney, a former Congresswoman from Georgia, is running for US President on the Green Party ticket, and has taken a position that supports the human rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination and equality.

Palin expresses support for Israel
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Republican VP hopeful meets with AIPAC to put Jewish community at ease over her views on US-Mideast relations, says she would like to visit Israel soon. Lobby spokesman: ’VP nominee believes in the special friendship between two democracies’ - WASHINGTON- Senator McCain’s running mate in the US presidential election, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, met with the board of directors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Wednesday and expressed her admiration for Israel. The meeting took place inside Palin’s hotel, sources said. A campaign official would not say who asked for the meeting, but said it was geared towards putting the American Jewish community at ease over her understanding of US-Middle East relations. "That’s obviously going to be an issue," the aide said. "It’s not like being the senator from New York, obviously.

Sarah Palin and the Jewish community
Marc R. Stanley, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Upon returning from the Democratic Convention in Denver we find a political landscape that has drastically changed. In the course of just one week Sen. Barack Obama picked Sen. Joseph Biden as his vice presidential nominee while Sen. John McCain picked Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate. These two picks say a great deal about the judgment of each presidential candidate and about their understanding of the American Jewish community. Biden, of course, was the more conventional pick - especially for the Jewish community. The senior senator from Delaware is one of the most well-known and respected politicians among American Jewish leadership. He may be unique for a non-Jewish senator in that he loudly exclaims that he is a Zionist. Even his adversaries admit that there is no more knowledgeable senator when it comes to Middle East policy.

MK draws criticism for screening ''racist'' Dutch film
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Right-wing Knesset member Arieh Eldad staged the first public screening of an intensely controversial Dutch film blaming Islam for terrorism in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Eldad showed parts of the film “Fitna” by right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders at a press conference in Jerusalem, drawing criticism from the left. Mohammed Barakeh, a Palestinian member of the Knesset and the head of the leftist Hadash party criticized the film, calling it racist. The conflict that Israel and the Arabs are involved in during the last hundred years is not a local disease, but it’s a kind of symptom of a global disease," Eldad told a small group of reporters. "The issue here is not a territorial conflict between us and the Palestinians, but Israel is only the front fortress of Western civilisation in the Middle East.

Director of controversial film on Islam to speak in Jerusalem
The Associated Press, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
National Union MK Aryeh Eldad said Wednesday that a controversial Dutch legislator and filmmaker will speak at an upcoming Jerusalem conference on combating radical Islam. Geert Wilders’ film Fitna linked attacks by Islamic militants to texts from the Koran, Islam’s holy book. It sparked angry street protests in Muslim countries earlier this year and Jordan has informed Interpol he is wanted to face charges there. The conference in December will be tailored to European legislators seeking to unite in opposition to militant Islam. Eldad told a news conference Wednesday that the Europeans who would attend the gathering would represent the political mainstream in their countries and not the far-right. Eldad said Fitna would be screened and the visiting politicians, "acting as a defensive coalition in the European Parliament,. . .

’Fitna’ filmmaker to attend J’lem parley
Brenda Gazzar, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Selected European lawmakers, along with Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, whose controversial 15-minute film Fitna has sparked world-wide Muslim outrage, will gather in Jerusalem in December to "plan practical steps in the struggle against the spread of Islam in Europe," MK Aryeh Eldad (NU/NRP) said Wednesday. Eldad: Knesset must hold ’Fitna’ summit Wilders is scheduled to speak and screen his film atthe two-day conference titled "Facing Jihad: a Lawmakers’ Summit," which is drawing criticism from Muslim MKs in Israel, who argue the summit will encourage racism. The film, which first appeared on the Internet in March, linked attacks by Islamic militants around the world to verses from the Quran. Eldad, who is chairing the December 14th-15th summit, said that the legislators attending the summit will discuss draft proposals that would better "regulate" immigration. . .

’Anti-Zionism a type of anti-Semitism’
Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
A Cologne regional court ruling on Wednesday resulted in a partial legal victory for Henryk M. Broder, a prominent Jewish journalist who had asked the court to vacate a temporary restraining order barring him from labeling statements from fellow Jew Evelyn Hecht-Galinski as anti-Semitic. Hecht-Galinski, whose late father served as the head of Berlin’s first post-Holocaust Jewish community and president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, equates Israeli policies with those of Nazi Germany, and argues that a "Jewish-Israel lobby with its active network is extended over the world and thanks to America its power has become so great. . . " The court largely waived the injunction against Broder. Nathan Gelbart, Broder’s attorney, told The Jerusalem Post that "the ruling says that Mr. Broder is not supposed to call Ms.

Gov’t could put $100m. into ’birthright’
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
The plan to bring thousands of Diaspora Jewish educators to Israel on free trips could receive over $100 million in state funding, according to initiatives being developed in the Prime Minister’s Office, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The government plan to develop a "teachers’ birthright," modeled on the free birthright-Israel trips taken by some 180,000 college-age Jews from the Diaspora, was first revealed in the Post last month. At the time, an internal meeting of advisers in the PMO chaired by Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel had discussed developing a new track for Masa, a government agency which brings Diaspora Jewish youth for five- and ten-month programs in Israel. Planning work within Masa over the past month has confirmed the initial perception that "something like this [program] is needed, it is possible, and there’s an identifiable target audience for it.

Israeli concert in Scotland disrupted by pro-Palestine activists
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
At an international music festival themed "Artists without Borders," a performance by an Israeli band was interrupted by pro-Palestine demonstrators who said the musicians were complicit in crimes against the Palestinian people. The accusation referenced the fact that every Israeli citizen not only funds the occupation of Palestinian land, but also serves in the military for at least two years, thus directly participating in a military occupation that has been condemned by international human rights groups and violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. That occupation has been ongoing since 1967. The protesters who disrupted the August 29th concert were arrested, but it is unknown what their charges are. The Jerusalem String Quartet was the band targeted for protest, which included not only the disruption of the concert but also a peaceful protest outside.

Palestinian lawmaker asks Abbas to negotiate release of corpses from Israel
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Fatah-affiliated Palestinian lawmaker from Bethlehem appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday to negotiate the release of the mortal remains of Palestinians held by Israel. Issa Qaraqi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, asked Abbas to give priority to the bodies of Palestinian “martyrs” in his negotiations with Israel. He also asked for an increase in the allowances paidby the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the families of those killed by Israeli forces. Qaraqi met with the families of the deceased in the offices of the Fatah parliamentary bloc in Bethlehem on Tuesday. The families delivered a petition asking the PA and the international community to pressure Israel into releasing the bodies of their loved ones. Two hundred corpses from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are held by Israel, 18 of which are from Bethlehem.

PA minister: No agreement on any issue
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Not a single word has been set on paper and there is no real agreement on the smaller points, let alone the core issues, of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said on Wednesday. Negotiations between the two sides continue on almost a daily basis in an effort to reach a deal by the end of 2008, Malki told the Israel Council on Foreign Relations in Jerusalem. He struck a pessimistic note when he added that "until this moment," with four months left to go until that deadline, "they [the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators] did not start writing one single word on paper. The reason for this is that they do not really agree on any issue or sub-issue yet. "But they are trying very hard and they have exchanged positions, ideas and maps," Malki said. His words were echoed by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam. . .

Barak: Arab parts of Jerusalem could become Palestinian capital
Reuters and Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
Some Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem could become the capital of a future Palestinian state as part of a final peace agreement, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. Barak did not say whether these neighborhoods would include all of Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "We can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighboring villages around Jerusalem," Barak told Al-Jazeera television.

Barak: East Jerusalem could be capital of Palestinian state
Reuters, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Defense Minister speaks with Al-Jazeera about Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, which he claims could be part of new Palestinian capital once agreement is reached. Mofaz: ’Barak was wrong as PM and wrong today’ -Some Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem could become the capital of a future Palestinian state as part of a final peace agreement, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview broadcast by Al-Jazeera on Wednesday. He also said that there was still time for diplomacy to curb Iran’s nuclear program but that Israel was serious about using "any option" if that failed. "We can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighboring villages around Jerusalem," Barak said.

Mazuz: Government must tread lightly
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Attorney general rebuffs motion by Legal Forum for Land of Israel to have cabinet declared transit government; says Olmert’s decision to step down does not warrant such action -Attorney General Menachem Mazuz cautioned the government Wednesday, saying that while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement that he would be stepping down did not turn it into a transit one, it should still exercise due caution in any decisions it makes. Mazuz’s call followed a request made by the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel (LFLI) and Knesset Members Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and Limor Livnat (Likud), which was seeking a ruling stating thatOlmert’s resignation did, in fact, turn the government into a transit government. TurmoilBarak: Kadima heads incapable of making decisions/ Attila Somfalvi Labor chairman continues to slam. . .

Mazuz: Gov’t must show restraint in negotiations
Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must be careful about using its powers since it is about to resign, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz said Wednesday. Mazuz was replying to queries from MKs Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP), Yuval Steinitz and Limor Livnat (Likud), Attorney Yitzhak Bam of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel and former Third Way Party MK Yehuda Harel. The five had asked Mazuz whether the current government should be considered a transitional government because Olmert has already announced his intention to resign, and whether or not this period should be considered "before elections. " "The government must take a cautious approach in applying the powers of the government and the ministers since the situation has certain characteristics in common with a transitional government," Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz told them.

Hamas: Abbas’s absence from dialogue meant to obstruct Egyptian mediation effort
Palestinian Information Center 9/3/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement has charged that the announcement that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas would not attend the Palestinian national dialog talks in Cairo had reflected his insincerity in ending the internal rift. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that Abbas’s absence is meant to foil the Egyptian effort to mediate between Palestinian factions. He noted that the announcement coincided with a feverish campaign on the part of Abbas and his advisors against Hamas and its supporters in the West Bank along with the ongoing campaign of arrests against those supporters. "This clearly indicates that Abbas is not interested in the dialog or in ensuring success of the Egyptian effort but targets foiling any Palestinian or Arab effort that might re-arrange the internal home and strengthen the internal front," Barhoum elaborated.

Erekat meets Saudi foreign minister in Jedda, discusses talks with Israel
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The chief negotiator of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal in Jedda Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss ongoing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Erekat informed the prince with the latest news about the outcome of the meeting tbetween Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and after the visit of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in August. Erekat stressed that the continuous Israeli invasions, settlement construction, and checkpoints are obstacles to the peace process. The prince assured Erekat that Saudi Arabia will support the Palestinian leadership, saying that achieving peace requires “stamina and time” in order to see the creation of a liberated Palestinian state.

Finnish foreign minister meets Palestinian counterpart
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Palestinian minister of foreign affairs Riyad Al-Maliki met on Wednesday morning with Finish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Al-Maliki briefed the Finish minister on the latest political developments, the results of the last round of high-level Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and Israel’s attempts to sully the peace process. Al-Maliki mentioned Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank and the separation wall. Stubb also met with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. This was Stubb’s first visit to Palestine. He said he hoped the Israeli-Palestinian talks result in a peace agreement. The two also discussed bilateral relations, and educational and economic projects.

Hamas leader in Gaza says Shalit talks frozen, Israel to blame
Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, and AP, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
Hamas’ senior leader in the Gaza Strip says talks on exchanging captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners have frozen, and blames Israel. Mahmoud Zahar says the Egyptian-mediated negotiations have broken down because Israel won’t meet Hamas demands to release prisoners convicted of murdering Israelis. Zahar also said Wednesday that the talks have stalled because Israel and Egypt won’t open their border crossings with Gaza. Both countries sealed the border after Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007. Hamas wants Israel to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier. Israel has balked at Hamas’ demand to release convicted murderers. Hamas-led militants captured Sgt. Gilad Schalit in a cross-border raid two years ago.

’Schalit talks frozen because of Israel’
Ap And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
A senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip said on Wednesday that talks on exchanging kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit for Palestinian prisoners had been frozen. Mahmoud Zahar said that the Egyptian-mediated negotiations had broken down because Israel wouldn’t meet Hamas demands to release prisoners convicted of murdering Israelis. Zahar also said that the talks had stalled because Israel and Egypt wouldn’t open their border crossings with Gaza. Both countries sealed the border after Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007. There was no response from Jerusalem to Zahar’s comments, but the Ramon Committee is set to convene on Sunday to resume discussions on detainees to be traded for Schalit. On Tuesday, Aviva Schalit took to the airwaves and publicly apologized to her son Gilad for failing to secure his release from Gaza, where Hamas has been holding him captive for more than two years.

Hamas: Talks to free Shalit frozen
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Senior Hamas leader says prisoner exchange negotiations at standstill over Israeli, Egyptian refusal to open Rafah crossing - Hamas’ senior leader in the Gaza Strip says talks on exchanging captured soldier Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners have frozen. Mahmoud al-Zahar says the Egyptian-mediated negotiations have broken down because Israel won’t meet Hamas demands to release prisoners convicted of murdering Israelis. Zahar also said Wednesday that the talks have stalled because Israel andEgypt won’t open their border crossings with Gaza. Both countries sealed the border after Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007. Hamas wants Israel to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier. Israel has balked at Hamas’ demand to release convicted murderers.

Zahhar: Talks on prisoner deal with Israel frozen
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Talks have broken down between Israel and Hamas regarding a possible prisoner exchange, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar said on Wednesday. Zahhar told AP that the Egyptian-brokered negotiations have frozen because Israel will not meet Hamas’ demands to release prisoners accused of violent attacks on Israelis. He added that Israel and Egypt’s refusal to open their borders with the Gaza Strip have contributed to the breakdown of negotiations. Israel is seeking the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Gaza-based Palestinian fighters in the summer of 2006. Hamas wants some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed in exchange.

Israeli cabinet to consider compensation for settlers who leave the West Bank
Ma’an News Agency 9/3/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Israeli cabinet will discuss a proposal to compensate Israelis who voluntarily leave West Bank settlements during its weekly meeting on Sunday. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confirmed on Wednesday evening that the proposal, by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, will be discussed but not voted on. On the evacuation-compensation issue Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces opposition from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is the frontrunner to succeed Olmert as chair of the Kadima party. Livni told Israeli media it was too soon to discuss the initiative. [end]

Israeli government to discuss evacuation-compensation bill for settlers east of the Wall
Saed Bannoura & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
Israeli media sources reported on Wednesday that the Israeli cabinet is set to discuss on Sunday a possible "Evacuation and Compensation Bill". The bill proposes offering compensation for settlers living in some West Bank isolated settlements, located east of the Annexation Wall. Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the proposal was authorized by Israel’s Vice Prime Minister, Haim Ramon. The proposal offers financial compensation to the settlers in exchange for relocating into Israel. Ramon added that the proposal will not be voted on as it will only be presented because the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is interested in knowing the opinions of his ministers on the issue. According to the proposal, the settlers who live in settlements east of the Wall will be relocated and compensated as Israel will eventually end its control over these areas in the coming years.

Mofaz slams proposed evacuation-compensation bill for settlers
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) on Wednesday slammed a proposed evacuation-compensation bill for settlers in the West Bank, saying that it would "weaken Israel and its standing in future negotiations with the Palestinians. " Sources close to Mofaz added that holding talks on such an initiative at this point is "surprising". The government will discuss a possible evacuation-compensation bill for settlers in the West Bank during its next cabinet meeting this coming Sunday. The proposal, which was authored by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, would give Israeli residents of the territories the option of relocating to Israel proper in exchange for financial compensation. The Prime Minister’s Bureau announced that the government would not hold a vote on the matter, but rather that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is interested in. . .

Attack victim returns to Jerusalem yeshiva
Kobi Nahshoni, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Naftali Sheetrit, who was critically injured in Mercaz Harav shooting, greeted in moving ceremony half a year after bloody attack. ’This is our greatest revenge,’ says yeshiva source - Six months after the massacre in Mercaz Harav yeshiva’s library, the last attack victim returned Tuesday to a nearby seminary for juveniles. Naftali Sheetrit, 14, who was critically injured in the bloody attack, was hospitalized for months at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and is now in the midst of a long rehabilitation process. The yeshiva’s staff, the rabbis and Naftali’s fellow students greeted him at the seminary in a moving ceremony attended by his parents, the paramedic who attended to him that night, Yitzhak Dadon who killed the terrorist, and ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi Zahav, who identified the bodies of the eight students killed in the attack.

State prohibits right-wing procession in Umm al-Fahm
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Prosecutor’s Office claims before High Court that Itamar Ben-Gvir’s request to parade Israeli flags through Arab city would almost certainly lead to violent riots police would not be able to prevent; activists offered alternate venue for protest -The State Prosecutor’s Office appealed to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir’s demand to hold a right-wing procession in which Israeli flags would be paraded through Umm al-Fahm. According to the prosecution the event could deteriorate into violent riots. The State had been asked to respond to the petition filed by Ben-Gvir against Northern District Commander Shimon Koren and Israel Police after being denied the right to parade in the Arab city. The State responded by stating that previous experience and the level of preparation of police and Shin Bet raised concerns. . .

Egyptians claim compensation from Israel for killing of POWs
The Media Line News Agency, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Egyptian families of prisoners of war (POWs), who were killed in the 1967 War, have filed a lawsuit demanding over $100 million from the Israeli government, the Egyptian Daily Star reported. The Compensations Department at a Cairo Civil Court has postponed to November 1 the hearing of the lawsuit, which was initiated by Sayyid Abu Raya’s family following the broadcast of an Israeli documentary film last year. The soldier’s family is suing Israel’s prime minister, the minister of defense, the chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Israeli ambassador in Egypt for the alleged torture to which Abu Raya was subjected before his death. "This is a very important case, as Israel has completely violated international law and the Geneva Convention regarding POWs," ’Abd Al-’Alim Muhammad, an expert on Israeli studies at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told the Daily Star.

Bethlehem Governor reaches out to farmers at market
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/3/2008
Bethlehem -- Bethlehem Governor Salah Tamari is keeping his promise to combat price gouging and the sale of expired food during the month of Ramadan. He has taken to the streets. Yesterday, Tuesday, several officials joined the district’s governor including Bethlehem Police Colonel Daoud Abu Ghaith, the Director of National Economy Taher Danoun, the Veterinary Service Director, and the Bethlehem Health Director Dr. Mohammad Sobh. The governor and crew toured the Cinema neighborhood in the center of the city and into the Old City to check the marketplace there. They stopped and listened to residents’ complaints about lack of money and poor living conditions. Farmers at the market spoke of the difficulty reaching their farms due to closures, the Wall, settlements and land confiscation. Tamari made it clear that he is eager to communicate with people throughout the Bethlehem Governorate and to follow-up on their concerns.

Palestinian leftist party offers plan to end internal divisions
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/3/2008
As tensions remain high in Gaza between the two major Palestinian parties, Fateh and Hamas, the leftist Palestinian party, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, offers to intervene and help resolve the conflict. The DFLP Secretary-General Nayif Hawatmah presented a proposal in a meeting with Egyptian Minister Omar Suleiman, who is currently responsible and engaged in talks with Palestinian factions to try resolve the internal crisis. The current crisis between the rival Palestinian parties began in 2006 after Hamas was democratically elected to lead the Palestinian caretaker government, which had been subject to the martial law of the Israeli military occupation that rules in the Palestinian Territories. Since Israel refused to recognize the Hamas government after it was elected, Israeli and US authorities began to pressure the democratically-elected government by imposing. . .

Hawatmeh: we need simultaneous legislative and presidential elections
Palestine News Network 9/3/2008
PNN -- With the two governments mired in conflict the leftists drew a new trajectory for the near future which includes simultaneous legislative and presidential elections. The Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Nayef Hawatmeh, called for the formation of a transitional government comprised of independent national figures as a substitute for the governments of Salam Fayyad, representing Fateh in Ramallah, and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in Gaza. The proposed the transitional government would take on work and responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Members would take steps to guarantee the security of the Palestinian people in terms of the internal conflict and enforce the law. This government would also prepare for new elections. Hawatmeh’s proposal comes at the same time as the meeting with Egyptian Intelligence. . .

MK Eldad forms anti-Islam coalition
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Right-wing MK announces some 30 European lawmakers to take part in anti-jihad conference in Jerusalem, says ’the spread of Islam threatens the foundations of the Western civilization. ’ MK El-Sana: Eldad joining school which produced Nazis - A new front being formed by representatives of the Israeli Right and European lawmakers is threatening to ignite flames of hatred. Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party) announced Wednesday that he would be hosting a convention in Jerusalem under the banner, "Standing Up to Jihad. ""The spread of Islam threatens the foundations of Western civilization," he explained, and screened a scene from a film produced by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, which sparked a row in the Arab world several months ago and was banned in many places in Europe.

Possible Mofaz coalition taking shape
Haviv Rettig, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Preliminary discussions among possible coalition partners have informally begun for the two front-runners in the September 17 Kadima primary, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, The Jerusalem Post has learned. According to insiders close to Mofaz, the coalition he would put together if he was chosen to replace outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as Kadima chairman would almost certainly include the Labor Party, and possibly also the National Religious Party. Labor would likely abandon the Education Ministry as a way to dismiss Education Minister Yuli Tamir, an ally of deposed Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz. Instead, Labor would receive the Justice Ministry from Kadima, replacing controversial minister Daniel Friedman with a Labor appointee. To cement its loyalty to the coalition, the NRP would receive the portfolio at the top of its wishlist - the now-available Education Ministry.

Dichter: Cops joining crime organizations after leaving force
Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
Former policemen who served in sensitive positions in the Intelligence and Investigations branch of the police are taking jobs with underworld organizations after they leave the force, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said in a letter released this week. Dichter was replying to a letter from MK Ophir Paz-Pines, head of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, who had called on the state prosecution and the Ministry of Public Security to introduce a cooling-off period before police officers could start working with criminal lawyers in the private sector. Pines expressed concern that police officers who had held sensitive positions in the police force and were in possession of information on what the police did and didn’t know about underworld figures had been known to start playing for the other side after they left the force.

Will Olmert be indicted? Police to begin consolidating evidence Staff And Dan Izenberg, Jerusalem Post 9/4/2008
The heads of the police team investigating affairs allegedly involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet on Thursday and Sunday in order to consolidate the Police’s position and to hand over materials to the State Attorney’s Office. Both the matter of envelopes of cash allegedly given to the prime minister in the period before he held his current position and the "Rishontours" case will be discussed. The aim of the discussion will be to examine and consolidate all evidence in the affairs in which Olmert is suspected, and to determine whether an indictment will be issued in any of the matters. At the meetings’ conclusion police will decide whether they have enough evidence for the State Attorney’s Office to issue an indictment against the prime minister. The prime minister is being investigated in a total of six cases of alleged corruption.

Porush campaign vies for secular vote
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/4/2008
Jerusalem’s religious mayoral candidate hires PR firm to attempt to improve his radical Orthodox image, help him appeal to all sectors of society -In the wake of reports of former Shas Party Chairman Aryeh Deri’s intentions to run for mayor of Jerusalem, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism), who has already announced his candidacy, is attempting to enlist secular voters with a new campaign. Porush has hired the services of ’Spin Public Opinion’ in order to assist him with this aim. One of the reasons for the decision to hire the public relations firm, which formerly led the Pensioner’s Party campaign, is Porush’s shaky status in recent polls, which have been seen to reflect public anxiety over Porush’s radical opinions, considered even more extremist than that of the current mayor, Uri Lupolianski.

Income tax employees again threaten strike
Hadas Magen, Globes Online 9/3/2008
The workers claim the system is not ready for the negative income tax. - "The Israel Tax Authority wants to please the minister of finance and begin applying the negative income plan event though the system isn’t ready," claims Income Tax workers committee chairman Talchum Fridlov. He made the comment in response to the decision by Tax Authority director general Yehuda Nasradishi to activate the plan on September 9. The workers intend to go on strike on Monday in protest and hold a council meeting to decide on their measures. Fridlov said, "We’re negotiating with the Ministry of Finance. Until now, we’ve acted with restraint and out of a sense of duty, and we asked to exhaust the negotiations. But the Tax Authority director general unilaterally, and without consulting us, announced the launch of the negative income tax without us having the manpower or adequate time to prepare to implement it.

Mazuz: Israel’s government may soon be declared ’transitional’
Tomer Zarchin, Ha’aretz 9/3/2008
The country’s uncertain political situation requires the government to use caution in exercising its authority, the attorney general said on Wednesday. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said on Wednesday that while the current government is not a transition government, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s imminent resignation following the Kadima primaries will soon make it such. These unusual circumstances thus obligate the government at this stage to carefully weigh the forcefulness with which it implements its policies, since the cabinet currently is beginning to operate as a transition government. A Mazuz aide issued the statement on his boss’ behalf after members of Knesset and a pro-settler legal group demanded the attorney general instruct Olmert to refrain from making any diplomatic or political moves on the peace front, whether it be signing. . .

Livni: Centrist position is most difficult
Attila Somfalvi, YNetNews 9/3/2008
During election rally foreign minister says ’it’s easy to be rightist, slamming everything, or leftist, not facing realities, but hardest to be centrist’; answers Mofaz’s criticism by calling for evacuation only after Palestinian boundaries are set -Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told supporters at an election rally in Tel Aviv that "it’s easy to be a rightist and criticize everything without offering alternatives. It’s also easy to be a leftist and ignore realities. It’s harder to be a centrist, and the fact that we are centrists is not a coincidence. It’s an ideology. Kadima will not divide the people. " Livni criticized minority groups in Israel and said: "There are certain people who exploit what separates between these groups. There are minority groups here that are certain that a Jewish state clashes with equality.

Ports reel as protests intensify
Sharon Wrobel, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
The crisis at Israel’s ports escalated Tuesday afternoon when employees stopped all work ahead of a hearing at the National Labor Court to solve the dispute. "The situation at the Haifa and Ashdod ports intensified on Tuesday. For the past week, the ports have been operating at 20 to 30 percent capacity, bringing activity at the ports to a near standstill," Reuven Zuk, president of the Israel Shipping Chamber, told The Jerusalem Post. "Tuesday afternoon, the situation escalated as the ports’ workers stopped working to go to Jerusalem and protest in front of the National Labor Court during late-night hearings. " On Monday, the Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC) submitted a request to the National Labor Court against the Histadrut Labor Federation and the government to enforce an injunction and order the port workers to return to work at full capacity.

Port workers win round
Shay Niv, Globes Online 9/3/2008
Judge Steve Adler orders ports reform removed from the budget talks, for now. - National Labor Court Judge Steve Adler last night ordered the Ministry of Finance not to include new port reforms in the 2009 economics arrangements bill that it will distribute to the ministries tomorrow, at least until the next hearing on the subject on September 21. He also ordered the port workers to return to regular work, after a week of disruptions, which included hundreds of workers abandoning their posts last night to hold a demonstration outside the courthouse. Until the date of the next hearing, Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On, Minister of Transport Shaul Mofaz, and Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini will negotiate. Eini has the advantage in these talks, because Mofaz has already said that he wants the reform removed from the economics arrangements bill.

Consumer confidence falls to 4-year low
Noga Shavit-Raz and Avi Temkin, Globes Online 9/3/2008
The index dropped to 69. 2 points in August. The Israel Consumer Confidence Index fell below 70 points for the first time in four years. The index dropped to 69. 2 points in August, its lowest point since February 2004. The Consumer Confidence Index has been falling since the third quarter of 2007, even before there were signs that the economy was entering a slowdown. The index indicates that the public has sensed the economic trends for a long time, even as official macroeconomic data only now shows declines in private consumption and slower growth. The drop in the Consumer Confidence Index in August follows the 3. 4-point drop in July. Most of the decline is due to worsening public assessments about the current and future economic conditions. The decline in assessments about people’s personal economic situation in six months was more moderate.

Wall of Second Temple-era Jerusalem found in Mt. Zion excavations
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
Archaeologists on Wednesday unveiled a 2,100-year-old Jerusalem perimeter wall - along with beer bottles left behind by 19th century researchers who first discovered the stone defenses. The wall, on Mount Zion at the southern edge of Jerusalem’s Old City, dates back to the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C. E. Yehiel Zelinger, who headed the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the location of the wall indicated that Jerusalem had expanded to the south at the time, reaching its largest size in biblical times. The 10. 5-foot high wall was not supported by any mortar or other bonding material and formed part of a 3. 5-mile-long fortification around the city, he said. The present wall around Jerusalem’s Old City is 2.

Wall dating to Second Temple unearthed
Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
The remains of the southern wall of Jerusalem that was built by the Hasmonean kings during the time of the Second Temple have been uncovered on Mount Zion, the Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday. The 2,100-year-old wall, which was destroyed during the Great Revolt against the Romans that began in 66 CE, is located just outside the present-day walls of the Old City and abuts the Catholic cemetery built in the last century where Righteous Gentile Oskar Schindler is buried. The sturdy wall, which is believed to have run 6 km. around Jerusalem, was previously exposed by an American archeologist at the end of the 19th century, the state run archeological body said. The Israeli archeologist who started the ongoing excavation a year-and-a-half ago also uncovered the remains of a city wall from the Byzantine Period (324-640 CE) that was built on top of the Second. . .

Modern Orthodox protest haredi ’discrimination’ in capital
Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
A few dozen modern Orthodox residents of the capital’s Katamonim neighborhood protested on Tuesday, saying the only religious elementary school in their neighborhood is predominantly haredi even though the area’s residents are a mix of modern Orthodox and secular. The dispute is the latest in a series triggered by the growing haredi presence in non-haredi Jerusalem neighborhoods. "In a neighborhood that is a mix of secular and modern Orthodox residents, there is not one state religious school, and instead there is a school that for all intents and purposes is haredi, for pupils who do not even live in the neighborhood," said local resident Rachel Azaria, who is running at the head of the joint secular-modern Orthodox "Yerushalmim" list in the November 11 municipal election. She said the gender-segregated elementary school Darchei Noam operated as a haredi institution even though. . .

Don’t touch our eruv
Neta Sela, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Posts installed in Jerusalem marking Shabbat-friendly areas vandalized, making area "˜non-kosher’. Religious women unable to walk children in strollers, men unable to carry prayer books to synagogue - A religious war has been ensuing in Jerusalem for several months now over the placing of eruv posts (physical or symbolical fences around Jewish areas allowing children, parcels to be carried within its confines on Shabbat) in the city’s various neighborhoods. In the last three weeks, the situation has reached new levels, and every Shabbat a group of anonymous people arrive at the eruv posts and vandalize it by cutting its wires. The "Eruv HaMehudar Committee" (adorned eruv) filed a complaint on the issue at the Jerusalem police department. Sanctifying SabbathPetition: Soldiers serving in Army Radio must not work on Shabbat / Kobi Nahshoni Legal. . .

Arab youth attacked by family for wearing Star of David
Fawzi Abu Toama, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Ar’ara resident tells police his father, brothers beat him for wearing Jewish symbol on his neck, befriending Jews - A 15-year-old resident of the Israeli Arab local council of Ar’ara filed a complaint with the police, claiming that his father and brother beat him for wearing a Star of David on his neck and having Jewish friends. The father was detained for questioning and a court extended his remand. The youth arrived at a local police station over the weekend and asked to file a complaint against his father and brothers, claiming that they had attacked him. The father and brothers were questioned, but released immediately afterwards. According to the police, the teen was beaten again after retuning home, causing him to return to the police station and file a second complaint. A police official said that visible signs of injuries were found on the minor’s body.

Syria pledges help on Iran dispute
Al Jazeera 9/3/2008
Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has pledged to help find a peaceful solution to the nuclear dispute between the West and Iran, warning that any attack on Tehran would be a disaster. The Syrian leader’s comments came on Wednesday, after a meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, who is visiting Damascus - a move seen as improving ties between the two countries. "Nobody in the world will be able to bear the consequences of any action that is not peaceful because it would not result in a solution but in a disaster," al-Assad said after meeting. "Obviously there is a lack of confidence between Iran and the countries involved in this issue," he said. "We will continue our efforts for dialogue. " Sarkozy had called on al-Assad to urge Iran, which has ties with Syria, to. . .

Assad: Any attack on Iran would be a global ’disaster’
Yoav Stern , and News Agencies, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Wednesday that any attack on Iran would be a disaster and he pledged to help find a peaceful solution to the nuclear dispute between the West and Tehran. "Nobody in the world will be able to bear the consequences of any action that is not peaceful because it would not result in a solution but in a disaster," Assad said after meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the Syrian capital. "Obviously there is a lack of confidence between Iran and the countries involved in this issue. We will continue our efforts for dialogue," he said. Sarkozy had asked Assad to use Syria’s ties with its ally Iran to urge the Islamic Republic to cooperate with Western powers over its nuclear program, which they say could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Report: Israeli, Syrian representatives to meet next week
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/3/2008
French source tells al-Hayat newspaper countries’ delegates to meet again in Turkey on Sunday for fifth round of unofficial talks. Source adds President Sarkozy interested in acting as mediator in direct negotiations - The fifth round of Turkish-mediated talks between Israel andSyria is expected to begin Sunday, following a visit by French President Nicolas Sarokozy to Damascus, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported Wednesday, quoting a French source. According to the source, the upcoming round of talks will be "of decisive importance," as it will deal with the demarcation of the border and will determine whether a future peace agreement would be based on the international borderline from 1923 or on the June 4, 1967 lines. The source told al-Hayat that Sarkozy is very interested in playing a role in future direct negotiations between Israel and Syria.

Sarkozy reaches out to Syria on peace
Tovah Lazaroff And Ap, Jerusalem Post 9/3/2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy reached out to Syria in his first visit to the Arab nation Wednesday, seeking to peel Damascus away from Teheran’s influence and offering France’s support for face-to-face peace talks between Syria and Israel. After discussions with President Bashar Assad, the French leader said Paris was ready to sponsor direct talks between the two "when the time comes" and would help in any way it could, if asked. He also stressed that Syria could play a role in persuading its ally Iran to cooperate with the West rather than continue its nuclear standoff. A fifth round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria is scheduled to begin on September 7 in Istanbul, according to reports in the London-based Arabic dailies on Wednesday. Israeli officials said that no date had been set for the resumption of talks, although they expect them to take place in the near future.

Sarkozy holds talks with Assad
Middle East Online 9/3/2008
DAMASCUS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Syria on Wednesday for a two-day visit aimed at sealing a rapprochement with the former colony and giving a push to its renewed peace talks with Israel. Sarkozy went straight to the presidential palace for talks with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad ahead of a four-way summit on the peace process to be joined by Turkish and Qatari leaders on Thursday. Sarkozy was to dine with Assad at a restaurant in Old Damascus. The French president is the first Western head of state to visit since the murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri in a 2005 bombing in Beirut that was widely blamed on Damascus. Syria has hailed the trip as an acknowledgement of its central role in the Middle East peace process. "Today there is a new era between Syria and France based on France’s new policy, a realistic, pragmatic policy that. . .

Israel urges EU to be cautious in dealing with Syria
Middle East Online 9/3/2008
TEL AVIV - Israel on Wednesday urged Europe to exercise utmost caution in dealing with Syria, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy headed to Damascus on the first visit by a Western head of state since 2005. "Europe must be very careful in its relationship with Syria as that country opens up," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. He did not refer directly to the visit to Damascus by Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency. "Except for a slight change in tone, Syrian policies have not changed," Palmor said. Damascus, he said, "continues to support terrorist organisations" -- a reference to the Palestinian democratically elected Hamas movement and the Lebanese Hezbollah. Both Hamas and Hezbollah consider Israel a terrorist state. The spokesman also accused Syria of "exacerbating the diplomatic tension between Russia and Europe.

Foreign Ministry warns Europe against Syria
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/3/2008
On eve of French president’s visit to Damascus, Israeli official cautions EU against restoring ties with Syria, says country’s major policies remain unaltered -Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Yigal Palmor warned Wednesday that "the Europeans should be very careful when they consider restoring their ties with Syria. " Ahead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s upcoming visit to Damascus, Palmor said that "the Syrian policies have remained unchanged - whether in terms of its support for terror groups, the violent oppression of its dissidents in Lebanon and the exploitation of the tensions between Russia and the West. " Sarkozy is expected to arrive in Damascus in favor of a summit focusing on the in indirect pease talks between Israel and Syria. The French president is scheduled to meet with Syrian President

Iran and the left in Latin America
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times 9/4/2008
Bolivian President Evo Morales is in Tehran this week, ushering in a new chapter in his country’s economic and strategic cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has promised a hefty investment in Bolivia’s energy sector and other joint ventures, some involving other Latin and Central American countries, such as Venezuela and Nicaragua, not to overlook Cuba. In a joint communique, Morales and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad have signed off on the need for "concrete political steps against every type of imperialism", while also condemning the intervention of the United Nations Security Council in Iran’s nuclear program as "lacking any legal or technical justification". Bolivia may be a poor country, but it is strategically located and represents an important ally for Iran that can act as a catalyst in enhancing Iran’s growing cooperation with other Latin nations, especially those considered leftist or populist.

IRAQ: Health Ministry confirms cholera cases
IRIN, IRIN - UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 9/3/2008
BAGHDAD, 3 September 2008 () - At least five cholera cases have been confirmed in Baghdad and the southern province of Maysan, due to soaring temperatures and rundown water plants, the Health Ministry said on 2 September. "Four cases have been confirmed in Baghdad and the fifth one has been confirmed in Maysan province. Of those, three are children younger than 10 years and the others are adults," Ihssan Jaafar, general director of the Health Ministry’s general health directorate, told. "Only one death has been registered among these cases so far and that was a three-year-old boy in Maysan, while the rest of the cases are still under treatment," Jaafar added. Maysan is about 350km south of Baghdad. Jaafar blamed the drinking water, which is often contaminated by sewage due to rundown sewage systems and water treatment plants, forcing poor residents to rely on rivers or stagnant water.

US troops ‘mistakenly’ kill six Iraqi forces
Middle East Online 9/3/2008
BAGHDAD - US forces killed six Iraqi security personnel north of Baghdad on Wednesday, Iraqi officials said, in an incident which the American military said was a case of "mistaken fire". The shooting erupted at a joint Iraqi police and army checkpoint in the town of Tarmiyah at around 5:00 am (0200 GMT) Wednesday, interior and defence ministry officials said. The US military confirmed the incident and said there was an exchange of fire between the coalition and Iraqi forces when its troops were conducting operations against Al-Qaeda. It gave no immediate confirmation of the death toll. "It is always regrettable when incidents of mistaken fire occur on the battlefield," the military said in a statement. "A review of the circumstances is under way. "Print

Palestinian Rights Committee approves provisional work programme for December meeting to be held in Chile; approves Nicaragua’s membership request
United Nations General Assembly, ReliefWeb 9/2/2008
Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People 311th Meeting - The Palestinian Rights Committee, hearing a briefing on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, today approved the provisional programme for a United Nations meeting in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace, to be held in Santiago, Chile, in December. It also agreed to forward to the General Assembly a request by Nicaragua for membership in that body, formally known as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Providing an update of the Committee’s activities since its last meeting, on 14 July, Chairman Paul Badji of Senegal drew attention to a 22 July debate in the Security Council in which he expressed the Committee’s serious concern about Israel’s continuing settlement activities and plans to build more than 3,000 apartments in and around East Jerusalem.

17 Georgians wounded in Caucasus war to be treated in Israel
Meital Yasur-Beit Or, YNetNews 9/3/2008
Israel’s humanitarian aid to war-ridden Georgia continues, as it flies seriously injured men, women in for medical treatment in leading hospitals -Seventeen Georgian citizens, who suffered severe injuries in the recent armed conflict between Russia and Georgia arrived inIsrael on Tuesday night, in order to receive medical treatment. The wounded are categorized as suffering serious injuries, with most presenting sever head, chest and abdomen wounds. More than 10 ambulances were waiting in the Ben-Gurion International Airport on Tuesday, as the wounded arrived. Five were taken to Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, and the rest were admitted to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Kfar Saba’s Meir Hospital, the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical, Haemek Medical Center in Afula and the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.

Jordan ’honour killings’ cover for other crimes
Middle East Online 9/3/2008
AMMAN - When 18-year-old Maha decided that she wanted to quit her family’s prostitution ring, her brother killed her and alleged it was to "cleanse" the family’s honour. Maha is one of hundreds of women in Jordan and other conservative societies who rights groups say are killed every year by their male relatives in so-called honour crimes for "sullying" the reputation of their families. The United Nations has reported such crimes in Brazil, Britain, Ecuador, India, Israel, Italy, Sweden and Uganda as well as in nations such as Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey. Accurate figures on such killings are hard to come by because they often go unreported. In Jordan, between 15 and 20 women are murdered annually in the name of "honour" and at least eight such killings have been reported so far this year, according to Jordanian authorities.


Palestinian Village Faces Army Reign of Terror
Jonathan Cook, Middle East Online 9/3/2008
      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 centre 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.

Israelis hinder academic pursuits

Osama Dawoud, Palestine Think Tank 9/3/2008
      Not many people in the Gaza Strip spend their time thinking about Utah’s Great Salt Lake. I have been dreaming of it for months. This year, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Utah to study in the department of civil and environmental engineering. Palestinians in Gaza suffer from critical water and environmental contamination problems. I planned to focus my Utah education on water resources and environmental engineering so that I could return home and help to alleviate these problems. But I will not be attending this fall. On the basis of secret evidence conveyed by the Israeli government, my American visa was canceled.
     I am a scientist dedicated to advancing the well-being of the Palestinian people. Yet despite playing by the educational rules and excelling in the academic arena, I am being hurt by an Israeli government that has bottled Palestinians up in Gaza rather than allowing them to pursue opportunities abroad. Hundreds of students in Gaza have been accepted to foreign universities but are nonetheless prevented from attending by Israel.

Bishop Attallah Hanna: a Palestinian Christian Hero

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank 9/3/2008
      I met a teacher on the train during one of my trips from Bristol to London; she was very kind and she encouraged me to start a conversation. This I can assure you does not happen much. We started to talk about different issues to break the silence and the dull and cold atmosphere that was wrapping the two-hour trip.
     I found out that she was a music teacher, and that she was working on compiling an international album about children’s lullabies in different countries. She asked me about my country and where I came from and what kind of lullabies we have. I dare not tell her that maybe my generation was the last to hear lullabies, Palestinian children got used to being awakened by the Israeli bombing most nights.
     I talked about traditional Palestinian music and songs. And without noticing, I found myself telling her about the top Arab Lebanese singer Fayrooz, and the songs she has contributed for Palestine and the Palestinian children.

The Taste of Occupation

Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 9/1/2008
      Palestinian youth from Aida Camp have subverted advertisements for Strauss in the West Bank.
     Strauss, an Israeli company that manufactures sweets, coffee and other food products has spread its advertising campaign into the West Bank. Strauss has been pushing its brand of ice cream this summer, using a particular billboard that has become ubiquitous along main streets in major Palestinian cities.
     Palestinian youth for the Aida Camp near Bethlehem have creatively changed the wording of the advertisement of Strauss billboards in Bethlehem. Billboards formally reading, " cream" now promote the message, " cream with the taste of occupation." A number of billboards in the Bethlehem area have been changed in this manner.
     Through movement restrictions and military control of all borders, the Occupation maintains full control over the Palestinian economy. Israeli companies often take advantage of this situation to dump excess products into what have essentially become captive markets. This lucrative practice is especially damaging to Palestinian farmers and small businessmen, who are not only barred from transporting their goods but are also undercut by cheap Israeli products.

Expenses and Politics Overshadow the Joy of Ramadan

Joharah Baker, MIFTAH 9/3/2008
      Every year Palestinians along with the wider Muslim world, observe the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan. This year, according to the lunar calendar, Ramadan began on September 1, the same day as the new school year. While Ramadan is designed to primarily be a month of fasting, prayer and meditation, it is also a time when families get together to enjoy elaborate meals and desserts, and ironically when food becomes the main focus of the day.
     This would be fine if it were not for the economic slump Palestinians are in today. With the extra expenses of Ramadan coupled with all the necessities of the new school year, most Palestinian families are feeling the financial crunch. For many, instead of being a month of family bonding, good food and enjoyment, Ramadan this year is a financial burden. And for those who have somehow overcome the financial load of the month, the political situation is sure to put a damper on their festivities.
     While Ramadan usually means families spend more money on food, especially since there are more communal dinners with elaborate and meat-laden dishes, this year the burden is even heavier with the rise in prices. Palestinians everywhere are complaining that the price of basic foods such as meat, bread and rice have shot up astronomically. At the same time, salaries are either the same or amount to less with the devaluation of the US dollar. In some instances, they have not been paid at all like in the case of Palestinian Authority civil servants.

Palestinians Calculating Next Move: Coexistence with Occupation Not an Option

Sam Bahour, MIFTAH 9/3/2008
      Palestinians have been historically outmaneuvered, politically neutralized, and made totally dependent on international handouts. Or have they?A newly released Palestinian strategy document which outlines strategic political options gives witness to a renewed breath of fresh air in the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom and independence.
     After 60 years of dispossession and 40 years of a brutal Israeli military occupation, many of the world’s power brokers are convinced that the Palestinians are successfully being forced into submission and acceptance of the colossal injustices that have been carried out against them.
     Leading the choir is the U.S. and its Israeli ally, along with several undemocratic Arab regimes.
     On the political front, they continue to take great pride in a never-ending “peace process” that has created a peace industry in Palestine, all underwritten by taxpayers from around the world. This peace process has no intention of realizing peace with justice, but rather looks to fragment Palestinians’ national aspirations into bite-sized pieces with state-like trappings -- the antithesis of a state with real sovereignty, let alone self-determination.

The Evolving Facts of Life

Yossi Alpher, MIFTAH 9/2/2008
      A brief perusal of headlines in the regional media would appear to confirm that, of the two main Palestinian movements, Fateh and Hamas, the latter has recently been the object of the most attention from Israel’s neighbors, particularly Egypt and Jordan.
     To be sure, Palestinian Authority/Fateh leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) periodically makes the rounds of regional capitals to update leaders about the peace process with Israel. And in Cairo, Riyadh, Doha and Sanaa he discusses possible mediation for renewed unity talks with Hamas. No one refuses to see him and he is treated with respect. But then nothing happens.
     On the other hand, Jordan recently renewed its relations with Hamas after nearly a decade of alienation and despite its charges of out-and-out sedition against Hamas two years ago. And Egypt persists in mediating first ceasefire and then prisoner-exchange talks between Hamas and Israel. One is left with the impression that Arab recognition of PLO leadership of the Palestinian people is increasingly pro-forma and ritualistic.

Gilad Atzmon - ''The Wandering Who?''

Gilad Atzmon, Palestine Think Tank 9/2/2008
      Tel Aviv University historian, Professor Shlomo Sand, opens his remarkable study of Jewish nationalism quoting Karl W. Deutsch:
     "A nation is a group of people united by a common mistake regarding its origin and a collective hostility towards its neighbours" [1]
     As simple or even simplistic as it may sound, the quote above eloquently summarises the figment of reality entangled with modern Jewish nationalism and especially within the concept of Jewish identity.  It obviously points the finger at the collective mistake Jews tend to make whenever referring to their "˜illusionary collective past’ and "˜collective origin’. Yet, in the same breath, Deutsch’s reading of nationalism throws light upon the hostility that is unfortunately coupled with almost every Jewish group towards its surrounding reality, whether it is human or takes the shape of land. While the brutality of the Israelis towards the Palestinians has already become rather common knowledge, the rough treatment Israelis reserve for their "˜promised soil’ and landscape is just starting to reveal itself. The ecological disaster the Israelis are going to leave behind them will be the cause of suffering for many generations to come. Leave aside the megalomaniac wall that shreds the Holy land into enclaves of depravation and starvation, Israel has managed to pollute its main rivers and streams with nuclear and chemical waste.

Meet the Lebanese Press: Syria and the Salafis

Hicham Safieddine, Electronic Lebanon, Electronic Intifada 9/2/2008
      Lebanese-Syrian relations witnessed a turnaround this month. The visit by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to Damascus culminated in a declaration to establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time. Promises were made to intensify efforts to resolve long-standing disputes around delineating the borders and uncovering the fate of dozens of Lebanese who disappeared during the civil war and are believed to be imprisoned in Syria.
     Relations are far from returning to what they were prior to the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, but stronger ties with Lebanon could further break attempts at isolating Syria by the US, Israel and the "moderate" Arab regimes, in particular Saudi Arabia. Mending fences with the Lebanese political elites coincided with Syrian efforts to strengthen military ties with Russia in the wake of the Georgian conflict and revelations that.
     Israel made a major contribution to the training and arming of Georgian forces.

Obama’s Zionist Wannabe Veep

Robert Weitzel - Madison, WI, Palestine Chronicle 9/2/2008
      Senator Joseph Biden: ’I am a Zionist.’ (Photo: AP) "If I were a Jew, I would be a Zionist. I am a Zionist. You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist." - Senator Joseph Biden Considering the last eight years and the current (viable) options, I’ll admit to wanting Barak Obama in the White House in January. Undoubtedly, more people around the world will have a better chance of surviving the next four years with his finger on—or rather off—the button. However . . .
     For all of Obama’s campaign promises of "change," his choice of Joseph Biden as his running mate sends a clear signal to Israel’s lobby in Washington and its right-wing government in Jerusalem that for the next four years there will be no change in the United States’ unconditional support or its annual $6 billion in direct and indirect aid.
     Predictably, neither will there be a change in the hopelessness and the impotent rage of the Arabs suffering under a U.S.-supported Zionist ideology in Palestine.