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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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6 September 2008

Movement to Jerusalem restricted for Muslims on first Friday of Ramadan
Maan News, Palestine Monitor 9/5/2008
Jerusalem - Ma’an - Hundreds of citizens crowded at the Rachel’s Tomb (Gilo) checkpoint early Friday morning seeking entry into Jerusalem in order to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. The checkpoint, north of Bethlehem, is the official crossing for Palestinians between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli authorities imposed severe restrictions on movement, and deployed thousands of policemen and army soldiers around the Old City of Jerusalem, where IDs and permits were checked at all of the entrance points to the area. Several roads were closed leading to the Old City, and many had to disembark from busses and park cars in order to walk to the site. Israeli authorities said that men under the age of 45 were forbidden to enter Jerusalem.

West Bank water crisis
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 9/6/2008
Jenin -- Local and international institutions gathered to discuss the West Bank water crisis which has reached new depths this year. Palestinian organizations appealed to the international community to provide urgent financial assistance to vulnerable and affected populations. The Palestinian Hydrologists Group, Agricultural Relief, the Farmers Union and French, Spanish and Swedish institutions comprise the EWASH Foundation which issued a statement calling for inclusive access to safe water. EWASH is working rapidly to implement emergency projects in the face of an acute water shortage. Rain fell at just 45 percent compared to past years. Some families are now paying 30 to 40 percent of their monthly income to fill water tanks for the minimum supply of water. By international standards a family should not spend more than three to five percent of the monthly income on water.

Israeli security officials commend PA’s efforts to crack down on Hamas
Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
The Palestinian Authority’s security forces have shown marked improvement in their action against Hamas and Islamic Jihad recently, according to Israeli security officials. A particularly dramatic change has taken place over the past month in an area in which the PA had not been previously active - dealing with the Islamic charity and civilian associations considered to constitute Hamas’ civilian infrastructure. In recent weeks, the PA has managed to take control of a number of major charity organizations in Nablus and Hebron, areas that in the past were considered bastions of Hamas power. Meanwhile, the Palestinian security forces are continuing to apprehend wanted men affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In Nablus, the PA has taken over a group of charity associations known as Tadamun (solidarity). The Hamas-operated organization includes a network of clinics, schools and other institutions.

Abbas ’doubtful’ peace deal viable by 09’ deadline
Ali Waked, YNetNews 9/6/2008
Palestinian president meets with Egyptian counterpart in Cairo, skeptical of Washington timetable for peace accord with Israel. ’Any settlement must address all core issues,’ says Abbas, including sovereignty over Jerusalem, refugees right of return - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he remains doubtful that Israel and the Palestinian Authority can agree on a peace deal by the end of the current year. Speaking to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday afternoon, Abbas said that despite the efforts invested by both sides since the Annapolis Peace Conference in late 2007 there was little chance of realizing the 2008 deadline. " The solution we Palestinian want must provide a permanent solution to all the core issues, not one of the six should be postponed," said Abbas. He stressed that there was no truth to reports that the PA would accept rule over. . .

Israeli newspaper: Israel intends to build 2,000 settlement units in Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli Yerushalayim weekly newspaper reported that the IOA is intending to build 2,000 settlement units in the Pisgat Ze’ev settlement, north of occupied Jerusalem, after finishing paving an avenue which connects the settlement with Jerusalem. According to the newspaper, immediately after finishing paving the new street, tenders will be published in newspapers for the building of the new settlement units. An Israeli settlement committee had demanded the alleviation of traffic congestion through paving the new street before building the new settlement units; whereas, an Israeli company called Morey had begun its paving works in the street in 2007. [end]

Egypt no longer involved with Shalit’s case
George Rishmawi, International Middle East Media Center News 9/6/2008
The case of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is no longer being handled by the Egyptian mediators, said Khaled Abdul Majeed, secretary General of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front. He added that Norway and Switzerland are now following up talks over Shalit’s case instead of Egypt, which failed to reach an agreement between Shalit’s captives and Israel. Abdul Majeed, who is based in Damascus, said that the reason behind the deterioration between Egypt and Hamas movement is that Egypt functions according to "American instructions," which according to him is a big concern for Hamas. He said "There is a feeling among Hamas leaders that Egypt is pressuring Hamas only, and it is believed that the internal dialogue being held in Egypt between Hamas and Fatah will not be fruitful because of the bias of the mediators in favor of the Palestinian Authority (Fatah).

Struggle continues on the first Friday of Ramadan
Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Stop The Wall 9/6/2008
On the first Friday of Ramadan, Palestinians continued to fight for their stolen lands while the Occupation sealed off Jerusalem. While demonstrations continued in Ni’lin, al-Ma’sra and Bi’lin, Occupation forces restricted Palestinian access to Jerusalem and prevented Palestinians from praying at the al-Aqsa mosque. In Ni’lin, villagers marched to their threatened lands to hold Friday prayers. The Occupation deployed an estimated 200 soldiers in Ni’lin, and this force fired upon the demonstration after prayers had finished, injuring a number of children and elderly villagers. As has become routine, soldiers targeted the families of the village, firing tear gas into their homes. After confrontations eased, a number of villagers took their iftar meal on the threatened land. In Ma’sra, villagers carried out their weekly demonstration.

Palestinian Chief Justice calls for lift of restrictions at Al-Aqsa
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an - The Chief Justice of Palestine and Chairman of the Supreme Council called on Israeli authorities to lift the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which prevent them from praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Sheikh Taysir At-Tamimiaccused Israeli authorities of preventing Palestinians from their right to freedom of worship, and condemned the increase in restrictions and barriers erected on Friday where they prevent Muslims from entering the city of Jerusalem and pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque where all these practices oppose the freedom of worship. During the month of Ramadan, which is meant to me a reflective and spiritual time, said At-Tamimi, the increased presence of the Israeli military is disturbing. "Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories,” said a statement from At-Tamimi sent. . .

Palestinian MK condemns Israeli procedures at Friday checkpoints
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Member of the Israeli Knesset for the Islamic Movement and the United Arab Bloc Ibrahim Abdullah sent a recorded message to Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter requesting the removal of restrictions for Muslims going to pray in Jerusalem. In the message Abdullah condemned the restrictions put in place starting on Friday. The new policies ban men under 45 and women under 35 from entering Jerusalem. Even then men under 50 and women under 45 must apply for permits if they wish to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque. Overlong lines and hostile treatment marked the first Friday of Ramadan as Palestinians from the West Bank queued at the Rachel’s Tomb (Gilo) and Qalandia checkpoints, only to be searched thoroughly or turned home. Cars were prohibited and elderly citizens had to walk long distances to public transport.

One year after the Israeli Supreme Court Ruling, Bi’lin still resists against the Wall
Palestine Monitor, Palestine Monitor 9/6/2008
6 September 2008On Friday the 5th of September, Bi’lin village was commemorating the first anniversary of the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice’s decision by carrying non-violent protest against the apartheid Wall. Last year, the Supreme Court stated that the separation Wall running through the village of Bil’in was illegal; emphasizing that the Wall should be moved back to a distance of 500 meters from the Israeli settlement, which is built on Bili’n’s land. This decision -that is yet not implemented on the ground- was supposed to return 1. 100 dunums to the farmers, about 50 % of the land that has been confiscated in 2004 after the building of the Wall, and stops future settlement building. Although the ruling was issued one year ago, the State of Israel only issued an alternative path of the Wall in July 2008.

B’Tselem to Attorney General: Stop reckless use of rubber-coated steel bullets
International Solidarity Movement 9/6/2008
Ramallah Region - Photos - B’Tselem’s data indicate that security forces have adopted a practice of reckless firing of rubber-coated steel bullets in the West Bank, killing two Palestinians and injuring many more since the beginning of the year. Since the intifada began, 21 Palestinians have been killed by rubber-coated steel bullet fire, a measure that is meant to be non-lethal. The organization has requested Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to stop the illegal firing and prosecute both soldiers and police officers who violate the Open-Fire Regulations and commanders who condone the trigger-happy attitude. Early this morning, "˜Awwad Sadeq Sror, a mentally disabled father of four from Ni’lin, was severely injured when a soldier fired a cylinder containing three rubber-coated steel bullets at him from short range.

Five British aid organizations blacklisted by Israel; workers now risk arrest
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Israeli Embassy in London gave warning to the British Government that nationals working in Palestine could be arrested for alleged links with Hamas, the party currently in control of the Gaza Strip, and labeled as a “terrorist organization” by several Western countries. British aid workers, and Palestinians employed by Muslim Aid, Human Appeal International, Muslim Hands, Human Relief Foundation and Educational Aid for Palestinian could face problems with Israeli security now that their organizations have been accused of being part of a fundraising network for Hamas. The Times of London reported that the organizations, all registered charities, rejected the accusations of links with Haas, and have called on the British government to have the ban on their organizations lifted. An Israeli Embassy spokesperson was quoted as saying “Israel in principle deserves the right to protect the lives of our citizens.

Mandela calls for the release of Palestinian researcher
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
JENIN, (PIC)-- The Mandela institute catering for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation authority jails on Saturday asked the human and legal rights groups to pressure the IOA to release Ibrahim Abul Haija, the Palestinian researcher and writer. A statement by lawyer Buthaina Dakmak, the institute’s chairperson, charged that Abu Al-Haija’s administrative detention, without trial or charge, was in continuation of the IOA’s war on freedom of opinion and expression. She recalled that the IOA detained Abul Haija, who is well known political analyst, from his home in Jenin six months ago and sentenced him to administrative custody for six months. He was not interrogated or charged during his detention, the lawyer noted, adding that the court of appeals refused to release him at the pretext of "secret evidence" against him.

Saturday report: Israeli authorities deliberately mistreat Palestinians during prison transport
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/6/2008
Gaza -- A report issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Saturday indicates that torturous conditions are the norm during transport. "Prisoners are waiting in trucks for over five hours without food, water or ventilation in the summer, and without heat during the winter. The ill suffer even more as they are chained in twos. " The Ministry writes that "Israeli prison authorities deliberately exercise various forms of maltreatment and torture against Palestinian prisoners in order to pressure them and weaken their morale while being transported. "Today’s report is focusing on transport between prisons and to and from court or the hospital. "The prison administration will not inform the imprisoned of the transfer to a new location until the night before so there is not adequate time for him to prepare himself.

Palestinian Reform Bloc praises European Parliament for condemning Israeli violations
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The change and reform bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) praised the demands of the European Parliament for the release of Palestinian prisoners , particularly PLC and ministerial prisoners detained in Israeli jails. The bloc praised the statement issued by the European Parliament that held Israel responsible for the violation of human rights, international law and the Geneva Convention. They said that the statement was considered an appropriate way to pressure Israel to release these prisoners, considering these detentions a crime against humanity. The bloc called on the European Parliament to exercise more pressure on Israel so they might eventually release the more than 11,000 detainees. The bloc stressed the importance of releasing detained PLC member Dr Aziz Dweik, on account of his poor health.

Official Israeli radio bans ad critical of Gaza siege
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/6/2008
The Israeli national broadcasting Authority has refused to allow radio stations in Israel to air ads sponsored by Israeli peace groups that criticize Israel’s 15-month long siege on the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. The siege, which is in direct violation of the responsibilities of an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention (signed by Israel in 1953), affects 1. 4 million civilians in Gaza -- forcing them to live in dire poverty without access to proper medical care, and with chronic shortages of food and fuel. Nearly 150 patients have died due to the Israeli siege, when Israeli authorities refused to allow them to exit the Gaza Strip for needed medical treatment. New radio ads produced by the Israeli peace group, Gisha, point out one often-forgotten piece of the siege: the hundreds of students enrolled in universities abroad, who will experience serious. . .

Al-Khudari: Israel destroying Gaza industrial sector; 70 million USD in losses per month
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The crisis in Gaza’s industrial sectors has continued to escalate despite the truce, since Israel has prevented any raw materials from entering the area, said chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege Jamal Al-Khudari on Saturday. Al-Khudari, who is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, sent a press release outlining the Israeli policies that lead to the closure of 3,900 factories and workshops in the Gaza Strip, leaving 70,000 Gazans unemployed. Despite continuous calls and efforts to place pressure on Israel, said Al-Khudari, plastic, wood, chemicals, wools and woods have not been allowed in to the Strip to allow factories to run. Losses are estimated at 70 million US dollars monthly from the factory sales alone, not including indirect losses. These facts are evidence of an Israeli plan to paralyze one of the pillars of Palestinian. . .

Anti-siege committee: A new sea trip to break the siege is due during September
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
BRUSSELS, (PIC)-- The popular committee against the siege stated that a new sea trip to break the Israeli siege is due to arrive in the Gaza Strip during this month coming from Cyprus, adding that the boats would be boarded by European lawmakers, doctors and international figures. In a press release, the committee pointed out that the doctors would stay in Gaza to carry out surgeries and would help in alleviating the suffering of many patients. The committee said that the boats are expected to take the stranded activists who could not leave Gaza in addition to a number of Palestinians. Free Gaza activists had confirmed their intention to organize many trips to Gaza to break the siege, saying after their successful first arrival in the Strip that the way became clear to deliver humanitarian assistance and to ferry people in and out of the Strip.

Abbas from Cairo: no signs of agreement for 2008
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised the efforts of Egypt to support the Palestinian issue, and said that Egypt is exerting all efforts regarding Palestinian dialogue. Abbas’ comments came during a press conference Sunday after his meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, with whom he had been conferencing on the dialogue and updates in the Palestinian situation. "Egypt wants to reach through dialogue a unified view for the sake of the Palestinian factions,” Abbas said. A concept paper for unity and dialogue, he added, will be “submitted to the League of the Arab States, and published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA. The President pointed out that suggestion of deployment of Arab troops into Gaza would be discussed at a later date, and was not on the agenda of his current trip.

Abbas arrives in Cairo for talks with Mubarak
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 9/5/2008
CAIRO, Sep 05, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network)-- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived here on Friday for talks with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on the inter-Palestinian feud, the Egyptian MENA news agency reported. During the talks scheduled for Sept. 6, the two leaders will discuss the Egyptian mediation efforts to help heal the inter- Palestinian rift among rival Palestinian factions, particularly between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah. The Palestinian factions, under the auspices of Egypt, are expected to start a comprehensive national dialogue immediately after Eid Al-Fitr (Lesser Bairam) holiday, said the report. In the past months, Egypt has been trying to broker a Palestinian reconciliation after it succeeded in brokering a ceasefire in June between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement which rules Gaza.

Mallouh’s exit strategy: simultaneous legislative and presidential elections
PNN, Palestine News Network 9/6/2008
Cairo -- The internal divide between the two operating governments continues to wreak havoc on Palestinian affairs. The Assistant Secretary-General of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Abdel Rahim Mallouh, said on Saturday that the cure to the crisis is creating a "consensus to hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections. "He said that without this "we will be giving ourselves a hellish lesson. "Cairo is hosting initial, individual factional meetings before the onset of the comprehensive national dialogue slated to begin after Eid Al Fitr which comes at the close of the month of Ramadan. Mallouh told the press that "no issues can be resolved without internal reconciliation. "In the face of the internal breakdown, Palestinian negotiators from Ramallah continue to deal with the Israelis, while several statements have been issued indicating. . .

Palestinian People’s Party delegation in Egypt for reconcilliation talks
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) delegation headed by secretary-general Bassam As-Salihi arrived in Cairo on Saturday. The delegation is set to follow up with the Palestinian and national reconciliation talks that started last week. The delegation is scheduled to meet with Egyptian minister of intelligence Omar Sulaiman along with other Egyptian and Arab League officials. Discussion will center on the possible mechanisms to ending the internal Palestinian divisions. The People’s Party expressed eagerness to suggest ideas for restoring national unity, and said that all factions would have to work seriously in order to arrive at a solution. Arab participation, they added, would be necessary to help broker and sustain unity. The PPP also highlighted that rivals should stop media incitement campaigns as well as political detentions.

De facto government security disperse teachers strike in Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – De facto government security services in the Gaza Strip forcibly dispersed a sit-in strike of teachers near the Unknown Soldier statute in Gaza City on Saturday. The strike was called by the Islamic union of teachers as a protest against Hamas impeding the educational process in the Gaza Strip. De facto government security services assaulted teachers and detained educational supervisor Muhammad Shallah who was scheduled to deliver a speech. Coordinator of the sit-in Anwar Jaradah commented that teachers had the right to practice their legal right to strike. “We refuse that the Ramallah-based government cuts salaries of employees if they do not go on strike, as we refuse that the Gaza-based government dismiss employees if they go on strike,” Jaradah explained. He warned that more than quarter million Palestinian students in the strip were not receiving education at schools.

Gaza Strip: Hamas disperses teachers’ strike
Ali Waked, YNetNews 9/6/2008
Educators loyal to the Islamic Jihad protest Hamas involvement in academic institutions. Meanwhile Hamas slams doctors’ strike, claims several have died due to lack of medical treatment - Hamas security forces forcefully dispersed a crowd of 150 teachers loyal to the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. The teachers were protesting against Hamas’ involvement in the education system, and the firing of teachers loyal to rival faction Fatah. The Islamic Jihad vehemently denounced the scattering of the demonstration. Hamas security officials and Gaza police said the demonstration was scattered because its organizers did not receive the necessary permits to hold it. According to the organizers, several protesters were arrested. The teachers claimed that about a quarter million students are suffering from disruptions in their studies. . .

Peres: ''terrorist'' organizations like Hamas do not belong in democratic elections
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli president Shimon Peres said on Friday that Hamas should not be given the opportunity to participate in Palestinian elections unless they abandon what he called their “terrorism track. ”Israeli radio quoted Peres as saying, “Hamas practices shooting, murder, religious and military oppression in the Gaza Strip which is contradictory to democracy. ”[end]

Peres: Hamas should not participate in any future elections
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
ROME, (PIC)-- The Israeli president, Shimon Peres, has said that the Hamas Movement should be barred from participating in any future elections in the Palestinian lands unless it renounces what he called "terrorism" in reference to resistance against occupation. Speaking on Friday alongside PA chief Mahmoud Abbas at the Ambrosetti Forum, an annual gathering of global political and business leaders in northern Italy, Peres claimed that Hamas was pursuing practices "contrary to democratic principles" in Gaza. Shifting to another question, the Israeli president said that he did not support the idea of attacking Iran, but said that he backed stricter international penalties against it. In his speech, he also said that he backed direct talks between the Syrian and Israeli leaderships.

Haneyya: Arab troops are welcome in Gaza for the liberation of Palestine
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Prime minister of the PA caretaker government Ismail Haneyya affirmed on Friday that Gaza Strip wasn’t in need of Arab troops, adding that those troops were most welcome if they come to liberate the West Bank, Jerusalem, and all occupied Palestine. Haneyya’s remarks were made during a rally to honor 2500 Palestinian students who finished memorizing the holy Quaran within two months, underlining, "We are in need of an Arab role to support and bolster the steadfastness of the Palestinian people against the unjust siege, and to back up the Palestinian people in challenging the Israeli-American arrogance in the region". "What we need is an Arab chivalry to break the siege and to open the crossing points before the Palestinian people"¦ this is what we need; we don’t need Arab troops to destroy Palestinian resoluteness", Haneyya stressed.

Hamas: Arming Abbas’s security reward for its role in liquidating resistance
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
Gaza, (PIC)-- Hamas said that the Israeli occupation authority’s delivery of 1,000 machineguns to the PA security apparatuses loyal to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas was meant as a reward for those apparatuses’ efforts in protecting Israel’s security. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release on Saturday that Israel wanted to reward the PA security apparatuses "for their distinctive role in preserving Israelis security and for their big role in liquidating Palestinian opposition and resistance". He said that the step was bolstering one party against the other, deepening internal rift and increasing quelling of freedoms in the West Bank. [end]

Fatah leader: Abbas’s security apparatuses protect Israeli citizens
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Husam Khader, the newly released prominent Fatah leader, said that the PA security apparatuses in the West Bank turned into parties protecting the security of Israeli citizens while Israel gives nothing in return, warning that there might be "another coup" against the PA in Ramallah. In a press statement to the Israeli Haaretz newspaper, Khader castigated PA chief Mahmoud Abbas for negotiating with Israel, saying that the coup might occur because Abbas has achieved nothing in the framework of his talks with the Israeli occupation for two years, while his security apparatuses are indulged in protecting the security of Israel. The Fatah leader underlined that anyone succeeding Abbas, who believes in negotiations and settlement process, would find himself before two options, either to resign or to start another intifada.

Egyptian police destroy three smuggling tunnels to Gaza
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egyptian security found three smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Food products and fuel were found inside the tunnels. According to Egyptian security, the Egyptian entrances to the tunnels were destroyed, though all smugglers escaped to the Palestinian side of the border unharmed. [end]

Jordan and Lebanon refuse to become alternate Palestinian homelands
Zvi Bar''el, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
Every time Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office in Jerusalem, two individuals in the region stretch their necks to the limit, as though straining to hear whether anything new is happening. One neck is that of King Abdullah of Jordan, the other is the collective Lebanese neck. With reports about the Israeli proposals to the Palestinians replete with hints about progress on the issues of the refugees and border demarcation, Jordan and Lebanon have cause for concern - particularly with regard to the refugee question. "The Jordanian option does not exist," King Abdullah made a point of declaring last week in an interview to the French weekly L’Express. Abdullah is worried about what Abbas told Arab newspapers last month after visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

France mulling the idea of sending troops to Gaza, West Bank
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
PARIS, (PIC)-- France is mulling the idea of sending international troops to Gaza and the West Bank to back the PA security apparatuses because Israel does not trust these apparatuses, according to a European diplomat. The Reuters news agency quoted another EU diplomat as saying that the idea of deploying international troops in the Palestinian lands and not in Gaza alone would be tabled one day in the framework of finding a settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Western diplomats said that the idea might be studied at the convention of the forthcoming EU foreign ministers to be held in the French city of Avignon. According to observers, the idea of dispatching foreign troops to Gaza came to the surface after the Zio-American attempts in cooperation with the PA in Ramallah to topple the constitutional government of Hamas through invading the Strip and destabilizing the state of security there had gone awry.

Abbas: Palestinians entitled to Jerusalem, right of return
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/6/2008
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed doubt on Saturday that it will be possible to reach a "shelf agreement" with Israel by the end of the year, as stipulated at last year’s Annapolis conference. During a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Abbas said that while "both sides invested efforts, there’s no certainty that we’ll come to an agreement by the end of the year," since time was running out. Abbas met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last Sunday, and pledged to continue working for a shelf agreement by this year. Abbas, in Egypt, said he wanted to see an agreement covering all issues, including Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. RELATEDAbbas pledges to reach peace by end ’08 Olmert is proposing that an agreement be hammered out by the end of the year that deals. . .

Palestinian President not optimistic about peace deal in 08
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/6/2008
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking from Cairo, said that it is unlikely that there will be a peace deal finalized between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of this year. He made the statement during a press conference Saturday, following talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Abbas stated that while he had hoped that the Annapolis Summit in late 2007 marked some change in Israeli policy, he was disappointed with the lack of progress. He stated, "despite the significant efforts each side has made, there is no certainty we can strike a deal by the end of the year because very little time is left. " He added that any peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupying army would "have to include all the issues surrounding a permanent agreement". He mentioned the Palestinian core demands, specifically, that "Jerusalem and the right of return are inalienable Palestinian rights".

Abbas: Jerusalem, right of return are inalienable Palestinian rights
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on Saturday that chances of reaching peace with Israel by the end of 2008 look scant. During a meeting in Cairo, Abbas said that last November’s Annapolis Summit created high hopes for peace, but "despite the significant efforts each side has made, there is no certainty we can strike a deal by the end of the year because very little time is left. "Abbas said that the "solution that the Palestinians seek will have to include all the issues surrounding a permanent agreement. "In his remarks, he stressed how important these issues are to the Palestinian people, saying that "Jerusalem and the right of return are inalienable Palestinian rights, too. " On Friday, Abbas met with President Shimon Peresat a conference in Italy.

Khalid: compensation for evicted settlers is an Israeli matter deflecting real issues
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Nablus – Ma’an – The idea of providing compensation for Israeli settlers evacuated from illegal West Bank settlements is an internal Israeli issue and requires no commitments from Palestinians. The statement came from Tayseer Khalid, member of the executive committee for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and member of the politburo office of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) on Saturday. Khalid was responding to recent discussions in the Israeli Knesset over a bill that proposes to compensate settlers who have invested in homes in illegal outposts often sponsored by the Israeli government. The proposed bill comes after intense US pressure on Israel to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank. Current Israeli plans have proposed moving the residents of 26 illegal outposts to nearby settlements that Israel hopes to keep in any “final status” agreement.

Qurie: Israel’s internal situation will be the block in successful negotiations
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Jerusalem – Ma’an – It is Israel that will block the establishment of a final status agreement before 2008, according to Palestinian Chief Negotiator Ahamad Qurie. Qurie’s statements came as he received former American Peace envoy Denis Ross, along with a delegation from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in his office on Saturday. “The Israeli internal political situation including preparing for early elections in Israel,” said Qurie, “is a real obstacle baring the achievement of real progress before the end of this year. ”Qurie affirmed after the meeting that the way to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region is clear. Through an end to the occupation, a halt in settlement building and the construction of the separation wall and recognition of a Palestinian stake in Jerusalem he said, peace can be quickly realized.

Sarkozy assured Assad is serious about peace negotiations with Israel
Barak Ravid and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is convinced Syrian President Bashar Assad is serious about pursuing peace talks with Israel in the coming months, French officials said yesterday. The head of the Middle East branch of the French Foreign Ministry will arrive in Israel today to deliver this message to Shalom Turjeman, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s political adviser, and Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramowitz. Assad reportedly expressed satisfaction to Sarkozy over the progress of indirect Israeli-Syrian talks through Turkish mediation. The Syrian president also reportedly emphasized the importance of Israel abiding by the six-point document Damascus presented to Turkey last week. Assad said only Israel’s acceptance of the document could lead to direct negotiations between the two countries. He also expressed doubt that any such talks could be held during the tenure of the current U.

Cheney to Peres: Russia supplies weapons to terrorists
Reuters and Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
U. S. Vice President Dick Cheney met with President Shimon Peres on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti forum on the edge of Italy’s Lake Como on Saturday, telling the Israeli leader that Russia is selling arms to Damascus and Iran with the clear knowledge that they are being channeled to Hezbollah and terror groups in Iraq. The American vice president later reiterated these remarks in his address at the economic conference, saying that "Russian arms dealing in the Middle East has endangered the prospects for peace and freedom in the region. "He added that the Russian leaders view democracy as a direct threat to their regime. Russia crossed a clear line when it invaded Georgia and attacked democracy and the rights of innocent civilians, Cheney said. The conflict between Russia and Georgia erupted early last month when Georgia tried to retake. . .

Israeli official denies U.S. supervisors will take part in Israel-Syria peace talks
Barak Ravid and Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
A senior European official visiting Israel told the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al Sharq al-Awsat that an American observer was scheduled to take part in indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria to be held in Turkey in two weeks, the paper reported Saturday. An official in Jerusalem, however, told Haaretz the report was untrue and that he had no knowledge of any U. S. involvement in the peace talks, currently being held indirectly under Turkish mediation. The report, however, included confirmation by an Israeli source that a U. S. official was in fact to act as an observer in the upcoming talks. The report marks the first time the possibility of U. S. participation in Israel-Syria talks has been brought up since the collapse of U. S. mediated negotiations in the Shepherdstown summit, held in West Virginia in 2000.

Report: US to take part in Israel-Syria talks
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/6/2008
London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper quotes senior European source, who arrived in Israel on Friday following French president’s visit to Damascus, as saying next round of unofficial peace negotiations to be held in Istanbul at presence of American observer. Jerusalem officials deny report - The next round of talks between Israel andSyria will be held in Istanbul in about two weeks at the presence of a senior American delegate, the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Saturday, quoting a top European source. According to the report, the American representative will take part in the talks as an observer. An Israeli official confirmed the report to the paper, saying that the European source arrived in Israel on Friday in order to brief state officials on the results of Thursday’s four-way summit in Damascus, which was attended by the leaders of Syria, France, Turkey and Qatar.

’No US involvement in Syria talks’
Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post 9/6/2008
The United States is not sending an envoy to take part in the next round of indirect Israeli-Syrian talks in Turkey, a US embassy official said Saturday night. The official’s comments came following a report in the London-based Asharq Alawsat that the next round would be supervised by a senior US official. "There are no plans to send a US envoy to the talks," the official said. Asharq Alawsat’s report was based on a "European source staying in Tel Aviv. " The paper reported that the unnamed official was in Israel to brief the government on the results of Thursday’s four-way summit in Damascus between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. Erdogan said before returning to Turkey on Thursday that the fifth round of talks would be held in Turkey on September 18-19.

Cheney: Russian arms reaching Hizbullah
Jerusalem Post 9/6/2008
"Russia has sold advanced weapons to the regimes in Syria and Iran. Some of the Russian weapons sold to Damascus have been channeled to terrorist fighters in Lebanon and Iraq," said US Vice President Dick Cheney during a conference in Italy Saturday evening. "Russian arms-dealing has endangered the prospects for peace and freedom in [the Middle East]," he continued. Cheney later met privately with President Shimon Peres, where, according to Peres, the two discussed "the situation in the Middle East, its prospects. "Peres also said he wanted to hear Cheney’s opinion on Georgia and other hot spots. The two also discussed progress in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the Iranian nuclear threat. Both leaders were in the resort of Cernobbio on Lake Como to attend an annual gathering of global political and business leaders.

Hariri: Syria ‘exporting terrorism’ to Lebanon
Middle East Online 9/6/2008
BEIRUT - Anti-Syria parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of trying to use unrest in north Lebanon to engineer a return to military control of the country, a statement said on Saturday said. "Those who export terrorism to north Lebanon do not have the right to fear the rise of extremism in Lebanon," Hariri said Friday. "(The Syrians) want to use the situation in Tripoli as a pretext to involve themselves in Lebanese affairs and use it as a means for their military and security return to Lebanon," the Future Movement chief said. Assad said on Thursday he had asked Lebanese President Michel Sleiman to urgently send more troops to northern Lebanon to combat what he called "extremism. " "The Lebanese clearly remember who sent Fatah al-Islam to Nahr al-Bared and to the north and who has -- and continues to -- finance terrorist activities in other regions," Hariri’s statement added.

Report: UN to demand Israel pay Lebanon $1 billion
Roee Nahmias, YNetNews 9/6/2008
Lebanese media say Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to instruct Israel to take responsibility for environmental damages caused by 2006 war, including oil spill following bombing of Beirut power plant - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will demand that Israel pay Lebanon $1 billion in compensation over damages caused during the Jewish state’s 2006 war againstHizbullah, Lebanese media reported Saturday. According to the report, the sum, based on World Bank appraisals, is aimed at covering the environmental and material damages caused by the Second Lebanon War, to neighboring countries as well. The fundamental part of the compensation demanded is for the damage caused to the Lebanese coast due to an oil spill following an Israeli bombing of a southern Beirut power plant, which the Lebanese said had caused "an ecological disaster.

Cheney: Russian arms reaching Hizbullah
Ronen Medzini, YNetNews 9/6/2008
US vice president meets with Israeli president on sidelines of Italian conference, accuses Moscow of selling weapons to Iran, Syria despite knowing they will reach hands of terrorists - "Russian arms-dealing has endangered the prospects for peace and freedom in the region (the Middle East)," US Vice President Dick Cheney said on Saturday. Speaking at global conference of political and business leaders in Cernobbio, Italy, Cheney lambasted Moscow’s policies using pointedly harsh rhetoric. "Russia has sold advanced weapons to the regimes in Syria and Iran. Some of the Russian weapons sold to Damascus have been channeled to terrorist fighters in Lebanon and Iraq," said Cheney. The vice president later met in private with Israeli President Shimon Peres on the sidelines of the conference.

Report: UN to demand Israel pay Lebanon $1 billion in reparations
Yoav Stern, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
The United Nations will require Israel to pay Lebanon nearly $1 billion for environmental damages caused during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday. The paper said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will submit the motion to the Security Council later this month. The indicated amount is based on a World Bank damage assessment. Among other issues, it included the cost of pumping oil from the Mediterranean coast after Israel bombed a large refinery, which was covered by UN agencies. The oil spill also inflicted extensive damage to local flora and fauna, which has yet to be fully repaired. Related articles:Lebanon Central Bank chief slams U. S. lawsuit claiming banks funded Hezbollah Cluster bomb left from 2006 war wounds 4 children in S.

Unemployment Fund and Government Student Loan program anti-poverty Coalition priorities
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestine branch for the Public Committee for the National Coalition for Fighting Poverty held a meeting in Ramallah on Saturday to launch activities that will culminate on World Poverty Day which falls in October. A central feature in the meetings were to plan strategies for the formation of a national Unemployment Insurance fund, as well as a government student loan project to enable disadvantaged youth to attend higher education institutions. In 2006 the Palestinian Legislative Council passed the first reading of a bill on the issue, and the Coalition Against Poverty hopes to push the matter. Other goals of the committee in its fight against poverty are to review several alongside members of different political parties and Palestinian government representatives in order to target poverty and inequality.

Union of university workers announce strike starting Monday
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an –Media spokesperson and general secretary of the union of unions for the Palestinian universities announced that Monday will be the start of a total strike for all workers in Palestinian universities. Spokesperson Musa A’jwasaid the strike came in response to the non-fulfillment of workers’ demands to the gouvernment council of higher education, the ministry of education and administrations of some universities. He added in a statement that “ strike, closure of universities and obstructing the education are not among not the union’s hobbies, but the high prices and living situations and burdensplaced on workers shoulders led to the necessityofstanding for the right of the workers to live in dignity. ”The statement added that “we will not concede and will not stand hands folded in front of the workers in Palestinian universities.

Student councils organize strikes after tuition hike announcement
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Student councils from Palestinian universities threatened to stage a protest against the decision of the council of higher education and the administrations of the universities of increasing tuition fees for freshmen students. Each university will charge three Jordanian Dinars extra for each credit for first year university students. A full course load for an undergraduate is between 15-18 credits per semester. This means a 45-54 dinar increase in fees (63-74 US dollars) per semester. Education Council members described the decision as necessary so that universities can be more independent from the government and can redistribute the gain in funds as scholarship money to students in dire need. “Education is a right for all,” read the start of the statement issued by the student leadership representatives.

Palestinian olive farmers welcome decision of not importing foreign olive oil
Palestinian Information Center 9/6/2008
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- News on the decision of the agriculture ministry in the legitimate PA caretaker government of premier Ismail Haneyya of halting the importation of foreign olive oil have relieved Palestinian olive farmers in the Gaza Strip. For their part, Palestinian olive farmers in the West Bank considered the report as good omens for them, hoping that they could be included in the decision as importation of foreign olives and olive oil badly affected the local products. Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha, the agriculture minister in Gaza, asserted that the decision was meant to protect the local product of olives and olive oil in order to enhance the steadfastness of the Palestinian farmer on his land. The ministry also specified specific dates for harvesting and processing olives in both Gaza Strip and the West Bank governorates.

Lebanon PFLP mark 7th anniversary of Abu Ali Mustafa assassination
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an - The Students’ Association and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) celebrated the seventh anniversary of the death of party Secretary General Abu Ali Mustafa. The political leader left the West Bank after the 1967 war and the beginning of the Israeli occupation. He returned to the area 32 years later after a deal for his safe passage was negotiated between the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. Upon his return to the West Bank Abu Ali Mustafa assumed the leadership of the PFLP, but was killed in a targeted assassination by Israel, after troops fired two rockets at his office in Ramallah in August 2001. The commemoration of Abu Ali Mustapfa’s death was held in Sidon in southern Lebanon on Friday. The area was filled with banners glorifying the life and achievements of Mustafa, and calling on Palestinian factions to unite for the greater Palestinian cause.

Israel’s war by water
Ron Taylor, International Middle East Media Center News 9/6/2008
Eight tankers are parked on the rough ground at the filling point. The drivers look anxiously at a metal box attached to a large water-pipe that carries a trickle of water into the nearest tanker. Dr Hassan of the Palestinian Hydrology Group explains: "They are looking at the pressure gauge. Pressure is very low and the drivers are worried. No water deliveries, no pay. "This is the Dhahiriya water filling point, a few miles south of Hebron in the West Bank. Many nearby Palestinian communities - the "unconnected villages" - rely on this water. "When the pressure is good," says Dr Hassan, "a tanker can be filled in 20 to 30 minutes. But now it takes about three hours. At this rate it will take two months to supply all the people on this list. But new names are being added every day. "There is no immediate solution. Israel controls 80 per cent of West Bank groundwater, an arrangement that would have been addressed under the Oslo peace process.

Demonstrators disrupt Occupation concert in Scotland
Stop The Wall 9/6/2008
Five protestors from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign were arrested at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall on 29 August and charged with disrupting the performance of the Israeli Jerusalem Quartet. These musicians enjoy a double status as ’Cultural Ambassadors of Israel’ as well as ’Distinguished IDF Musicians. ’ The protest against the performance aimed at countering Occupation efforts to conduct ’business as usual’ internationally while it continues to besiege Gaza and colonize the West Bank. Cultural emissaries from the Occupation should be denied access to any platform that celebrates cultural exchange. Protestors initially gathered outside the venue, convincing about a dozen people to return their tickets at the gates. In addition, a further small but significant number of the audience left and expressed their support, one couple thanking the demonstrators inside and out ’for awakening our consciences.

Iran rejects French warning it risks Israeli strike
Reuters, YNetNews 9/6/2008
Tehran government spokesman accuses ’war-seeking Zionist regime’ of threatening global peace but reiterates Islamic Republic’s publicly stated view that it is not in a position to attack Iran - Iran dismissed on Saturday a warning by France’s president that the Islamic Republic was taking a dangerous gamble over its nuclear program because one day its arch-foe Israel could strike. Government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham accused Israel of threatening global peace but reiterated Tehran’s publicly stated view that it was not in a position to attack Iran. Western powers accuse Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter, of seeking the atom bomb under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran denies the charge, saying it only wants to master atomic technology in order to generate electricity.

Ahmadinejad holds talks with Chinese President
Middle East Online 9/6/2008
BEIJING - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Saturday in a rare visit to China coinciding with the start of the Paralympic Games. Hu said in welcoming words to Ahmadinejad at the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square that the two would discuss Sino-Iranian relations, among other issues, during their meeting. "I would like to further exchange opinions with you Mr President about issues like Sino-Iranian relations," Hu told the Iranian President. "I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you and other Iranian leaders for the assistance your government provided for the Chinese people affected by the May 12 Sichuan earthquake," Hu said, according to state media. "Both China and Iran are big developing nations. . . and (there is) great potential of cooperation," he added, according to Xinhua news agency.

Hamas: Israel killed 2 Palestinians in August; arrested 175
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – During the month of August Israeli forces killed two Palestinians and arrested 175, according to a Hamas statement released on Saturday. The arrests were conducted during 136 separate raids into West Bank cities, towns and villages; of those arrested two were women. In the Gaza Strip, the statement said, those dead because of the siege (lack of food, medicines, ability to travel for treatment etc. ) rose to 241. The number of dead rose by 20 during August. [end]

Hamas leader to pass letter to Shalit
Associated Press, YNetNews 9/6/2008
Group official confirms Mashaal has promised to deliver to captured Israeli soldier a letter from his father -A Hamas official has confirmed that the Damascus-based leader of the Palestinian group haspromised to deliver to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit a letter from his father. Hamas’ political bureau member Mohammed Nasr told TheSaturday that the emir of Qatar gave the letter to Khaled Mashaal during a visit to Damascus this week where he participated in a four-way summit with the leaders of Syria, France and Turkey. "What has been requested is to pass the letter to Shalit," Nasr said. "Khaled Mashaal has received the letter and promised to pass it to Shalit. " On Thursday, officials in French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said the letter from Shalit’s father, Noam, is to be handed over to the emir of Qatar, who is to pass it to Mashaal.

Ultimatum expires on students’ overtures
Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Deadline arrives for students’ final condition pertaining to increase in tuition for upcoming academic year. Student leaders to meet government officials in attempt to prevent additional strike - The student leadership’s ultimatum will expire on Sunday but their demands have not yet been answeredThey have warned that if tuition increases they plan on striking once more. National Student Union Chairman Boaz Toporovsky and the head of Israel’s Student Organization Netanel Izak will meet with Budget Director Ram Belnikov on Sunday morning. The purpose of the meeting is to try and confirm the promise made to the students several months ago in which tuition costs will remain frozen. It is still unclear what the outcome of the meeting will be. The Finance Ministry said on Saturday evening that they, "don’t tend to refer to meetings that have not yet been conducted.

And Turkey makes eight?
Avi Bar-Eli, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
As reported in TheMarker last week, seven groups reached the presorting stage on Tuesday to build a solar power production facility at Ashalim, in the Negev. According to new information obtained by TheMarker, it appears that an eighth contender is also in the running. Three hours after the 2 P. M. closing time, the Turkish energy concern Zorlu handed in its bid. Zorlu was initially part of a group put together by the Israeli branch of Babcock & Brown Capital of Australia, which also included the Spanish energy company Elecnor. But a week before last Tuesday’s deadline the Aussie private equity vehicle announced plans to close its Israeli office, in light of the financial hardships faced by the parent firm, and the consortium broke up. Elecnor pulled out, but Zorlu decided to go it alone.

50kg of heroin seized in major drug bust on Lebanese border
Hagai Einav, YNetNews 9/6/2008
Three arrested in joint IDF, police effort to combat smuggling of drugs, cash, weapons into Israel across Lebanese border -Security forces clamped down on a major drug smuggling operation on Israel’s border with Lebanon on Saturday afternoon, the fourth such raid since March. 50kg of heroin and 11kg of hashish were seized in the raid, along with $700,000 in cash. The joint IDF and police operation near the northern town of Biranit also ended in the arrest of three Israelis. (Photo courtesy Galilee Police)One of those arrested, a man in his 30s from Beersheva, was arrested near the border with three bags stuffed with the drugs and cash. Several hundred feet from there police spotted the two other men, whowere waiting for their accomplice. The three are currently undergoing questioning at the police’s Galilee headquarters.

55 kilos heroin, 10 kilos hash seized in Galilee drug bust
Jerusalem Post 9/6/2008
At least 55 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of hash were seized in a joint police and IDF raid on Friday night, Ch. -Supt. Shmuel Boker, head of the Galilee district Criminal Investigations Department, said Saturday. Approximately US$600,000 in cash was also seized in the Lebanon-border raid. Three men from Beersheeba suspected of attempting to smuggle drugs from Lebanon to Israel were also arrested in the raid. The men, aged between the ages of 25 and 45, were known to police, and extension of their remand will be requested Saturday night at the Akko District Court. [end]

65 kilos of drugs seized in ’record raid’ in north
Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz 9/6/2008
Some 65 kilos of substances believed to be heroin and hashish were confiscated early Saturday morning near the Lebanese border. Three Negev Bedouins ? a man, his son and his nephew - were arrested while carrying the load as well as $650,000. Galilee police official Chief Superintendent Shmuel Boker said that it constituted one of the most considerable drug raids the northern front has known. The suspects were spotted at around 6. 30 A. M. by a joint patrol of the Israel Defense Forces and Galilee police, and were detained for interrogation. The substances were sent to a forensic laboratory to determine whether they are indeed illicit drugs. [end]

Ambitious project aims to combat illegal construction scrap heaps in Jerusalem
Zafrir Rinat, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
The slopes of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley Stream are tourist sites of global renown, but in recent years they have unfortunately turned into scrap heaps for discarded construction materials. The Environment Ministry and Jerusalem Municipality are now trying to counteract this trend, by means of a wide-ranging plan for disposing of construction waste. For years, the municipality ignored the issue, prompting the Environment Ministry to launch a criminal investigation two years ago with the aim of filing an indictment. Instead, the Ministry launched the most ambitious attempt yet for combating the problem of construction waste, a project which has been accorded a budget of NIS 21 million. The plan contains provisions for a framework for orderly waste collection and treatment, and for penalizing offenders.

Israel Police to formulate recommendations for Olmert indictment
Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
The Israel Police’s Investigations and Intelligence Division is expected to formulate its recommendation Sunday regarding an indictment against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The head of the division, Maj. Gen. Yohanan Danino, and senior officers are to examine the evidence collected on the Morris Talansky, the double-booking (Rishon Tours) and the Investment Center affairs. If no further investigation is deemed necessary, the material will be given to the State Prosecutor’s Office along with recommendations whether the evidence in any or all of the cases constitutes a basis for indictment. The State Prosecutor is expected to make its decision about two weeks after receiving the material and holding a hearing for Olmert. Olmert’s media advisor, Amir Dan, said Saturday: "The police have no choice but to recommend an indictment,. . .

Citizens must help authorities stop child abuse
Ruth Eglash, Jerusalem Post 9/6/2008
Every member of the community has a responsibility to report suspected child abuse to the authorities, including a private citizen who notices unusual behavior in a neighbor’s family, according to Hannah Slutzky, national supervisor for child affairs at the Welfare and Social Services Ministry. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post following the recent spate of extreme child abuse and people murdering their young children, Slutzky said that a law existed obliging private citizens, as well as social service, health and educational professionals, to report any suspected child abuse. "The social services are not enough to stop these incidents from taking place," she said. "There has to be a joint effort with a wide variety of bodies both private and public. " The ministry had made great efforts in recent years to raise awareness of the so called Good Samaritan Law, to encourage people to report abuse.

Labor against proposal to limit court’s authority
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/6/2008
Ministers Herzog, Simhon request bill put forward by Justice Minister Friedmann seeking to redefine High Court’s authority be taken off voting agenda - The Labor Party intends to fight the bill authored by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann proposing an amendment that would limit the High Court of Justice’s power to overturn Knesset legislation. Labor Ministers Isaac Herzog and Shalom Simhon urgently contacted Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel on Saturday evening and asked him to remove the proposal from the government’s agenda. Sources familiar with the proceedings claim the proposal may be knocked off the agenda at the last minute, though at present time it is scheduled to be brought up for discussion and a subsequent vote. This despite the fact that it remains unclear if the proposal will garner the necessary support.

NY terror trial of Pakistani woman may lead to first investigation of US secret intelligence techniques
Allison Hoffman, Jpost Correspondent, New York, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
A Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three suspected of being a "fixer" for al-Qaida, moving money to support terrorist operations, has been charged with assault and attempted murder in federal court in Manhattan. Aafia Siddiqui, 36, holds a bachelor’s degree from MIT and a doctorate from Brandeis University. Siddiqui’s lawyers and human rights groups claim Siddiqui was abducted by intelligence agents and tortured at secret interrogation facilities for five years, until she became a cause celebre in Pakistan and authorities engineered her sudden reappearance with her eldest son, an 11-year-old, in Afghanistan this summer. It is thought she may have been held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, an American detention facility located at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. According to the indictment, Siddiqui appeared in Ghazni on July 17 carrying a bag packed. . .

Iraq health ministry confirms cholera cases
Middle East Online 9/6/2008
BAGHDAD - 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 IRIN. “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.

Chalabi ’escapes suicide attack’
Al Jazeera 9/6/2008
The blast killed six bodyguards but Chalabi escaped unharmed. Ahmad Chalabi, Iraq’s former deputy prime minister, has escaped a suicide car bomb attack on his convoy in the capital Baghdad, an official in his office has said. The explosion on Friday night in the western Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansour killed six of his bodyguards, said Ayad Kadhim Sabti on Saturday. Chalabi, a secular Shia who was once viewed by Washington as a possible successor to Saddam Hussein, was not wounded in the attack, he said. More than a dozen other people were wounded in the blast, police said. Chalabi was on his way to his headquarters in the area when the bomb exploded, his office said. After spending most of his life abroad, Chalabi returned to Iraq in 2003 and served in the 25-member Governing Council appointed by the American occupation authorities to run the country’s day-to-day affairs.

Muslim filmmakers face challenges
Middle East Online 9/6/2008
The "Union for Short Filmmakers of Muslim Countries" aims to overcome problems that moviemakers face and help them gain access to international film festivals. Martin Gerner talked to Maheen Zia, founding member of the union from Pakistan. Why was the union created and what have you achieved in the first year? Maheen Zia:In this first year we have been screening films from member countries at our respective festivals: Palestine, Lebanon and Syria have had programmes with films from our union. But it is a slow start. We still do not have an office – we are still working out of the office of the "Tehran International Short Film Festival". And there was supposed to be a programme at the Karachi festival as well but it did not happen because of the attack on Benazir Bhutto. We had to cancel the 2007 festival because it was a very uncertain time.

Gazan artists commemorate death of political cartoonist Naji Al-Ali
Ma’an News Agency 9/6/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – A group of Palestinian artists and cartoonists on Friday celebrated the memorial of renowned Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali in Gaza City. Al-Ali is best known for his signature character, Handalah. A young Palestinian refugee, the boy stands with his back to the viewer, looking out over all he has lost. In ragged clothes symbolizing his poverty, and hands clasped behind his back in a reflective stance, the child victim reflects on the state of his people and his country. Cartoonist Abu An-Noon,whose work is published by Ma’an, delivered a speech at the ceremony. “In my last 7 cartoons,” he said “I used the character of Handalah to pay tribute to Naji. Handalah is a symbol of which each Palestinian feels proud. It will remain deep in the hearts of all Palestinian cartoonists providing them with courage in their cartoons.

Ninety thousand Palestinians in Jerusalem prayer
Middle East Online 9/6/2008
JERUSALEM - Ninety thousand Muslims attended the first prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday amid. The Israeli authorities, which illegally occupy the Palestinian east Jerusalem, deployed thousands of police but reported no incidents in the Holy City. "Everything was calm," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Israel genereally prevents Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to enter Arab east Jerusalem. Israel, which illegally controls Jerusalem, has eased restrictions for the duration of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan access to the mosque for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank. Men over 50 and women over 45 have free access to the mosque compound, and those aged 30 to 45 can join them if they obtain a special permit issued by Israeli military authorities.

Ramadan illuminates the vacuum left by lost sons
Ali Samoudi, Palestine News Network 9/6/2008
Jenin - Between the tombs of the dead Hussam Jaradat’s mother spends the first days of Ramadan. Israeli forces assassinated her son in Jenin Refugee Camp. He was a leader of Saraya Al Quds, the armed resistance wing of Islamic Jihad. In the morning hours Umm Hussam leaves her home walking to the cemetery with a copy of the Qur’an in her hand. The graves are decorated with flowers and there is a calm over the grief. She told PNN, "During these I remember the great leader who was also my son Hussam. His life was taken from him before he had the chance to achieve his wishes and aspirations, and before he had a chance to renew his faith during Ramadan. I did not sleep during the first night of Ramadan because I was thinking of him and his comrades who too have been killed. God bless the young men who carried the flag of Palestine.

Art vs disengagement
David Stromberg, Jerusalem Post 9/6/2008
The recently opened Gush Katif Museum on Rehov Sha’arei Tzedek, between Jaffa Road and Rehov Agrippas, has a grassroots, underground feel, with graffiti scattered along its entryway. Nestled behind two apartment buildings, the six-room museum commemorates the 2005 disengagement from Gaza with historical background and documents, a small library, visual art, documentary photos and video, and a screening room. The design is humble but professional, with a limited space in which to present its take on a complicated and unresolved period in the history of Israel. "There’s a [conceptual] path that people pass through," says museum director Yankele Klein, a former supplements editor of the newspaper Makor Rishon with a background in film production. "I want people to have a strong reaction to disengagement, to feel what people there felt. "

VIDEO - Sky News: Israel denies excessive force in rubber bullet killings
International Solidarity Movement 9/6/2008
Ramallah Region - Video - Israel is denying using excessive force in the West Bank after two Palestinians were killed and a third was critically injured. Sky’s Dominic Waghorn reports [end]


Al Walajeh under siege as Israeli settlement expansion overtakes the village
Fadi Yacoub, Palestine News Network 9/6/2008
      PNN -- Israeli forces continue their attempt to impose control on agricultural lands located in western Bethlehem’s Al Walajeh Village. The Israeli Interior Ministry will not issue a permit for the construction of a road for farmers to reach their lands, without which Israeli forces will destroy it. The normal route is being overtaken for Israeli settlement expansion.
     Al Walajeh Village is half in Jerusalem, half in Bethlehem, according to a mandate issued by the Israeli government several years ago.
     In the past it was out of reach of Israeli-annexed Jerusalem, but Israeli forces drew a line through the village center indicating that one side was Jerusalem, the other the West Bank. Residents did not have Jerusalem identification, therefore were illegally, under Israeli standards, inside their own homes. Other houses were cut in half by this imaginary line deeming the living room off limits. The village has a strong nonviolent resistance movement with nearly weekly demonstrations against the Wall and settlements the norm. The local council is well-organized with attacks and demolitions recorded, land ownership papers in order, and court cases pending.

Doing Israel’s work

Khalid Amayreh, Palestinian Information Center 9/4/2008
      With obvious American-approval and encouragement,  the Palestinian Authority (PA) regime in Ramallah is seriously  persecuting the very people it is supposed to protect and whose interests it claims to safeguard.
     "They are worse than the Israeli occupiers," an old shopkeeper from the Hebron region whispered to  this writer after local security agents arrested his neighbor for selling Islamic paraphernalia.
     Some observers in Occupied Palestine have begun using  terms such as "reign of terror," "fascists," "gangs,"  and "terrorist regime" to describe the way  the American-backed regime is treating Palestinians.
     This week, a leading Palestinian human rights group, described the status of human rights and civil liberties under the PA regime as "dismal and appalling."
     Al-Haq, which means "truth," pointed out in a detailed report that the PA was letting the security agencies run the country in utter violation of the rule of law.

The Makings of History /Memoirs of a shadow

Tom Segev, Ha’aretz 9/4/2008
      Israel Galili always operated in the shadow of other people. "In a certain sense there is a resemblance between Galili’s situation and mine," writes his associate Arnan Azariahu, in his memoirs. "Just as he worked in the shadow of others, I myself was his shadow." Because of his slanted eyes, Azariahu, who lives today on Kibbutz Yaron, is called "Sini" - "Chinese" in Hebrew. His recently published book, "Haver ve’ish sod" ("A Friend and Confidant," in Hebrew, Hakibbutz Hameuchad), based on interviews he gave to journalist Ora Armoni, is fascinating.
     Today, mention of Galili’s name may require a reminder: He was one of the founders of the pre-state Haganah and the Israel Defense Forces, a member of Knesset and a cabinet minister, and for most of his life was involved in politics. He was reputedly wise, and therefore was frequently consulted by various leaders; for example, he had great influence on Golda Meir. Apart from politics, it is hard to say exactly what he did. Inflexible, narrow-minded and humorless, even during his lifetime he came across like one of those anonymous, cardboard-like figures on the Kremlin walls during May Day parades.

US churches seeking justice in Palestine-Israel (Part 1)

David Wildman, Electronic Intifada 9/5/2008
      We denounce as immoral an ordering of life that perpetuates injustice ... Believing that international justice requires the participation of all peoples, we endorse the United Nations and its related bodies and the International Court of Justice as the best instruments now in existence to achieve a world of justice and law." -- United Methodist Church Social Principles.
     For decades, United Methodists have worked with other churches, human rights groups and the broader international community to uphold UN resolutions, human rights conventions and international law as the basis for just and lasting peace for all. Given this human rights-based approach, ending Israel’s military occupation constitutes a necessary first step for establishing equality and mutual security for Palestinians and Israel is alike. Within an international law framework, the situation in Palestine is not a conflict between two equal players, but a case of apartheid, occupation and colonization. -- See also: US churches seeking justice in Palestine-Israel (Part 2)

End of an Odyssey

Jeff Halper, ICAHD, Palestine Monitor 9/6/2008
      Now, a few days after my release from jail in the wake of my trip to Gaza, I’m posting a few notes to sum things up.
     First, the mission of the Free Gaza Movement to break the Israeli siege proved a success beyond all expectations.
     Our reaching and then leaving Gaza has created a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world. It has done so because it has forced the Israeli government to make a clear policy declaration: that it is not occupying Gaza and therefore will not prevent the free movement of Palestinians in and out of the area (at least by sea).
     (Israel’s security concerns can easily be accommodated by instituting a technical system of checks similar to those of other ports.)
     Any attempt on the part of Israel to backtrack on this - by preventing ships in the future from entering or leaving Gaza with goods and passengers, including Palestinians - may be immediately interpreted as an assertion of control, and therefore of Occupation, opening Israel to accountability for war crimes before international law, something Israel tries to avoid at all costs.

Israeli Restrictions and Employee Strikes Mark Start of Ramadan [August 31 – September 06]

      September 5 marked the first Friday in Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, when Palestinian Muslims look forward to conducting Friday prayers in Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque. This year, similar to the several years prior, Israel continued to place strict restrictions on West Bank Palestinians who want to travel to Jerusalem to perform their religious duties. While Israeli police estimated that 90,000 Muslim worshippers reached Al Aqsa for noon prayers, restrictions were still tight as to who was allowed in. Israeli army directives instructed that only West Bank men over the age of 50 and women over 45 be allowed to enter Jerusalem without Israeli-issued permits to pray at Al Aqsa. Men under 45 were not allowed in at all – with or without a permit.
     These restrictions, of course angered Palestinian Muslims who put special emphasis on praying at Al Aqsa during Ramadan on Fridays. The Islamic Waqf had previously called on Israel to allow Muslims to reach the mosque compound unrestricted and the people obviously were not deterred. Thousands of Palestinians waited for hours at the Israeli manned checkpoints entering Jerusalem in the hopes that they would pass. Clashes broke out at the Qalandiya checkpoint separating Jerusalem from Ramallah during which several people were injured.Hoards of people also flocked to the Gilo checkpoint on the Jerusalem-Bethlehem road in an attempt to cross but most were turned back by the army.

Ramadan in Palestine

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine Think Tank 9/6/2008
      Palestinian houses are easily distinguished from Israeli houses by one non-variant feature: Palestinian houses have water storage tanks on top of them. Running water 24 hours a day is reserved for Israeli colonial settlers. A trickle is occasionally sent our way and we try to maximize its use. But storage tanks on top of roofs are increasingly not helpful as the water pressure is so low when it is on that water cannot reach that high. Those who can afford it, have started putting new tanks on the ground or buying supplemental water. Drilling and maintaining wells (as our ancestors did) has been forbidden by Israeli regulations for many decades. Our old house is an exception since we do have a well that collects rainwater. Occasionally after long stretches of no or barely running water, a relative asks if they could have a bath at our house. Water here also costs a lot more than it does to Israeli colonial settlers. Not coincidentally the water we are denied is our water. 80% of the water of the West Bank is used by Israeli Jews (illegally according to International law). Yesterday, tens of thousands of Palestinians waited at a checkpoint for hours but most were denied entrance to pray in the holiest site for Islam in Palestine on the first holy Friday of Ramadan. Their denial is also an illegal act by International law. All those people stood and sweated in the sun (36 C, nearly 100 F) for hours to be finally turned back and went to their modest homes with no running water to even take a simple bath before they break their dawn to dusk fast. Images flashed before my eyes of families separated as older members allowed to pass, children getting frustrated, a women fainted (Muslims are also fasting so it is hard to stand in the heat while not able to drink water.

It’s never good to swap people for bodies

Robert Fisk, The Independent 9/6/2008
      Al-Jazeera – much praised by the now-dying US administration until it started reporting the truth about the American occupation of Iraq (at which point, you may recall, George Bush wanted to bomb it) – is back in hot water. And not, I fear, without reason. For on 19 July, its Beirut bureau staged a birthday party for Samir Kantar, newly released from Israel’s prisons in return for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. "Brother Samir, we would like to celebrate your birthday with you," allegedly gushed al-Jazeera’s man in Beirut. "You deserve even more than this... Happy Birthday, Brother Samir.
     The problem, of course, was that "Brother Samir" – whose moustache looks as if it has been modelled on that of a former German corporal – had been convicted in Israel for the 1979 killing of an Israeli father and his daughter. The Israelis claim he smashed in the head of the four-year-old with a rifle. Kantar denies this – though he does not deny that another child, this time two years old, was accidentally asphyxiated by its mother when she was trying to avoid giving away their hiding place. Kantar received a conviction of 542 years – long, even by Israel’s standards – and had been locked up for 28 years when he was swapped (along with other prisoners) for the bodies of the dead soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture started the 2006 Lebanon war.