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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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7 September 2008

’Olmert could go to prison’
Aviad Glickman, YNetNews 9/8/2008
Legal expert says police indictment recommendation serious, but says past experience shows State Prosecution may decide to ignore it - "The police recommendation regarding the indictment isn’t binding. The police’s role is to investigate, and that’s why this is just a recommendation, and experience shows us that recommendations aren’t always taken into account," Professor Ariel Bendor of the Bar-Ilan University Law Department told Ynet on Sunday evening. Earlier in the day police recommend the State Prosecution indict Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over the Morris Talansky and Rishontours affairs on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The final decision regarding whether an indictment will be filed, and its nature, lies with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. Professor Bendor said the offenses Olmert may be tried on are "very grave".

PA Minister of Health says Gaza health sector about to collapse
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – The Gaza health sector is on the verge of collapse, after enduring the blockade, restriction on movement and strikes from medical workers evidence shows clear deterioration. Incidents of anemia in the Palestinian population have reached 38% in women and 55% amongst children in the Gaza Strip, indicating a collapse of the health care sector, said Minister of Health for the Palestinian Authority (PA) caretaker government Fathi Abu Moghli on Sunday. The deteriorating conditions of the health sector in Gaza, said Moghli at a Ramallah press conference, are the effects of the Israeli blockade. Citizens are prevented from moving in and out of the area, meaning that health services from other areas cannot be provided, and goods are being prevented from entering the area, meaning that hospitals are out of essential supplies.

Severe water shortage in West Bank; some homes without water for weeks
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A coalition of Palestinian and international NGOs issued a statement on Friday calling the water shortage across the West Bank a “humanitarian crisis” and said they were “gravely concerned. ”The coalition said that there was a reduction in water supplies from rainfall averaging 45% across the West Bank, which has left 200 communities not served by the municipal water sources at a loss. There is not enough water for cooking, cleaning, agricultural irrigation, or basic food-producing plant watering. Even in cities and villages connected to water mains, reduction in supply means frequent cut offs for homes and offices. It is common in many areas to not have water for a week, and others only receive water once in a fortnight. Several aid organizations have been providing emergency water resources so the basic needs to Palestinians can be met.

No passports, no passage: no pilgrimage for Gazans this Ramadan
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – hundreds of fasting Muslims from the besieged Gaza Strip hoping to do the Umrah, make a pilgrimage to Mecca, this Ramadan are waiting for the Rafah crossing to open. Palestinians hoping to make the Umrah, or ‘minor pilgrimage’ to Mecca during the last ten days of Ramadan were prevented from the trip on account of the violent internal fighting which lead to the closure of the border with Egypt. Palestinians without Israeli identity cards cannot leave Israel from Tel Aviv airport, but must first cross over to Jordan. Compounding the closure of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt is the still unresolved issue of Passports, which are in short supply. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah sent supplies of official paper and covers to Gaza, but the de-facto government said Sunday, however, that they never received the paper.

Israeli police detain 670 Palestinians illegally in Israel
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli border guards carried out a campaign across Israel looking for Palestinian workers residing illegally in the country on Saturday evening. According to Israeli sources, 670 workers without permits were siezed during the round up. Sourcesadded that 42 Israeli employers were detained for employing and transporting these “illegal workers. ” The campaign included the arrest of 6 Palestinians in the West Bank , who were described as “wanted activists. ”At the same time, Israel siezed 12 cars that had been reportedly stolen from Israel. [end]

Israel puts off discussions on removing West Bank settlers
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/8/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel postponed talks Sunday on a plan to compensate Occupied West Bank settlers who agree to relocate as part of a future peace deal with the Palestinians, Israeli army radio reported. Premier Ehud Olmert had earlier insisted the issue of the voluntary relocation of some of the estimated 260,000 Jewish settlers in the Occupied West Bank was part of US-backed peace talks relaunched last year. "We will not bring the issue to a decision today," Olmert said ahead of a Cabinet meeting. "But at a time when serious and continuing diplomatic negotiations are being held, it should be clear to everyone that they will likely - at some [point] - lead also to the need to make decisions that will entail the relocation of residents from the places in which they live," the Israeli premier said. "I think that it is good to begin thinking about these issues and to see how we can prepare for them properly," he added.

1 million Gazan signatures sought for UN petition by Free Gaza activists
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – The signatures of 1 million Palestinians in Gazawill be collected and submitted to the UN Secretary General by the activists from the Free Gaza initiative. The document will be delivered during an ordinary session of the UN General Assembly, said Dr Iyad Sarraj head of the campaign, and is meant to express the Palestinian will and exert pressure on the international community, especially the UN General Assembly. It is hoped that the document will urge the body to make an immediate resolution to end the siege on the Gaza Strip. The document emphasizes that siege violates international human rights as well as international law. It also violates the fourth Geneva Convention which maintains that civilians must be protected during wartime while under occupation. According to the document, the siege on Gaza has resulted in an unprecedented escalation in poverty and unemployment rates.

Cooking gas shortage in Gaza dropped to 30 pct
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 9/7/2008
GAZA, Sep 07, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- The increase of cooking gas shipments to the Gaza Strip has helped to overcome shortage to 30 percent, a Palestinian official said on Sunday. According to Mahmoud al-Shawa, director of gas stations owners union, the increase of the gas has contributed to decrease of the shortage to 30 percent, while prior to the ceasefire the shortage was around 60 percent. Under a ceasefire agreement, the daily shipments of the cooking gas to Gaza reached 400 tons, compared with 180 tons before Egypt brokered the deal between Israel and Islamic Hamas movement. "Resolving the crisis completely requires Israel to keep and remain committed to pipe the 400 tons of the cooking gas every day, " al-Shawa said. He said the union and the Palestinian Petroleum Agency still put pressure on the Israeli companies to increase the fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip.

Arab activists accuse Israel of Gaza ’genocide’
Middle East Online 9/7/2008
DUBAI - A group of Arab international lawyers and human rights activists accused Israel on Sunday of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip. "The catastrophic situation in which Gaza citizens live, which led to the deterioration of medical, economic, ecological and humanitarian conditions, in addition to the death of innocent people, amounts to genocide," said the 11 activists in a statement. By preventing food and medicines from reaching civilians "under the pretext of besieging ’a terrorist government’," Israel is committing "genocide" as defined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, they wrote. Israel has tightened its blockade of the impoverished Palestinian in June 2007, when the democratically elected Hamas movement seized power there, although a ‘lighter’ siege had already existed before.

One million signatures to be sent to UN to urge it to end Gaza siege
Palestinian Information Center 9/7/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Eyad Al-Sarraj, the founder of the Gaza community mental health program, announced Saturday that the international Palestinian campaign to break the siege intends to collect one million signatures from Gaza citizens and submit them in a document to the UN general assembly in order to urge it to take immediate decision to end the unjust siege on the Gaza Strip. According to Sarraj, the document, which will be sent to the UN General Assembly on the occasion of holding its regular session, confirms that the Israeli siege violates the international system of human rights and international humanitarian law as well as the fourth Geneva convention which obliges Israel to respect civilians in time of war. The document also underlines the destructive impacts of the Israeli siege on all aspects of life in Gaza in addition to the Palestinian people’s right to resist the occupation, the siege and racism.

Roadside bomb detonated near an Israeli settlement east of Nablus
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/7/2008
In a joint statement issued yesterday night, both the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Preseident Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, and the struggle and return brigades, declared responsibility for detonating a roadside bomb near the Israeli settlement of Etamar, east of Nablus city. The statement read that a large contingent of the Israeli army rushed to the place and that the perpetrators have returned bake safely to basis. The two factions asserted that yesterdays bombing were a part of the Palestinian resistance against the continued Israeli attacks on the West Bank. Israel continues to occupy and impose forceful military control over the West Bank since 1967. No Israeli sources verified this news.

Fatah’s military wing claims responsibility for roadside bomb attack near settlement
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The military wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb explosion near the Israeli settlement Etamar security complex east of Nablus in the northern West Bank. The military group said in a statement on Sunday that several Israeli forces were seen combing the area after the incident, but that none of the men responsible for the attack were apprehended. The group said the explosion came as part of retaliation for ongoing Israeli assaults against the Palestinian people. Israeli sources have not confirmed the explosion. [end]

Israeli forces arrest 13 Palestinians in Nablus and Ramallah
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces arrested 13 Palestinians from their homes in several different West Bank cities, Israeli sources said on Sunday. According to Israeli media, 11 of the arrestees were from Nablus in the northern West Bank and two were from Anata village near Ramallah in the central West Bank. All arrestees were taken for questioning to interrogation centres. [end]

’Golan Referendum’ bill readied for final two Knesset readings
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
A bill requiring a national referendum, general elections or a two-thirds majority vote by Knesset members for approval of the concession of any Israeli land is ready for the next two rounds of Knesset voting, which will decide whether it turns into law. A special Knesset committee responsible for the bill finished preparing it for its second and third readings yesterday, following a marathon session over the summer recess. MK David Tal (Kadima), who heads the committee and initiated the summer meetings, said yesterday he would bring the bill to a committee vote in two weeks, and to the Knesset plenum as soon as the winter session opens, on October 26. The Knesset is considered likely to pass the proposal, which has come to be known as the "referendum law. "Former MK Avigdor Yitzhaki, also of Kadima, spearheaded the bill, and Tal pushed the proposal forward after Yitzhaki’s resignation from the Knesset, last February.

C’tee okays East J’lem referendum bill
Shelly Paz, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
A joint panel of the Knesset House and Law committees on Sunday approved a proposal amending the national referendum bill, so that it now states a vote must be held before concessions on any territory under Israeli legal jurisdiction, including Jerusalem. The committee also rejected Central Elections Committee director-general Tamar Edri’s proposal that a public holiday be declared for such a referendum, citing the NIS 1. 3 billion cost. "We have decided that all territory under Israel’s jurisdiction will be added to the referendum bill, because we believe that the current political situation has changed and it will receive the Knesset plenum’s support," House Committee chairman David Tal said. Tal has vigorously championed the referendum bill since its initiator, Avigdor Yitzhaki, resigned from the Knesset.

Mishaal: Palestinians, all Arabs and Muslims legitimate owners of Jerusalem
Palestinian Information Center 9/7/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Khalid Mishaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, stated Saturday that the Palestinian people, and all Arabs and Muslims are the legitimate owners of Jerusalem, highlighting that there is no nation eligible to be in charge of it except Arabs because they are the best ones to cater for divine religions and holy places.   During a reception held by the international Quds institution on the occasion of inaugurating its branch in Syria, Mishaal added that it is unbecoming to make occupied Jerusalem a door to capitulation, inferiority and compromises as some people do today. The Hamas leader underlined that there is no Palestinian, Arab or Muslim leader, no matter how much influential he is, is able to sign an agreement relinquishing Jerusalem. He stressed that Jerusalem is exposed to a conspiracy on the ground represented in the apartheid wall, judaization,. . .

French President Sarkozy to brief Tel-Aviv on his Damascus visit
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/7/2008
French President Sarkozy to brief Tel-Aviv on his Damascus visit French President Nicolas Sarkozy, will dispatch on Sunday an envoy to Tel-Aviv in order to brief Israeli officials on his latest visit to Damascus, with ongoing efforts for peace between Israel and Syria. Israeli media sources said that Chief of Middle Eastern Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry will be arriving in Tel-Aviv for talks with the political advisor of Israeli Prime Minister, Shalom Turjman, and the Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Aharon Abramovitch. The media sources revealed that the French dispatch will carry assurances from Sarkozy as the seriousness of the Syrian leadership regarding peace with Israel. Sarkozy took part last week in a four-way summit in Damascus, which included the Emir of Qatar , Sheikh Hammad Bin Khalifa Al-Tani, Turkish Prime Minister, Rajeb Tayeb Ordoghan as well as the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

US may supervise renewed Syria-Israel peace negotiations
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/7/2008
In two weeks, a new round of negotiations will begin between Israeli and Syrian negotiators, but without the Turkish mediators that have overseen talks to this point. Instead of Turkish mediators, the US will step in as an authority for the next round of talks, which has raised some eyebrows in the Middle East due to the US record in the region. The information came from an interview conducted by the London-based paper Ashark Alawsat with unnamed European and Israeli government sources. The talks between Syria and Israel restarted recently after having been frozen for eight years. Israel’s stated objective in the talks is to force Syria to move away from its ties with Iran. Syria hopes to regain the territory of the Golan Heights, which was seized by Israel in the 1967 war and never returned. Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights for the last 31 years is in direct violation. . .

The meaning of the summit in Damascus
Daily Star 9/6/2008
Regional and international players have been meeting in Damascus for thousands of years to do one of two things: make war, or make a deal. This week’s four-way summit of the leaders of France, Syria, Qatar and Turkey in Damascus perpetuates the age-old tradition of making deals, in this case bargaining over strategic assets and positions rather than fine-thread carpets. Bargaining to strike a deal in Damascus, whether in the world of commerce or politics, is defined by a few basic rules: The process takes time, it often requires third parties to come in and out of the picture like catalysts in a chemical equation, some gains are not calculated immediately but materialize later, and a deal is consummated only if all sides obtain their key demands in a win-win situation. This week’s Damascus meeting testifies dramatically to the changing Middle East, which has become incredibly complicated. . .

Minister Al-Agha of Hamas government: Despite truce, Israel attacks fishermen
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/7/2008
Palestinian Minister of Agriculture of the Hamas government in Gaza, Mohammad Al-Agha said that despite the 100-day-old ceasefire between the Palestinian resistance factions and Israel, the Israeli naval vessels continue to attack fishermen on board of Gaza shores. The Minister believed that such attacks appear to be an attempt from the part of Israel to test the sustainability of the truce deal. Al-Agha’s remarks came in response to a shoot-out against some fishing boats, accompanied by international activists while on board yesterday. The Palestinian Minister hailed the role of those internationals in breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza, calling on Arab masses to take similar moves to break the ’ debilitating’ blockade. The shooting at internationals and fishermen on Saturday was not the first sign these peace activists and human rights workers arrived by the Gaza shores on August 23, on board of the Free Gaza Boat.

PFLP-GC: The idea of sending Arab forces to Gaza not serious
Palestinian Information Center 9/7/2008
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the General Command, has declared its opposition to sending Arab forces to the Gaza Strip, describing the idea as "not serious". Talal Naji, the assistant secretary of PFLP-GC, told PIC that the idea was tabled by Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abul Ghait, and said that it was not yet discussed at any Arab platform. Naji stressed that the idea did not "mature", and added that solving internal Palestinian problems would negate the need for such forces. He championed a national, comprehensive and responsible Palestinian dialog that includes all forces in the Palestinian arena, noting that current bilateral dialogs in Cairo were meant as a transitory stage toward initiating that comprehensive dialog. Hamas does not obstruct Palestinian dialog, he emphasized, adding that Hamas had always expressed readiness for dialog without any conditions.

De facto government announces housing and tourism projects to strengthen economy
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza’s de facto government announced plans for a series of development projects to re-start the industrial sector in a bid to move away from aid money to independently generated income. Secretary General of the de facto government in the Gaza Strip, Walid Al-Awad announced on Sunday that his government would undertake what he called an “intermediate development plan” to increase the independence of the Gazan people. The projects will include housing developments for Palestinians with limited income, and several tourist projects with entrepreneurs from abroad partnering with Gazans. “The government wants this plan to be a message,” said Al-Awad, “telling the world that it does not want political money as much as it wants an internal income. ”In order to execute the projects, a political committee has been formed to distribute land for the various developments.

Abu Zuhri: Abbas not authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people
Palestinian Information Center 9/7/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, has underlined that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas was no longer authorized to negotiate with the Israeli occupation authority in the name of the Palestinian people. Abbas’s insistence on maintaining negotiations with the IOA reflects the project he and his negotiating team are promulgating regardless of the results, Abu Zuhri elaborated in a press release. He said that there is no way that any agreement reached by Abbas with the IOA would be applied, noting that Abbas was about to leave office. He said that any referendum on such an agreement should be made only after restructuring the PLO on new agreed upon basis. The spokesman, who was commenting on Israeli president Shimon Peres’s statement that Hamas should not be allowed to participate in any future elections, said that the statement meant nothing for his Movement.

Hamas slams shipments of weapons from Israel to the PA
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/7/2008
The Islamist Hamas party in Gaza slammed yesterday recent reports on delivery by Israel of weapons shipments to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman of Hamas in Gaza, said in a statement " the weapons which Israel allowed in to the security services in the West Bank, the latest were 10000 machine guns, have all been a part of empowering such services to further undermine Hamas and other resistance factions there". He added that such actions would help enhance current division between Gaza’s rulers and the West Bank rulers, and that this would suppress freedoms , pointing out that the Palestinian people rather need weapons to defy the occupation not to protect it’. " All such attempts will fail in the end of the day, as Gaza stands as a fine example of the Palestinian people’s steadfastness in the face of the occupation", Barhoum explained.

Na’eem: The strike failed after 80 percent of doctors attended their jobs
Palestinian Information Center 9/7/2008
GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Basim Na’eem, the PA health minister, stated Saturday that the strike in the health sector failed after 80 percent of doctors reported to their jobs in hospitals, reiterating that the strike was politicized.   These comments were made during a meeting with a number of journalists, human rights activists, academics and many notables held in the headquarters of the health ministry in Gaza to discuss the latest developments about the strike in the health sector. Dr. Na’eem underlined that the strike was aimed at spoiling the existing inter-Palestinian dialog atmosphere and destabilizing the state of calm and stability in Gaza.   The minister pointed out that his ministry conversed with the parties in Ramallah who instigated the strike in an attempt to end the strike and reinstate striking health workers, but to no avail.

Egyptian mediator meets Palestinian People’s Party delegation
Xinhua News Agency, ReliefWeb 9/7/2008
CAIRO, Sep 07, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network)-- Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Sunday held talks with a delegation of the Palestinian People’s Party on means of healing the current inter-Palestinian rift. The Palestinian delegation, led by the party’s Secretary General Bassam al-Salhi, discussed with Suleiman its views on the Palestinian situation and means to restore Palestinian unity, the Egyptian MENA news agency said. Suleiman’s meeting with the delegation is part of Egyptian mediation efforts to help resume an inter-Palestinian reconciliation dialogue. In late August, Egyptian mediators started bilateral talks with delegations of Palestinian factions to hammer out a unified stance among Palestinians to overcome the current inter-Palestinian crisis, particularly between Hamas and Fatah.

Al-Qaida inspired group warns Hamas
Associated Press, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
A shadowy Palestinian group inspired by al-Qaida threatened the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers on Sunday, demanding that their jailed leader be released. The Army of the Nation said that it would use its "own means" to free Abu Hafs Makdisi, although it did not specify exactly what it would do. The statement was posted on a terrorist Web site on Sunday. Makdisi was jailed last week after he criticized Hamas for not strictly imposing Islamic law in Gaza. Hamas, itself an Islamic group, has controlled Gaza since June 2007. The Army of the Nation is one of several small groups in Gaza that look to al-Qaida as their model, but they aren’t believed to belong to the global terrorist network, and their capabilities appear to be limited.

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]

Hamas denies Shalit’s profile will be delivered to a third party
Rami Almeghari & Agencies, International Middle East Media Center News 9/7/2008
The Islamist Hamas party in Gaza denied media reports that the profile of captured Israeli soldier, Gil’ad Shalit will be delivered to a third party, presumably Arab or foreign. Ismail Redwan of Hamas confirmed that his group is not in a hurry for sorting out the Shalit case, as the whole issue is still being worked out by Hamas and Egypt. Redwan added that Hamas does not want to reach an agreement on the issue of Shalit, unless Israel reopens the border crossings and lift the siege of Gaza completely. With respect to underway dialogue among Palestinian factions in Cairo, the Hamas leader maintained that Egypt’s role to bridge the gap between Palestinians will achieve the national unity and the recognition of all legitimacies. Redwan explained that the Egypt’s invitation to the Palestinian factions for dialogue is meant to explore new horizons for discussion, in the hope of ensuring a balanced vision that all parties are satisfied with.

Hamas: Shalit’s portfolio remains in Egyptian hands
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas spokesperson Ismail Radwan refuted news reports claiming the portfolio of negotiating the return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was taken from Egypt and given to other Arab countries. He asserted that Hamas was not in a hurry. “This news about transferring the Shalit case to anybody other than Egypt is incorrect. All files remained in Egypt including Shalit’s,” Radwan told Ma’an on Sunday. Israeli and Arab media reported this week the possible involvement of Syria in negotiations for the return of Shalit. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was given a letter by Shalit’s father (both men have French citizenship) to pass on to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad during their talks this week. Assad was then supposed to hand the letter over to Hamas leadership in Damascus. Radwan added that Hamas was not in a hurry, and Israel must reopen the crossing points and lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Israel, US to hold first defense forum
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
Israel and the United States will hold their first-ever joint High Technology Forum this week near Washington. It is aimed at easing regulations for exports to Israel on dual-use products that have both a military and civilian use. The forum will meet Tuesday at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. It will be led by Defense Ministry director-general Pinchas Buchris and US Undersecretary for Industry and Security Mario Mancuso. The decision to hold the forum was made last year during a visit Mancuso made to Israel. "Israel is a dynamic technology market and a strategic partner of the United States," Mancuso said at the time. "The High Technology Forum will accelerate, elevate and institutionalize a senior-level dialogue to address bilateral high technology trade, investment and related security issues within the context of our larger strategic relationship.

Olmert indicted as deputy is accused of war crimes
Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, The Independent 9/8/2008
The Israeli Attorney General has been urged to launch a criminal investigation into whether Shaul Mofaz, a leading prime ministerial candidate, ordered "war crimes" to be committed when he was the military’s chief of staff. A leading Israeli law professor has written to justice officials, calling for the investigation into claims -- highlighted by The Independent last month -- that during a briefing to army officers in May 2001, after the start of the second Palestinian uprising, Mr Mofaz ordered a daily "quota" of Palestinian deaths. Last night, Israeli police recommended to prosecutors that the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, be indicted in a corruption investigation. With Mr Olmert committed to resigning after his Kadima party holds a leadership vote a week today, the recommendation will have no immediate impact on his tenure and does not guarantee an indictment by the Attorney General.

Israeli police urge PM’s indictment for corruption
Toni O''Loughlin in Jerusalem, The Guardian 9/8/2008
Israel’s police force has recommended that the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, be indicted for bribery, money laundering, fraud and breach of trust, following an 18-month investigation. Olmert is accused of receiving $150,000 (£84,000) in cash for political campaigns over a 10-year period, accepting tens of thousands of dollars in upgraded air tickets and expensive hotel rooms and of double-billing Jewish philanthropic organisations, including Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and the Soldiers’ Welfare Fund, to the tune of $110,000. Police are also considering whether to recommend that Olmert be indicted for a third scandal, dubbed the investment centre affair, in which he, while serving as industry minister, allegedly granted state funds to a company represented by his close associate and former law partner, Uri Messer.

Israel Police recommends indicting Olmert
Noam Sharvit, Globes Online 9/7/2008
The recommendation is over the Talansky and Rishontours affairs, and includes charges of receiving bribes and fraud. Israel Police recommends indicting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over two affairs, the cash-filled envelopes received from Morris Talansky, and the Rishontours affair, on counts of bribery, fraud, and money laundering. As far as the Investment Center affair is concerned, the police have yet to reach final conclusions about the evidence. In the Talansky affair, the police recommend indicting Olmert on charges of receiving bribes, fraud, and breach of trust by a public servant, and with breach of the Money Laundering Prohibition Law and other offences. The taxation aspects of the affair will be dealt with separately by the Tax Authority. The police also recommend indicting the prime minister’s former bureau chief Shula Zaken for assisting in the commission of the offences for which they recommend indicting Olmert.

Police: Indict Olmert on corruption charges
Efrat Weiss, YNetNews 9/7/2008
After months of investigations and political turmoil - police recommend charging prime minister with fraud, bribery offenses related to Rishontours, Talansky affairs. Olmert’s attorneys belittle announcement as ’meaningless,’ say will wait for attorney general’s decision - Some 18 months after the state comptroller determined there was sufficient evidence to launch a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s dealings, police have officially submitted their recommendation to prosecute him over two of the affairs. After spending many long hours deliberating the matter, police issued a formal announcement on Sunday evening in which they recommended the state indict Olmert over the ’Rishontours’ and Morris Talansky cash affairs. Charges related tothe Talansky affair - in which Olmert is suspected of received illicit funds from. . .

Police suggest indicting Israeli PM
Al Jazeera 9/7/2008
Israeli police have recommended corruption charges against the country’s prime minister. Police said on Sunday that they possess enough evidence to charge Ehud Olmert for accepting bribes and breaching public trust. The move to indict Olmert comes amid allegations that he unlawfully accepted envelopes stuffed with cash from Morris Talansky, a US businessman, before he became prime minister in 2006. "The investigation found that Talansky transferred to Olmert over the years from 1997 and on, large sums of money in different ways, in cash and illegally," a police statement issued said. Money ’pocketed’Olmert is also suspected of invoicing non-governmental organisations and charities several times over for the same overseas trips. He is allleged to have pocketed the difference or used the money for his own private visits.

Police recommend indicting Olmert on bribery charges
Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
After months of investigations and speculation, police recommended on Sunday evening that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should be charged with bribery, breach of public trust, violation of anti-money laundering legislation and fraudulent receipt of goods. According to former National Fraud Unit investigator Dep. -Cmdr. (ret. ) Boaz Gutman, Olmert will likely be formally charged in December. The police recommendations are based on two probes. The first examined Olmert’s role in the Talansky cash-envelopes affair, in which Olmert is said to have illicitly received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Long Island investor Morris Talansky in exchange for advancing the mogul’s business interests. Olmert’s promotion of Talansky’s business led to the recommendation to indict him for bribery, police said.

Olmert probes: the corruption allegations against the prime minister
Haaretz Staff, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
Police investigations and allegations of improprieties have dogged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in recent years. The premier has been under investigation in the following cases:* Olmert tours: Police suspect Olmert and his family took dozens of trips abroad that were paid out of an account Olmert held with the Rishon Tours travel agency in Rishon Letzion with money obtained fraudulemtly from public organizations. "We are talking about many family trips of at least two family members at a time, for example mother and daughter, or two of the children, whose travel expenses were covered by the account in Rishon Tours," law enforcement sources said. "In the Rishon Tours affair, the case is unequivocally substantiated and by all appearances it will result in an indictment," sources said.

Prime minister’s legal team dismisses ’insignificant’ police recommendation
Barak Ravid and Ofra Edelman, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday played down the police recommendation to indict him. His lawyers and media adviser put out the message that "the police’s recommendation is insignificant. "Nonetheless, Olmert decided to cancel a planned trip to Moscow, and is expected to call off his scheduled appearance at the UN General Assembly in New York at the end of the month. Last evening, Olmert’s team of lawyers, Eli Zohar, Navot Tel-Tzur and Roey Belcher, released a prepared announcement, whose timing was coordinated with the release of the police statement. "The only person who by law can determine whether or not to indict the prime minister is the attorney general [Menachem Mazuz]," it read. "He has the authority and the matter is his responsibility. "Olmert’s lawyers added: "The police’s recommendations have no legal significance.

Cabinet approves Friedmann’s legal reforms by a single vote
Barak Ravid Tomer Zarchin and Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
The cabinet narrowly approved a controversial bill yesterday that would curtail judicial review of legislation while enabling the Knesset to reinstate laws that the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional. Normally, cabinet approval would indicate that the bill, which will now be sent to the Knesset, has a good chance of becoming law. In this case, however, its future remains uncertain because one of its main backers, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has pledged to resign after next week’s Kadima leadership primary, and all four of the candidates to succeed him voted against the bill. Thus by the time the Knesset reconvenes in late October, a new cabinet with a different view may be in place. The bill passed by a vote of 13 to 12, with one abstention. The votes in favor came from Shas, the Pensioners and seven Kadima ministers, including Olmert and the bill’s sponsor, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann.

Gov’t okays Supreme Court restrictions
Herb Keinon And Dan Izenberg, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
By a one-vote margin, the government on Sunday voted in favor of Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s proposal to limit the authority of the Supreme Court by giving the Knesset the right to re-legislate a law that the court rules unconstitutional. The proposal passed by a 13-12 vote, with one abstention. At the end of the debate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lashed out at Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said the new bill ran counter to coalition guidelines. Olmert, in his fiercest attack yet on a government minister, said the Labor Party itself had in a serial manner been violating the coalition agreement. Voting for the resolution were the four Shas ministers, the two Gil Pensioners Party ministers, and Kadima’s Olmert, Friedmann, Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila, Immigrant Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo, Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra and Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim.

Senior IDF officers: Army ’radically’ better prepared for next war
Amos Harel, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Senior Israel Defense Forces officers have rejected criticism that the army is not ready for future challenges, asserting that training programs are vigorously preparing the IDF for the possibility of another war in the North. "Tremendous work has been done to repair shortcomings revealed during the last war. The preparedness, fitness of the units, equipment, relation to reservists - an radical improvement has been made in all of this," sources in the general staff said. The officers were responding to comments by Major General (res. ) Moshe Ivri-Sukenik, who resigned as commander of the IDF Northern Corps earlier this year, who blasted the way the army is training as flawed. Sukenik’s criticism was legitimate but the real condition of the army was much better than he had described it, the sources said.

Olmert calls Barak shameful, insidious
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Government meeting sparks harsh battle of words between Kadima, Labor heads. PM: ‘Defense minister made comments that cannot refer to anyone but me regarding honoring coalitional agreements’Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went on an unprecedented offensive on Sunday afternoon against Defense Minister Ehud Barak. At the end of the governmental meeting, Olmert scorned his most official coalitional partner saying his actions are, “shameful, with an incomparable inability to see yourself systematically violate the coalitional agreements and leaking information from private conversations. ” The harsh incident took place at the end of a heated governmental meeting caused by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s proposal. At the end of the meeting, the government’s ministers voted 13 to 11 to transferring the discussion to the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

Olmert blasts Barak for ’leaks, sabotage and broken promises’
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lashed out yesterday at his defense minister, Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak, calling him a saboteur, a leaker, brazen and a serial breaker of agreements. His outburst - the culmination of weeks of accumulated grievances against Barak - raises serious questions about how the two men can continue to work together to address crucial security concerns. The eruption came during yesterday’s cabinet discussion of a bill to limit judicial review, which Olmert supports but Barak opposes. Barak argued that the bill violates the Labor-Kadima coalition agreement, prompting an angry response from Vice Premier Haim Ramon. "Nothing is as ridiculous, laughable and brazen as the effrontery of the Labor Party, which violated the first and most basic rule of a coalition agreement when it ousted the prime minister and intended to vote against the coalition in the Knesset,. . .

The Shin Bet’s academic freedom
Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
On the face of it, we are talking about a heated exchange between the rector of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and the head of the Shin Bet security service, but in fact the matter concerns Israeli society’s order of priorities. Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin complained last week about the "haughty and disparaging" attitude displayed toward his organization by Hebrew University rector Haim Rabinowitz, after the university decided not to hold a special study program - awarding a humanities degree to Shin Bet members in 16 months - by virtue of their "work toward foiling terror attacks at the university," as Diskin put it. The Shin Bet head felt that his foilers were entitled to an academic reduction; Rabinowitz ruled that Shin Bet operatives are subject to the same laws as any other student. He should be praised for that ruling, which in effect confirms the Hebrew University’s. . .

Jordan reassesses its strategic ties with Hamas and Iraq
Asher Susser, Daily Star 9/8/2008
Jordan’s recent widely publicized resumption of contact with Hamas should be seen through the wider lens of the historic and strategic context. In the summer of 1999 King Abdullah II, shortly after his ascension to the throne, expelled the Hamas leadership from Jordan. The recent resumption of contact with Hamas was the first significant reversal of Jordan’s almost decade-long confrontational stand toward the organization. Hamas’ expulsion from Jordan was a reflection of the young King Abdullah’s shifting priorities in comparison to those of his late father King Hussein. For Hussein, the Hamas presence in Amman was a card to play against Yasser Arafat in Palestinian politics, from which he never really withdrew. For Abdullah, far more focused on Jordan proper, the presence was a political nuisance and a potential domestic security problem.

Abbas meets King Abdullah of Jordan, affirms importance of Arab support
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian official website WAFA informed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed on Sunday the importance of Arab role in negotiations with Israeli side. The news agency quoted Abbas as saying during his visit to Jordan and meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan that they discussed ongoing negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis considering them as Arab interest and strategy in general. He said that any issue of those final stage issues does concern any Arab and Islamic country pointing to the need to declare details of those negotiations with Arab countries and the importance to hear Arab opinions in this domain and to discuss national Palestinian dialogue with King Abdullah. He said: “issues of political negotiations and national dialogue in addition to political activities and a number of issues including fruits of talks with Israeli. . .

Peres warns Olmert: Attack on Iran could spark wide-scale war
Haaretz Service, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
President Shimon Peres has warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that a military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is likely to trigger a wide-scale confrontation, A British newspaper reported Sunday. Peres is the first senior politician to warn the prime minister against an Israeli attack on Iran, with other politicians threatening an air attack if Tehran does not abandon uranium enrichment in what the West believes is a quest to develop nuclear weapons. "The military path will not solve the problem," Peres said in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times. " Such an attack can trigger a bigger war. "Peres said he prefers the civilian path, adding that he has voiced this sentiment directly to Olmert. However, he declined to reveal what the prime minister had said in response.

Iran to launch series of military maneuvers Monday
Dudi Cohen, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Three-day exercise to include examination of antiaircraft systems, aimed at upgrading army’s combat preparedness, deterring US and Israeli from attacking Islamic Republic - Iran will launch three-day military maneuvers on Monday, which will include the examination of antiaircraft systems, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported Sunday. According to the report, Iran’s regular force and the country’s Revolutionary Guards will take part in the exercise. No additional details on the nature of the drill were available. According to the Tehran-based English-language newspaper Iran Daily, the maneuvers are aimed at "maintaining and upgrading combat preparedness of the relevant units, introducing innovation and capabilities of aircraft defense experts and test new weapons and defense plans. " Alongside its regular army, the Islamic Republic also has the. . .

Iran says research satellite launched into orbit
Dudi Cohen and AP, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Telecommunication minister says Iran, China and Thailand worked together to build satellite, which would help countries deal with natural disasters. Israeli expert tells Ynet cooperation ’aimed at presenting Iran as an advanced country’ -Iranian state TV says a joint research satellite has been successfully launched into orbit by a Chinese rocket. Iranian Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Soleimani says that Iran, China and Thailand worked together to build the satellite. In his televised remarks Sunday, Soleimani said the three countries suffer from natural disasters and the satellite would transmit photos to help deal with these crises. Dganit Pikovsky, a fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy told Ynet that "the aerospace cooperation between these two countries began in 2000, together with a number of other Asian countries, and includes scientist exchanges and cooperative conferences.

Iran army to hold war games amid speculation over Israeli strike
Reuters, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Iran’s armed forces will begin three days of war games on Monday involving anti-aircraft defense systems, Iranian media reported Sunday. The exercises will be held amid persistent speculation about a possible U. S. or Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which the West and Israel say are part of a clandestine bid to build atomic bombs, despite Tehran’s denials. The ISNA news agency said both Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its regular army would take part in the drills. "Maneuvers with the participation of anti-aircraft defense systems will be held for three days starting Monday," it said, without giving further details. The English-language Iran Daily said the aim was to maintain and upgrade the combat readiness of relevant units as well as to "test new weapons and defense plans. "

Illiteracy in Palestine decreased 61% in 12 years
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Bethlehem - Ma’an - On the Occasion of International Illiteracy day on 8 September, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released a report on illiteracy rates throughout Palestine. The rate of illiteracy in Palestine has decreased by 61%, said a report from PCBS on Sunday. According to the report, however, 124,000 Palestinians are still illiterate, 77% of them women. The PCBS counted the illiteracy rates for those 15 and over in the Palestinian territories over the period 1995-2007 and found that the rates fell from 15. 7% to 6. 1%. The rates of illiteracy for males were much lower to begin with at 8. 5% and have dropped to just 2. 8%. While there was a huge improvement in illiteracy rates for women, falling from23. 0% to 9. 5%, the final figure is staggering. Literacy rates by locality saw urban Palestinians drop from 12.

Israel budgets most for education, but kids get little
Diana Bahur-Nir, Globes Online 9/7/2008
Israel tops the OECD on education spending as a percentage of GDP. The Central Bureau of Statistics reports today that Israel tops the OECD in spending on education as a percentage of GDP. Israel spent NIS 56. 2 billion on education in 2007, 8. 5% of GDP, compared with the OECD average of 5. 8%. However, in terms of purchasing power parity, Israel falls to 20th place out of the 30 OECD member states. Spending per pupil is Israel was $6,450, compared with the OECD average of $7,061. The figures indicate that while Israel spends heavily on education, the situation from the children’s perspective is dismal. The reason lies in the country’s demographics. Israel’s high birth rate compared with OECD states (because of birth rate in the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community) results in 26% of Israel’s total population being of school age (5-19).

Nationalization of U.S. mortgage giants good for Israeli banks
Yuval Maoz, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
"The nationalization of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is good for the local banks," says Alon Glazer, the banking analyst at Leader Capital Markets. "The banks that today hold bonds of Freddie Mac and Fannies Mae are Israel Discount Bank, Bank Leumi and First International Bank. As far as they are concerned, the nationalization is a positive step because now the bonds are those of the U. S. government - and their price can only go up," Glazer said. "Israeli institutions do not seem to have shares in those banks, and if so it is only marginal. " Two months ago Discount’s own portfolio held NIS 9 billion in U. S. mortgage-backed securities, and Bank Leumi had invested NIS 3. 4 billion. "The local banks’ holdings, as far as we know, are in MBS [mortgage-backed securities] financial instruments.

US schools encouraging Israeli ’brain drain’
Moran Zelikovich, YNetNews 9/8/2008
US universities are sending a record-breaking number of headhunters to scout for Israeli scholars dissatisfied with Israel’s higher education, amounting to a significant rise in immigration -"Studying in Israel means you’re compromising," says Nili Lerner, an MBA student at Tel Aviv University. Like Lerner, a great many Israeli students have their sights, and hearts, set on America’s prestigious business schools. Next week the students will see a record-breaking number of US college scouts at an MBA convention aimed at creating connections between American schools and Israeli scholars. The brain drain, it would seem, has reached a whole new level. "Israeli students have proven themselves to be excellent scholars on an academic level, with outstanding motivational and social skills, some of which are acquired during army service," says Galit Edsman, and advisor for the US-Israel Educational Foundation (USIEF).

Foreign Ministry seeking villa for reality TV show
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Israel is currently participating in a frantic competition transcending continents and oceans; its rivals are Dubai and New Zealand. At stake is the privilege of hosting a giant American production of a major U. S. television network’s "Big Brother"-style reality show. The winner in this contest will be the country capable of providing the producers with the most luxurious villa, possibly including a lovely view of the sea, for the filming of the show. A few days ago, the show’s producers arrived in Israel, touring possible shooting locations, including Eilat’s Dolphin Reef, Timna and the Sea of Galilee. After hunting villas for rent in Eilat, Arsuf, Rishpon and Caesarea, they did not come up with the dream house for the show. At this stage, the show’s name cannot be publicized - at the producers’ request. They estimate that hundreds of millions of viewers around the world will. . .

Near East Consulting survey: 73% of Palestinians do not expect a state by 2008
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an - 73% of Palestinian respondents of recent survey ruled out a 2008 reunification of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying division would likely last for a long period of time. The survey was carried out by the Near East Consulting Company between 29-31 August on a random sample of 820 Palestinians of both genders distributed in the districts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip including the Jerusalem district. The margin of mistake in the survey was +3. 5% and had trust average of 95%. The results are as follows:87% of Palestinians support the resignation of the caretaker government if it means the formation of a national unity government. 79%believe that forming a national unity government will contribute in solving the current crisis. 56% of respondents support having Arab forces in the Gaza Strip while 44% are against.

Fatah: poll shows Palestinian society standing against Hamas
Ma’an News Agency 9/7/2008
Ramallah – Ma’an – Recent poll results show Palestinians are willing to stand in the face of the de facto government in Gaza, said Fatah spokesperson Ahmad Abd Al-Rahman on Sunday. Some results from the latest survey done by Near East Consulting, a polling and survey company that does monthly public opinion surveys, indicated a shift in opinion towards Fatah policies. One of the poll questions was whether respondents preferred the strategies of Hamas or Fatah, 76% of Palestinians questioned said they preferred Fatah’s strategy for achieving the aims of Palestinians, while 24% preferred Hamas strategies. Abd Al-Rahman said that the poll showed that "forces in Palestinian society stand in the face of the Hamas coup in the Gaza Strip. ”“They do so,” he continued, “after Hamas attempted to tear the Palestinian national texture and assault social forces.

UN chief ’urges Israel to pay Lebanon $1 billion’
Daily Star 9/8/2008
BEIRUT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has renewed calls for Israel to pay Lebanon around $1 billion in compensation for damage inflicted during the summer 2006 war with the Jewish state, news reports said on Saturday. The figure, which is based on calculations made by the World Bank, is intended to reimburse Lebanon for environmental and material damage it suffered during the war but most notably Israel’s bombing of the Jiyyeh power station, said the daily Al-Akhbar newspaper. The attack, considered to be Lebanon’s worst ever environmental disaster, released between 12,500 and 15,000 tons of fuel oil into the Mediterranean Sea, polluting two-thirds of Lebanon’s coastline and endangering already vulnerable marine life. It also affected northern neighboring countries, including Syria. Ban will present a report on the oil spill to the UN General Assembly before October this year, said Al-Akhbar.

Salvodorian troops arrive to aid Israel’s Ghajar pullout
Daily Star 9/6/2008
MARJAYOUN: A Salvadorian contingent joined the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Thursday and is preparing, according to UNIFIL sources, to aid the peacekeeping force’s Spanish contingent in facilitating the expected Israeli withdrawal from northern Ghajar. In celebration of their arrival, the Salvadorian unit held a ceremony at the Miguel De Servantes Spanish military base in Blat. Peacekeepers from UNIFIL’s east sector were in attendance. The ceremony was also attended by Spanish colonel Fernando de Brat who held talks with his Salvadorian counter part Jose Mario Blanco before the ceremonial hoisting of the Salvadorian flag. UNIFIL sources told The Daily Star in mid-June that 52 Salvadorian soldiers were to join UNIFIL this August for an eight-month period. They added that the Salvadorian authorities would evaluate the possible need to send more troops by the end of that time.

German naval officer outlines bilateral aid
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 9/8/2008
BEIRUT:"We want to enable the Lebanese Navy to carry out the necessary control tasks at [its maritime] borders on its own," German Navy Commander Clemens Jorek told The Daily Star in an interview concerning bilateral cooperation between the two countries’ miitaries. The stated aim of the German assistance is to train and improve the logistical capacity of the Lebanese Navy. Germany already has three vessels in EUROMARFOR which carries out border control operations in the Mediterranean as part of the United Nations Interim Force in LebanonUNIFIL’s (UNIFIL) Maritime Task Force (MTF). The deployment of EUROMARFOR assets comes under UN Security Council Rsolution 1701, which brought a cessation of hostilities in the 2006 summer war between Lebanon and Israel. Its objective is to prevent arms smuggling. Several thousand ships have been interrogated, including some that were boarded for inspection, since the war ended.

Hezbollah exhibit hails ’martyr’
Alexandra Sandels in Nabatiyeh, South Lebanon, Al Jazeera 9/7/2008
In a large car park in Lebanon’s southern city of Nabatiyeh, schoolchildren are spending the first days of Ramadan examining the remains of a captured Israeli Merkava tank. A plume of artificial smoke surrounds it every few minutes, mimicking battlefield explosions. Surrounding the tank are the personal belongings of Imad Moughniyah, a Hezbollah military commander killed in a car bombing in Damascus in February. Hezbollah blamed his death on an Israeli operation. "These are the clothes he was wearing when he was murdered. There are still blood stains on them if you look closely. They have not been washed," Ali Yasseen, the curator at the Al-Imad: The Leader of the Two Victories exhibit, tells a group of curious onlookers.

Iran solidifies control over Hizbullah
Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post 9/8/2008
Iran is consolidating its grip on Hizbullah and has instituted a number of structural changes to the Lebanese group, under which Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah no longer enjoys exclusive command over its military wing, top Israeli defense officials have revealed. According to the officials, following the Second Lebanon War, Iran decided to step up its involvement in the Hizbullah decision-making process and has instituted a number of changes to the terror group’s hierarchy, under which Nasrallah has to receive Iranian permission prior to certain operations. "There is real Iranian command now over Hizbullah," a top IDF officer said. "This doesn’t mean that Nasrallah is a puppet, but it does mean that whenever he pops his head out of his bunker he sees an Iranian official standing over him. " Reports of Iranian discontent with Nasrallah had begun to surface following the. . .

Iranian MP touts cooperation in Sadr investigation
Compiled by, Daily Star 9/8/2008
Iranian MP Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moqaddam said on Saturday that Iran and Lebanon will jointly pursue the disappearance of Imam Musa Sadr. Mesbahi-Moqaddam made a visit to Lebanon last week at the head of an Iranian parliamentary delegation. "In this visit it was agreed to have a joint cooperation to pursue the case to determine the fate of Imam Musa Sadr," he told Mehr News Agency. "We traveled to Lebanon at the invitation of the Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri," the legislator added. Mesbahi-Moqaddam said he has received no new information on the fate of the imam. The MP added that during his visit to Beirut he held talks with Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, as well as Imam Sadr’s son Sayyed Sadreddine Sadr. "In this visit, we exchanged information regarding Imam Sadr’s disappearance," he said.

Sidon adds new attractions to traditional Ramadan fare
Daily Star 9/8/2008
SIDON: New customs associated with the holy month of Ramadan have begun to emerge in some of the traditional neighborhoods of the southern coastal city of Sidon, in an attempt to draw more customers to the city’s cafes. To catch the attention of curious onlookers, Samir Nasr impersonates stars from the popular Syrian soap opera "Bab al-Hara" - and performs shows with daggers. CafŽ owner Abu al-Abd Sabbagh amuses his patrons with folkloric rituals, traditional drum playing and sword play. His routines have become so well-liked that many of his customers show up early in the evening to reserve their seats. Sabbagh told The Daily Star that Sidon is a city open to all, regardless of religious and sectarian affiliation. "Ramadan is a month of unity, forgiveness and harmony," he added. These new traditions, coupled with Sidon’s more traditional attractions, have managed to draw thousands of Lebanese, from all across the country.

Ephemeral art takes root in the ruins above Beirut
Daily Star 9/8/2008
ALEY: At the edge of the town of Aley, in the hills above Beirut, a cluster of stone houses of indeterminate age is scattered over two tracts of land. This was a battleground after Israel’s 1982 Lebanon invasion. Today, recent structures stand behind old ones, some tastefully renovated. Others are derelict, like skulls, decapitated, smashed open, burnt. The cluster of properties, centered on the family house of Lebanese artist Ghassan Maasri, is home to the Artists’ International Workshop: Aley, better known by its acronym, AIWA - as much an enthusiastic "Yes" in Arabic as it is a Japanese electronics manufacturer. Maasri coordinates this two-week residency program, now in its second year. AIWA invites artists working in a range of media - painting, sculpture, installation, video, performance and sound - to share ideas and work within a setting that, familiar or not, is laden with the ramifications of past destruction.

Arab terror victim’s kin funds Arabic translation of Oz novel
Shiri Lev-Ari, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Amos Oz’s autobiographical novel, "A Tale of Love and Darkness," has been translated into Arabic thanks to a contribution by the family of an Arab man killed in a terror attack in 2004. George Khoury, an Israeli Arab student, was doing his evening run in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood when a terrorist, who took him for a Jew, shot and killed him. The Khoury family, also from Jerusalem, decided to contribute funding to translate Oz’s book, in an effort to help the cause of coexistence. Two other books of Oz’s have been translated into Arabic. "My Michael," translated in the 1990s, received favorable reviews in Egypt. The other book, "Soumchi" was distributed in Jordan. Oz’s "Tale of Love and Darkness," published in Hebrew by Keter, was translated by Jamal Gnaim and is being published by Yedioth Books, which also published the book’s Russian translation.

Ethereal entertainment makes its way down Hamra Street
Special to The Daily Star, Daily Star 9/4/2008
BEIRUT: You can hear Cie le SAMU making their way along Hamra Street long before you can see them. The jazz music of the four-piece band works its way along the boulevard, swelling the sense of anticipation among the small crowd waiting at the Hamra Center square. A drummer leads three other musicians, trundling her drum-kit along on a specially fitted trolley. Behind her, the three men play brass instruments as they follow behind the beat. As they reach the square, the performance of "A bout de Souffle" truly begins. The musicians sit down beside customers at a neighboring cafe, playing their instruments from the chairs lining the pavement. At this close range, it becomes possible to notice the details in their costumes and the hair that has been powered gray before its time - designed to give an impression of age, which the players played upon repeatedly throughout their performance.

Dig reveals Jerusalem’s first city wall
Nadav Shragai, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Impressive remains from Jerusalem’s first city wall - built by Hasmonean kings and destroyed by the Romans during the Jewish revolt - as well as part of a Byzantine period wall, have been discovered at an archaeological excavation on Mount Zion. The fortified structures, located at the edge of the Old City, apparently delineated Jerusalem’s southern border at the time when the ancient city was at its prime. A team of archaeologists led by Yehiel Zelinger of the Israel Antiquities Authority has excavated at the site for the past year and a half, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority. A wall along the city’s perimeter, which runs west and south of Mount Zion, was first discovered and explored at the end of the 19th century by a British archaeological team.

Iron Age walls intrigue archaeologists at Ramat Rachel
Will King, YNetNews 9/7/2008
German Christians, Jewish Israelis work together to discover excavation site’s history, building lasting friendships in the process - Prof. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, director of the excavations at Ramat Rachel, south of Jerusalem, described the fourth season of digging there as "great from any perspective. I’m very happy and proud of it. " Among the many finds this year archaeologists discovered the continuation of the Iron Age citadel at the site originally excavated by Yohanan Aharoni in the 1950’s, the first proof indicating that Ramat Rachel during the last 125 years of the First Temple Period was larger and more important than previously thought. The Iron Age citadel is the earliest construction at Ramat Rachel, from around the latter half of the First Temple Period.

Archaeologists unearth 2,100-year-old Jerusalem wall
Daily Star 9/6/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli archaeologists said on Wednesday they had rediscovered rare remains of the wall that surrounded Jerusalem more than 2,100 years ago after locating the site of a 19th century dig. The Israel Antiquities Authority said it also discovered at the same site a section of the city walls dating from the later Byzantine period between the 4th and 7th centuries A. D. The earlier findings include a 3. 2-meter tower and parts of the wall built during the second century B. C. under the Hasmonean dynasty, which was destroyed together with the Jewish Second Temple by the Romans in 70 A. D. The two finds were at a large excavation on Mount Zion outside the limits of today’s Old City, whose Ottoman-era walls date from the 16th century. "The city had never been as big as it was during those two periods," said the director of the excavations, Yehiel Zelinger.

Yurt-like huts flag site as Khazar capital of Itil
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/6/2008
MOSCOW: Russian archaeologists said Wednesday they had found the long-lost capital of the Khazar kingdom in southern Russia, which they depict as a breakthrough for research on that other ancient Jewish state. "This is a hugely important discovery," expedition organizer Dmitry Vasilyev said from Astrakhan State University after returning from excavations near the village of Samosdelka, just north of the Caspian Sea. "We can now shed light on one of the most intriguing mysteries of that period, how the Khazars actually lived," he said. "We know very little about the Khazars - about their traditions, their funerary rites, their culture. "The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic peoples who for unknown reasons adopted Judaism as a state religion. The city was their capital between the 8th and the 10th centuries, when it was captured and sacked by the rulers of ancient Russia.

Olmert: We must discuss compensation to prevent suffering
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Cabinet postpones debate on bill offering monetary compensation to West Bank settlers who will agree to leave homes, due to lack of time. ’We were often criticized over the fact that the Gaza vicinity communities were ill-prepared for the pullout, so we have to planning ahead,’ prime minister says earlier - The government decided Sunday to postpone its scheduled discussion on an initiative put forward Vice Premier Haim Ramon, proposing the voluntary evacuation and compensation of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank. The discussion was postponed after the debate concerning Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann motion to limit the High Court’s legislative authority, proved to take longer then expected. Prior to the decision to defer the discussion Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that "we’re not about to make any decision yet, but since there is a serious negotiation going

Gaza evacuees: Government throwing sand in settlers’ eyes
Shmulik Hadad, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Former Gush Katif residents angered by Sunday’s cabinet discussion on compensation for settlers who voluntarily leave West Bank. ’This is a spin aimed at diverting the attention from the real problems,’ says woman evacuated from Neve Dekalim - Former Gush Katif residents who now live in caravan sites in southern Israel were surprised to hear that the government would discuss on Sunday an initiative put forward Vice Premier Haim Ramon, proposing the voluntary evacuation and compensation of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank. " On the other hand, we are not surprised by anything anymore," said Hagit Yaron, who was evacuated from the settlement of Neve Dekalim during the2005 pullout from Gaza. "This government is not leading any ideological statement or line in any case. "Upcoming DiscussionGovernment to discuss evacuation-compensation plan for West. . .

PM: There’ll be need to evacuate settlers
Herb Keinon And Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
In light of the serious nature of the negotiations with the Palestinians, there is a need to begin discussions about evacuating some of the settlers from isolated areas of Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday. He spoke at the start of the cabinet meeting in which Vice Premier Haim Ramon was scheduled to brief the ministers on statistics, including financial numbers, regarding a proposal that would allow for the voluntary evacuation of settlers who live outside of the security barrier. While the controversial "evacuation compensation law" was not discussed at the cabinet meeting, as was planned, due to lack of time, Olmert made clear in his opening remarks that such a discussion would be necessary because of diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians that were in advanced stages.

Peres says he opposes attack on Iran
Agence France Presse - AFP, Daily Star 9/8/2008
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday he opposes a military strike on Iran and prefers the use of international economic sanctions to persuade Tehran to halt its nuclear program. "A military operation is not necessary. I do not think the Americans think in these terms because they have many other cards to play," Peres told Israeli public radio after a meeting with US Vice President Dick Cheney in Italy. "If the Americans manage to form a coalition to unify their positions with those of Europeans, they have sufficient means to exert pressure on the Iranians," Peres added. Peres had met Cheney on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti forum on Italy’s Lake Como, an international gathering of leaders and experts focused mostly on economic issues. Israel and the West have repeatedly called on Iran to halt its nuclear program, which they fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons but which Tehran defends as part of a peaceful energy venture.

Report: Russia considering increasing nuclear aid to Iran
Ynet, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Sunday Times reports Kremlin discussing sending teams of nuclear experts to Tehran, inviting Iranian nuclear scientists to Moscow for training, in response to US call for NATO expansion eastwards. ’Russia may respond by hitting America where it hurts most - Iran,’ Russian source says -Russia is considering increasing its assistance to Iran’s nuclear program in response to The United States’ call for NATO expansion eastwards, the London-based Sunday Times has reported. Moscow has been angered by Washington’s renewed support for attempts by Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO and by the presence of US Navy vessels in the Black Sea delivering aid to Georgia following thewar in the Caucasus. According to the report, the Kremlin is discussing sending teams of Russian nuclear experts to Tehran and inviting Iranian nuclear scientists to Moscow for training.

A revolution against the constitution
Ze''ev Segal, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann succeeded yesterday in significantly advancing a program he had previous pushed repeatedly without success: severely undermining the Supreme Court, and thereby also good government and fundamental human rights. The change that Friedmann is proposing, and which the cabinet approved yesterday during its final days in office, erodes one of the strongest foundations of Israeli democracy - the Basic Law on the Judiciary. This law, adopted in 1984, formalized the Supreme Court’s authority and immunized it against any emergency regulations that the government might later enact. Since the Supreme Court is the only court whose powers are detailed in a Basic Law, it is therefore also protected against changes enacted via ordinary legislation. The powers of the lower courts, in contrast, are laid down in an ordinary law, the Courts Law.

Israeli police recommend indicting Olmert on Corruption charges
Saed Bannoura, International Middle East Media Center News 9/8/2008
The Israeli Police submitted on Sunday its recommendations to Israel’s Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz, urging him to indict the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, in two corruption cases. The recommendations were submitted after a deliberation session held by the investigation department on Sunday morning. The Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the two cases in question are the Rishon Tours double billing affair, and the Talansky affair. The first case involves allegations that Olmert funded personal trips abroad for himself and his family with money obtained fraudulently from public organizations, while in the second case Olmert is suspected of illegally receiving money over the course of 15 years from Morris Talansky, a Jewish millionaire. Olmert and his family travelled abroad on a number of occasions using the Rishon Tours agency.

VIDEO - IDF lets the many Israelis hoarding weapons return them with no questions asked
Haaretz Staff and Channel 10, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Haaretz. com/Channel 10 daily feature for September 7, 2008. A new military operation is giving the many Israeli citizens unlawfully hoarding weapons in their homes an opportunity to return them without facing charges. Because such a large percentage of the population has served in the Israel Defense Forces, many ordinarily citizens, at some point, have enjoyed open access to a variety of some of the world’s most advanced weaponry. T he IDF is giving citizens three weeks to return weapons they have illegally taken, assuring that within that period, no questions will be asked and anonymity will be guaranteed. The response has been overwhelming, and some of the items returned have raised more than one set of eyebrows. Related articles:IDF begins collecting weapons from West Bank settlements IDF NCO,. . .

What next? / A bill that just won’t happen
Shahar Ilan, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
Legislators call private bills that are submitted despite the fact that they have no chance of being approved "law declarations. "In all honesty, the proposed change to Basic Law: The Judiciary is also a kind of declaration, even though it has been submitted by the government. Though the bill has a lot of support, perhaps two-thirds of the Knesset, its chances of being approved in the first reading are small - and in the second and third readings, they are minute. At the moment, it seems like one of two things can happen after the primary in the Kadima party: General elections will be held or a joint Kadima-Labor coalition will be formed. In any case, the Knesset will not have time to debate and pass such a serious bill. Any attempt to fast-track it would be considered inappropriate; you don’t mess with a constitution.

The police announcement / Olmert should go home and hide his face in shame
Amir Oren, Ha’aretz 9/8/2008
September 7, 2008 - remember that date. That is when the police recommended indicting a sitting prime minister for taking bribes, aggravated fraud and other offenses. In the future, perhaps teachers will set aside time on this day to explain the dangers posed by government corruption and law enforcement’s responsibility to fight it wherever it occurs. Publication of the police’s recommendation last night formalized Olmert’s status as a suspected bribe-taker - although that charge may not survive review by the Jerusalem district attorney, the state prosecutor and the attorney general. It is an issue of approach: The police opted to push the criminal charges as far as possible, whereas State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz are liable to prefer lesser charges that offer a greater chance of conviction.

Porush’s mayoral campaign still lacking haredi unity
Matthew Wagner, Jerusalem Post 9/7/2008
United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush continues to face difficulties in his bid to muster a united haredi front for the Jerusalem mayoral campaign. Over the weekend, there were haredi media reports that Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv had ordered UTJ’s Degel Hatorah faction to suspend negotiations with Porush. A source close to Elyashiv said the nonagenarian rabbi, considered the supreme halachic authority for Ashkenazi-Lithuanian haredim, was concerned that Porush lacked the requisite backing within his Agudat Yisrael faction. "How can you expect Degel Hatorah to reach an agreement with Porush if he cannot seem to get the backing of his own party? " said the source. " First let him get things straightened out in Aguda, then we can talk. " UTJ, the political party representing Ashkenazi haredi interests, is composed of two factions, the hassidic Agudat Yisrael and the Lithuanian Degel Hatorah.

Gov’t approves Friedmann’s bill to limit power of Supreme Court
Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz 9/7/2008
The government on Sunday approved Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s controversial proposal to amend the Basic Law on the Judiciary in order to limit the Supreme Court’s power. 13 ministers voted for the bill, while 11 opposed. The amendment is, in effect, aimed at limiting the High Court’s judicial review of laws legislated by the Knesset. Friedmann’s proposal would only allow the Supreme Court to strike down legislation if it goes against one of the Basic Laws, such as on human dignity and freedom or on the freedom of occupation. Currently, the court can rule that a law is invalid even if it does not contradict a Basic Law. In addition, the bill would limit the jurisdiction of other courts. The power to determine the validity of laws will be accorded to the Supreme Court in a special procedure, unlike the present situation whereby it is practically within the power of every court.

Government approves motion to limit Supreme Court’s power
Roni Sofer, YNetNews 9/7/2008
Thirteen ministers vote in favor of justice minister’s controversial proposal to regulate, limit court’s legislative authority; 11 government members vote against it. ’This is an important stage in restoring the government’s ruling ability and strengthening the Knesset’s status,’ says Friedmann -The government on Sunday approved Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann’s controversial motion to limit the Supreme Court’s legislative leeway. Thirteen ministers voted in favor of the proposal, while 11 opposed it. The motion will next be discussed by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. Supreme Court judges enjoy a vast legislative leeway which allows them to annul any Knesset act they feel may contrast the Basic Laws. Friedmann’s reform aims to limit the High Court’s ability to quash any legislation detrimental to human rights.

Israeli police force rounds up 670 Palestinian workers
Palestinian Information Center 9/7/2008
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- Israeli border policemen have launched a large-scale arrest campaign in lines of Palestinian West Bankers working in the 1948 areas without permits, the Hebrew radio announced on Sunday. The broadcast said that the policemen rounded up 670 workers over the weekend, and added that they were being interrogated. Thousands of Palestinian workers head to the 1948 areas looking for jobs as the Israeli occupation authority refuses to grant them permits to do so and impose heavy fines on them while some of them are held in custody for months. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces on Sunday kidnapped 8 citizens in Nablus district after wreaking havoc in their homes, including 7 from Salem village. IOF soldiers also at dawn Sunday invaded a number of villages and towns in the Jenin district, terrorized civilians and fired bullets and sonic and flare bombs at the pretext of looking for wanted activists but none was arrested.


America’s Islamophobia problem
Ghassan Rubeiz, Daily Star 9/8/2008
      In a 2006 interview, Glenn Beck, the host of a CNN talk show, looked Muslim congressman Keith Ellison straight in the eye and said: "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." You have to wonder where Beck got the license to humiliate someone that way because he was connected with Islam.
     Islamophobia is pervasive in public forums in the United States. Provocative commentary Web sites, culture-clash literature, biased reporting on the Middle East, end-of-time theological fiction, insensitive cartoons, terror-oriented video games and Christian Zionist sermons, all of the above and more, make many Arab- and Muslim-Americans - especially immigrants - feel alien, if not alienated.
     Beck’s obsession with Islam reflects a trend. The US media persist in reporting on the growing numbers of American and European Muslims. These reports have unjustifiably raised public fears of the anticipated return of terrorism. Post-9/11 scare-mongers proclaim that America’s borders are "open and unprotected." Agitated American communicators warn citizens to watch out for Muslim- and Arab-Americans who may be linked covertly to "terror cells" that have penetrated their homeland. An irrational fear of Muslims affects the way they are portrayed and perceived. A negative overload of information about Islam seems to overwhelm and confuse Americans. The compulsion to stereotype, to dissect, to classify, and to caricature Muslims is strong and growing.

The Middle East and Russia’s return as a ’post-ideological’ power

Editorial, The Daily Star, Daily Star 9/8/2008
      Russia’s bold stroke in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia last month has added a new dimension to the resurgence under way for the past few years. The Kremlin has signaled that it is back as major player on the world stage, a prospect that carries far-reaching implications for many regions - the Middle East in particular. Governments and peoples in this part of the world have much to gain from a shakeup of the international order as it has existed since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. To do so, however, they will have to recognize that this new Russian challenge to American supremacy is very different from the one that kept the Cold War going for decades.
     For one, today’s Russia might be described as "post-ideological." Its tussles with the United States (and some other Western countries) are no longer potentially existential ones that lead inevitably to zero-sum games. In addition, despite its growing energy wealth, Moscow no longer has the strategic wherewithal to engage in dozens of far-flung contests with Washington. What it retains includes a determination to protect its own interests (especially close to home) and, increasingly, a willingness to be assertive in doing so. It also has a relatively large population infused with considerable amounts of ability and no shortage of national pride. In short, the days when post-Soviet Russia could be ignored are definitively over.